2014 World Cup Teams: Fixtures, Expected Starting XIs and Group Picks

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2014 World Cup Teams: Fixtures, Expected Starting XIs and Group Picks
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is finally here. The hosts kick things off against Croatia in Sao Paulo on Thursday, and months and months of preparation and speculation can finally be put to the test. 

From the 32 teams who start the tournament, 16 will escape the group stages, and eventually one team will be crowned champions on July 13 after the final at the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Felipe Dana/Associated Press

Brazil are being tipped by many to win the competition on home soil, but Argentina, Spain and Germany could spoil the party if they perform to their best.

There are the so-called "dark horses" in Belgium, Colombia, Uruguay and Italy who could pull of a shock and win the competition.

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Then there are the perceived no-hopers, simply happy to be in Brazil, taking part in the biggest competition in the world. These are the likes of Algeria, Japan, Honduras and England.

But whatever the prospects for each side, what is in no doubt is that the month ahead will provide high-quality football, controversial decisions, devastating defeats and euphoric celebrations.

Read on for a look at the full fixture list, expected starting XIs for each side and predictions for which nations are going to make it out of their groups.

 

Fixtures

Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Brazil and Croatia kick off the first of 48 group matches before 16 matches in the knockout rounds whittle the participants down to one winner.

Here is a full fixture list for a month of World Cup football in Brazil.

World Cup 2014 Fixtures
Date Time (ET/BST) Group Match
June 12 4 p.m./9 p.m. A Brazil vs. Croatia
June 13 12 p.m./5 p.m. A Mexico vs. Cameroon
June 13 3 p.m./8 p.m. B Spain vs. Netherlands
June 13 6 p.m./11 p.m. B Chile vs. Australia
June 14 12 p.m./5 p.m. C Colombia vs. Greece
June 14 3 p.m./8 p.m. D Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
June 14 6 p.m./11 p.m. D England vs. Italy
June 14 9 p.m./2 a.m. C Ivory Coast vs. Japan
June 15 12 p.m./5 p.m. E Switzerland vs. Ecuador
June 15 3 p.m./8 p.m. E France vs. Honduras
June 15 6 p.m./11 p.m. F Argentina vs. Bosnia-H.
June 16 12 p.m./5 p.m. G Germany vs. Portugal
June 16 3 p.m./8 p.m. F Iran vs. Nigeria
June 16 6 p.m./11 p.m. G Ghana vs. USA
June 17 12 p.m./5 p.m. H Belgium vs. Algeria
June 17 3 p.m./8 p.m. A Brazil vs. Mexico
June 17 6 p.m./11 p.m. H Russia vs. South Korea
June 18 12 p.m./5 p.m. B Australia vs. Netherlands
June 18 3 p.m./8 p.m. B Spain vs. Chile
June 18 6 p.m./11 p.m. A Cameroon vs. Croatia
June 19 12 p.m./5 p.m. C Colombia vs. Ivory Coast
June 19 3 p.m./8 p.m. D Uruguay vs. England
June 19 6 p.m./11 p.m. C Japan vs. Greece
June 20 12 p.m./5 p.m. D Italy vs. Costa Rica
June 20 3 p.m./8 p.m. E Switzerland vs. France
June 20 6 p.m./11 p.m. E Honduras vs. Ecuador
June 21 12 p.m./5 p.m. F Argentina vs. Iran
June 21 3 p.m./8 p.m. G Germany vs. Ghana
June 21 6 p.m./11 p.m. F Nigeria vs. Bosnia-H.
June 22 12 p.m./5 p.m. H Belgium vs. Russia
June 22 3 p.m./8 p.m. H South Korea vs. Algeria
June 22 6 p.m./11 p.m. G USA vs. Portugal
June 23 12 p.m./5 p.m. B Netherlands vs. Chile
June 23 12 p.m./5 p.m. B Australia vs. Spain
June 23 4 p.m./9 p.m. A Croatia vs. Mexico
June 23 4 p.m./9 p.m. A Cameroon vs. Brazil
June 24 12 p.m./5 p.m. D Italy vs. Uruguay
June 24 12 p.m./5 p.m. D Costa Rica vs. England
June 24 4 p.m./9 p.m. C Japan vs. Colombia
June 24 4 p.m./9 p.m. C Greece vs. Ivory Coast
June 25 12 p.m./5 p.m. F Nigeria vs. Argentina
June 25 12 p.m./5 p.m. F Bosnia-H. vs. Iran
June 25 4 p.m./9 p.m. E Ecuador vs. France
June 25 4 p.m./9 p.m. E Honduras vs. Switzerland
June 26 12 p.m./5 p.m. G United States vs. Germany
June 26 12 p.m./5 p.m. G Portugal vs. Ghana
June 26 4 p.m./9 p.m. H South Korea vs. Belgium
June 26 4 p.m./9 p.m. H Algeria vs. Russia
June 28 12 p.m./5 p.m. Last 16 1A vs. 2B (Match 49)
June 28 4 p.m./9 p.m. Last 16 1C vs. 2D (Match 50)
June 29 12 p.m./5 p.m. Last 16 1B vs. 2A (Match 51)
June 29 4 p.m./9 p.m. Last 16 1D vs. 2C (Match 52)
June 30 12 p.m./5 p.m. Last 16 1E vs. 2F (Match 53)
June 30 4 p.m./9 p.m. Last 16 1G vs. 2H (Match 54)
July 1 12 p.m./5 p.m. Last 16 1F vs. 2E (Match 55)
July 1 4 p.m./9 p.m. Last 16 1H vs. 2G (Match 56)
July 4 12 p.m./5 p.m. QF W53 vs. W54 (Match 57)
July 4 4 p.m./9 p.m. QF W49 VS. W50 (Match 58)
July 5 12 p.m./5 p.m. QF W55 vs. W56 (Match 59)
July 5 4 p.m./9 p.m. QF W51 vs. W52 (Match 60)
July 8 4 p.m./9 p.m. SF W57 vs. W58 (Match 61)
July 9 4 p.m./9 p.m. SF W59 vs. W60 (Match 62)
July 12 4 p.m./9 p.m. 3rd L61 vs. L62
July 13 3 p.m./8 p.m. Final W61 vs. W62

