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

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

Spain team members celebrate with the World Cup trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, July 11, 2010.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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.

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

TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - JUNE 09: Neymar (R) in action during a training session of the Brazilian national football team at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, on June 09, 2014 in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bud
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
DateTime (ET/BST)GroupMatch
June 124 p.m./9 p.m.ABrazil vs. Croatia
June 1312 p.m./5 p.m.AMexico vs. Cameroon
June 133 p.m./8 p.m.BSpain vs. Netherlands
June 136 p.m./11 p.m.BChile vs. Australia
June 1412 p.m./5 p.m.CColombia vs. Greece
June 143 p.m./8 p.m.DUruguay vs. Costa Rica
June 146 p.m./11 p.m.DEngland vs. Italy
June 149 p.m./2 a.m.CIvory Coast vs. Japan
June 1512 p.m./5 p.m.ESwitzerland vs. Ecuador
June 153 p.m./8 p.m.EFrance vs. Honduras
June 156 p.m./11 p.m.FArgentina vs. Bosnia-H.
June 1612 p.m./5 p.m.GGermany vs. Portugal
June 163 p.m./8 p.m.FIran vs. Nigeria
June 166 p.m./11 p.m.GGhana vs. USA
June 1712 p.m./5 p.m.HBelgium vs. Algeria
June 173 p.m./8 p.m.ABrazil vs. Mexico
June 176 p.m./11 p.m.HRussia vs. South Korea
June 1812 p.m./5 p.m.BAustralia vs. Netherlands
June 183 p.m./8 p.m.BSpain vs. Chile
June 186 p.m./11 p.m.ACameroon vs. Croatia
June 1912 p.m./5 p.m.CColombia vs. Ivory Coast
June 193 p.m./8 p.m.DUruguay vs. England
June 196 p.m./11 p.m.CJapan vs. Greece
June 2012 p.m./5 p.m.DItaly vs. Costa Rica
June 203 p.m./8 p.m.ESwitzerland vs. France
June 206 p.m./11 p.m.EHonduras vs. Ecuador
June 2112 p.m./5 p.m.FArgentina vs. Iran
June 213 p.m./8 p.m.GGermany vs. Ghana
June 216 p.m./11 p.m.FNigeria vs. Bosnia-H.
June 2212 p.m./5 p.m.HBelgium vs. Russia
June 223 p.m./8 p.m.HSouth Korea vs. Algeria
June 226 p.m./11 p.m.GUSA vs. Portugal
June 2312 p.m./5 p.m.BNetherlands vs. Chile
June 2312 p.m./5 p.m.BAustralia vs. Spain
June 234 p.m./9 p.m.ACroatia vs. Mexico
June 234 p.m./9 p.m.ACameroon vs. Brazil
June 2412 p.m./5 p.m.DItaly vs. Uruguay
June 2412 p.m./5 p.m.DCosta Rica vs. England
June 244 p.m./9 p.m.CJapan vs. Colombia
June 244 p.m./9 p.m.CGreece vs. Ivory Coast
June 2512 p.m./5 p.m.FNigeria vs. Argentina
June 2512 p.m./5 p.m.FBosnia-H. vs. Iran
June 254 p.m./9 p.m.EEcuador vs. France
June 254 p.m./9 p.m.EHonduras vs. Switzerland
June 2612 p.m./5 p.m.GUnited States vs. Germany
June 2612 p.m./5 p.m.GPortugal vs. Ghana
June 264 p.m./9 p.m.HSouth Korea vs. Belgium
June 264 p.m./9 p.m.HAlgeria vs. Russia
June 2812 p.m./5 p.m.Last 161A vs. 2B (Match 49)
June 284 p.m./9 p.m.Last 161C vs. 2D (Match 50)
June 2912 p.m./5 p.m.Last 161B vs. 2A (Match 51)
June 294 p.m./9 p.m.Last 161D vs. 2C (Match 52)
June 3012 p.m./5 p.m.Last 161E vs. 2F (Match 53)
June 304 p.m./9 p.m.Last 161G vs. 2H (Match 54)
July 112 p.m./5 p.m.Last 161F vs. 2E (Match 55)
July 14 p.m./9 p.m.Last 161H vs. 2G (Match 56)
July 412 p.m./5 p.m.QFW53 vs. W54 (Match 57)
July 44 p.m./9 p.m.QFW49 VS. W50 (Match 58)
July 512 p.m./5 p.m.QFW55 vs. W56 (Match 59)
July 54 p.m./9 p.m.QFW51 vs. W52 (Match 60)
July 84 p.m./9 p.m.SFW57 vs. W58 (Match 61)
July 94 p.m./9 p.m.SFW59 vs. W60 (Match 62)
July 124 p.m./9 p.m.3rdL61 vs. L62
July 133 p.m./8 p.m.FinalW61 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
PositionPlayer
GKJulio Caesar
RBDani Alves
CBThiago Silva
CBDavid Luiz
LBMarcelo
CDMLuis Gustavo
CDMPaulinho
CAMOscar
RWHulk
LWNeymar
STFred
The Telegraph
Croatia Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKStipe Pletikosa
RBDarijo Srna
CBVedran Corluka
CBDejan Lovren
LBDanijel Pranjic
CMLuka Modric
CMIvan Rakitic
RAMIvan Perisic
CAMMateo Kovacic
LAMIvica Olic
STMario Mandzukic
The Telegraph
Mexico Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKGuillermo Ochoa
CBRafael Marquez
CBFrancisco Rodriguez
CBHector Moreno
RWBMiguel Layun
LWBAndres Guardado
CMHector Herrera
CMCarlos Pena
CMMarco Fabian
CFGiovani dos Santos
STOribe Peralta
The Telegraph
Cameroon Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKCharles Itandje
