StatFox.com - Sports Handicapping Community

The Leading Logic In Sports Handicapping

The FoxDen Forum : Powered by vBulletin version 2.3.0 The FoxDen Forum > Sports Handicapping, Trends, and Stats > World Cup
Search The Fox Den Forum:

Subscribe to this Thread
Pages (9): [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »

Last Message   Next Message
    
Author
Message    Post A Reply
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

World Cup

After a 4 year wait the World Cup is finally here! This is a preview I did for my soccer blog on all 32 teams. I wish I could have gone in to more depth with each one but with a full time job it was tough enough finding the time to get these done. I will be posting all of my picks throughout the tournament in this thread and will post my futures and my bracket before kickoff on Thursday. It may take me a while to get all 32 previews posted so you may want to check back in in a few hours.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:25 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group A Preview: Brazil

Manager: Luiz Felipe “Big Phil” Scolari

Current FIFA Ranking: 3

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Croatia – June 12 @ 4PM – Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

v. Mexico – June 17 @ 3PM – Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

v. Cameroon – June 23 @ 4PM – Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 3/1

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro).

Defenders: Thiago Silva (PSG), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint German).

Midfielders: Luis Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk).

Forwards: Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Hulk (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Jô (Atletico Mineiro)

The Rundown

As the Confederations Cup was about to get underway this time last year, and the world was focused on the countries lack of preparedness and civil unrest, Selecao fans were worried. Mano Menezes had been sacked just months before because the team was deemed to have been in an irreversible state of flux, and the best the world had to offer were about to come calling in the dress rehearsal for this year’s main event.

Enter Luiz Felipe Scolari, or Big Phil as he is more affectionately known, the homegrown manager who had led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title back in 2002. Famous for his temper, Big Phil guided his young and talented squad through the Confederations Cup gauntlet and to the finals where they easily dispatched defending World Cup and EURO 2012 champions Spain 3-0, easing the fears of fans throughout the country and putting them in prime position to make a run at their sixth title on home soil this summer.

When choosing his squad for this year’s tournament, Scolari’s 23-name list includes sixteen players who were in the team that won last year’s warm-up tournament, choosing to leave out such famous but aging names as Kaka, Robinho, and Ronaldinho. The team will mix talented young stars Neymar and Oscar, the former who had an up and down campaign in his first season with Barcelona but always seems to take his game to another level when he pulls on the national team jersey, with more experienced players such as Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Hulk.

Though Scolari is not afraid to win ugly, a trait that might be necessary at some point if the Selecao are to make a run to the finals, he is expected to set out a team that will attack. Much to the delight of fans, he will play the “Beautiful Game” as Brazilian legend Pele likes to say. And while it may be too early to say what the impact of billions of dollars spent on new stadiums and overall infrastructure will have on the Brazilian economy, or how much it will affect the citizens who feel as if they have been marginalized in the name of a sporting event, the state of flux that Brazil soccer had found them in less than a year ago has reversed.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:30 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group A Preview: Croatia

Manager: Niko Kovac

Current FIFA Ranking: 18

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Brazil – June 12 @ 4PM - Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

v. Cameroon – June 18 @ 6PM - Arena Amazonia (Manaus)

v. Mexico – June 23 @ 4PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 150/1

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov/RUS), Danijel Subasic (Monaco/FRA), Oliver Zelenika (Lokomotiva Zagreb)

Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa/ITA), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos/GRE), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), Dejan Lovren (Southampton/ENG), Gordon Schindelfeld (Panathinaikos/GRE)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka), Sammir (Getafe/ESP)

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich/GER), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City/ENG), Ivica Olic (VfL Wolfsburg/GER), Eduardo Da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Ivan Perisic (VfL Wolfsburg/GER), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina/ITA)

The Rundown

After taking points from their first six qualifying games, Croatia managed only one from their next twelve, a run that eventually led to the resignation of manager Igor Stimac and a playoff against Iceland, where former Croatian international Niko Kovac , who until then was in charge of the U-21 team, guided them to a 2-0 aggregate victory to secure qualification to Brazil.

Kovac’s iconic status from his playing days and successful start has given him an excellent platform for his tenure, but he is still relatively unproven at this level. The switch has been a popular one with the fans, but whether he will be able to get the best out of his squad with relatively few competitive matches in charge prior to the tournament remains to be seen.

Luckily for Kovac, he has some world class talent at his disposal in the likes of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic, though Mandzukic will be missing from their opening round matchup against Brazil because of a red card that he picked up for a nasty tackle in the second leg of their playoff against Iceland. Kovac will find it hard to replace not only the offense that the Bayern man brings to his squad, but also his overall game, as Mandzukic does not neglect is defensive duties.

