World Cup Bracket 2014: Favorites, Projections, Fixtures and More

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 03:  A general view of Brazuca and the FIFA World Cup Trophy at the Maracana before the adidas Brazuca launch at Parque Lage on December 3, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazuca is the Official Match Ball for the FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil. Tonight adidas revealed brazuca to the world in the stunning setting of Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. The reveal was part of a spectacular light projection supported by global footballers Seedorf, Hernane and FIFA World Cup Winner Cafu. Hundreds of guests and celebrities were treated to this one off experience, which launched the Official FIFA World Cup Ball for Brazil 2014. For more information visit:  (Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images for adidas)
Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

The 2014 World Cup is about to begin in Brazil. Over the next month, there will be shocking upsets, highlight-reel goals and plenty of drama for fans around the globe to endure. When the dust settles on July 13, one national team will stand above the rest.

Once the tournament gets underway, it moves pretty fast. It only takes seven matches to get from the group stage to the final, which is why there's reason for optimism almost across the board. Finding the peak form at the right time can lead to a deep run for a large number of squads.

Above all else, it's a showcase unlike any other in the world of sports. That should be especially true this year with the football-crazy nation of Brazil serving as the host. So let's check out all of the key information for the month ahead.



Top Teams

2014 World Cup - Championship Odds
RankNational TeamTitle Odds
Odds via Odds Shark

As the odds show, there are four teams that enter the tournament in a class of their own. Belgium, a side that's generated plenty of sleeper hype since the draw was completed, headlines a strong secondary group of contenders.

Normally, a manager of the tournament favorite would do everything possible to take pressure off his players. Not Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Brazil boss has remained steadfast in his belief that the Selecao are going to capture the title on home soil.

BeIN Sports passed along comments from Scolari about the role the fans will play:

It helps us win. Fans, they help us win. Fans are important. I have said even though some journalists don't agree, I'm not worried about this (burden of expectation). We have a 12th player.

We are playing at home, something that makes the difference. We have a squad that is competitive and of a high quality. And having this together with the fans we can always be the best. Because of this, I'm completely confident that we can get to the final and become champions.

In reality, very little separates the top four teams. The reigning champions from Spain bring a battle-tested veteran squad. Germany has probably the most well-rounded roster. And Argentina gets to play in South America while also featuring a dynamic strike force, led by Lionel Messi.

Although the overall high level of competition probably makes it unlikely, it wouldn't be a surprise if those four teams ended up comprising the semifinals. Brazil simply gets the slight edge in title odds because they will have immense crowd support.


Group Projections

2014 World Cup - Group Predictions
CIvory CoastColombiaJapanGreece
DItalyEnglandUruguayCosta Rica
FArgentinaBosnia & HerzegovinaNigeriaIran
GGermanyUnited StatesPortugalGhana
HBelgiumRussiaSouth KoreaAlgeria

Most of the predictions are pretty straightforward, with the top contenders winning their respective groups. There are a couple picks worth reviewing, though.

In Group B, Spain and the Netherlands will dominate the headlines, but Chile is a team to watch. Alexis Sanchez is perhaps the most underrated player in the tournament. He's a game-changing forward who led an explosive attack during qualifying.

The Oranje are dealing with plenty of question marks at the back due to a lack of international experience. It's a weakness La Roja should be able to exploit in their head-to-head matchup in order to secure a spot alongside Spain in the knockout rounds.

Group D is another tricky pool. It's likely a three-team race for two spots between England, Italy and Uruguay, but Costa Rica is capable of playing a defensive style that can frustrate even the best opponents. It could very well end up playing the role of spoiler.

The reason Uruguay is projected to fall short is the lack of star power behind the forwards. Luis Suarez and Co. should be able to put up some goals, but keeping them off the board will be a major challenge in such a difficult group.

Finally, there's the "Group of Death." Group G features Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States, four sides that can all make a strong case as to why they will advance. It should make for six high-intensity matches.

As mentioned, the German squad is probably the most complete in the tournament, so it's hard to imagine them getting knocked out. The other spot is up for grabs between the other three teams, although Cristiano Ronaldo ensures Portugal will be the popular pick.

The one area where the United States has the edge is in goal. Tim Howard is coming off a terrific season with Everton in the Premier League, and an in-form goalkeeper can carry a team through the group stage. Jeff Carlisle of ESPN provided remarks from Jurgen Klinsmann about where his keeper stands:

Howard will be the difference as the Americans survive the "Group of Death."


