Four years later, after Spain defeated Holland 1-0 to lift their first FIFA World Cup trophy in 2010, they would be looking to defend their reigning title against 31 other teams in the world. During those four years, past legends have gotten older, some have passed on, new stars have been born, and this World Cup preview will be touching on which teams will pull out from the group stages and which teams will not. This World Cup will take place in Brazil and the home country heroes are stronger and deeper than ever and will want to win the World Cup. They have defeated Spain in the Confederations Cup but can they win the World Cup? They will first have the conquer the group stage to get where they want to be.
Predicted Group Finish: 1st
Manager: Luis Felipe Scolari
Aside from Neymar, this may not be greatest Brazilian team in terms of household names such as a Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka etc. but this is one of the more well rounded Brazil teams I've seen in recent memory. They have a strong backline with Thiago Silva and David Luiz, attacking full backs in Dani Alves and Marcelo, a solid midfield featuring the likes of Oscar, Luis Gustavo, Hernanes, Willian and Ramires, Bernard and the aforementioned Neymar. While their strike department is lacking, Fred when healthy has proven to be an effective poacher and if Jo can play the way he did in the Confederations Cup, Brazil should be fine.
Key Player: Neymar
His first season at Barcelona was solid if not spectactular, certainly not as good of a season as Madrid's Gareth Bale. Even his own teammates Alexis Sanchez and Pedro Rodriguez have had arguably better seasons than this young Brazilian. This World Cup will be especially important for him as he is the most recognizable figure and will have all to prove if he can live up to the hype.
Player to Watch: Bernard
This diminutive 5'4 Brazilian has quietly rose the ranks as one of the top young players in the world. Bernard has made a name for himself at Brazilian club Aletico Minero lifting the Copa Libertadores along with his former teammate Ronaldinho before moving to Shakhtar in 2013. At 21 years old, Bernard is tipped for big things and may been a transfer target this summer because of the crisis in Ukraine.
Predicted Group Finish: 2nd
Manager: Niko Kovac
|1||GK||Stipe Pletikosa||8 January 1979 (aged 35)||111||Rostov|
|2||DF||Šime Vrsaljko||10 January 1992 (aged 22)||7||Genoa|
|3||DF||Danijel Pranjić||2 December 1981 (aged 32)||49||Panathinaikos|
|4||MF||Ivan Perišić||2 February 1989 (aged 25)||29||VfL Wolfsburg|
|5||DF||Vedran Ćorluka||5 February 1986 (aged 28)||72||Lokomotiv Moscow|
|6||DF||Dejan Lovren||5 July 1989 (aged 24)||24||Southampton|
|7||MF||Ivan Rakitić||10 March 1988 (aged 26)||62||Sevilla|
|8||MF||Ognjen Vukojević||20 December 1983 (aged 30)||55||Dynamo Kyiv|
|9||FW||Nikica Jelavić||27 August 1985 (aged 28)||34||Hull City|
|10||MF||Luka Modrić||9 September 1985 (aged 28)||75||Real Madrid|
|11||DF||Darijo Srna (c)||1 May 1982 (aged 32)||113||Shakhtar Donetsk|
|12||GK||Oliver Zelenika||14 May 1993 (aged 21)||0||Lokomotiva|
|13||DF||Gordon Schildenfeld||18 March 1985 (aged 29)||21||Panathinaikos|
|14||MF||Marcelo Brozović||16 October 1992 (aged 21)||1||Dinamo Zagreb|
|15||MF||Ivan Močinić||30 April 1993 (aged 21)||0||Rijeka|
|16||FW||Ante Rebić||21 September 1993 (aged 20)||5||Fiorentina|
|17||FW||Mario Mandžukić||21 May 1986 (aged 28)||50||Bayern Munich|
|18||FW||Ivica Olić||14 September 1979 (aged 34)||92||VfL Wolfsburg|
|19||MF||Sammir||23 April 1987 (aged 27)||6||Getafe|
|20||MF||Mateo Kovačić||6 May 1994 (aged 20)||10||Internazionale|
|21||DF||Domagoj Vida||29 April 1989 (aged 25)||24||Dynamo Kyiv|
|22||FW||Eduardo||25 February 1983 (aged 31)||64||Shakhtar Donetsk|
|23||GK||Danijel Subašić||27 October 1984 (aged 29)||6||AS Monaco|
This can very well can be the golden age for Croatia as talent is prevalent with the likes of Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic. Croatia presents a great balance of talent at each position in their squad with arguably more talented strikers than Brazil. Experience in the World Cup is lacking as they did not reach the cup in 2010 but with this much talent, expect Croatia to make some noise as a dark horse.
Key Player: Luka Modric
Luka Modric shown flashes in his first season at Real Madrid, but his second season made a case that he might be the best playmaking midfielder in the world right now. Luka Modric can pick a pass from the smallest opening and has the ability to play either deep in the midfield or behind the striker. His technique and field awareness are extraordinary and if Croatia are to make it out this group stage, he would have to be the reason.