After not qualifying for South Africa in 2010, the Vatreni received a tough draw having to face Brazil in the opening match of the tournament where the emotions and energy from the crowd will surely give the hosts a boost (as if they needed one) and without one of their best players and front man Mandzukic. Croatia is a match for anyone on their day, and with games against a Cameroonian side in disarray and a Mexican team they should be able to break down, they will like their chances of advancing out of the group stages.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:34 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group A Preview: Mexico

Manager: Miguel Herrera

Current FIFA Ranking: 20

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Cameroon – June 13 @ 12PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

v. Brazil – June 17 @ 3PM - Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

v. Croatia – June 23 @ 4PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 125/1

Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio/FRA)

Defenders: Paul Aguilar, Miguel Layun (both Club America), Hector Moreno (Espanyol/ESP), Diego Reyes (FC Porto/POR), Francisco Rodriguez (Club America), Rafael Marquez (Leon), Carlos Salcido (Tigres)

Midfielders: Hector Herrera (FC Porto/POR), Jose Juan Vazquez (Leon), Juan Carlos Medina (Club America), Carlos Pena (Leon), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Javier Aquino (Villarreal), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen/GER)

Forwards: Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United/ENG), Raul Jimenez (Club America), Alan Pulido (Tigres), Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal/ESP)

The Rundown

After a miserable final round of qualifying, where Mexico dropped points for the first time at the once vaunted fortress known as the Estadio Azteca, El Tri needed a late goal from arch rivals the United States in their matchup against Panama on the last day of qualifying to finish in fourth place in the CONCACAF region. That earned them a spot in a playoff against Oceanic group winner New Zealand where Miguel Herrera, who became the fourth manager of the national side within a one month span, guided them to a 9-3 aggregate victory over the Kiwi’s with a side made up of entirely domestic based players and finally book their ticket to Brazil.

After the coaching carousel and the difficult qualifying campaign, Herrera has certainly provided some stability at the top. Sticking with the approach that he utilized against New Zealand, the majority of his 23 man roster are based at home, including former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, now of Leon, who will be featuring at his fourth consecutive World Cup final and will be the anchor in Herrera’s 5-3-2 formation. Few teams in the world play with five defenders, but Herrera is completely identified with the formation and he hardly changes it.

Even with five at the back, the slow of foot Mexican defense has found themselves susceptible to the diagonal pass and could struggle with the pace and creativity of fellow Group A members Brazil and the ability of Croatia’s midfield maestro Luka Modric to break them down. Of greater concern could be their lack of production in the offensive third, and for El Tri to have any shot of advancing past the group stages Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos will have to rediscover their form, quickly, and Oribe Peralta and Marco Fabian will have to once again find the magic that helped them defeat Neymar and Brazil in the gold medal game at the London Olympics.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:37 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group A Preview: Cameroon

Manager: Volker Finke

Current FIFA Ranking: 56

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Mexico – June 13 @ 12PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

v. Croatia – June 18 @ 6PM - Arena Amazonia (Manaus)

v. Brazil – June 23 @ 4PM - Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 500/1

Goalkeepers: Charles Itandje (Konyaspor), Sammy N'Djock (Fethiyespor), Loïc Feudjou (Coton sport/CMR)

Defenders: Allan Nyom (Granada CF/ESP), Cedric Djeugou (Coton sport/CMR), Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas/TUR), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray/TUR), Nicolas Nkoulou (Marseille/FRA), Henri Bedimo (Lyon/FRA), Benoît Assou Ekotto (Queens ParkRangers/ENG)

Midfielders: Enoh Eyong (Antalyaspor), Jean II Makoun (Rennes/FRA), Joel Matip (Schalke/GER), Stephane Mbia (Sevilla/ESP), Landry N'Guemo (Bordeaux/FRA), Alexandre Song (Barcelona/ESP), Edgar Salli (Lens/FRA)

Forwards: Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea/ENG), Eric Choupo Moting (Mainz 05/GER), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy/FRA), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient/FRA), Pierre AchilleWebo (Fenerbahce/TUR), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem/BEL)

The Rundown

Cameroon has endured a laundry list of issues since the conclusion of South Africa 2010. Manager Volker Finke, their fifth manager since South Africa, was brought in after the Indomitable Lions failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2013. Their qualification for Brazil looked to be in doubt as well after a June defeat to Togo, but FIFA awarded them all three points after it was revealed Togo had used a suspended player. The overturned loss catapulted Cameroon back into qualification contention and eventually to a 4-1 aggregate playoff win over Tunisia to earn their seventh World Cup appearance, most among African nations.

Although this will be their second successive trip to the World Cup, problems abound throughout the team and the Cameroon Football Association. The squad has been plagued by divisions created at the 2010 finals in South Africa, with captain Samuel Eto’o at its center both then and now, the latest of which was a bizarre outburst by the soon to be former Chelsea striker that there was a plot among his team-mates not to pass him the ball. France’s L’Equipe also published a report that claimed the Cameroon players had refused to board the plane that was due to take them to Brazil since no agreement had been reached with the Cameroonian Football Association over the level of bonuses in Brazil. Finke says that an agreement has now been struck and the team will be in fact heading to Brazil.

That is a lot of drama surrounding a team and we haven’t even talked about their form on the field! For a country that was once considered the standard of African football, this could be a short stay in Brazil and a shorter tenure for Finke as the man in charge. Forget about getting past the group stages, drawn in to a group with hosts Brazil and potentially tricky matchups with Croatia and Mexico, the Lions will be lucky to stave off implosion and embarrassment.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:39 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group B Preview: Spain

Manager: Vicente del Bosque

Current FIFA Ranking: 1

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Netherlands – June 13 @ 3PM - Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)

v. Chile – June 18 @ 3PM - Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (Rio De Janeiro)

v. Australia – June 23 @ 12PM - Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 6/1

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid CF), Pepe Reina (SSC Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United FC).

Defenders: Juanfran (Club Atlético de Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF), Raúl Albiol (SSC Napoli), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona), Javi Martínez (FC Bayern München), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea FC).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Cesc Fàbregas (FC Barcelona), Pedro Rodríguez (FC Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid CF), Koke (Club Atlético de Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal FC) , Juan Mata (Manchester United FC), David Silva (Manchester City FC).

