Although, at Mapsofworld.com (Mow) we have picked up the 16 teams from our side, however given the global spread of the sport and tsunami of fresh talent from new locales it’s always wise to mark out the few dark horses in this edition of the World Cup who have proved us and other soccer pundits wrong with their talent and resilience.
Group A Mow prediction — Brazil and Croatia.
Dark Horse – We have a dark horse in form of Mexico the great Latin American team who joins Brazil from Group A by edging out the shaky Croats.
Group B Mow prediction – Nertherlands and Spain.
Dark Horse – A great Chile side, the sleeping giants of South American soccer joins Netherlands from Group B.
Group C Mow prediction – Colombia and Ivory Coast
Dark Horse – Although there was some spirited display by Japan there was no apparent dark horse in this group. Maybe the Blue Samurais don’t prefer them.
Group D Mow prediction – Italy and England.
Dark Horse – This is the group which saw both Costa Rica and Uruguay proving to be the galloping dark horses. Though our predictions missed the mark in this group but it proved that World Cup is all about such glorious uncertainties.
Group E Mow prediction – France and Equador.
Dark Horse – No dark horse here. Mow predictions bang on.
Group F Mow prediction – Argentina and Nigeria
Dark Horse — No clear cut dark horse here. Group F results are very much similar to the Mow forecast.
Group G Mow prediction – Germany and Portugal
Dark Horse – In fact there are two of them here like in Group D, namely USA and Ghana. It is still a very tight group although Germans are clearly at the top.
Group H Mow prediction – Belgium and South Korea
Dark Horse – Desert Fox i.e wily Algerians have proved to be the true dark horse with their great form and they surely look to give company to the talented Belgians in the last-16 round.
At Maps of the World (MOW) this is our pick of 16 teams which we feel, will make it to the next round of the competition in the 2014 World Cup. Viva, Joga Bonito!
If Brazil is the spiritual home of world football then Maracana is its Mecca. It is to exorcise the demons of 1950 loss to Uruguay in Maracana that five time World Cup winners ‘A Selecao’, will try to avenge. Like Mozart’s music or Keat’s poetry or a Vermeer’s masterpiece it is tough to describe the sheer artistry that this team brings to the pitch. Effects can multiply in front of their loud and partisan fans who would want nothing less than the coveted gold trophy. Whether its Neymar’s sublime skills or Oscar’s darting runs or no- nonsense approach of Thiago Silva or Dani Alves, Brazil is an assembly line of many assorted stars with their unmatched skills. The team should top their group and may face Spain or Holland in the last-16 round which promises to be a cliffhanger. However given the calibre, record and the conditions Brazil start as clear favorites for the title.
The Vatreni are known as the Brazilians of Europe and this tribute is not without reason. After all, here is a young and a dynamic team which got 3rd position on its debut in 1998. Croatia has always combined the Italian ball skills with Slavic toughness and the output has produced some memorable results. The team is well known for its attacking soccer combined with solid tackling and never say die spirit. 2014 World Cup promises to be same as the team has the likes of Modric(Real Madrid), Kovacic(Inter), Srna(Shakhtar) or the ever reliable Mandzukic( Bayern) in their ranks.
In 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age it was Dutch painters who stunned the world by their masterpieces while in 21st century a new breed of Dutch masters (read footballers) are wielding their magic in a splash of ‘Oranje’ across the football pitch. Dutch are keen to erase the memories of losing three finals in 1974, 78 and 2010. Under the shrewd stewardship of Manager Van Gaal ‘Oranje’ are a heady combination of youth and experience. On one hand players like Blind, Martin Indi or Janmaat and on other there are stars like Van Persie, Robben and De Jong. Surely given their present form and past records Robbie and Robben and Co. are in Brazil to sprinkle more colour to the beautiful game and look set for a last four finish to say the least.
Los Rojas are the defending champions. It is a team which has rewritten the soccer history by winning the World Cup in 2010 and Euro in 2008 and 2012. Buoyed by their ‘Golden Generation’, the Spanish Armada has arrived on the Brazilian shore to away the real booty and not merely ‘the pieces of eight’. With the recent success of Atletico, Barca and Real Madrid, the Spanish retain the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, David Villa and Casillas. However Del Bosque’s matadors have to fight age and newer kids in the block. Spain needs to ward off a resurgent Dutch menace in the group stage and a possible last-16 round clash with host Brazil to ensure a passage into the Quarters.
Los Cafeteros are brewing a secret brew so says the little Birdie.Nevermind the fact that Colombia had made their debut only in 1990. Playing in their own continent, Colombia came second in the South American qualifiers make them a dark horse in this edition of World Cup. They are back on the world stage after a gap of sixteen years thanks to the new golden generation. A young team with great zeal and zest they specialise in counterattacks and good wing play. Players to watch would be Guitierrez, Fredy Guarin, Juan Cuadrado and the redoubtable Juan Zuniga. They would be looking for their second ever last-16 round foray after 1990 when they were led by the legendary Carlos Valderama.
This well could be the last laugh of the Les Elephant’s great bunch of stars like Drogba, Yaya Toure and Salomon Kalou. Having qualified in style for their third World Cup in row they would look for a minimum pre –quarters berth for themselves. Having distinguished themselves in previous two outings at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. Les Elephant will try to bludgeon their way into last-16 round and would explore the options beyond with their sharp shooting and endless energy. The fact that they have got an easy draw would mean that they may face either Italy or England in the next round which would surely be a top draw contest.