Player to Watch: Ivan Rakitic
Sevilla surprised many when they won the Europa League beating Benfica. The best player on that team was Ivan Rakitic, whom had a number of bigger clubs watching him for a while now but stayed in Seville and brought them home Europa League gold. Rakitic who has a similar game to his compatriot Luka Modric is expected to continue his great form into Croatia as he could be a player on the move after the World Cup is over.
Predicted Group Finish: 4th
Manager: Miguel Herrera
Predicted Group Finish: 4th
Manager: Miguel Herrera
Mexico has had three different managers in the year of 2013 as it was an underachieving year for them. However the reigning Olympic winners look set to once again challenge Brazil an the like with returning members Chicharito Hernandez, Giovanni Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta. Mexico will be heavy underdogs this World Cup and will have a mountain to climb to make it out of this group stage.
Key Player: Javier (Chicharito) Hernandez
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Javier Chicharito Hernandez has found playing time limited as Moyes has preferred other options such as Rooney, Welbeck and Van Persie. However when he has played he still shown that killer instinct to sniff out goal opportunities and make that perfect run. Chicharito is a player that is not known for creating himself but if Mexico can provide him the service, they can count on Chicharito making the most out of it.
Player to Watch: Diego Reyes
This will be the 21 year old's first World Cup and has shown flashes of his perceived enormous potential during his time at Mexican club; America and FC Porto during his first season. Diego Reyes is versatile with the ability to play center-back and the midfield and can show Mexico fans what is to come in the future.
Predicted Group Finish: 3rd
Predicted Group Finish: 3rd
Manager: Volker Finke
|1||GK||Loïc Feudjou||14 April 1992 (aged 22)||2||Coton Sport|
|2||DF||Benoît Assou-Ekotto||24 March 1984 (aged 30)||22||Queens Park Rangers|
|3||DF||Nicolas N'Koulou||27 March 1990 (aged 24)||48||Marseille|
|4||DF||Cédric Djeugoué||28 August 1992 (aged 21)||3||Coton Sport|
|5||DF||Dany Nounkeu||11 April 1986 (aged 28)||16||Beşiktaş|
|6||MF||Alex Song||9 September 1987 (aged 26)||47||Barcelona|
|7||MF||Landry N'Guémo||28 November 1985 (aged 28)||40||Bordeaux|
|8||FW||Benjamin Moukandjo||12 November 1988 (aged 25)||17||Nancy|
|9||FW||Samuel Eto'o (c)||10 March 1981 (aged 33)||117||Chelsea|
|10||FW||Vincent Aboubakar||22 January 1992 (aged 22)||24||Lorient|
|11||MF||Jean Makoun||29 May 1983 (aged 31)||66||Rennes|
|12||DF||Henri Bedimo||4 June 1984 (aged 30)||31||Lyon|
|13||FW||Maxim Choupo-Moting||23 March 1989 (aged 25)||26||Mainz 05|
|14||DF||Aurélien Chedjou||20 June 1985 (aged 28)||31||Galatasaray|
|15||FW||Pierre Webó||20 January 1982 (aged 32)||56||Fenerbahçe|
|16||GK||Charles Itandje||2 November 1982 (aged 31)||9||Konyaspor|
|17||MF||Stéphane Mbia||20 May 1986 (aged 28)||49||Sevilla|
|18||MF||Eyong Enoh||23 March 1986 (aged 28)||38||Antalyaspor|
|19||FW||Fabrice Olinga||12 May 1996 (aged 18)||8||Zulte Waregem|
|20||MF||Edgar Salli||17 August 1992 (aged 21)||8||Lens|
|21||MF||Joël Matip||8 August 1991 (aged 22)||23||Schalke 04|
|22||DF||Allan Nyom||10 May 1988 (aged 26)||10||Granada|
|23||GK||Sammy N'Djock||25 February 1990 (aged 24)||3||Fethiyespor|
Cameroon was disappointing in the 2010 World Cup as they finished their group stage without a win and a quick exit out of South Africa. This Cameroon team will feature most of the same players from the last World Cup with a few new additions. What they had in talent and athletic ability in 2010, they lack in team cohesion and chemistry, will this Cameroon team learn from their South Africa struggles and get out of this group stage?
Key Player: Alex Song
You can make a case that Samuel Eto'o is the best player in Cameroon but he is getting on there in age, Alex Song is currently the most important player Cameroon has in their disposal. Yes, his career has been ruined by Barcelona, but he is a midfielder that can pick out a pass, run the whole field and make a tackle. Song may need this World Cup more than ever to revive his career and prove he is the same player that came from Arsenal.
Player to Watch: Fabrice Olinga
What were you doing at 18 years old? Were you playing in a World cup? Assuming that answer is no, Fabrice Olinga is a position many 18 year dr olds dream of, he is the youngest player to play in the World Cup and has a chance to be a future star for his parent club Malaga team that has saw many of their star players leave over the past season. He holds the record of youngest ever goalscorer in La Liga and has the speed and eye for a goal that has gotten many comparisons to his teammate and idol Samuel Eto'o. Will he be able to handle the pressure of playing in the World Cup?
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