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World Cup Preview: Groups A And B

Paolo Uggetti |
June 11, 2014 | 10:42 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Group A

This group has a little bit of everything. It's not one of the toughest groups, by any means, but it's certainly riddled with plenty of story-lines. Brazil will try to begin their hopeful journey towards the cup by sending a message of dominance and getting the party started in their home country. Their talented, young roster has an unbelievably high ceiling, and alongside their experienced coach, Felipe Scolari, they can definitely win it all. Croatia comes in under-the-radar looking to spoil the festivities and will get the first crack at the hosts in the opening match. They have a lot of talented, underrated players who must lead and come up big in order to advance. Mexico arrives with a lot of criticism amidst their coaching changes and roster flaws. They struggled and barely made it through qualifying, yet if they're on top of their game, they can certainly make some noise as well. Cameroon... Well, Cameroon is simply happy to be here, but you can never count them and their counter-attacking style out if some of the other teams falter. 


Players To Watch

by TotalProSports
by TotalProSports

Neymar #10. Forward, Brazil.

Brazil's prized possession and poster boy for the whole tournament has the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders, or rather his soccer boots. Whether he is creating chances or finishing them, Neymar is best with the ball at his feet, and his playmaking abilities will be in very high demand throughout this month-long tourney. It's championship or bust for Brazil, and if they don't win on home soil, their star forward will be the first to front the waves of criticism that will ensue. Oh, and did I mention he is only 22-years-old? No pressure, kid.

by GIFSoup
by GIFSoup

Giovani Dos Santos #10. Midfielder, Mexico.

Everyone wants to talk about Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez , but the truth is Mexico's key player is Dos Santos. When roaming freely on the pitch, Giovani has the potential to impact every facet of the game with his skills. The midfielder is the engine for "El Tri," as they're nicknamed, and he needs to be running on full speed and power for them to succeed in this tournament. 

Luka Modric #10. Midfielder, Croatia.

by 101greatestgoals.com
by 101greatestgoals.com

If you are a Real Madrid fanatic, you know who Modric is. A talented midfielder who controls the tempo of the game and makes sublime passes look simple and easy. Croatia needs him to be in top form and lead an inexperienced squad if they want a chance at knocking off Brazil.


Must-Watch Match

The opening match between Croatia and Brazil is a given, but if you want to watch the match that will probably be most compelling, it has to be Croatia-Mexico. With Brazil as the clear favorites to win the group, this match will most likely decide who else makes it to the Round of 16.



1. Brazil

2. Croatia

3. Mexico

4. Cameroon

Group B

Rematches are always fun. When Group B drew the perpetrators of last World Cup's final in Spain and Netherlands, it was a soccer fan's dream. After pulling off an incredible, dominating run in international competition, Spain tries to come full circle and begin their title defense in hopes of repeating as champs and establishing themselves as one of the best teams ever. They certainly have the talent and depth to do it, as they are returning most of their starting players from four years ago. Netherlands is once again loaded with top players from top to bottom, but the only question lies in whether they can finally put it all together. The Orange Machine seems to struggle in big games, and this is the biggest stage in the world; but if their cohesiveness equals their talent, then watch out. Chile is getting very little attention, but they shouldn't be. Their hard-nosed style will be a tough matchup for both favorites to deal with, and they have a few stellar goal scorers as well. Australia is clearly the weaker link here, but in the World Cup, a motivated squad can certainly outwork one that is too sure of itself, and that is exactly what the Aussies will try to do.  


Players To Watch

Andres Iniesta #6. Midfielder, Spain.

They don't call him 'The Illusionist' for nothing. Iniesta is Spanish football in all its essence and glory. His skills alongside his brains run the whole operation of give-and-go passing and exquisite finishing. He won't score many goals, but he will certainly play a role in almost all of them. If you want to appreciate the midfielder's talent, watch him move off the ball, watch him place himself in the perfect spots, and then watch him thread the needle with his perfect passing. It's truly an art form. 

Robin Van Persie #9. Forward, Netherlands.

In the 2010 Final, Netherlands scored zero goals against Spain. This time around they'll at least need to put a few in the back of the net, and Van Persie is arguably one of the best goal scorers in the world. Yes, there are questions regarding his recovery from an injury, and his less than stellar first year at Manchester United, but the bottom line is this: Netherlands needs to score to meet their expectations in this tournament; therefore, Van Persie's finishing is key.


Alexis Sanchez #7. Forward, Chile.

by Bleacher Report
by Bleacher Report

Chile's best player is coming off one of his best years for his club, F.C. Barcelona, and if he brings some of that wild goal-scoring over to Brazil, Chile is bound to be a force to be reckoned with. His aggressive attacking is what Chile is all about, and he could certainly be a nuisance to opposing defenders.

Must-Watch Match

Too easy. Spain-Netherlands.

A rematch of the last World Cup Final. If that doesn’t quite sell it for you, the talent of both of these teams resembles that of an All-Star game in the NBA, except it actually counts. This is arguably the best game of the opening round, and for this group, there is no other answer.






You can reach Staff Writer Paolo Uggetto here, or follow him on Twitter here



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