The 2014 World Cup has come to an end and the eight groups have been finalized. Some immediate questions will arise once you get a chance to look at the placement of the 32 nations.
1. Did America get screwed? (Probably.)
2. Which group is the group of death? (Probably USA’s group)
3. Can the 2014 World Cup get here soon enough? (Nope.)
With that, here are four immediate reactions and observations from Dillon Friday, our resident footballer extraordinaire. Let the party begin in Rio.
The USA has its work cut out
If the United States hopes to advance out of a brutal Group G, they will need to beat Ghana. That doesn’t bode well for the Yanks. Ghana, arguably the strongest African team, eliminated the US in each of the last two World Cups. Germany fronts the group. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal complete it. The US will travel more than any other team in the tournament. We’ll see y’all in Russia 2018.
The Group of Death
The Americans’ Group G is likely the toughest of the tournament, but there are some others that should prove difficult for top teams. Uruguay, Costa Rica, Italy, and England make up a tricky Group D. The Uruguayans are highly regarded with an attacking front of Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani, and Luis Suarez, but they also struggled to qualify. They needed to defeat Jordan in a playoff just to reach Brazil. Italy played very well in both the European Cup in 2012 and in the Confederations Cup earlier this year. And then there’s England, who are simultaneously the most overrated nation in world soccer and also the greatest underachievers. Who will advance out of this group? I like Italy and Uruguay, but Costa Rica is not a pushover.
The Group of Life
Argentina were gift wrapped a path to the round of 16. Bosnia-Herzegovina is the lone debutant, and Iran and Nigeria are hardly world beaters. The Argentines have to be considered one of the two or three favorites now off of this draw alone, especially considering that no European team has ever won the World Cup on South American soil. But hey, that means more Lionel Messi for all of us. I won’t complain.
The Team Worth Watching
I and the rest of the world have long waited to see what Ivory Coast could do on the international stage. Unfortunately, the Elephants found themselves in the group of death in both 2010 in South Africa and in 2006 in Germany. Didier Drogba and company had to face the likes of Argentina, The Netherlands, Serbia, Portugal, and Brazil in those two tournaments. Brazil 2014 could be a different story. Ivory Coast should beat Japan and Greece, and even top seeded Colombia has very little experience on the World Stage. With Yaya Toure in the fold and an inspired Drogba up front, Ivory Coast may finally fulfill the potential that many bestowed on them as a rising power.