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 first 4 groups.
Brazil. The Brazilians are my favourites for this world cup, they have a very solid looking squad with a couple of exceptional players, especially Neymar. They are also the hosts, which I think will help Brazil, unlike some pundits who think that it’ll be too much pressure for them. Obviously being the hosts they are probably best suited to the environment of Brazil, although the other South American teams won’t be too far off. But for me the sensible decision is Brazil as I don’t particularly see many weaknesses with them like I do with the other ‘favourites’.
Croatia. Will probably manage to get through the group in second place, in players like Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic they have enough creativity and the ability to score, and Lovren is a proven centre half, I doubt they’ll be able to beat whoever comes top of Group B though, most likely Spain, so I think the first knock out round will be their limit.
Mexico. No where near the team that they used be. Gone are the quality of player of Blanco and Borgetti. Instead they’ll be pretty reliant on Javier Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos, both of whom are talented footballers, but I seriously doubt they’ll be able to do enough to get out of the group.
Cameroon. Another team that probably won’t be able to live up to pass successes, with Alex Song and Samuel Eto’o the only real big names in their squad. Song hasn’t played an enormous amount of football, less than 20 league games, and Eto’o is hardly setting the world on fire these days as he’s much the wrong side of 30 and now playing in his 4th world cup. Again I doubt they’ll be able to get out of the group, but will probably be playing off with Mexico to avoid finishing bottom.
Spain. The holders who it would be idiotic to discount. There’s still a huge amount of talent in the squad, even if some of their greats are starting to look a little past their best, especially Xavi. Diego Costa is probably the answer to their striker problems, and Koke could who’ll eventually replace Xavi, could begin to in this tournament. I think they may fall short if they run into Brazil before the final, but will definitely be strong contenders.
Netherlands. Personally I worry for the Netherlands. They had a shocker at the last Euros, which I predicted then, and the squad is only looking worse, not better. Ron Vlaar is a competent defender, but is hardly good enough to be the defensive rock of World Cup winners. Players like Clasie, De Jong and Fer suggest to me that Netherlands are still looking to be the destructive team of the last final, not the total football team of Johan Cruyff. Van Persie is clearly the star man up front and Robben in midfield, but RVP has had an injury hit (shock) season and wasn’t sensational when he was playing. Robben is a player that I think any good full back with pace can deal with because he WILL always try and use his left foot, so you just need to show him onto his right. I think they may end up falling short as Spain will most likely win the group, and I could see Chile beating the Dutch into second place.
Chile. Could do surprising well at this World Cup. I’m going to back them to get out of the groups because they’ve got a few quality players, although most people wouldn’t immediately think so. But Alexis, Vidal, Isla and Vargas could propel them to a few shocks. And a shock is what they’d need to progress past the first knock out stage. Either managing to finish top ahead of Spain, or pull of a surprise and beat Brazil, something that isn’t beyond the realms of possibility considering the last couple of games between them have been pretty close. Also as a South American team they’ll be more suited to the conditions which could give them the advantage over the rest of the group.
Australia. I feel a little sorry for Australia because they’re not a terrible team, but they’re just not good enough to challenge in the group. The may get a couple of points, or maybe even sneak a win over Netherlands and Chile, but I doubt they will. In fact I doubt they’ll manage to do enough to avoid bottom spot.
Colombia. Colombia were dealt a huge blow when Falcao failed to be fit in time for the World Cup, he’s a top class striker who would almost certainly have scored goals at this tournament. They have some other good players, but not another striker of his quality. James Rodriguez will probably be their star man in the tournament, and could show some of his fantastic form from his season at Monaco. They will probably do enough to get out the group, but I think without Falcao they could struggle to make the quarter finals.
Greece. Greece, as always, will come looking to be hard to beat and looking to nick games 1-0. There aren’t a huge amount of stand out individuals, but it will be interesting to see Mitroglou, as we never got to see him for Fulham. There is certainly a possibility of them getting through to the knock out stages, but I don’t see them getting any further than that, but then no now expected to see them win Euro 2004.
Ivory Coast. This is probably the Ivory Coast’s weakest team in the last three world cups, but this is probably their best chance to progress from their group in those three. Drogba is still the main man in the team, but Yaya Toure is undoubtably playing the best football of his career. The worries with the team come from the players outside of that where there isn’t a huge amount of talent, I mean they’ll probably go with Kalou and Gervinho on the wings, which hardly inspires fear in opponents.
Japan. Japan almost always put up a good showing at the world cup, and they do have some very talented footballers, particularly Kagawa, Endo and star man Honda. This is probably one of the closest groups in the tournament, but I think Japan may just make it out at the top of the group, if they can show similar form to four years ago.
Uruguay. Group D is another very close group, but for Uruguay should be favourites based on the team sheets. In Suarez and Cavani they have not 1, but 2 of the best strikers in the world, something that maybe only Argentina can also claim. Forlan is also still going, although is a bit passed his best, which was probably around his time at the last world cup. A defence which contains Maxi Pereira, Godin and Caceres should be tight and not concede too many goals, and the midfield has some talented players as well. The only problems they may have is getting all these players to gel like they did in 2010, and if they can do that then expect them to minimum make the quarter finals, but possibly the semis.
Costa Rica. Like Australia in Group B Costa Rica are the weak link of this group and are unlikely to manage much, except the occasional point. Bryan Ruiz is a player with a lot of talent, but the rest of the team just isn’t at the same level. There could be a big shock, what with the rest of the teams in the group all capable of messing up, but it’s pretty unlikely.
England. England do have a lot of very promising young players, but I think they’ll struggle because Roy Hodgson is far too conservative a coach and some of of those promising young player may be held back from expressing themselves, particularly Barkley and Sterling who tend to try a lot more than I think Roy Hodgson would be happy with. They have every chance of making the quarter finals, but I doubt they’ll make it any further than that.
Italy. The Italians are coming into this World Cup on some pretty awful form, they haven’t won in 7 or 8 of their warm up games, not counting the one against a Brazilian club side. But you also cannot ignore the talent thats in the squad, Pirlo, Balotteli, Marchisio, De Rossi and probably the best defence in the tournament. Also the Italians are the kind of team who can come good once the tournament starts. Probably won’t be challenging this year, but will be a tough match for anyone.