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But who will win the trophy?
There are a lot of solid contenders in this year’s cup, but they will first have to successfully navigate the group stage, by finishing first or second.
Below we look at the groups for the 2014 World Cup and forecast the most likely results from the tournament’s early rounds.
First, host nation and overall favorite Brazil, once again under the direction of 2002 World Cup-winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, should make it out of the group stage, barring any unexpected meltdown as they face off against a second-rate Croatian side to start the tournament.
Meanwhile, Mexico, despite a difficult qualifying effort and having a new coach, will get the benefit of being just that much better than Cameroon and Croatia, to ride at least two wins to a second place finish to round out Group A.
Over in Group B, defending champions Spain will more than likely have little problem coming away with the top spot, with second going to a Dutch side who were runners up to La Roja in World Cup 2010.
All of that should set up and interesting showdown between Brazil and the Netherlands and Mexico and Spain.
Group C is the weakest of all the groups and CONMEBOL second-place qualifiers Columbia should have very little problem edging out Greece for the number one spot in the group. The Colombians will likely meet up with Copa America champions Uruguay in the second round, which struggled through qualifying before nipping Jordan in a play-off.
Meanwhile, Greece, if they can deliver against the Ivory Coast and sniper Didier Drogba, should see second-round action with the Italians, who are chalked full of seasoned veterans like Andrea Pirlo. Winning Group D shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for a team unbeaten in qualifying.
France in the meantime, gets the benefit of being the only real standout in Group E, and it would be a real shocker if they snag and anything less than first place group finish.
As for second, Switzerland is the only other team that has any real shot, and after an unbeaten that qualifying run, should have no problem coming in ahead of Ecuador and Honduras, both of which have not performed well away from home.
That should set up a pair of matches that will include Group F favorites Argentina, and World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, taking on runner up Nigeria, which won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Finally, the Germans will have their hands full with Portugal, but should see their way to a Group F first place finish to take on a Russian side that finished ahead of Portugal in its UEFA qualifying run.
Germany has one of the best midfields in the world and were top scorers in UEFA qualifying, while the Portuguese will count on World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, to get by Group H winner Belgium, who the will show they have too much for Ghana and the USA. Our 2014 World Cup Betting Picks against the spread are the best there is. Make sure to sign up before it is too late.
The 2014 World Cup kicks off on June 12, in Sao Paulo, Brazil with 32 teams, but will end one month later with only a single team standing.
Provisional squads have been assembled as the managers attempt to carve out their final roster by June 2.