Forwards: David Villa (Club Atlético de Madrid), Diego Costa (Club Atlético de Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea FC).

The Rundown

Spain will head to Brazil as defending champions after topping what was the smallest qualifying group in Europe with only five teams. While their defense remained stout in allowing only three goals, less than any other side in the European preliminaries, at the other end of the pitch Spain endured one of their less prolific campaigns, scoring only 14 times.

The lack of production in the final third has become an all too common theme for La Roja over the last few years. After leading a revolution in the way the game of soccer was played with their “tiki-taka” style, they have become somewhat stagnant in the final third as teams have chosen to utilize the “Park the Bus” approach on defense to stymie their possession based style of play.

With last summer’s 3-0 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, questions were being asked about whether their era of dominance was coming to an end. Though there is no doubt that Spain’s embarrassment of midfield riches, featuring the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and Juan Mata, and their strength on defense with Sergio Ramos and Girard Pique central and Jordi Alba and César Azpilicueta on the flanks and Iker Casillas in goal, continue to make them one of the best teams in the world, the lack of a true scoring threat up front has not allowed them to effectively counter their opponents tactics.

Pedro was given the opportunity to fill this role but he is more comfortable playing out wide, while David Villa is getting up there in years and has not been the same since he broke his leg 2011. Fernando Torres never lived up to his big money move to Liverpool and has been stuck in a rut ever since. Without a true striker manager Vicente del Bosque has experimented with the False 9 to varying degrees of success, however this seemed to be only a short term solution until a true striker made his way through the ranks.

Enter Diego Costa. The Brazilian born forward, who had played for the Selecao in friendlies before snubbing a call up this past November from Luiz Felipe Scolari, scored 36 goals this past season for Atletico Madrid in leading them to the La Liga title and a place in the Champions League final, although his participation was limited in that game and the final La Liga decider due to a hamstring injury. Long rumored to be making the move to Chelsea this summer, it was reported this week that he has passed a physical with Chelsea and therefore looks set to be ready for the holders’ opening game against the Netherlands.

Spain’s squad contains 16 players who travelled to South Africa for their victorious 2010 FIFA World Cup run. With the type of talent and experience they possess, adding a healthy Diego Costa in to the mix could see La Roja (the European version) be set up to make another deep run and defend their title.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:42 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group B Preview: Chile

Manager: Jorge Sampaoli

Current FIFA Ranking: 14

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Australia – June 13 @ 6PM - Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba)

v. Spain – June 18 @ 3PM - Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (Rio De Janeiro)

v. Netherlands – June 23 @ 12PM - Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 40/1

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)

Defenders: Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest)

Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo)

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo)

The Rundown

Chile became the favorite of most neutral fans in South Africa 2010 with their offensive approach to the game, and they looked well on their way to another appearance on the world stage until a string of three successive defeats led to the dismissal of Argentinian coach Claudio Borghi’s. The reign of his replacement, Jorge Sampaoli, got off to a shaky start but La Roja (the South American version) found their footing under a familiar tactical approach and tallied five victories and a draw in their next six encounters to finish third in the CONMEBOL group and qualify for a second successive World Cup for the first time.

Sampaoli has returned Chile to the playing style they enjoyed under Marcelo Bielsa, the one that worked so well and which won them many a fan in South Africa: attacking relentlessly and pressing opponents high up the pitch when not in possession. Sampaoli himself a Bielsa disciple, describes the Chilean style as non-negotiable, always seeking to impose themselves, pressing the opponent in their half of the field and creating 2-against-1 situations down the flanks. It is however a two way street, and although Chile did score 29 goals in qualifying, the 25 goals they conceded were more than any of the continent’s other automatic qualifiers, a worrying sign considering they will be facing the some of the best attackers the world has to offer in Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Diego Costa.

Chile was dealt a tough draw when they landed in Group B with Spain and the Netherlands, however they will not be heading to the World Cup on their continent to just to roll over. If they can control the discipline problems that have sometimes plagued them in the past and shore up a leaky defense, their tactical approach and flexibility could see them make their way out of the group stages at the expense of one of the 2010 finalists.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:45 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group B Preview: Netherlands

Manager: Louis Van Gaal

Current FIFA Ranking: 15

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Spain – June 13 @ 3PM - Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)

v. Australia – June 18 @ 12PM - Estadio Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre)

v. Chile – June 23 @ 12PM - Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 25/1

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (AFC Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcaste United FC), Michel Vorm (Swansea City AFC).

Defenders: Daley Blind (AFC Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joël Veltman (AFC Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa FC), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord).

Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich City FC), Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea City AFC), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray AŞ), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven).

Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (FC Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahçe SK), Jeremain Lens (FC Dynamo Kyiv, Robin van Persie (Manchester United FC), Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München).

The Rundown

After losing to Spain in the 2010 finals, the Netherlands took a step back at EURO 2012, losing three games in a row for the first time in twenty years and failing to register a single point in the tournament. A mutiny in the lock room meant that a change was needed, and Bert Van Marwijk gave way to Louis van Gaal, the same man who will be taking over for the deposed David Moyes at Manchester United once his duties with the national team commence at the end of the World Cup.

