The draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was released on Friday bringing up some mouthwatering clashes. Hosts and five-time champions Brazil landed a fairly easy Group A where they will face Croatia, Cameroon and Mexico who breezed through after beating New Zealand in the intercontinental playoff.
Defending champions, Spain, will take on the Netherlands, who they beat in the final to win the 2010 World Cup as well as CONMEBOL outfit, Chile and Australia in Group B.
A very open Group C will see Colombia make their return to the World Cup since 1998 and they will face Greece, Asian side Japan and Ivory Coast. Group D is one of the toughest groups – perhaps alongside Group G. Uruguay, England and Italy headline the group which also has Costa Rica who qualified from CONCACAF. Two-time champions Uruguay needed a playoff against Jordan to qualify but will be among the favorites to work their way out of the group which has three former World Cup winners.
France, who needed grit to go past Ukraine in the UEFA playoff will start their campaign against Honduras in Port Alegre as the two other group members, Switzerland and Ecuador face off in Brasilia.
Group F features Nigeria and Argentina who will meet for the second time in the Group stages level after being drawn together in the 2002 FIFA World Cup which the South Americans won 1-0 courtesy of a 63rd minute Gabriel Batistuta goal. The two teams will be favorites to advance from the group which also has debutants Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran who are ranked 45th in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be Portugal’s key man as they try to advance from a tough Group G which also has three-time champions Germany. The Real Madrid forward singlehandedly delivered the 2014 World Cup qualification spot to the Portuguese after netting a breathtaking hat-trick that locked out Zlatan Ibrahimovic-led Sweden out of next year’s showpiece. Africa will once again be looking at Ghana to deliver a performance akin to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where they reached the quarter-finals before losing out to Uruguay thanks in part to Luis Suarez’s infamous handball incident. However, it will need some performance to advance from Group G which has 1930 second runners up United States as the fourth member.
Belgium will be favorites to top Group H. The Western Europe side last made their appearance at the World Cup in 2002 before their golden generation which includes the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelo Lukaku, goalkeepers Simon Mignolet and Thibaut Courtois, Marouane Fellaini, Christian Benteke, Mousa Dembele and Axel Witsel among others secured them qualification. Other group members include Fabio Capello’s Russia, North Africans Algeria and South Korea.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil in June 12th where the hosts will take on Croatia in the opening match in Sao Paulo.
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