World Cup Brazil 2014: Group Predictions, Live Stream Info and Odds

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

United States goalkeeper Tim Howard smiles during player introductions before an international friendly soccer match against Azerbaijan on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The beautiful game is just days away from kicking off its premier tournament, the World Cup, and folks from 32 countries all want to know why their team has a chance to win this year's grand event. 

For many of the countries involved, the answer is pretty simple—they don't. Not to pick on Australia, but c'mon, there is no way the Aussies can win the World Cup. That's just common sense.

But every team can survive their group, improbable as it may be for certain teams. So below, along with making predictions for every group and providing odds, we'll note one thing each squad must do to advance to the knockout phase. Spoiler alert—for more than one country, the realistic answer is "pray."

All odds via Odds Shark. All matches can be streamed at or the WatchESPN app.

Group A
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Brazil: Ignore the pressure. The Brazilians could cruise through this group on their talent alone. But if the weight of expectations as the host nation bogs them down, they could be in trouble against three teams that are far from pushovers. And expectations aren't the only pressure Brazil will face, as Brazilians continue to protest the World Cup. Neymar and company will be playing with a lot weighing on their shoulders.

Croatia: In Luka Modric they trust. The Real Madrid man is the midfield maestro and pulls all the strings for this Croatian side. If he is able to work his magic, Croatia should advance out of this group.

Mexico: Forget about qualifying. Mexico needed a playoff to even reach the World Cup after a brutal CONCACAF qualifying. There is talent here, no doubt, but Mexico needs to regain its confidence first.

Cameroon: Hope Samuel Eto'o goes on a scoring tear. The Chelsea man is Cameroon's best player and, along with Barcelona's Alex Song, the player that must lead Cameroon if they are to advance out of a sneaky tough group.

Group B
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Spain: If it ain't broke... The Spanish have won the past two Euro tournaments and the 2010 World Cup, so they are doing something right at major tournaments. This will likely be the last hurrah for the Spanish golden generation led by Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, but the talent is still there for another World Cup triumph.

Chile: Pray for Arturo Vidal's health. The Juventus superstar is a dynamo in the midfield, though he has battled injuries late in the season. He should be fit—and Chile is talented enough to survive if he can't play—but trying to advance out of a group that includes Spain and the Netherlands without such a key player would be an uphill battle.

The Netherlands: Find a way to replace Rafael van der Vaart and Kevin Strootman. The Dutch will be without two of their most important midfielders, both out to injury. While Wesley Sneijder can still provide a creative spark, the Dutch midfield is no longer a strength. That will put added pressure on attackers like Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben to propel the team to victory.

Australia: Enjoy the trip. Because in this group, it would a miracle if they somehow advanced.

Group C
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
Ivory Coast4-12

Colombia: Prepare for life without Radamel Falcao. Even without him the Colombians are talented enough to win the group, and James Rodriguez must be the man to lead this squad to the knockout phase. Jackson Martinez is one heck of a forward to have waiting in the wings, and Carlos Bacca and Adrian Ramos aren't chopped liver, either.

Ivory Coast: Jump on the back of Yaya Toure. Legend Didier Drogba may still be roaming in the box, but this is Toure's team now. The brilliant Manchester City midfielder is one of the men to watch at this tournament.

Japan: Commit defensively. There's no question Japan has skilled players and can be quite dangerous in the attack, led by Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. But if they are to advance, they must be sound defensively, especially against the blistering attacks Colombia and the Ivory Coast possess.

Greece: Find a way to score. The Greeks are always sound defensively, and that will play well in their favor in a group that features three strong attacking teams. But if the Greeks can't find a way to score, their Achilles' heel in recent years, that defensive effort will be for naught.

Group D
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
Costa Rica50-14

Uruguay: Pray for Luis Suarez's health. With the star Liverpool striker healthy and ready to go, they are arguably the group favorites. Without him, well, advancing will be a struggle, even with Edinson Cavani at forward. Suarez is on a hot streak few other players can match.

Italy: Support Mario Balotelli. When the AC Milan striker is dominant—and at his best, he is dominant—Italy are nearly impossible to beat given their experienced midfield and sturdy defense. When he is off his game or out of the game, however, Italy lack a bit of cutting edge in the attack. Balotelli is the key figure on this Italian team.

England: Hope Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney click. The former is coming off a breakthrough season at Liverpool, while the latter is England's best player when he's on form. If the two can form a dynamic duo at forward, England will be a very tough out.