Under van Gaal, the Oranje secured qualification after winning nine and drawing one of their ten group games, ending the qualifying round as Europe’s joint-top point scorers alongside Germany with 28, and second to Germany in goals scored on the continent with 34. Alongside Italy, the Dutch became the first Europeans to seal their place in Brazil, finished nine points clear of Romania, a gap that was only matched in group play by Belgium.

With Robin Van Persie leading the line, Arjen Robben causing nightmare for opposing defenses playing in from the wing, and Wesley Sneijder controlling the tempo from the middle of the field, the Dutch looked poised to be a dark horse in Brazil, even though they were drawn to a difficult group and face an opening round game against Spain in a rematch of the 2010 final.
But the injury bug has bitten and has left them a weakened side that now looks to be somewhat vulnerable. Kevin Strootman, who was enjoying a breakout campaign in his first season in Serie A and has been tipped to possibly join van Gaal at United next season, will miss the tournament with a crucial ligament injury, while midfielder Rafael van der Vaart was lost to a calf injury and right back Gregory van der Wiel was ruled out because of knee tendinitis.

While they have the talent within their ranks to overcome the losses to injury, the majority of it is in the form of highly rated but unproven talent. You get the sense that without one of their younger players making a breakthrough on the world stage that the Oranje will be force to rely too much on heroics from Van Persie and Robben, which could be what a side like Chile need to sneak through to knockout rounds and send the Dutch home early. With their track record of falling apart as a team it would only take one bad result and a few bounces of the ball to not go their way for the Dutch to come unraveled.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:48 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group B Preview: Australia

Manager: Ange Postecoglou

Current FIFA Ranking: 62

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Chile – June 13 @ 6PM - Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba)

v. Netherlands – June 18 @ 12PM - Estadio Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre)

v. Spain – June 23 @ 12PM - Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 500/1

Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge).

Defenders: Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Bailey Wright (Preston North End).

Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), Tommy Rogic (Melbourne Victory), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (Sion).

Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus 8), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets).

The Rundown

Things are a little different this time around for Australia. After qualifying for South Africa with two games to spare, they were left to the final day of qualifying and late goal against Iraq before finally sealing their passage to Brazil. In a qualifying group that contained the likes of the aforementioned Iraq, Jordan, and Oman, the difficulty with which it took the Socceroos to progress is a worrying sign, and one that was magnified with a pair of 6-0 defeats against Brazil and France which led to the dismissal of manager Holger Osieck.

The decision to bring on National Youth Teams coach Ange Postecoglou was met with widespread approval, as the FFA opted for a home grown coach to implement a long-term plan, rather than looking abroad as they have done in recent years. The new man has a number of issues he needs to address and his first challenge will be to rejuvenate an ageing squad and ensure that the Socceroos avoid any embarrassments in Brazil similar to the ones that spelt the end for Osieck.

Postecoglou wasted no time getting to work and setting the precedent for the future by leaving the experienced veteran defender Lucas Neill off of his final 23 man squad. Tim Cahill, who will almost certainly be playing in his last World Cup, is the undoubted star and epitomizes the Aussie spirit that was missing under Osieck, while Mile Jedinak will be asked to control the pace and tempo of the game from the midfield, which he has done so well at Crystal Palace. In a squad that features several younger players, Postecoglou will be looking to both players to provide leadership on the field and keep them from getting embarrassed in Brazil.

Drawn in to a group with the defending World Cup and EURO 2012 champions Spain, 2010 finalist Netherlands and a talented Chile squad, there is really no way to sugar coat things: it could get ugly for the Socceroos. A young squad that was clearly picked with an eye towards the World Cup in Russia in 2018, they will do good to not focus so much on the results, gather as much experience as possible and avoid being run off of the field by their superior opposition.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:50 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group C Preview: Ivory Coast

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi

Current FIFA Ranking: 23

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Japan – June 14 @ 9PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

v. Columbia – June 19 @ 12PM - Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

v. Greece – June 24 @ 4PM - Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 125/1

Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Sande (Stabaek).

Defenders: Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Sol Bamba (Trabzonspor), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Ousmane Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Frankfurt), Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (Toulouse).

Midfielders: Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Cheik Tiote (Newcastle), Serey Die (Basel), Max Gradel (Saint Etienne), Diomande Ismael (Saint Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover), Mathis Bolly (Dusseldorf).

Forwards: Gervinho (Roma), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Giovanni Sio (Basel)

The Rundown

In every World Cup cycle there is always one team from Africa who is on the cusp of greatness, and the Ivory Coast has the look and potential to be that team this year. After breezing through their opening qualifying group they held on against a resolute Senegal side to guarantee their spot in Brazil for their third consecutive World Cup appearance.

The Ivory Coast boasts some of the greatest individual talents on any one team not just in Africa, but throughout the world. Much of the expectations will fall on the shoulders of former Chelsea superstar Didier Drogba, the country’s all-time record goal scorer and somebody whom his teammates will look upon to lead the way on and off the field. Behind Drogba are Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony who, after impressing in his first season in the English Premier League with twenty five goals in all competitions, is primed for a move to a bigger club in this summer’s transfer window.

Ex-Arsenal winger Gervinho resurrected his career this past season at Roma and can supply service from both flanks while midfielders Didier Zokora, Cheik Tiote and Yaya Toure, the latter arguably the best “box-to-box” player in the world, will hold down the middle of the field, with the defense anchored by Yaya’s brother Kolo, who is fighting to get fit after contracting malaria.

