Last Friday’s draw from Bahia, Brazil, produced an enthralling line-up of groups, setting the ground for an amazing 2014 FIFA World Cup. With most headlines recently focusing on Brazil’s readiness for the world’s greatest sporting event, it was good for the focus to return to the football. Hosts, Brazil were entered into a potentially tricky group of Cameroon, Mexico, and Croatia.
2010 winners Spain were drawn into an equally tricky group, with the Netherlands, Chile and Australia, making up group B. Argentina were granted a fairly straight forward line-up of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria in Group F, while the dark horses of the competition, Belgium were drawn with Algeria, Russia and South Korea in group H. Germany head up the group most commentators have described as this years ‘Group of Death’. Group G also contains Portugal, Ghana and the USA, making up a fascinating contest.
However it is Group D that will hold England’s attention. Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica will not be an easy assignment, and England could struggle to qualify for the knockout stages if they are not at their best. Italy and Uruguay will both be stern tests for England. In their last meeting Italy knocked England out of the European Championships, albeit on penalties, but that result masked the superiority of the Italians in that match. While Andrea Pirlo is two years older, the Italians still boast the volatile Mario Balotelli and quality players such as Daniele De Rossi and Gianluigi Buffon. In addition, they have a good track record of being at their best for Tournaments, and a reputation for defensive excellence.
Uruguay are also dangerous. In Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez, they have arguably the best strike force in International Football. Cavani has scored 12 from 13 starts for PSG in League 1, while Suarez has been in unstoppable form in the Premier League for Liverpool, topping the goalscoring charts with 17 goals from 11 starts, even despite missing the first 5 games of the seasons. Besides this potency, they have the massive advantage of playing on their home continent; no European side have ever won a World Cup in South America.
Uruguay are a decent bet at 11/5 with SkyBet to finish top of the Group, Thomas Mueller is a massive 33/1 with Ladbrokes to be top goalscorer, as is Diego Costa at 28/1 for Spain, playing in Brazil, his birthplace. If you’re looking for something a little random, Oscar is 33/1 with BetVictor to be Player of the Tournament.
My tip to be World Cup winner is Germany, who are listed at 6/1 by Coral.