WORLD CUP 2014, TEAM BY TEAM

GROUP A

BRAZIL

CHANCES OF WINNING: The hosts are one of the favourites (as often happens with World Cups) to go all the way to the final. By far the strongest team in their group, qualifying for knockout stages should be no problem.

STAR PLAYERS: expect to see NEYMAR grabbing the headlines. Chelsea fans will be pleased to see some of their teams players including Ramires, Oscar and Willian.

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CROATIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: tipped by some fans of English football clubs to do well due to having some Premier League stars, they could surprise the other teams in their group and qualify for the knockout stage. Winning the entire tournament may prove to be too much of a challenge though.

STAR PLAYERS: LUKA MODRIC and DEJAN LOVREN are proven Premier League players.

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MEXICO

CHANCES OF WINNING: the Mexicans have some good players who score plenty of goals, at least at club level. If they can recreate doing so internationally, they will have a chance at qualifying for the knockout stages. Winning the tournament could be too challenging once perhaps meeting stronger sides like Germany, Argentina or Spain.

STAR PLAYERS: JAVIER HERNANDEZ and ORIBE PERALTA are expected to show what they can do for their country. Don’t be surprised to see them scoring.

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CAMEROON

CHANCES OF WINNING: If their star player (Eto’o) does what he’s proven he can do for his club and country before, they should be able to qualify from group stages. but can ONE player win a whole tournament by himself? Doubtful.

STAR PLAYERS: Without a doubt, Samuel Eto’o will be the man to watch. You can expect him to be scoring most of the goals for Cameroon. This is his 4th world Cup, after making international appearances in 1998, 2002 and 2010.

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GROUP B

SPAIN

CHANCES OF WINNING: The Spanish have won the World Cup most recently, in 2010. It’s safe to say they are contenders to win it again, group qualification shouldn’t be any problem at all.

STAR PLAYERS: Fernando Torres stole most of the headlines back in 2010, but Diego Costa has most recently been proving to be Spain’s biggest star when he won La Liga with Atletico Madrid and went all the way to the Champions League Final in the same season.

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NETHERLANDS (HOLLAND)

CHANCES OF WINNING: The Dutch have officially got the new Manchester united manager (due to be appointed at the club after the World Cup) as their national teams coach right now and his tactics plus their strong squad could prove to be a winning combination. Qualification to the knockout stages is highly likely and with some luck, it’s even possible they could make it to the Final. Don’t count them out.

STAR PLAYERS: Ex- Liverpool player DIRK KUYT and Manchester united player ROBIN VAN PERSIE will be likely to get the goals and make the most news.

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CHILE

CHANCES OF WINNING: To call them an “Underdog” would be fair. They will find it hard to qualify to the knockout stages with Spain and Holland both in their group although they have players who could make a difference and with some good luck, they could shock the world.

STAR PLAYERS: Barcelona star ALEXIS SANCHEZ is without a doubt their greatest player. Expect him to score their goals and provide the greatest chances of qualification. Once in the knockout stages, Chile may find it too difficult to get to the final, on the strength of one player alone.

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AUSTRALIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: The Aussies have less chances of winning the tournament now that long time international star and ex-Liverpool player Harry Kewell has (voluntarily) retired, just this year. I’d like to have seen him play in one last World Cup before he hung his boots up.  Qualifying for the knockout stages will mean making better progress than both Spain and Holland. The Aussies will have to work hard to make sure that happens and if they make it to the knockout stages, their players will have to be on form for every game to keep them there without being knocked right out.

STAR PLAYERS: NOT Harry Kewell any more, sadly… TIM CAHILL is by far their best goalscorer left in the squad. The ex-Everton player will have a lot of pressure on him to make sure his country keeps up with the rest of the group.

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GROUP C

COLOMBIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: The Colombians have some proven goalscorers and this should help them both in their hopes of qualification to the next stage and also in not being knocked out… when they come up against the biggest teams of the tournament, will this be enough? I personally don’t think they could make it to the Final. They’re not the strongest team in their group so attempting to get 2nd place will most likely be their goal at first.