The Elephants have some unfinished business to settle at the World Cup after being saddled with very difficult draws in their first appearance in 2006 and then again in 2010. With a wide open group and a wealth of talent throughout their team, this could be the year they breakthrough and establish themselves on the world stage with a spot in the final 16 and beyond a legitimate possibility.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:55 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group C Preview: Japan

Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni

Current FIFA Ranking: 46

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Ivory Coast – June 14 @ 9PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

v. Greece – June 19 @ 6PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

v. Columbia – June 24 @ 4PM - Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 150/1

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo).

Defenders: Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96), Gotoku Sakai (VfB Stuttgart).

Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Makoto Hasebe (FC Nuremberg), Hiroshi Kiyotake (FC Nuremberg), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F. Marinos).

Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Yuya Osako (TSV Munich 1860), Yo****o Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale)

The Rundown

The arduous two year Asian qualifying campaign saw Japan hit their stride at just the right time. After initially struggling to grasp Italian manager Alberto Zaccheroni’s attacking style, the Blue Samurai found their form and were the first team to qualify for Brazil 2014, finishing four points ahead of Australia to secure their fifth consecutive World Cup appearance.

Looking to rebound from their showing at last year’s Confederations Cup where they lost all three of their group games, Zaccheroni has replaced several veteran mainstays and brought in a number of young players into the national team fold. Keisuke Honda has quickly established his place as the team’s new leader, filling the voids left by Hidetoshi Nakata and Shunsuke Nakamura, and helping to spearhead the attacking line in Zaccheroni’s 3-4-3 formation with Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki, who finished the continental finals as the team’s top-scorer with three goals.

They received a decent draw and are lucky to not have to face a true offensive powerhouse in the group stages, although the Ivory Coast could give them trouble with their attacking abilities, strength and speed. With a defense first Greece side and a Falcao-less Columbia squad, the Blue Samurai will have to like their chances of advancing out of the group stages, but eclipsing their best ever finish in a World Cup of the getting past the final sixteen looks to be too much of an ask at this point.

Old Post 06-11-14 12:58 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group C Preview: Greece

Manager: Fernando Santos

Current FIFA Ranking: 12

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Columbia – June 14 @ 12PM - Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte)

v. Japan – June 19 @ 6PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

v. Ivory Coast – June 24 @ 4PM - Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 200/1

Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada CF), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK FC), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos FC).

Defenders: Vassilis Torossidis (AS Roma), Loukas Vyntra (Levante UD), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Kostas Manolas (Olympiacos FC), Vangelis Moras (Hellas Verona FC), José Holebas (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Tzavellas (PAOK FC).

Midfielders: Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos FC), Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Andreas Samaris (Olympiacos FC), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham FC), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna FC), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna FC), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino FC), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa CFC).

Forwards: Giorgos Samaras (Celtic FC), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham FC), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor).

The Rundown

Despite coming from one of the weaker qualifying groups, Greece needed to win a playoff to secure their place in Brazil. That does not mean that they played poorly however, it was actually quite the opposite. Their point’s total of twenty five from their ten games would have been enough to see them through as group winners in five of the other eight groups. Instead, they had to endure a play-off after losing out on goal difference to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they defeated Romania 4-2 on aggregate.

While To Piratiko’s aren’t usually well known for their offensive exploits, they do have quality up front in the form of Giorgos Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis and Konstantinos Mitroglou, the latter whose five strikes during qualifying make him Greece’s most potent attacking option. The strength of the team lays in the defense and the ability to counter attack with the above mentioned players. The defense conceded only four times in ten games and showed they could hold a lead as five of their eight victories were secured with 1-0 score lines. It is rarely pretty but it is effective.

Since surprising the world at EURO 2004 with a shock run to the finals and an even more shock defeat of Portugal, To Piratiko have been trying to catch the same lightning in a bottle. They have become a mainstay on the world stage and while their defensive style is not always attractive and rarely wins them any fans outside of their own, you cannot argue with how effective it has been throughout the years. Drawn in to the most wide open group in the tournament, the Greeks will fancy their chances to play their game and make their way in to the knockout rounds where, as they learned in 2004, anything can happen.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:01 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group C Preview: Columbia

Manager: Jose Pekerman

Current FIFA Ranking: 8

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Greece – June 14 @ 12PM - Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte)

v. Ivory Coast – June 19 @ 12PM - Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

v. Japan – June 24 @ 4PM - Arena Pantanal (Cuiaba)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 33/1

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe).

Defenders: Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (West Ham).

Midfielders: Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Víctor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional).

Forwards: Jackson Martinez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate)

The Rundown

The arrival of Jose Nestor Pekerman in January 2012 represented a turning point for Los Cafeteros in their journey to Brazil 2014, with the Argentinian coach overseeing a run of five wins in their next six games, a sequence that put them firmly on course for the qualification. However, it was not until the final day of qualifying that they secured their place in Brazil, ending a sixteen year World Cup drought with a second place finish in their group, their highest ever finish since the introduction of the current qualifying system. Colombia had the best defensive record in their group and only two of their continental rivals scored more than their twenty seven.

While they will be hoping to repeat the defensive performance they exhibited throughout qualifying, it will be difficult to repeat the offensive exploits with star striker Radamel Falcao failing to fully recover from a knee ligament injury that he suffered this past January while playing for cub team AS Monaco. The leading scorer for Los Cafeteros in qualifying with nine goals in thirteen matches, Falcao had resumed training with the national team and it was believed that he had a good shot of making the final 23 man squad. Pekerman waited as long as he could but in the end was left with no choice but to exclude him from the squad due to lack of fitness.