FIFA

 

Expected Starting XIs and Group Picks 

Eduardo Di Baia/Associated Press

One of the great things about the run up to a major tournament—and during a major tournament, for that matter—is speculation.

Guessing what will happen, hoping for the best, predicting an outrageous winner; all of this goes hand-in-hand with a World Cup.

Who will win? Who will lose? Who will cause an upset? Who will fail to perform? Which team will score the most goals?

At what point will England lose on penalties? At what point will Germany win on penalties? At what point will the French team fall out with each other? 

In this grand tradition then, let's take a look at the expected starting XIs for each side and predict those teams that will make it out of the groups to the knockout rounds.

All expected lineups courtesy of Matt Jones' June 5 Bleacher Report article available here.

 

Group A

Brazil Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Julio Caesar
RB Dani Alves
CB Thiago Silva
CB David Luiz
LB Marcelo
CDM Luis Gustavo
CDM Paulinho
CAM Oscar
RW Hulk
LW Neymar
ST Fred

The Telegraph

Croatia Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Stipe Pletikosa
RB Darijo Srna
CB Vedran Corluka
CB Dejan Lovren
LB Danijel Pranjic
CM Luka Modric
CM Ivan Rakitic
RAM Ivan Perisic
CAM Mateo Kovacic
LAM Ivica Olic
ST Mario Mandzukic

The Telegraph

Mexico Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Guillermo Ochoa
CB Rafael Marquez
CB Francisco Rodriguez
CB Hector Moreno
RWB Miguel Layun
LWB Andres Guardado
CM Hector Herrera
CM Carlos Pena
CM Marco Fabian
CF Giovani dos Santos
ST Oribe Peralta

The Telegraph

Cameroon Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Charles Itandje
RB Aurelien Chedjou
CB Stephane Mbia
CB Nicolas Nkoulou
LB Benoit Assou-Ekotto
CDM Alex Song
CM Joel Matip
CM Jean Makoun
RW Benjamin Moukandjo
LW Pierre Webo
ST Samuel Eto'o

The Telegraph

Brazil look in prime position to wrap up this group and qualify as winners. They should certainly have enough to potentially win all of their group games.