STAR PLAYERS: Europa League winner with Sevilla, CARLOS BACCA is their best goalscorer. You can expect to see him scoring and winning games for Colombia.

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GREECE

CHANCES OF WINNING: Sorry Greeks, but it’s “slim to none”. They have one star player, a Fulham attacker who is a proven goalscorer but they’ll need some very good luck to progress out of group C with the other teams they’ll face looking to be stronger and have more depth to their squads.

STAR PLAYERS: MITROGLU (AKA MITRO-GOAL) will be their biggest hope for goals and for qualification to the knockout stages.

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IVORY COAST

CHANCES OF WINNING: In my opinion, these are not only the strongest team in their group but also the strongest African team in the entire tournament. They have great depth to their squad and goalscorers who are well known in the English Premier league. You’ll see them in the knockout stage, I guarantee it. Could surprise everyone by getting past the last 16 and into the quarter finals. Then from there, who knows? There’s a chance they could get to the Final if they play to their best performance, they have the skill to do it.

STAR PLAYERS: KOLO TOURE, YAYA TOURE, SALOMON KALOU, GERVINHO, WILFRIED BONY AND DIDIER DROGBA. All well known to be strong players who aren’t afraid of scoring. Drogba was Chelsea’s “hitman” who got a lot of their goals for a long time. This team can score against anyone, they won’t be afraid to attack.

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JAPAN

CHANCES OF WINNING: Could be the second best team in their group. Vastly underrated by many, the Japanese are skillful players who while they aren’t all Premier League superstars, they are still good enough to beat many teams and the ones in their World Cup group this year should find it challenging when Japan come up against them. Would be surprised if they didn’t qualify from their group.

STAR PLAYERS:SHINJI KAGAWA is a highly rated Manchester United player who is hardworking, he never gives up. Keisuke Honda is an AC Milan star and they could easily provide the goals Japan will need to get to the knockout stages.

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GROUP D

URUGUAY

CHANCES OF WINNING: THEY HAVE LUIS SUAREZ and he could take them all the way to the Final. In his best performances, Suarez has been known to score hat tricks (3 goals in one game). Liverpool fans will also know that Sebastian Coates is a solid defender, he will be the one stopping the goals going in as often as he can. If Uruguay can beat Italy, they will have a good chance at progressing to the knockout stages. They really don’t want to be beaten by Italy and England, with only Costa Rica left to play. It could hurt their chances of making it to the last 16.

STAR PLAYERS: Liverpool fans already know the high quality of LUIS SUAREZ (for the goals) and SEBASTIAN COATES (for the defense). DIEGO FORLAN also knows his way around a penalty area, he cannot be contained at times and is a threat.

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COSTA RICA

CHANCES OF WINNING: Winning the tournament? NOT gonna happen. They most likely will not qualify from their group as the other three teams they have to face in group D are bigger, better, stronger, faster.

STAR PLAYERS: BRYAN RUIZ will be their man to score the goals they’ll need. Unfortunately, if their defense can’t cope with other teams offensive players, will his goals be enough? Probably not.

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ENGLAND

CHANCES OF WINNING: PRETTY HIGH, this year. Roy Hodgson has decided to put 7 or 8 (1 pending transfer which looks likely to happen AFTER the World Cup has finished) Liverpool players into the England squad and reds fans will be excited to see England in action as we know more than half of the team. Liverpool fans all know the high quality of these players who ALMOST won the Premier league last season (2nd place ain’t too bad). There’s no doubt that England will make it to the last 16. Some say they will be top of the group when all games have been played. Others say maybe just 2nd place, but either would put England through to the next stage. There are some dedicated English fans who believe that the current squad is just what England needs and that they can go ALL THE WAY to the World Cup Final. and even WIN IT (GASP! YES I SAID IT, ENGLAND CAN WIN THE WORLD CUP THIS YEAR).