The absence of Falcao, one of the leading strikers in the world, is a massive blow to the hopes of Los Cafeteros, who while clearly can’t replace the player, can try to replace his offensive production with fellow Monaco teammate James Rodrigues, Teo Gutierrez, and Jackson Martinez. Drawn in to a wide open group with Greece, the Ivory Coast, and Japan, they will like their chances to advance to the knockout rounds if they can get a fraction of the production from these three that Falcao would have provided.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:21 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group D Preview: England

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Current FIFA Ranking: 10

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Italy – June 14 @ 6PM - Arena Amazonia (Manaus)

v. Uruguay – June 19 @ 3PM - Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

v. Costa Rica – June 24 @ 12PM - Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 22/1

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic FC), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion FC), Joe Hart (Manchester City FC).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton FC), Gary Cahill (Chelsea FC), Phil Jagielka (Everton FC), Glen Johnson (Liverpool FC), Phil Jones (Manchester United FC), Luke Shaw (Southampton FC), Chris Smalling (Manchester United FC).

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton FC), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool FC), Adam Lallana (Southampton FC), Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC), James Milner (Manchester City FC), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal FC), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool FC), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal FC).

Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton FC), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United FC), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool FC), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United FC).

The Rundown

You could almost see the storm clouds gathering and the gloom, despair, and fear building in every England fan. Despite an undefeated qualifying campaign, the Three Lions were still left without an automatic bid to Brazil and were about to face Poland on the final matchday, the same Poland they had played to a draw four decades earlier that saw the Three Lions miss out on the 1974 tournament altogether. Steven Gerrard, the dedicated servant of the national team for so long, extinguished any lingering doubts with his second half goal that put England through to Brazil.

Although the road to Brazil was not as smooth as their qualification to South Africa in 2010, the Three Lions look more poised and prepared to take the next step. Even the most negative England fan, and believe me they are everywhere, has to be satisfied with the depth of this squad and the mixture of young talent and veteran experience that manager Roy Hodgson has assembled. Mainstays Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines, and Frank Lampard mixed with young guns Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling, and Danny Welbeck. And let’s not forget Daniel Sturridge, who along with Luis Suarez made up the most prolific attacking tandem in the English Premier League.

England has both an abundance of talent and depth and they will need to call on both to survive within a tough draw, where they will open the tournament facing Italy in the sweltering heat and humidity of Manaus, followed by Uruguay and then minnows Costa Rica. A top two finish would definitely be plausible, especially if Uruguay is without Luis Suarez, but points in some capacity will need to be taken from one of the two opening games for the Three Lions to have any chance to advance to the knockout round.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:23 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group D Preview: Uruguay

Manager: Oscar Washington Tabarez

Current FIFA Ranking: 7

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Costa Rica – June 14 @ 3PM - Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

v. England – June 19 @ 3PM - Arena de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo)

v. Italy – June 24 @ 12PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 25/1

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray/TUR), Martín Silva (Vasco Da Gama/BRA), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad/PAR)

Defenders: Diego Lugano (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Martin Caceres (Juventus/ITA), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica/POR), Jorge Fucile (Porto/POR), Sebastian Coates (Nacional/URU).

Midfielders: Egidio Arevalo Rios (Morelia/MEX), Walter Gargano (Parma/ITA), Diego Perez (Bologna/ITA), Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio/ITA), Alvaro Pereira (San Pablo/BRA), Cristian Rodríguez (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton/ENG), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo/BRA)

Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool/ENG), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka/JPN), Cristian Stuani (Espanyol/ESP, Abel Hernandez (Palermo/ITA)

The Rundown

After an absolutely dismal start to qualifying where they collected only two points from a possible eighteen, La Celeste recovered just in time to earn a spot in the qualifying playoff, where they comfortably dispatched Jordan 5-0 on aggregate to finally book their spot in Brazil.

After a somewhat surprising run to the semi-finals at South Africa 2010 and their Copa America title a year later, Uruguay was expected to qualify for Brazil with relative ease. Instead, they gave their fans a ride on an emotional roller coaster, one that they thought was over after qualifying but will continue until their opening round game against Costa Rica as they sweat on the fitness of Luis Suarez.

Strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have become the standard bearers for Uruguayan football and the national team over the last couple of years. The Liverpool man ended the South American preliminaries as the leading scorer with 11 goals, while simultaneously laying waste to defenses in the English Premier League, finishing as the top scorer in the EPL. However a late season knock turned out to be a damaged his meniscus and he underwent keyhole surgery on May 22, immediately casting doubts on whether he would be fit for the World Cup. However, Uruguay remains cautiously optimistic that Suarez, who is said to be progressing well following the operation, will be able to feature in Brazil.