Tournament Fixtures

2014 World Cup - Complete Schedule
DateTime (ET)GroupMatchTV
June 124 p.m.ABrazil vs. CroatiaESPN
June 1312 p.m.AMexico vs. CameroonESPN2
June 133 p.m.BSpain vs. NetherlandsESPN
June 136 p.m.BChile vs. AustraliaESPN2
June 1412 p.m.CColombia vs. GreeceABC
June 143 p.m.DUruguay vs. Costa RicaABC
June 146 p.m.DEngland vs. ItalyESPN
June 149 p.m.CIvory Coast vs. JapanESPN
June 1512 p.m.ESwitzerland vs. EcuadorABC
June 153 p.m.EFrance vs. HondurasABC
June 156 p.m.FArgentina vs. Bosnia-H.ESPN
June 1612 p.m.GGermany vs. PortugalESPN
June 163 p.m.FIran vs. NigeriaESPN
June 166 p.m.GGhana vs. USAESPN
June 1712 p.m.HBelgium vs. AlgeriaESPN
June 173 p.m.ABrazil vs. MexicoESPN
June 176 p.m.HRussia vs. South KoreaESPN
June 1812 p.m.BAustralia vs. NetherlandsESPN
June 183 p.m.BSpain vs. Chile ESPN
June 186 p.m.ACameroon vs. CroatiaESPN
June 1912 p.m.CColombia vs. Ivory CoastESPN
June 193 p.m.DUruguay vs. EnglandESPN
June 196 p.m.CJapan vs. GreeceESPN
June 2012 p.m.DItaly vs. Costa RicaESPN
June 203 p.m.ESwitzerland vs. FranceESPN
June 206 p.m.EHonduras vs. EcuadorESPN
June 2112 p.m.FArgentina vs. IranESPN
June 213 p.m.GGermany vs. GhanaESPN
June 216 p.m.FNigeria vs. Bosnia-H.ESPN
June 2212 p.m.HBelgium vs. RussiaABC
June 223 p.m.HSouth Korea vs. AlgeriaABC
June 226 p.m.GUSA vs. PortugalESPN
June 2312 p.m.BNetherlands vs. ChileESPN
June 2312 p.m.BAustralia vs. SpainESPN2
June 234 p.m.ACroatia vs. MexicoESPN
June 234 p.m.ACameroon vs. BrazilESPN2
June 2412 p.m.DItaly vs. UruguayESPN
June 2412 p.m.DCosta Rica vs. EnglandESPN2
June 244 p.m.CJapan vs. ColombiaESPN
June 244 p.m.CGreece vs. Ivory CoastESPN2
June 2512 p.m.FNigeria vs. ArgentinaESPN
June 2512 p.m.FBosnia-H. vs. IranESPN2
June 254 p.m.EEcuador vs. FranceESPN
June 254 p.m.EHonduras vs. SwitzerlandESPN2
June 2612 p.m.GUnited States vs. GermanyESPN
June 2612 p.m.GPortugal vs. GhanaESPN2
June 264 p.m.HSouth Korea vs. BelgiumESPN
June 264 p.m.HAlgeria vs. RussiaESPN2
June 2812 p.m.R of 161A vs. 2B (Match 49)ABC
June 284 p.m.R of 161C vs. 2D (Match 50)ABC
June 2912 p.m.R of 161B vs. 2A (Match 51)ESPN
June 294 p.m.R of 161D vs. 2C (Match 52)ESPN
June 3012 p.m.R of 161E vs. 2F (Match 53)ESPN
June 304 p.m.R of 161G vs. 2H (Match 54)ESPN
July 112 p.m.R of 161F vs. 2E (Match 55)ESPN
July 14 p.m.R of 161H vs. 2G (Match 56)ESPN
July 412 p.m.QuarterW53 vs. W54 (Match 57)ESPN2
July 44 p.m.QuarterW49 VS. W50 (Match 58)ESPN
July 512 p.m.QuarterW55 vs. W56 (Match 59)ABC
July 54 p.m.QuarterW51 vs. W52 (Match 60)ESPN
July 84 p.m.SemisW57 vs. W58 (Match 61)ESPN
July 94 p.m.SemisW59 vs. W60 (Match 62)ESPN
July 124 p.m.3rdL61 vs. L62ESPN
July 133 p.m.TitleW61 vs. W62ABC and


Knockout Bracket

Courtesy: Bleacher Report