Costa Rica: Hope Keylor Navas is impenetrable. The Levante keeper is coming off a strong season, and he'll be busy in this group. Unless he's the best keeper in this group, Costa Rica is toast.

Group E
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

France: Thank their lucky stars, and hope their stars show up. France was given an extremely favorable draw, with the weakest Pot 1 team (Switzerland) and two other countries they are superior to. If Karim Benzema and company play up to their potential, the French should win this group without much issue.

Switzerland: Keep the momentum going. Switzerland was excellent in European qualifying, and if they keep that form going, they'll advance out of this group. 

Ecuador: Figure out how to win away from home. Harrison Stark of Slate breaks down Ecuador's stark difference in quality when they venture to play in other countries:

And, while not a new advantage, it surely helps that the national stadium is in Quito, some 9,100 feet above sea level. Struggling with the altitude, visiting teams tend to wilt. Ecuador qualified for the 2014 World Cup by going undefeated in Quito, winning every game but one, against Argentina. The bad news is that it failed to win a single game on the road, and this year’s World Cup is in Brazil, not in Ecuador.

That doesn't bode very well for Ecuador.

Honduras: Enjoy the party. The Central American nation couldn't have asked for a more forgiving group, but even in Group E, they are likely going to be three and done. Wilson Palacios and Emilio Izaguirre will have to be brilliant, absolutely brilliant, for Honduras to advance.

Group F
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Argentina: Don't get cute. The Argentines are easily the class of this group and have enough attacking talent to fill several teams. The worst thing they could do, however, is take their foot off the gas pedal and give other teams hope. Argentina must steamroll through this group and maintain a killer edge.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Beat Nigeria. The first place in the knockout phase in this group should be the Argentines. The second will likely be between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria. Led by Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Asmir Begovic, this team is better than they are given credit for. But taking Nigeria lightly or failing to show up for that match will virtually guarantee they don't escape the group phase.

Nigeria: Consistency, consistency, consistency. As they showed when winning the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria has the talent to do big things. They also have a habit of simply disappearing at the worst possible moment. If they can consistently perform in Group F, they have a very good chance of advancing.

Iran: Strike while the iron is hot. If Iran is to somehow steal points in this group, they must be sound defensively and execute on the counter-attack when given the chance. It's a long shot, but a shot nonetheless.

Group G
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
United States10-13

Germany: Find the right starting 11 combination. Germany is immensely talented, but ensuring all of their stars—many of whom are versatile enough to play multiple positions—play well with one another and accept their roles will be key. Talented sides bow out early all the time at the World Cup, and it is often because they never gelled as a unit.

Portugal: Be more than a one-man team. We all know Cristiano Ronaldo is the key man for Portugal. But if they are to survive a tough group, he can't be the only player to step up. Joao Moutinho leads the pack of talented players not named Ronaldo, and if they come up big, Portugal will be hard to stop.

Ghana: Cause chaos in the midfield. Ghana will likely concede possession to Germany and Portugal, but they can keep both teams off-balance by creating chaos in the middle of the pitch. That could also lead to counter-attacking opportunities and goals against the run of play for Ghana.

United States: The defense must hold the line. Matt Besler seems certain to start at centre-back, while Fabian Johnson will start on the right. After that, there are questions. Will it be Omar Gonzalez or Geoff Cameron pairing with Besler? Will DaMarcus Beasley hold onto his spot at left-back, or has Timmy Chandler shown enough to seize it? The United States' biggest weakness is in its back four, a major concern in a group with three dangerous attacking sides. 

Group H
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
South Korea15-13

Belgium: Don't buy the hype. Belgium is loaded with talent, but they've also been told so for the past several years. They are legitimate contenders, but winning this group is no guarantee. Belgium can either come into this tournament believing they are an elite team or wanting to prove the hype is deserved. If their attitude is the latter, they'll be tough to beat.

Russia: From Russia, with familiarity. The majority of this roster plays its professional football in Mother Russia. That familiarity will be big for this Russian side in a group they should be able to escape.

South Korea: Beat Russia. South Korea's best shot to advance out of this group is to approach their game with Russia aggressively rather than hope for a draw and potentially any tiebreaker scenarios. If they beat Russia, it's hard to imagine them missing the knockout phase.

Algeria: Pray. Hey, we had to use it at least once, right?


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