So, we now know who will play whom when things kick off on June 12 in Sao Paulo. Here are my initial thoughts, keeping in mind that a lot can change between now and June 12.
Mexico edged into the tournament via a playoff win against New Zealand. Their reward? A meeting with Brazil, the team they bested in the 2012 Olympic final. It will be interesting to see the makeup of the Mexico team that takes to the field for the first Group game.
I guess I’m still in that place where I assume everything will come easily for Spain, and looking at their competition in this group, it looks like I’ll be staying there for a while.
The first of the wide open groups, IMO. Columbia, Japan or Ivory Coast could win this group, and we all know about Greece’s ability to spring an upset, so this one is difficult to call.
Looking at this draw, I can only ask what Luis Suarez will do to incite shocked pearl clutching from the English fans and media.
Another wide open group, though I wish people would stop sleeping on Switzerland. Am I the only one who recalls the Swiss beating Spain at WC 2010? Elsewhere, France’s chances are entirely dependent on which France team shows up.
Argentina is my pick to win the whole tournament (so Spain & Brazil should be happy right now, because my prediction skills are abysmal). I don’t see how Argentina can lose this group – even with African Nations Cup champs Nigeria (who should finish second) in the mix.
Ah, the Group of Death. Every tournament has one, and Portugal, in particular, has made a habit of landing in them the last couple of international tournaments. As a USMNT supporter, I’m of two minds about this draw. On one hand, it will be hella awesome to watch my team on the same field with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil. On the other hand, my team will be on the field with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil. Weeping and gnashing of teeth may now commence.
The last of the wide open groups, featuring the so-called hipsters’ favorite, Belgium. I’ve enjoyed watching this Belgian team mostly because it features Romelu Lukaku – one of my favorite players in the Barclays Premier League. But the team has caught many an eye due to its exciting young talent. In addition to Lukaku, it features Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, to name just a few. On paper, Russia and Belgium should go through, but I would not entirely count out Korea. Algeria is the only real minnow here, but on an off day for one of the favored teams, who’s to say they can’t spring an upset?