World Cup Groups 2014: Examining Overrated and Underrated Pairings

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World Cup Groups 2014: Examining Overrated and Underrated Pairings
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Every World Cup draw produces groups that feature daunting pairings. The 2014 edition of the globe's premier international football competition is no different and includes three intriguing combinations.

Two of the four pre-tournament favorites, Germany and Spain, are involved in overrated pairings. Both nations will find it easier than expected to see off the other fancied team in their respective groups.

By contrast, Colombia headline the most underrated pairing of the group stage. The nation boasts talent but faces a stronger-than-anticipated challenge from its three fixtures.

Before breaking down the particular clashes, here is a view of the full group draw:

Bleacher Report

Here are the overrated and underrated pairings.

 

Overrated: Spain and Netherlands (Group B)

A potential glamor tie won't live up to the billing in a rematch of the 2010 final. But this group encounter still won't be as dull as that yellow-card binge four years ago.

Martin Meissner/Associated Press
Spain will dominate the Netherlands again.

That will mostly be thanks to Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal. His team is certainly more expansive than the 2010 version.

The problem is that both teams rely on a possession-based style of football. When two squads match each other so completely stylistically, the result can often be cagey attrition.

This is also an overrated pairing because the Dutch won't pose a major threat to Spain's overall dominance of the group. The Netherlands squad isn't as talented and is more likely to slip up against Chile.

 

Overrated: Germany and Portugal (Group G)

The so-called "Group of Death" is not nearly as foreboding as it seems. For one thing, Portugal are not a nation to fear.

Yes, they can unleash current Ballon d'Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo on defences. But the fleet-footed forward isn't surrounded by a supporting cast that can really maximize his awesome talents.

Martin Rose/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't have enough talent around him at the international level.

Joao Moutinho remains a sly passer, but the rest of the squad is littered with players who routinely flatter to deceive. The likes of striker Helder Postiga and winger Nani belong in that bracket.

Germany will command the group, but the lack of an outstanding natural striker obviously weakens them. A similar problem blights a U.S. national team that will suffer from the decline of players like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

 

Underrated: Colombia and Ivory Coast (Group C)

Group C is easily the most underrated collection of teams in the entire tournament. It is headlined by Colombia and Ivory Coast, two teams that will fiercely contest group supremacy.

The African nation feature an attack that includes A.S. Roma forward Gervinho. His career has been revitalized since he rejoined manager Rudi Garcia last summer.

Gervinho is joined by Swansea City powerhouse Wilfried Bony. He was prolific during his debut year in the English Premier League, netting 16 domestic goals, per Sky Sports.

Speaking of existing and potential EPL talent, Yaya Toure will dominate midfield while right-back and Arsenal targetper Daily Star—Serge Aurier will feature in defence.

Colombia's biggest problem could be including all the talent the nation boasts in attack. FC Porto striker Jackson Martinez is in the squad along with Sevilla predator Carlos Bacca.

Watch out also for Udinese danger man Luis Fernando Muriel. He will join AS Monaco ace James Rodriguez to supply the strikers.

Speaking of Monaco's strikers, Radamel Falcao has also been included despite his long-term knee injury, per Reuters, via The Guardian.

While these two nations will lead the way, they should be wary of a surprise or two from Japan. That squad features some real talent, including midfielder Yasuhito Endo and creative forwards Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.

Throw in seasoned tournament veteran Greece, and this is the real group of death.

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