“Azzuris” have been one of the most consistent of all teams in the FIFA World Cup. For a side which has won four titles in 1934, 38, 82 and 2006 besides being finalists in 1970 and 1994 Italians are always a leading contender for the coveted title. Known traditionally for their strong defensive style this time they are powered by the veteran midfield Marshal Pirlo along with Candreva and Marchisio the forward line comprises of the mercurial Ballotelli and Cassano while formidable Buffon remains the custodian and skipper of the squad which is all set to blaze the pitch under Cesare Prandelli’s guidance. Azurris need to navigate the choppy waters of their group made of talented Uruguay, tricky Costa Rica and an inspired England. However, going by their resilience and record passage to last four should be what their fans would expect from them.
“Three lions” are back in Brazil for World Cup to put their records of 1950 World Cup straight, when minnows USA ousted England out of the Cup. While they are in a tough group along with Italy and Uruguay,yet this would be the last hurrah for England’s great generation of Gerrard and Lampard and reason enough for England to put their best foot forward. Under coach Roy Hodgson this side is a curious mix of brain and brawn. While on forward line is having the future English stars like Walbeck, Sturridge and Sterling yet old warhorses continue to control the midfield. To repeat their 1966 performance may be an uphill task but surely a place in the last eight would make Barmy Army happy.
“Les Tricolor” has always been a myriad of talent and colourful players. One of the most successful nations in the World Cup having won in 1998 and finalists in 2006 this year’s French team is an exciting package. Like the teams of the past this team is known for its short passes and darting runs. They have some fantastic players in form of Paul Pogba, Sagna, Benzema, Giroud or Evra. even though they would be missing the services of players like Ribery, French team is expected to sail through to the Quarterfinals where they may face Germany or Portugal in a mouthwatering clash of titans.
Ecuador are a relatively new entrant into the big and beautiful world of soccer. The land of Mount Catopaxi and Galapagos finches which prompted Darwin to formulate his ‘Theory of Evolution’ has themselves evolved into a mean footballing machine. Having made their World Cup debut in 2002 this is their third World Cup outing. “La tri” can spring few surprises considering they have in thie ranks players like Man United’s Antonio Valencia and Barcelona’s Luis Saritama. However they look vulnerable to quick and talented attacks and are placed in a tricky group against formidable French and Swiss teams.
If Brazilians are the clear favourites to win the title “Le Albiceleste” are the next team in the line. Known to be familiar with the local conditions the Tango masters will have deluge of fans lining up for their games. Such excitement about this team should not come as a surprise when you realize that team has been winners on two occasions namely 1978 and 1986 while it has been the losing finalist in 1930 and 1990. The team has shown its brilliance by topping the South American qualifiers. With some well known names like Lionel Messi, Maxi Rodriguez, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Agueiro and the dependable back Martin Demichelis Argentines would be a treat to watch. Alejandro Sabella will prove to be mighty handful for their rivals courtesy their renowned ball skills and passing ability. In Messi they have a talismanic player who is hungry to weave his magical spell in this World Cup.
“Super Eagles” are always a team to watch out for particularly so after their recent successful run in the African Nation’s Cup and ‘friendlies’ where they played out draws with Mexico and Scotland. They have topped their group both in 1994 and 98 World Cups thanks to the likes of Kanu, Oliseh and Okacha. The present bunch is no less impressive having names like John Obi Mikel, Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses or Peter Odemwingie. A team known for its blistering pace and great shooting abilities Nigerians are poised to create ripples in this World Cup. The prospect of watching them play against Argentina and possibly France in last-16 round sounds very tempting.
For a team like Germany you may end up writing an epic about their past World Cup achievements. A team with a glittering record of three wins and four times runners up Germans are always the big Berthas of soccer. Playing in Brazil may be tricky but Germans have carried some memorable campaigns outside Europe. Germans are dreaded for their passing, shooting and great team spirit and all of which would be on display. With Joachim Loew once again at the helm of affairs, German panzers are all set to turn 2014 into a Wunderjahr’ particularly after a great season for their clubs in European league. The core group remains same from 2010 edition featuring Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Klose, Muller, Podolski and Ozil. As always the team looks set for their safari to Quarterfinals where they may face their old foes France.
For “Os Navegadores” this is a journey back to their ‘Jewel in the Crown’. In fact the Portuguese domestic league has the highest number of Brazilians playing outside Brazil. Being drawn in the “Group of Death”, Portuguese are all set for the challenging road ahead. Their immediate plans would be to sail into the last-16 round and then take each match as it comes. Nobody would be surprised if Portugal knocks out more fancied teams in their journey considering the sheer talent this team possess in form of Christiano Ronaldo, Nani, Postiga, Pepe and Almeida. The recent success of Benfica had demonstrated the mettle of the local teams and would be eager to make their critics eat a humble pie.
“Les Diable Rouge” are back after 12 long years to play their 11th edition. This time around thanks to their ‘Second Golden Generation’ they had an impressive outing in the World Cup qualifiers. They have provided some of the best players in the Champions League namely Marouanne Felliani, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel. With the rich experience of manager Wilmont along with skipper Vincent Kompany the Man City captain and the precocious talents of Romeru Lukaku and Adnan Janujzai, the Red Devils appear to be a Quarterfinals prospect to say the least. Belgians should be facing Portugal or Germany in the pre-Quarters a contest meant for Gods.
Taeguk warriors are the most successful team from Asia having 3rd place finish in 2002 World Cup.the team is now littered with many Europe based players and are known to for their long ball play and swift running. Their present manger Hong-meung Bo remains the most capped Korean player and is known to be an astute tactician. Players like Ki Sung- yeung (Swansea) or Park Chu-young (Arsenal) and Koo Ja -cheol (Mainz) will provide the pivot around which Korean juggernaut will move. The team should make it to last-16 round if they are able to tame the Russian bear and edge out Algeria.