Right having given my in depth thoughts on the potential winners, here is a slightly less in depth look at all the teams going through group by group. This one will consist of the final 4 groups.
Switzerland. Much like Greece the Swiss are a team that is always very hard to beat, however unlike the Greeks they have a lot more going forward, Shaqiri is a fantastic player who can set games alight, Inler and Dzemaili are also partnership who have spent time playing together at club level as well. I think they’ll progress in second behind France, but that most likely as far as they’ll go.
Ecuador. I won’t claim to be an expert in Ecuador, but in their friendly game against England they looked slightly better than fellow group E team Honduras. However I don’t think they’ll be able to challenge Switzerland and France for knock out stage groups. They seem exceptionally reliant on Antonio Valencia to me and he has hardly been blowing the premier league away for Man U.
France. Despite loosing Frank Ribery I’ve been growing more and more impressed by France. They have two exceptional young talents in Pogba and Griezmann, and Benzema has been in great form for Madrid. I’d be hugely shocked if they failed to get out of the group because it’s one of the easiest on paper. I don’t think they’ll win the World Cup, but I’m certainly a lot more confident of a good run from then than I was a couple of months ago.
Honduras. Despite a large number of players who have played or are still playing for Wigan, most of the Honduras team doesn’t look great to me. They did manage to hold England to a 0-0 draw, but frankly I wasn’t that impressed with them. I’d be surprised if the got anything out of their 3 games.
Argentina. Another of the big favourites. They’ve certainly got a great chance. Their forward line which has Lavezzi, Aguero, Higuain, Di Maria and of course Lionel Messi, is probably as formidable as anything in World Cup history. However I don’t think they’ll win because their defence just look fragile to me. I’d expect them to be able to handle most of the teams in the World Cup, with maybe only Brazil or Germany capable of stopping them. They will certainly be helped by a very easy group to help their attacking stars get into the tournament and get some goals.
Bosnia-Herzegovina. Our only first timers at this world cup, and boy have they got a good chance to progress. Argentina will almost certainly top the group, but I’d expect Bosnia to beat both Nigeria and Iran and finish second in the group. Then they’ll most likely play France, who although I’ve tipped to do well can under-perform, meaning Bosnia have half a chance of making the quarters. Most people will only really know premiership duo of Dzeko and Begovic, but Pjanic and Spahic are also very talented players.
Iran. I can’t say too much about Iran because I don’t know much about them. I am however fairly sure they’re the worst team the the tournament. The only player I’ve heard of is Fulham’s Dejagah, and frankly he couldn’t force his way into what was pretty much a Championship team. I expect them to finish bottom of the group with possibly a point from the game against Nigeria, if they’re lucky.
Nigeria. They may be the reigning champions of Africa, but if you can’t even beat Scotland and have Shola Ameobi up front I don’t hold out much hope for you. In that 2-2 draw with Scotland we thoroughly outclassed them and if it hadn’t been for the customary friendly changing of the entire team after an hour we would have comfortably beaten them. They do have some good players, but I doubt they’ll have much of an impact at this tournament.
Germany. The final favourites. Will probably fall short because they’ll struggle with the conditions and because they only brought one recognised striker, although it will be great to see Klose become the leading all time World Cup goal scorer. The midfield is certainly their strong point as they have so many top draw young players in there. They also have the best full back in the world in Lahm. They group seems fairly clear with Germany and Portugal being the two likely to go through, but Portugal could pip Germany to the top spot.
Portugal. They may be heavily reliant upon Ronaldo, but if you are going to be reliant on someone he’s the kind of player you’d want it to be. I don’t think the rest of the team is good enough to propel them all the way, but they will play some entertaining stuff and it’s probably Cristiano’s last chance to shine at a World Cup.
Ghana. They were the stars of the last World Cup for many people, just a crossbar’s width from making the semi final. However I don’t think they’ll be able to repeat that wonderful performance. Some of their key players; Essien, Mutari and Gyan seem past their best now, and Kevin Prince Boateng isn’t going to win games on his own. It would be great to see if some of the younger players can match the achievements of the more experienced boys, but to me it seem as though the last two world cups where Ghana’s ‘golden period’.
USA. The main news with the USA was that their greatest ever player Landon Donovan was left out for Sunderland flop Jozy Altidore. A bold move from Klinsmann, but not one that I think will pay off. I see them struggling to get out of the group, possibly even finishing bottom of it.
Belgium. Many people’s dark horses for the tournament, Belgium have definitely found a golden generation, spearheaded by Eden Hazard. One of their star men in qualifying Benteke is missing through injury, but they have a ready made replacement in Lukaku, although it does leave them without much depth in defence. They should make it through the group, and then most likely face an incredible hard to call game against Portugal. Quarter finals are a definite possibility, and at a stretch the semis, but I think this is one tournament too soon for these guys, especially as players like Fellaini and Vermaelen have had bad seasons.
Algeria. Another of the weakest teams in the tournament. They have avoided a group with any of the giants, but I still think they’ll struggle to avoid last place. With very few big name players, probably the most well know to Premier League viewers is Bentaleb, but their star man is probably Valencia’s Feghouli.
Russia. Another team who hit their peek a few years ago, probably Euro 2008. Their former stars Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko weren’t even in the provisional 30 man squad. Kerzhakov who was their main man completely failed to perform at Euro 2012. Whilst their best player from that tournament, Dzagoev, hasn’t really kicked on since that. They may manage to beat South Korea to second place, but my money would be on Korea.
South Korea. Finally we have South Korea. And whilst their talisman Park Ji Sung has hung up boots, I think they’ll have enough to finish second to Belgium, and since 2002 they have always seemed to perform pretty well at World Cup, even if they have failed to reach the heights of 02 when the hosted it. I think the first knock out round will be as far as they’ll get because either Germany or Portugal should prove far too strong for them.