Veteran manager Oscar Washington Tabarez, who guided Uruguay on their runs in South Africa and to the Copa America title, is expected to adopt a cautious game plan in Brazil, with a reliance on the counterattack and the finishing abilities of Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Drawn in to what could be considered a “Group of Death” with England and Italy, any absence of Suarez will put a wrench in these plans and surely see La Celeste’s stay in Brazil a short one.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:26 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group D Preview: Italy

Manager: Cesare Prandelli

Current FIFA Ranking: 9

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. England – June 14 @ 6PM - Arena Amazonia (Manaus)

v. Costa Rica – June 20 @ 12PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

v. Uruguay – June 24 @ 12PM - Estadio das Dunas (Natal)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 22/1

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)

The Rundown

After a miserable time in South Africa 2010, where they finished at the bottom of their group, Italy bounced back in style at EURO 2012, making an expected run all the way to the finals before eventually losing to Spain. They stayed in form throughout qualifying, going unbeaten and securing their place in Brazil with two games to spare, a feat that they had never achieved previously.

Under the tutelage of manager Cesare Prandelli, who took over the top spot after the disaster of 2010 and guided the Azzurri to that unexpected run at the European championships, Italy has developed an attractive brand of football, designed around an attacking style of play. Prandelli has said that it is now obvious that you cannot get result without playing attractive football, and he has his Italy squad consistently exceeding expectations. Household names such as Gigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo, the only leftovers from the 2006 Germany winners, the latter the ingenious midfield maestro who continues to be one of the worlds best players at age 35, along with Daniele De Rossi and the temperamental but brilliant Mario Balotelli, continue to make up the nucleus of the squad and will all be crucial to any success that the Azzurri hope to have in Brazil.

Italy will have to shake off a poor run of form that has seen them go winless since September as there will be little room for the traditional slow starts they have become famous for, having been drawn in the other “Group of Death” with England and Uruguay. Much like their opening round opponent, it will be crucial for Italy to do their best to take away some points from the England matchup, knowing that there final game is against Uruguay and there is a good chance that Luis Suarez will be back to full fitness at that point. As they have shown time and again, if they are able to get past the group stages they can beat anyone on any given day, and another magical run to the finals would not be out of the question.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:28 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group D Preview: Costa Rica

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto

Current FIFA Ranking: 28

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Uruguay – June 14 @ 3PM - Estadio Castelao (Fortaleza)

v. Italy – June 20 @ 12PM - Arena Pernambuco (Recife)

v. England – June 24 @ 12PM - Estadio Mineirao (Belo Horizonte)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 1000/1

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano)

Defenders: Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05), Christian Gamboa (Rosenborg), OscarDuarte (Bruges), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Heiner Mora (Saprissa)

Midfielders: Michael Barrantes (Aalesunds), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Celso Borges (AIK), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Christian Bolaños (Copenhagen)

Forwards: Joel Campbell
(Olympiakos), Bryan Ruiz (PSV), Randall Brenes (Carthaginian), Diego Calvo (Valerenga), Marco Urena (Kuban Krasnodar)

The Rundown

Costa Rica qualified through Brazil on the back of a stout defense and an undefeated home record that earned them a second place finish in the CONCACAF region behind the United States and qualification for their fourth World Cup. Manager Jorge Luis Pinto, who is in his second stint as the head man for Los Ticos, his first tenure ending after only one year, will try to continue his team’s stellar defensive record where they allowed only seven goals in ten games while hitting their opponents on the counter attack.

Little is expected of Costa Rica as they were dealt a cruel draw with matchups against three teams near the top of the FIFA rankings and seven World Cup titles between them. If there defense is able to hold Uruguay, Italy, and England their prospects on offense will fall to the feet of Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell.

The former Fulham man, is who now back plying his trade in the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven, has tremendous ability and has always shown potential but too often looked disinterested while on the field in England moving at what looked like half speed. He usually turns it up a notch for the national team and if he does he can be counted on for the occasional moment of magic. The Arsenal owned Campbell has impressed while on loan at Olympiakos, his biggest contribution a goal against Manchester United in the Champions League, and will be vital to any chance that Los Ticos have of staying within striking distance of their opponents.

For Pinto’s predominately defensive side, this tournament will be more about spoiling the ambitions of more illustrious opponents, rather than any realistic hopes of qualifying for the second round. Merely picking up a point or two will be difficult, but knocking one of the European giants out of the World Cup and matching its achievement of reaching the round of 16, which happened in 1990, would fall in to the miracle category, like the USA hockey team upsetting the Soviet Union in 1980 type of miracle, and is not likely to happen.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:30 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group E Preview: France

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Current FIFA Ranking: 17

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Honduras – June 15 @ 3PM - Estadio Beira-Rio (Porto Alegre)

v. Switzerland – June 20 @ 3PM - Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)

v. Ecuador – June 25 @ 4PM - Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (Rio De Janeiro)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 25/1

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne) Mickael Landreau (Bastia)

Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (FC Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (Newcastle United), Rémy Cabella (Montpellier)

The Rundown

Drawn in to a qualifying group that included only five teams as well as defending World Cup champions Spain, France had little room for error. One small slip up forced them to earn, and I mean earn, their spot in Brazil where they overturned an 0-2 first leg defeat with a 3-2 aggregate victory over the Ukraine in the qualifying playoff. Under the guidance of Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus looked to have put their mutinous South Africa campaign behind them and looked poised to be a potential dark horse at this year’s finals.

However, the news that striker and third place finisher in this past years Ballon d’Or Franck Ribery will miss out due a lingering back injury was a serious blow to their title hopes. While Ribery will be a big miss, all is certainly not lost as Les Bleus have the talent with Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, and Paul Pogba to try and offset some of that production loss, while the defense will do their part with a solid goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, who sometimes is a little too cavalier in the “sweeper-keeper” role, and a wealth of options to man the backline and keep their opponents at bay.