Expect Croatia to qualify in second place as they should not lose to Mexico or Cameroon, while El Tri should finish third.

Predicted Finish: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

 

Group B

Spain Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Iker Casillas
RB Cesar Azpilicueta
CB Gerard Pique
CB Sergio Ramos
LB Jordi Alba
CDM Xabi Alonso
CDM Sergio Busquets
CM Xavi
RAM David Silva
LAM Andres Iniesta
CF Cesc Fabregas

The Telegraph

The Netherlands Predicted Starting XI
Position Players
GK Michel Vorm
CB Stefan de Vrij
CB Ron Vlaar
CB Bruno Martins Indi
RWB Daryl Janmaat
LWB Daley Blind
CM Jordy Clasie
CM Jonathan de Guzman
CM Wesley Sneijder
ST Arjen Robben
ST Robin van Persie

The Telegraph

Chile Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Claudio Bravo
CB Gonzalo Jara
CB Gary Medel
CB Jose Rojas
CDM Arturo Vidal
CDM Marcelo Diaz
RM Mauricio Isla
LM Jean Beausejour
RW Alexis Sanchez
LW Eduardo Vargas
ST Mauricio Pinilla

The Telegraph

Australia Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Mathew Ryan
RB Ivan Franjic
CB Matthew Spiranovic
CB Ryan McGowan
LB Jason Davidson
CDM Mile Jedinak
CM Mark Bresciano
CM Mark Milligan
RM Ben Halloran
LM Tommy Oar
ST Tim Cahill

The Telegraph

A tough group to call with the reigning champions Spain up against beaten 2010 finalists the Netherlands, as well as Chile and Australia.

Spain should top the group with the Netherlands looking at an early exit as Chile go through to the last 16 in second place.

The Socceroos find themselves in the unenviable position of being in one of the tournament's toughest groups and will do well to pick up a point.

Predicted Finish: Spain, Chile, the Netherlands, Australia

 

Group C

Colombia Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK David Ospina
RB Camilo Zuniga
CB Cristian Zapata
CB Mario Yepes
LB Pablo Armero
CDM Abel Aguilar
CDM Fredy Guarin
RAM Juan Cuadrado
LAM James Rodriguez
ST Jackson Martinez
ST Adrian Ramos

The Telegraph

Greece Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Orestis Karnezis
RB Vasilis Torosidis
CB Sokratis Papastathopoulos
CB Kostas Manolas
LB Jose Holebas
CDM Alexandros Tziolis
CDM Giannis Maniatis
RM Dimitris Salpingidis
CM Giorgos Karagounis
LM Georgos Samaras
ST Kostas Mitroglou

The Telegraph

Ivory Coast Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Boubacar Barry
RB Serge Aurier
CB Kolo Toure
CB Souleymane Bamba
LB Arthur Boka
CDM Didier Zokora
CDM Cheick Tiote
CM Yaya Toure
RW Salomon Kalou
LW Gervinho
ST Didier Drogba

The Telegraph

Japan Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Eiji Kawashima
RB Atsuto Uchida
CB Maya Yoshida
CB Yasuyuki Konno
LB Yuto Nagatomo
CDM Yasuhito Endo
CDM Makoto Hasebe
RAM Keisuke Honda
CAM Shinji Kagawa
LAM Yoichiro Kakitani
ST Shinji Okazaki

The Telegraph

Colombia should top this group, and the much-touted Ivory Coast look set to finally make it out of the group as they qualify in second spot. 

However, the Ivorian squad is ageing and Greece present a tricky opposition to break down. Meanwhile, Japan have quality in their side, including the likes of Shinji Kagawa, but the Elephants should have enough to make it through. 

