The 2014 World Cup kicks off on Thursday with the hosts, Brazil, playing Croatia in Group A. Which of the 32 teams will qualify from the 8 groups? We start, seeking your views on the World Cup Groups A and B.
World Cup Groups A and B are two interesting groups which would appear to provide a comfortable passage for the top two teams but there is room for a shock or two if some of the European teams struggle to cope with the conditions in Brazil.
Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon make up the group. The first game of the tournament often doesn’t live up to all the hype and expectation but this year Brazil and Croatia are quite capable of producing a high quality match.
As hosts, Brazil didn’t have to qualify so the past four years have been all about their preparations for this competition on home-soil. They have travelled the world playing friendlies and won last summer’s Confederations Cup, defeating World champions, Spain, in the Final. Expectations are high in Brazil and with home advantage the pressure is on the players to lift the trophy for the 6th time. Brazil last won the World Cup in Japan/South Korea in 2002 and if they manage to win as hosts they will be the first nation to achieve that since France won in 1998. The previous country to win the World Cup having home advantage was Argentina in 1978.
Croatia qualified through the play-offs, having finished second behind Belgium in Group A which contained both Scotland and Wales. In the play-offs they defeated Iceland 2 – 0 on aggregate, drawing 0 – 0 in Iceland and ensuring qualification with a comfortable win at home. Croatia are an experienced team who have played together for a number of years. They disappointed two years ago in the European Championships going out at the Group stage in a group containing both Spain and Italy.
While Mexico and Cameroon may be regarded as the weaker nations in Group A, both will provide tough opposition. They will cope well with the problems caused by the climate conditions and Mexico are a team who often produce unexpected performances in the Finals. In a lengthy qualification process, they finished top of their group in the 3rd Round but were 4th at the next stage and qualified with a big aggregate play-off win over New Zealand.
In another lengthy qualification process, Cameroon topped their group and then defeated Tunisia over two-legs, drawing 0 – 0 in Tunisia but winning 4 – 1 at home.