Looking to finally put the 2010 World Cup in South Africa behind them, and drawn in to one of the weaker groups in this year’s tournament, anything less than a top of the table group finish, even without Ribery, will be seen as a disappointment. Once in the final sixteen they certainly have the ability to spring an upset or two and find themselves in the semi-finals, as long as they can avoid a repeat of the disaster locker room situation that occurred in South Africa.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:32 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group E Preview: Switzerland

Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld

Current FIFA Ranking: 6

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Ecuador – June 15 @ 12PM - Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

v. France – June 20 @ 3PM - Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador)

v. Honduras – June 25 @ 4PM - Arena Amazonia (Manaus)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 125/1

Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (VfL Wolfsburg), Roman Bürki (Grasshopper Club), Yann Sommer (FC Basel 1893).

Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburger SV), Michael Lang (Grasshopper Club), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Ricardo Rodríguez (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Schär (FC Basel 1893), Philippe Senderos (Valencia CF), Steve von Bergen (BSC Young Boys), Reto Ziegler (US Sassuolo Calcio).

Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valon Behrami (SSC Napoli), Blerim Džemaili (SSC Napoli), Gelson Fernandes (SC Freiburg), Gökhan Inler (SSC Napoli), Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Bayern München), Valentin Stocker (FC Basel 1893), Granit Xhaka (VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach).

Forwards: Josip Drmić (1. FC Nürnberg), Mario Gavranović (FC Zürich), Admir Mehmedi (SC Freiburg), Haris Seferović (Real Sociedad de Fútbol).

The Rundown

Led by one of the most experienced managers in the tournament Ottmar Hitzfeld, who will be retiring from his post after six years in charge following the conclusion of the World Cup, Switzerland qualified for Brazil with a game to spare. Hitzfeld’s team were one of the surprise successes of UEFA qualifying, playing well enough to vault past several established powers in the FIFA World Rankings and thus earn seeded status for the World Cup draw.

The sixth ranked team in the world, which may come as a bit of a shock to some people, will be looking to make amends for a 2010 World Cup that got off to a dream start when they handed eventual world champions Spain a 1-0 defeat in their opening fixture, but ultimately packed for home after just three games.

They will bring a relatively-young roster to Brazil, with just one player over the age of 30 on the 23-man roster. Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri is the star attraction and will lead the charge of a squad pulled largely from Germany’s Bundesliga. The combination of experienced players such as Tranquillo Barnetta, Gokhan Inler and Philippe Senderos, with highly-talented youngsters Fabian Schar, Granit Xhaka and Valentin Stocker, will like their chances of making good on the lessons learned from South Africa and advancing to the round of sixteen, with the group stage matchup against France the only game where they feel they might not be able to take all three points.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:34 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
bawlmer
FoxDen Hall of Famer

Registered: Apr 2006
Posts: 2590

Group E Preview: Ecuador

Manager: Reinaldo Rueda

Current FIFA Ranking: 27

Schedule (all times Eastern)

v. Switzerland – June 15 @ 12PM - Estadio Nacional (Brasilia)

v. Honduras – June 20 @ 6PM - Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)

v. France – June 25 @ 4PM - Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (Rio De Janeiro)

Odds to Lift the Trophy: 150/1

Goalkeepers: Maximo Banguera (Barcelona), Adrian Bone (El Nacional), Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito)

Defenders: Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca/Mexico), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo/Brazil), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador)

Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal/Saudi Arabia), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart/Germany), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem/Netherlands), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana/Mexico), Edison Mendez (Santa Fe/Mexico), Christian Noboa (Dinamo Moscow/Russia), Luis Saritama (Barcelona), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United/England)

Forwards: Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana/Mexico), Felipe Caicedo (Al Jazira/United Arab Emirates), Jefferson Montero (Morelia/Mexico), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul/Mexico), Enner Valencia (Pachuca/Mexico), Michael Arroyo (Atlante/Mexico)

The Rundown

After an inconsistent qualifying campaign that was buoyed by an impressive home record and almost undone by an equally disastrous away form, Ecuador, who had remained among the top four in the standings on fourteen of the sixteen matchdays, held on to claim the final spot in the South American qualifying group over Uruguay thanks to a superior goal difference to secure their third ever appearance at the World Cup.

While the up and down qualifying campaign would have proved difficult enough, La Tri had more pressing issues on their mind that went well beyond the game after the tragic death of star striker Christian “Chucho” Benítez last summer at the age of 27. Benitez, a regular for his country who had participated in Germany 2006, passed away from cardiac arrest after playing in his first game for Qatari based club El Jaish. The team has retired his number 11 jersey, and will no doubt be looking to honor his memory in Brazil this summer.

A lot of the responsibility for a successful campaign will fall on the feet and ever widening shoulders of Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia. Manager Reinaldo Rueda, who has faced scrutiny in the past due to his somewhat questionable and negative tactics, will be hoping that Valencia’s blistering pace and ability to take defenders on will jump start the Ecuador offense and help them overcome an inconsistent and often times leaky defense. While it may be difficult for them to contain the French, La Tri will be hoping they can do enough against Honduras and Switzerland to make it past the group stage.

Old Post 06-11-14 01:37 AM
bawlmer is offline Click Here to See the Profile for bawlmer Click here to Send bawlmer a Private Message Edit post   Report post
Post A Reply
  
Pages (9): [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »   Last Message   Next Message

Quick Links: