So, the wait is finally over and every football fan is giddy with excitement as the FIFA World Cup™ 2014 kicks-off in the adopted ‘home of football’ Brazil. With the host nation looking to secure a remarkable sixth world title, we take a quick look at a few of the 32 nations who will be seeking to land their hands on the prestigious trophy. We’ll also be giving you the low-down on England’s chances and provide a full-fixture list so you can make sure you won’t miss a kick!
The usual suspects make up this year’s bookmaker’s favourites, we take a look at the four outstanding candidates below…
Naturally gifted, flamboyant & passionate have always been associated with any player who puts on the famous yellow jersey, but this Brazilian team have been built on solid foundations too, with world-renowned coach Luiz Felipe Scolari opting to field ‘reinforcers’ with the likes of Luiz Gustavo & Paulinho allowing the mercurial Neymar to unlock the opposition’s defence further up the pitch. The bookies favourites at 3/1, it seems like this Brazil team have every chance to lift the trophy and give the home supporters a carnival atmosphere to remember.
Opting to adopt an attacking 4-3-3 formation, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella likes his team to ‘go for-it’. What they lack in defensive duties is abundantly outweighed by the threat at the other end, with the likes of Sergio Augero & Gonzalo Higuian making space for their talisman and captain Lionel Messi to run the show. Their five strikers scored 124 goals between them at club level last season, whilst their playmaker Angel di Maria notched up an impressive 17 La Ligue assists, the most in Europe’s five elite divisions. Argentina’s group games are all in south Brazil, so they are bound to get a good turnout from their renowned partisan supporters hoping to see a repeat of 1986 (minus the in-famous ‘Hand of God’ this time please!).
Previous Germany teams were not known for their attacking flair players, but this Germany squad features them in abundance. Adaptable and experienced, Germany’s captain Philipp Lahm was described by Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola as “the most intelligent player I’ve ever coached”, and that is praise indeed coming from the man that has coached the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. The attacking threat that the German’s posses will no doubt be the key factor on their progress through a tricky group that includes Portugal, Ghana and the USA.
The football world has ran out of superlatives for this Spanish team, who have won the previous two European Championships & are currently the World Cup holders after their triumph in South Africa four years ago. With coach Vicente del Bosque expecting to go for the now-famous ‘false-nine’ formation, Spain’s strengths lie within a game of keep-ball, tiring the opposition out which could prove pivotal in the sweltering heat of Brazil. As much as the talent Spain has going forward, their defence isn’t too shabby either, having not conceded a goal in their previous 10 knockout matches, the likes of Sergio Ramos will prove key if Spain are to claim the crown again.
And don’t forget England!
Hot and humid conditions, a very tough group and nobody giving them a hope in hell. All of these aspects appear to say that we might as well forget about a second World Cup victory for the Three Lions, but the one thing we have in our favour this year is a lack of pressure. A blend of energy, youth and experience means the squad is a finely balanced team that’s also well capable of holding their own against the best-in-the-business, with the likes of Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling providing pace and youthful exuberance, it will be down to the old-guard of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney to lead the team through the tournament. If we get a bit of luck, and stay reasonably free of injuries then there’s no reason why Roy’s boys can’t go all the way … dare to dream!
All of the matches will be shown live on ITV1 and the BBC throughout the tournament, and to make sure you’re fully clued up on the kick-off times then simply click the logo below…
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and hopefully in a month’s time we’ll have seen less of this…