Predicted Finish: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece

 

Group D

Uruguay Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Fernando Muslera
RB Maximiliano Pereira
CB Diego Lugano
CB Diego Godin
LB Martin Caceres
RM Christian Stuani
CM Nicolas Lodeiro
CM Alvaro Rios
LM Cristian Rodriguez
ST Edinson Cavani
ST Luis Suarez

The Telegraph

Costa Rica Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Keylor Navas
CB Johnny Acosta
CB Giancarlo Gonzalez
CB Michael Umana
RWB Christian Gamboa
CDM Celso Borges
CDM Yeltsin Tejeda
LWB Junior Diaz
CAM Bryan Ruiz
CAM Christian Bolanos
ST Joel Campbell

The Telegraph

England Predicted Starting XI
Player Position
GK Joe Hart
RB Glen Johnson
CB Gary Cahill
CB Phil Jagielka
LB Leighton Baines
CDM Steven Gerrard
CDM Jordan Henderson
RAM Adam Lallana
CAM Wayne Rooney
LAM Danny Welbeck
ST Daniel Sturridge

The Telegraph

Italy Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Gianluigi Buffon
RB Ignazio Abate
CB Leonardo Bonucci
CB Giorgio Chiellini
LB Mattia De Sciglio
CDM Andrea Pirlo
CM Marco Verratti
CM Daniele De Rossi
CAM Claudio Marchisio
ST Mario Balotelli
ST Antonio Cassano

The Telegraph

Fourth-placed in 2010, Uruguay may be looking at an early exit in Brazil with Italy qualifying top of the group and England taking second place.

While Costa Rica are unlikely to make it out of this group, they could be the key team in deciding who goes through out of the other three teams. A slip-up against Jorge Luis Pinto's side could spell the end for Italy, Uruguay or England.

Predicted Finish: Italy. England, Uruguay, Costa Rica

 

Group E

Switzerland Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Diego Benaglio
RB Stephan Lichtsteiner
CB Fabian Schaer
CB Steve von Bergen
LB Ricardo Rodriguez
CDM Gokhan Inler
CDM Valon Behrami
RAM Xherdan Shaqiri
CAM Granit Xhaka
LAM Valentin Stocker
ST Josip Drmic

The Telegraph

France Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Hugo Lloris
RB Mathieu Debuchy
CB Raphael Varane
CB Mamadou Sakho
LB Lucas Digne
CDM Yohan Cabaye
CM Paul Pogba
CM Blaise Matuidi
RW Mathieu Valbuena
LW Franck Ribéry
ST Karim Benzema

The Telegraph

Ecuador Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Alexander Dominguez
RB Juan Paredes
CB Jorge Guagua
CB Frickson Erazo
LB Walter Ayovi
CDM Segundo Castillo
RM Antonio Valencia
CM Christian Noboa
CM Fidel Martinez
LM Jefferson Montero
ST Felipe Caicedo

The Telegraph

Honduras Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Noel Valladares
RB Arnold Peralta
CB Osman Chavez
CB Victor Bernardez
LB Maynor Figueroa
RM Oscar Boniek Garcia
CM Wilson Palacios
CM Roger Espinoza
LM Emilio Izaguirre
ST Jerry Bengtson
ST Carlo Costly

The Telegraph

France and Switzerland should see off the two South American sides to make it through to the knockout stages.

However, the Swiss look best equipped to top Group E unless France can find some consistency that so often eludes them. Ecuador should have enough to see off Honduras to prevent a fourth-placed finish.

Predicted Finish: Switzerland, France, Ecuador, Honduras

 

Group F

Argentina Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Sergio Romero
RB Pablo Zabaleta
CB Federico Fernandez
CB Ezequiel Garay
LB Marcos Rojo
CDM Javier Mascherano
CM Fernando Gago
CM Angel Di Maria
CF Lionel Messi
ST Gonzalo Higuain
ST Sergio Aguero

The Telegraph

Bosnia-Herzegovina Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Asmir Begovic
RB Mensur Mujdza
CB Emir Spahic
CB Ermin Bicakcic
LB Sead Kolasinac
CDM Sejad Salihovic
CDM Muhamed Besic
RM Izet Hajrovic
LM Senad Lulic
CAM Miralem Pjanic
ST Edin Dzeko

The Telegraph

Iran Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Rahman Ahmadi
RB Pejman Montazeri
CB Steven Beitashour
CB Mohammad Khanzadeh
LB Hashem Beykzadeh
RM Khosrow Heidari
CM Andranik Teymourian
CM Javad Nekounam
LM Ehsan Hajsafi
CAM Ashkan Dejagah
ST Reza Ghoochannejhad

The Telegraph

Nigeria Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Vincent Enyeama
RB Efe Ambrose
CB Godfrey Oboabona
CB Joseph Yobo
LB Elderson Echiejile
CDM Ogenyi Onazi
CDM John Obi Mikel
RM Victor Moses
CM Michael Babatunde
LM Ahmed Musa
ST Emmanuel Emenike

The Telegraph

Argentina will be looking for a clean sweep of victories in Group F and will surely take top spot with Bosnia and Herzegovina the other survivors going though to the last 16.

