FIFA World Cup Soccer 2014 Group A Pick and Preview
Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, Mexibo
Tuesday 12th June 2014
TV: BBC; UTV:Fox Sports:ESPN
Star Man: Neymar
USA TODAY Sports
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scholari
The host team Brazil are the most decorated International football team in history having won the World Cup a record five times and finishing runner up on two occasions. It will be expected that the home side not only win this tournament but do it in style, samba style. With a plethora of talent plying their trade across all the top clubs in Europe and South America it would be a major surpise if Brazil do not win all three of their group games. The star man will be the young Barceona striker Neymar who has had an up and down season with the Catalan club and was somewhat disappointing if the truth be told. But Neymar has always risen to the occasion in the yellow jersey of Brazil and the home crowd will expect him to dazzle and dribble his way to history. For this writer though the key to Brazil's chances of winning the tournament will lie with their defence and captain Paris St Germaines Thiago Silva. If Silva can marshall a talented backline including Chelsea's David Luiz, Bayern Munich's Dante and Barcelona wing back Dani Alves then Brazil may indeed at a sixth title to their illustrious history.
Prediction for Group: Group Winners
Star Man: Samuel Eto
Manager: Volker Finke
Cameroon come into this Group as rank outsiders with three very capable teams pitted against them. Manager Volker Finke made few surprises with his squad including Alex Song and Samuel Eto as the veterans and with the team likely to be built around young Mainz Striker Choupo-Moting it is an interesting squad. Stephane Mbia will be the key figure in the midfield as he was for Sevilla this past season as they won the Europa League and finished fifth in La Liga. Cameroon do possess some talented individuals and as a group they will work hard for each other but this group looks very tough and its hard to see anything but a Group exit for the Africans who may cause a scare along the way with the talent they possess up front.
Prediction: Group Exit
Star Man: Luka Modric
Manager: Niko Kovac
Croatia come to the World Cup with a strong squad and a couple of superstars in Luka Modric ( Real Madrid ) and Mario Mandzukich (Bayern Munich) . A qualifying campaign which saw the team struggle for long periods was put to bed when the Croats beat Iceland 2-0 to advance to the World Cup. Manager Niko Kovac took charge after shambolic qualifyuing campaign and seemed to get the reaction he needed when guiding them through that playoff. There are a number of interesting inclusions in the Croatian squad with Perisisc, Rakitic and Lovren all getting the chance to shine on the world stage. While many expect Mexico to thrive in this World Cup given their proximity to Brazil and the climate conditions I think that this Croatia team is more than capable of causing a surprise here in the Group.
Prediction: Runner up in Group A
Star Man: Javier Hernandez
Manager: Miguel Ernesta Herrera
A young Mexico side will travel to Brazil full of expectations to finally deliver on their potential. Javier Hernandez will be the the key man for Mexico and if the Manchester United striker can hit top form then they will have a marksman with the potential to push them through this tough group. Mexico have a young squad with most under the age of 26 and with a couple of older experienced individuals thrown in Rafael Marquez the ex Barcelona captain the key defensive player. Mexico really struggled to come through a very weak qualifying campaign and it took a playoff against New Zealand to get them their place in Brazil. While there is no doubting that Gio Dos Santos, Hernandez, Marquez and Herrera have the talent to lead this Mexico side to the knockout stages I fear that as a team they will just not be good enough to break down a workmanlike Croatia. For this reason I am predicting a Group exit for the Mexicans.
Prediction: Group Exit