STAR PLAYERS: CAPTAIN STEVEN GERRARD, JORDAN HENDERSON, RAHEEM STERLING, DANIEL STURRIDGE, GLEN JOHNSON AND RICKIE LAMBERT. Goals could come from ANY of these dangerous players.

ITALY

CHANCES OF WINNING: Italy have some key players who really hold the team together. On their best performances, they make getting clean sheets (0 goals conceded) look easy and their attackers find the net with ease. If the Italians will be progressing to the next stage, it will be at the expense of either England or Uruguay. Don’t expect Costa Rica to challenge the rest of  group D for qualification.

STAR PLAYERS: Those would be ANDREA PIRLO and MARIO BALOTELLI.

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GROUP E

SWITZERLAND

CHANCES OF WINNING: You’ll probably have to be Swiss to put enough confidence in Switzerland to win the World Cup. I wouldn’t bet on it. Put in a group with France this year, they could only hope for 2nd place to qualify (after the French most likely win their group), at best.

STAR PLAYERS: XHERDAN SHAQIRI. Liverpool fans will know this guy as the reds have been closely linked with this Bayern Munich player as a transfer target. It’s understandable that the reds fans were excited to hear we may be bidding for him, he’s a great player. Watch him closely as the biggest star of the whole Swiss team will not disappoint.

XERDAN-shaqiri

ECUADOR

CHANCES OF WINNING: Another side that has “Slim to none” chance of winning the whole tournament. They could surprise people and qualify from their group (with France) but in the knockout stages… they wouldn’t make it to the Quarter Finals even, in my opinion.

STAR PLAYERS: ANTONIO VALENCIA of Manchester United. Recently punched Raheem Sterling in the face in a friendly they both got sent off in, so is quite unpopular with the England fans right now.

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FRANCE 

CHANCES OF WINNING? The French last won the World Cup back in the late 90s (1998) when they hosted the World Cup in their own country. Since then, their squad has changed quite a bit and although they shouldn’t have any trouble qualifying from their group, the knockout stages may prove to be too challenging and I honestly don’t think they’ll make it to the Final.

STAR PLAYERS: Liverpool fans will known MAMADOU SAKHO very well, he is an important part of their defense. Attacking players like OLIVIER GIROUD who has proven to be a regular goalscorer in the Premier League can provide the goals for France.

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HONDURAS

CHANCES OF WINNING: “Slim to none”. Will they even qualify from their group? Most likely NOT. After only qualifying for the World Cup two times, Honduras are inexperienced in this tournament. They’d need an awful lot of luck to progress to the knockout stage from a group with France in it.

STAR PLAYERS: Wigan Athletic player ROGER ESPINOZA is the one to watch. Wigan fans will know him but if they’re English, they’re unlikely to support Honduras just because he’s part of this national team.

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GROUP F

ARGENTINA

CHANCES OF WINNING: THEY HAVE MESSI and he could take them all the way to Final. With a 4 time World Player of the Year (Ballon d’or) winner in your side, you’re a contender to win the tournament for sure.

STAR PLAYERS: Barcelona superstar LEO MESSI. Despite struggling with some injury over this last season, Messi will be the man to watch as Argentina look to be favourites in their group, almost entirely due to Messi.

JAVIER MASCHERANO and SERGIO AGUERO may also share some of the headlines with Messi if they perform to the best of their abilities.

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BOSNIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: qualifying from their group? It’s possible. Winning the entire tournament? I just can’t see that happening for a side who have never competed in this tournament before 2014. They have a proven goalscorer but that may not be enough as they’d be likely to get knocked out at the last 16 stage if lucky enough to progress from their group.

STAR PLAYER: EDIN DZEKO, Premier League champion with Man City. He’s the man who’ll get their goals. There will be plenty of pressure on him to perform as the 2nd place spot (after Argentina who will clearly come top of group F) will be fought for and maybe won exclusively on the strength of his performances and goals.

