World Cup Draw 2014 Groups: Fixtures, Sleepers and More for FIFA Tournament

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku salutes after he scored against Luxembourg, during a friendly soccer match at the Cristal Arena stadium in Genk, eastern Belgium, Tuesday, May 26, 2014. Belgium will play against South Korea, Russia and Algeria in Group H of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
Yves Logghe/Associated Press

While every thinks they will know what will happen at the 2014 World Cup, teams always find a way to surprise fans. 

After not qualifying for the World Cup in 2006, Uruguay went all the way to the semifinals in 2010 before falling to Netherlands, which also had a relatively surprising run to the finals. Meanwhile, talented teams like Italy and France did not even make it out of the group stage.  

At this year's event, Spain, Brazil, Germany and a few others are considered top contenders to win a title. However, there are other teams capable of crashing the party with strong play.

Here is a look at the complete group stage fixtures followed by the top sleepers to watch this summer.

2014 World Cup Groups
Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
BrazilSpainColombiaUruguay
CroatiaNetherlandsGreeceCosta Rica
MexicoChileIvory CoastEngland
CameroonAustraliaJapanItaly
Group EGroup FGroup GGroup H
SwitzerlandArgentinaGermanyBelgium
EcuadorBosnia-HerzegovinaPortugalAlgeria
FranceIranGhanaRussia
HondurasNigeriaUnited StatesSouth Korea
via FIFA.com
2014 World Cup Group Stage Fixtures
DateMatchGroupTime (ET)Venue
June 12Brazil vs. CroatiaA4 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 13Mexico vs. CameroonA12 p.m.Natal
June 13Spain vs. NetherlandsB3 p.m.Salvador
June 13Chile vs. AustraliaB6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 14Colombia vs. GreeceC12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 14Uruguay vs. Costa RicaD3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 14Ivory Coast vs. JapanC6 p.m.Recife
June 14England vs. ItalyD6 p.m.Manaus
June 15Switzerland vs. EcuadorE12 p.m.Brasilia
June 15France vs. HondurasE3 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 15Argentina vs. Bosnia-HerzegovinaF6 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 16Germany vs. PortugalG12 p.m.Salvador
June 16Iran vs. NigeriaF3 p.m.Curitiba
June 16Ghana vs. United StatesG6 p.m.Natal
June 17Belgium vs. AlgeriaH12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 17Brazil vs. MexicoA3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 17Russia vs. South KoreaH6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 18Australia vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 18Cameroon vs. CroatiaA3 p.m.Manaus
June 18Spain vs. ChileB6 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 19Colombia vs. Ivory CoastC12 p.m.Brasilia
June 19Uruguay vs. EnglandD3 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 19Greece vs. JapanC6 p.m.Natal
June 20Costa Rica vs. ItalyD12 p.m.Recife
June 20Switzerland vs. FranceE3 p.m.Salvador
June 20Ecuador vs. HondurasE6 p.m.Curitiba
June 21Argentina vs. IranF12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 21Germany vs. GhanaG3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 21Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. NigeriaF6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 22South Korea vs. AlgeriaH12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 22United States vs. PortugalG3 p.m.Manaus
June 22Belgium vs. RussiaH12 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 23Australia vs. SpainB12 p.m.Curitiba
June 23Chile vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 23Brazil vs. CameroonA4 p.m.Brasilia
June 23Croatia vs. MexicoA4 p.m.Recife
June 24Italy vs. UruguayD12 p.m.Natal
June 24Costa Rica vs. EnglandD12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 24Japan vs. ColombiaC4 p.m.Cuiaba
June 24Greece vs. Ivory CoastC4 p.m.Fortaleza
June 25Nigeria vs. ArgentinaF12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 25Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. IranF12 p.m.Salvador
June 25Honduras vs. SwitzerlandE4 p.m.Manaus
June 25France vs. EcuadorE4 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 26United States vs. GermanyG12 p.m.Recife
June 26Portugal vs. GhanaG12 p.m.Brasilia
June 26South Korea vs. BelgiumH4 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 26Algeria vs. RussiaH4 p.m.Curitiba
via FIFA.com

 

Top Sleepers to Watch

Belgium

Darko Bandic/Associated Press

While Belgium came into the draw as a seeded team, not many people actually considered them a legitimate contender to win a title. However, the talent is there for the squad to go far this summer.

Premier League players like Eden Hazard, Romelo Lukaku, Vincent Kompany and Simon Mignolet have the experience of playing at a high level against good competition. They have fared well over the past two years throughout qualifying and know how to consistently win.

The addition of Adnan Januzaj will also help provide some creativity on the attack.

On the other hand, Belgium did not even qualify for the past two World Cups, and experience could be a problem, as noted by Leander Schaerlaeckens of Fox Sports:

Not only will physical issues come through in this tournament, but the young squad will have to worry about nerves as well.

Still, a relatively easy group will allow the team to gain confidence before succeeding in the knockout stage.

 

Croatia

Darko Bandic/Associated Press

Spain have proven you need a great midfield in order to succeed on the international level. This is something Croatia certainly have between Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and others.

Even without Niko Kranjcar, the unit is filled with players who have succeeded with their clubs and should bring their individual talents to the national team.

Up front is Mario Mandzukic, who will miss the first match due to suspension but will be able to help the squad the rest of the tournament. After scoring 18 goals with Bayern Munich this past season, he will clearly be able to help provide plenty of offense for Croatia.

Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sports notes that the defense is a bit below average, but still sees the group getting to the knockout stage:

While this would be a satisfying result for Croatia, the group is still capable of more. If Modric and Rakitic play to their ability and work to hold possession while preventing opposing attacks, the group can pull of some major upsets.

 

France

After reaching the finals of the 2006 World Cup, France were simply embarrassing at the 2010 event, finishing in last place in the group. Qualifying did not go much smoother as the team was dangerously close to missing out on a ticket to Brazil.

However, the draw was quite kind to them in December. France will compete in a group with Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. Although none of these are easy wins, none of them are guaranteed losses either.

With the amount of talent on the French roster, there is really no reason not to make at least the knockout stage. The attack alone of Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Mathieu Valbuena and Yohan Cabaye make this a difficult team to stop.

Ribery especially will have extra motivation in this tournament. According to The Guardian, the forward told RTL, "It will be my last World Cup. We have to go there to achieve something, to try to win the World Cup, quite simply."

Adding an experience defense to this group of world-class players will give them a chance to surprise people. While fans are quite aware of what France can do, the squad can exceed some of the biggest expectations over the course of the month.

 

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