Nigeria could pose quite a threat in this group but will likely have to settle for third as Iran prop up the group.

Predicted Finish: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran

 

Group G

Germany Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Manuel Neuer
RB Philipp Lahm
CB Per Mertesacker
CB Mats Hummels
LB Erik Durm
CDM Bastian Schweinsteiger
CDM Sami Khedira
RAM Thomas Mueller
CAM Mesut Ozil
LAM Marco Reus
ST Miroslav Klose

The Telegraph

Portugal Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Rui Patricio
RB Joao Pereira
CB Pepe
CB Bruno Alves
LB Fabio Coentrao
CDM William Carvalho
CM Joao Moutinho
CM Raul Meireles
RW Luis Nani
LW Cristiano Ronaldo
ST Helder Postiga

The Telegraph

Ghana Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Adam Kwarasey
RB Samuel Inkoom
CB Rashid Sumalia
CB Jonathan Mensah
LB Daniel Opare
CDM Michael Essien
CDM Sulley Muntari
RM Andre Ayew
CM Kevin-Prince Boateng
LM Kwadwo Asamoah
ST Asamoah Gyan

The Telegraph

United States Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Tim Howard
RB Geoff Cameron
CB Matt Besler
CB John Brooks
LB Timmy Chandler
CDM Michael Bradley
RM Graham Zusi
LM Fabian Johnson
CAM Jermaine Jones
ST Jozy Altidore
ST Clint Dempsey

The Telegraph

Potentially the toughest group in the competition, Germany should finish top of the pile to see themselves through to the last 16.

Portugal will look to Cristiano Ronaldo for inspiration, and his presence alone should be enough to seal second place. Although Ghana, 2010's best-performing African nation, could be a serious threat.

The United States are no pushovers either as they proved in South Africa when they qualified for the last 16 as group winners.

Predicted Finish: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States

 

Group H 

Belgium Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Thibaut Courtois
RB Toby Alderweireld
CB Vincent Kompany
CB Daniel Van Buyten
LB Jan Vertonghen
CDM Axel Witsel
CM Steven Defour
CM Marouane Fellaini
RW Kevin Mirallas
LW Eden Hazard
ST Romelu Lukaku

The Telegraph

Algeria Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Mohamed Zemmamouche
RB AIssa Mandi
CB Carl Medjani
CB Madjid Bougherra
LB Faouzi Ghoulam
RM Sofiane Feghouli
CM Medhi Lacen
CM Nabil Bentaleb
LM Yacine Brahimi
CAM Saphir Taïder
ST Islam Slimani

The Telegraph

Russia Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Igor Akinfeev
RB Andrey Eshchenko
CB Vasili Berezutskiy
CB Sergey Ignashevich
LB Dmitry Kombarov
CDM Igor Denisov
CM Roman Shirokov
CM Victor Faizulin
RAM Alan Dzagoev
LAM Alexander Kokorin
ST Alexander Kerzhakov

The Telegraph

South Korea Predicted Starting XI
Position Player
GK Jung Sung-ryong
RB Kim Chang-soo
CB Kim Young-gwon
CB Kwak Tae-hwi
LB Yun Suk-young
RM Lee Chung-yong
CM Ki Sung-yueng
CM Park Jong-woo
LM Ji Dong-won
CAM Son Heung-min
ST Park Chu-young

The Telegraph

Hipster's choice Belgium have one of the tournament's easier groups and should go through as winners. However, do not expect them to make it much further in the tournament. 

Russia look well-placed to take second spot as Algeria and South Korea pose no great threat to Fabio Capello's side.

Predicted Finish: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria

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