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IRAN

CHANCES OF WINNING: Iran, win the World Cup? you’re having a laugh! Never in their history of football have Iran won the world cup and they don’t look like doing it any time soon. They’ll be be very lucky to qualify for the knockout stages. I personally don’t think that is going to happen.

STAR PLAYERS: Fulham’s Ashkan Dejgah and Charlton player Reza Ghoochannejhad.

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NIGERIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: Outsiders and quite unlikely to win the entire tournament but still within a chance of qualifying from their group. The Africans in group F have just as many star players as Bosnia and could just as easily get qualification to the knockout stages.

STAR PLAYERS: JOHN OBI MIKEL and VICTOR MOSES both are proven Premier League stars. keep your eye on those two as they will need to bring their best performances to qualify from this group.

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GROUP G

GERMANY

CHANCES OF WINNING: Germany are always contenders and have some World class players. Expect them to qualify from their group and go on to the knockout stages.

STAR PLAYERS: Their goalkeeper MANUEL NEUER has been claimed to be the best goalie in the world. PHILIP LAHM is a big threat, all over the pitch as one of the most versatile players in Germany’s squad. BASTIAN SHWEINSTEIGER is also a regular and consistent danger man.

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PORTUGAL

CHANCES OF WINNING: Well, I’d have to say it’s possible. They COULD go all the way to the final because THEY HAVE CRISTIANO RONALDO. I personally don’t like him (we won’t go into that right now) but the Ballon D’or Winner is an important part of Portugal’s side and when he plays to his best, Ronaldo can help his country to win any game.

STAR PLAYERS: CR7. CRISTIANO RONALDO is their biggest threat.

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GHANA

CHANCES OF WINNING: Ghana may not even qualify from their group. I can’t even give them an outside chance of making it to the final. They won’t. They got landed in an unfortunate group. It’s unlikely they’ll get out of it and into the knockout stages. They once reached a World Cup quarter final (in 2010) but can they do it this time? If they are to repeat their success they’ll need to get past either Portugal or Germany to move on to the next stage and that’s no easy task.

STAR PLAYERS: MICHAEL ESSIEN and ASYMOAH GYAN.

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USA

CHANCES OF WINNING: Even the Americans themselves would admit that not since “USA 94” has their national “soccer” team been very successful. They have a couple of high profile players but they never seem to do enough to get into the final stages. It’s a shame they’ve been put into a group with Germany and Portugal as I’d like to see them show what they can do in knockout games.

STAR PLAYERS: CLINT DEMPSEY will be the man to watch. Michael Bradley may also pleasantly surprise you.

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GROUP H

BELGIUM

CHANCES OF WINNING: By far the strongest team in group H, they will qualify to the knockout stage. That’s not going to be a problem. However can they do enough to take them to the Quarter Finals and beyond? It’ll be a challenge, for sure. the Premier League players they have are sure to show the world the high quality of football the English football league requires.

STAR PLAYERS: EDEN HAZARD was named PFA Young player of the Year. He’s a proven Premier league star and may just be the best young player in the World Cup. Keep your eye on him and ROMELU LUKAKU and VINCENT KOMPANY, more Premier League stars.

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ALGERIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: another “SLIM TO NONE” verdict for this country. May not even qualify from their group.

STAR PLAYERS: SOFIANE FEGHOULI

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RUSSIA

CHANCES OF WINNING: The Russians have some quality players and are likely to grab the 2nd place spot (behind Belgium who are most likely to come 1st). But win the tournament? I think they’d need to get some pretty good luck and referees decisions to go their way to push them past the last 16 at least. I don’t see it happening.

STAR PLAYERS: keep an eye on ALAN DZAGOEV as he’s the Russian’s danger man.

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SOUTH KOREA

CHANCES OF WINNING: and pigs might fly. They aren’t even likely to make it out of the group stage.

STAR PLAYERS: KI SUNG YUENG and also SON HEUNG MIN, a Bayer Leverkusen player who is now reportedly worth over £8 Million.

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