Breaking Down Brazil's World Cup 2014 Group Stage Draw

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Breaking Down Brazil's World Cup 2014 Group Stage Draw
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The World Cup draw took place in Bahia on Friday morning, deciding the fate of the 32 sides heading to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer.

As ever, much attention was on the host nation, and with the Selecao of Brazil having won the competition on five previous occasions, that was truer than ever this time around.

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Luiz Felipe Scolari led his side to the Confederations Cup title in June, having taken over a squad in disarray just a few months earlier. Next year, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon will be the sides faced with the prospect of taking on the favourites at the first hurdle.

Should Brazil progress from the group stage as expected, they will then encounter Spain, Chile or Netherlands as likely round of 16 opponents while Italy or Colombia could await in the quarter-final.

Let's take a look at the hosts’ group stage draw.

 

Croatia

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Of all the UEFA teams Brazil could have drawn for the finals, Niko Kovac's Croatia side are undoubtedly one of the more favourable opponents.

The Baltic nation were far from impressive in qualifying, relying on the playoffs to advance and sacking manager Igor Stimac. While they have some World Cup pedigree, the current generation does not live up to the standards of previous years.

They do carry some threat, though, with a technically gifted midfield including the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic standing out as a particular strong point.

Brazil will fancy their chances of exposing Croatia defensively, while striker Mario Mandzukic will miss the opening game of the tournament due to suspension following a red card against Iceland.

 

Mexico

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Coach Miguel Herrera saw Mexico to a two-legged playoff success over New Zealand to reach the competition, scoring nine goals in the process. However, Mexico's form has been far from good over the past 12 months and Brazil will expect to achieve success.

If they can garner some form, Mexico have the ability to go far in the competition and could prove difficult opponents for Brazil, as they have on a couple of occasions in recent years.

However, Scolari will expect his side to overcome anything El Tri can muster.

Exactly who Mexico will turn to to lead them to success at the competition is unclear, with the Giovani dos Santos- and Chicharito-inspired side of recent competitions having struggled of late.

The likes of Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez have made real claims for inclusion in recent games and could be the men Herrera prefers in Brazil next summer.

 

Cameroon

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The draw could have been much kinder on the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, who qualified from the African section courtesy of comfortable success over Tunisia.

Samuel Eto'o is the big name, but the Cameroon side features a number of players featuring at the highest level of European competition, including Nicolas N'koulou, Alex Song and Stephane Mbia.

They were not truly tested in qualifying, but the truth is that African football has not progressed as hoped and most will therefore have them as favourites to finish at the bottom of the group come next summer.

There are signs that a new generation of impressive Cameroonian talent is emerging, led by those emerging from Barcelona's academy. However, it will not come soon enough to help them next summer and Brazil will not be overly worried.

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