Colombia: Colombia’s first World Cup since 1998 will see them have to go through a campaign without their talisman Falcao. They are expected to do well at this year’s tournament and that’s even without their star man who scored nine teams in qualifying. In attack they still have Jackson Martinez, Bacca and Adrian Ramos who will guarantee you goals though. Meanwhile, they have a talented midfield with the likes of Guarin, James Rodriguez and Barca bound Cuadrado. Prediction: Will safely get out of the group but will get knocked out in the last 16.
Greece: Group C has the potential to be very interesting and Greece will be one of the teams trying to finish second in the group to Colombia. They are a well organised group of players but they could struggle in the intense Brazilian heat. They are an extremely experienced side as well and bolster the likes of Samaras, Karagounis, Salpingidis and Katsouranis. On paper they don’t look like such a bad side but lack that extreme quality that is needed on the big stage. They will probably be over reliant on Mitroglou’s goals. Prediction: Despite what I’ve said about them, I think they’ll finish bottom of what will be a tight group.
The elephants never seemed to have lived up to expectation despite the fantastic array of players they have in their squad. They’re deadly going forward but their defensive capabilities could be questioned, and if they are to perform they need to sharpen things up defensively. Gervinho, Drogba and Yaya Toure are all big players and if they do well Ivory Coast should do well. Prediction: Second in the group but knocked out in the last 16.
Japan: Japan seemed to play fairly well at last year’s Confederations Cup and therefore may fancy their chances in Group C. On their day they are an extremely dangerous side but many of their players have proved to be extremely inconsistent. Honda and Kagawa are great creative outlets meaning Okazaki should score goals throughout. They meanwhile have the hugely experienced Endo in midfield and Southampton’s Maya Yoshida at the back. Prediction: Third just behind Ivory Coast.
The South American side are expected to do quite well, providing they get out of their group of course. In South Africa they finished in fourth place, and arguably, many of their players are now a lot better. Luis Suarez of course will be crucial, as will Cavani. Their defensive, like a few sides at the World Cup, can be questioned but in Godin and Muslera they have some reliability. Prediction: Will get out of the group in either first or second place.
Costa Rica: Costa Rica, as one of football’s minnows probably have, aside from Australia, the toughest group if you consider their football status. They have only qualified for three World Cup’s aside from Brazil and you can’t see how they’ll get any points in this group. Their defence doesn’t look great but in Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz they have quality going forward. Prediction: Bottom of the group with no points.
Perhaps the lowest expectation for an English World Cup squad in a very long time means we could actually surprise a few teams. Our preparation hasn’t exactly been amazing but our team is very exciting if you compare it to the one we took to South Africa. Wayne Rooney is yet to show what he’s made of at international level and he’ll be crucial to whether we go far in the competition. What is encouraging though is our defence looking solid, and our pace going forward. The conditions definitely don’t suit us though and we’ll have to be extremely patient and take our chances in this tough group. Prediction: We’ll just about scrape through the group, and could go onto reach the quarter-finals.
Italy: Before preparation began for the World Cup I saw Italy as a serious threat to our position in the group, however, on second thoughts they don’t actually look a great side. Their form isn’t great and their opening fixture against England could fizzle out into a boring 0-0 draw. They have obvious qualities in the form of Pirlo, Balotelli and Chiellini but seem to lack that deadly end product. Prediction: I’m going to be brave here and say they won’t get out of the group like four years ago. It’s certainly all up for grabs in Group D though.