World Cup Groups 2014: Odds, Table Predictions and FIFA Tournament Preview

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World Cup Groups 2014: Odds, Table Predictions and FIFA Tournament Preview
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Let the party in Brazil begin. 

The world's biggest stars are ready. Fans from 32 nations are ready. The Brazilian stadiums are (barely) ready. Are you ready for the World Cup?

If not, you've come to the right place. Below, you'll find full odds, predictions and a preview for every World Cup group so you don't go into this year's tournament blind. You may not like where your country is projected to finish, but at least you'll know why they're projected to finish there.

All odds via Oddsshark.

 

Group A

Group A Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Brazil -400 1
Croatia +800 2
Mexico +900 3
Cameroon +2500 4

Oddsshark

Brazil is going to win this group, make no mistake about it. They could play on the moon and the Brazilians would win Group A, but playing in Brazil certainly plays to their advantage.

What will be very intriguing about this group is which team finishes second, Croatia or Mexico. In many ways, Croatia has lucked out opening with Brazil, since the team will be without star striker Mario Mandzukic in their first game. They likely wouldn't beat the Brazilians with him, but having him against Mexico and Cameroon is huge. 

Led by Luka Modric, the Croatians are a dangerous team, and Mexico's struggles dating back to World Cup qualifying should not be forgotten. The Mexicans could put things together in Brazil, and they are more than capable of moving onto the knockout phase, but recent form suggests Croatia will earn the second slot in the round of 16 from this group. 

 

Group B

Group B Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Spain -135 1
Chile -400 2
Netherlands +225 3
Australia +3300 4

Oddsshark

The first of three "Groups of Death" in this tournament, Group B is stacked. Spain and Netherlands are naturally the favorites to advance, but underestimating Chile would be a grave mistake. Led by Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal and Barcelona winger Alexis Sanchez, the Chileans are a dangerous side.

Still, the health of Vidal should be monitored (he's recovering from a knee surgery). While Chile are not a lost cause without him, they'll find it very hard to advance out of this group if he's less than 100 percent.

Spain should prevail in Group B. They're the most talented and consistent squad, and they generally put their best foot forward in big tournaments. The Netherlands are tougher to peg—the talent is undoubtedly there and they were strong in qualifying, but their disastrous performance at the 2012 Euros lingers in the mind.

Keep an eye on Vidal's health. If he plays, don't be surprised when Chile advances out of this group. But if he can't go, chalk will hold and Spain and the Netherlands will move on.

 

Group C

Group C Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Colombia -150 1
Ivory Coast +400 2
Japan +400 3
Greece +900 4

Oddsshark

Even without Radamel Falcaco, Colombia should win this group. You could make an argument that James Rodriguez is the country's most important player anyway, as he is the team's creative maestro, and the Colombians are pretty loaded in the attack with Jackson Martinez, Teofilo Gutierrez, Adrian Ramos and Carlos Bacca more than capable of finding the back of the net.

But who will join them in the knockout phase?

The Ivory Coast has a wealth of attacking options, led by legendary striker Didier Drogba, and has the best player in this group, Manchester City's marauding midfielder Yaya Toure. If given space, the Ivory Coast will torch you.

But Japan is a very technically sound team, led by playmakers like Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. And then there is Greece, a defensively sound team that can stifle the most potent of attacks, even if they often struggle to score themselves.

The second place in this group will be decided when the Ivory Coast and Japan meet, and in his final World Cup, don't be surprised if Drogba has a bit of magic left in him and helps his team advance. 

 

Group D

Group D Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Uruguay +180 1
Italy +150 2
England +225 3
Costa Rica +5000 4

Oddsshark

Group D is the second "Group of Death" and, whoo boy, should this one be fun to watch. Everything in this group hinges on the health of Uruguay's Luis Suarez, however, as the Liverpool striker had surgery before the Cup, according to BBC Sport:

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez could play at the World Cup despite having surgery on an injured knee, according to the country's football association.

The Liverpool striker 'suffered intense pain' in training on Wednesday and had an operation to repair meniscus damage.

'Suarez might be ready to play in Brazil,' said the Uruguay Football Association (AUF) in a statement.

Estimates on his recovery range from 15 days to a minimum of four weeks with Uruguay's Group D opener on 14 June.

Uruguay is a loaded team regardless of whether Suarez can play—or perhaps more accurately, depending on when he plays—but the striker is one of the most in-form players in the world at the moment, and without him the South American side would struggle to advance out of this group. 

It's hard to bet against Italy moving on to the knockout phase. The Italians possess a sturdy defense and a stifling midfield, led by the great Andrea Pirlo. They also traditionally play well on this stage, so they should survive this group.

That will likely leave England as the odd team out. There's a lot to like about this English side—the combination of breakout star Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney in the attack should thrive—but they also are a younger, less experienced squad in years past. They could move on, yes, but this feels like a draw the English won't overcome.

 

Group E

Group E Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
France -125 1
Switzerland +250 2
Ecuador +350 3
Honduras +3300 4

Oddsshark

France lucked out in this group. They were paired with easily the weakest Pot 1 team in Switzerland, a solid side, no doubt, but one that lacks a true superstar. Neither Ecuador nor Honduras are a threat to advance out of this group, so France should move on to the knockout phase by default.

It helps that they have easily the most talent in this group even without the snubbed Samir Nasri or the injured Franck Ribery, boasting world-class players like Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema and Hugo Lloris

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Switzerland should advance with little issue as well. They don't have the big-name stars of France, no, but they cruised through European qualifying and have a solid group that plays quite well together. This is the easiest group to project (which of course means it will probably be full of upsets and shockers, just to throw us all off).

 

Group F

Group F Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Argentina -400 1
Bosnia-Herzegovina +600 2
Nigeria +800 3
Iran +3300 4

Oddsshark

Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria—those are just four of the reasons Argentina should dominate this group. It would be surprising if they failed to win all three games, quite frankly.

But the battle for the second place in the round of 16 is truly intriguing. Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the more underrated teams in the field, led by in-form Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, Roma starlet Miralem Pjanic and Stoke City keeper Asmir Begovic.

Their match against Nigeria will be key. The Nigerians are the defending Africa Cup of Nations champions and boast some serious talent, led by Vincent Enyeama, John Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses.

The Super Eagles can be inconsistent, but they can also really sizzle on the attack. Still, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a very good, very underrated squad, and they should join Argentina in advancing.

 

Group G

Group G Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Germany -180 1
Portugal +275 2
United States +1000 3
Ghana +1200 4

Oddsshark

The United States couldn't have been drawn into a worse group.

They face one of the favorites to win the entire tournament, Germany. They face arguably the best player in the world today, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. And they face the country that has knocked them out of the past two World Cups, Ghana.

Yikes.

Loaded though this group may be, it's hard to imagine Germany and Portugal failing to advance. Germany has enough star power to fill two starting lineups capable of advancing out of this group, led by Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Bastian SchweinsteigerPhilipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer, among others.

The loss of Marco Reus will hurt, yes, but if there is one team with the depth to overcome that blow, it is Germany.

And Portugal is headlined by Ronaldo, but they also have the excellent Joao Moutinho in midfield and a sturdy defense that included Pepe and Fabio Coentrao. And you never quite know what you'll get from Nani, who has dazzling ability but often offers lackluster results. 

For the United States, this will be the end of an era, as Noah Davis of Grantland writes:

As it was in 2010 is as it is now, with [Landon] Donovan, along with Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard, leading the way. The periphery changes—four years is a long time in life, and an even longer time in international soccer—but those men are the core of the team. For three of those players, Brazil represents a last chance. Another era of American soccer is nearing its inevitable conclusion.

The national team will look dramatically different by the time we get to Russia in June 2018, as the most talented generation in U.S. soccer history comes of age. We’re sitting on the precipice of the fourth era, one that will last longer than eight years. The future of the United States men’s national team, one in which the Americans consistently compete for at least a semifinal appearance in every World Cup, draws near. But as a result, this summer might get a little dicey.

Any of the four teams in this group are capable of advancing. But more than likely, the era of Donovan and Dempsey will end after just three games in Brazil.

 

Group H

Group H Odds and Predictions
Country Odds of Winning Group Predicted Group Finish
Belgium -175 1
Russia +200 2
South Korea +750 3
Algeria +2800 4

Oddsshark

Belgium has become one of the hip picks to do big things in Brazil, and for good reason—led by Chelsea star Eden Hazard and including top players like Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku, Jan VertonghenAxel Witsel and Dries Mertens, this team is absolutely stacked.

Belgium will be expected to win this group, and do big things after that. 

Russia is not to be trifled with, either. Remember, this is a team that won a qualifying group that also included Portugal. Outsiders may not be as familiar with the Russian team, as most of their players come from the Russian Premier League, but they are a talented side. 

Don't expect South Korea or Algeria to put up much of a fight against Belgium and Russia. 

 

Knockout Phases

If the group stages go as projected above, look for the following four teams to advance to the semifinals: Argentina (beating Switzerland and Portugal), Spain (beating Croatia and Uruguay), Brazil (beating Chile and Italy) and Germany (beating Russia and France).

Messi and company will be a tough matchup for Spain, as they will be able to disrupt Spain's tiki-taka passing in the midfield and pounce on them in the counter-attack. Meanwhile, the Germans play a disciplined style of football and have the creative talent going forward to beat Brazil in what could be the most entertaining and intriguing match of the entire tournament.

In the final, the Argentines will take home the trophy on South American soil, forever cementing Messi's legacy as one of the all-time greats.

 

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