RBAurelien Chedjou
CBStephane Mbia
CBNicolas Nkoulou
LBBenoit Assou-Ekotto
CDMAlex Song
CMJoel Matip
CMJean Makoun
RWBenjamin Moukandjo
LWPierre Webo
STSamuel 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
PositionPlayer
GKIker Casillas
RBCesar Azpilicueta
CBGerard Pique
CBSergio Ramos
LBJordi Alba
CDMXabi Alonso
CDMSergio Busquets
CMXavi
RAMDavid Silva
LAMAndres Iniesta
CFCesc Fabregas
The Telegraph
The Netherlands Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayers
GKMichel Vorm
CBStefan de Vrij
CBRon Vlaar
CBBruno Martins Indi
RWBDaryl Janmaat
LWBDaley Blind
CMJordy Clasie
CMJonathan de Guzman
CMWesley Sneijder
STArjen Robben
STRobin van Persie
The Telegraph
Chile Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKClaudio Bravo
CBGonzalo Jara
CBGary Medel
CBJose Rojas
CDMArturo Vidal
CDMMarcelo Diaz
RMMauricio Isla
LMJean Beausejour
RWAlexis Sanchez
LWEduardo Vargas
STMauricio Pinilla
The Telegraph
Australia Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKMathew Ryan
RBIvan Franjic
CBMatthew Spiranovic
CBRyan McGowan
LBJason Davidson
CDMMile Jedinak
CMMark Bresciano
CMMark Milligan
RMBen Halloran
LMTommy Oar
STTim 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
PositionPlayer
GKDavid Ospina
RBCamilo Zuniga
CBCristian Zapata
CBMario Yepes
LBPablo Armero
CDMAbel Aguilar
CDMFredy Guarin
RAMJuan Cuadrado
LAMJames Rodriguez
STJackson Martinez
STAdrian Ramos
The Telegraph
Greece Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKOrestis Karnezis
RBVasilis Torosidis
CBSokratis Papastathopoulos
CBKostas Manolas
LBJose Holebas
CDMAlexandros Tziolis
CDMGiannis Maniatis
RMDimitris Salpingidis
CMGiorgos Karagounis
LMGeorgos Samaras
STKostas Mitroglou
The Telegraph
Ivory Coast Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKBoubacar Barry
RBSerge Aurier
CBKolo Toure
CBSouleymane Bamba
LBArthur Boka
CDMDidier Zokora
CDMCheick Tiote
CMYaya Toure
RWSalomon Kalou
LWGervinho
STDidier Drogba
The Telegraph
Japan Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKEiji Kawashima
RBAtsuto Uchida
CBMaya Yoshida
CBYasuyuki Konno
LBYuto Nagatomo
CDMYasuhito Endo
CDMMakoto Hasebe
RAMKeisuke Honda
CAMShinji Kagawa
LAMYoichiro Kakitani
STShinji 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
PositionPlayer
GKFernando Muslera
RBMaximiliano Pereira
CBDiego Lugano
CBDiego Godin
LBMartin Caceres
RMChristian Stuani
CMNicolas Lodeiro
CMAlvaro Rios
LMCristian Rodriguez
STEdinson Cavani
STLuis Suarez
The Telegraph
Costa Rica Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKKeylor Navas
CBJohnny Acosta
CBGiancarlo Gonzalez
CBMichael Umana
RWBChristian Gamboa
CDMCelso Borges
CDMYeltsin Tejeda
LWBJunior Diaz
CAMBryan Ruiz
CAMChristian Bolanos
STJoel Campbell
The Telegraph
England Predicted Starting XI
PlayerPosition
GKJoe Hart
RBGlen Johnson
CBGary Cahill
CBPhil Jagielka
LBLeighton Baines
CDMSteven Gerrard
CDMJordan Henderson
RAMAdam Lallana
CAMWayne Rooney
LAMDanny Welbeck
STDaniel Sturridge
The Telegraph
Italy Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKGianluigi Buffon
RBIgnazio Abate
CBLeonardo Bonucci
CBGiorgio Chiellini
LBMattia De Sciglio
CDMAndrea Pirlo
CMMarco Verratti
CMDaniele De Rossi
CAMClaudio Marchisio
STMario Balotelli
STAntonio 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
PositionPlayer
GKDiego Benaglio
RBStephan Lichtsteiner
CBFabian Schaer
CBSteve von Bergen
LBRicardo Rodriguez
CDMGokhan Inler
CDMValon Behrami
RAMXherdan Shaqiri
CAMGranit Xhaka
LAMValentin Stocker
STJosip Drmic
The Telegraph
France Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKHugo Lloris
RBMathieu Debuchy
CBRaphael Varane
CBMamadou Sakho
LBLucas Digne
CDMYohan Cabaye
CMPaul Pogba
CMBlaise Matuidi
RWMathieu Valbuena
LWFranck Ribéry
STKarim Benzema
The Telegraph
Ecuador Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKAlexander Dominguez
RBJuan Paredes
CBJorge Guagua
CBFrickson Erazo
LBWalter Ayovi
CDMSegundo Castillo
RMAntonio Valencia
CMChristian Noboa
CMFidel Martinez
LMJefferson Montero
STFelipe Caicedo
The Telegraph
Honduras Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKNoel Valladares
RBArnold Peralta
CBOsman Chavez
CBVictor Bernardez
LB Maynor Figueroa
RMOscar Boniek Garcia
CMWilson Palacios
CMRoger Espinoza
LMEmilio Izaguirre
STJerry Bengtson
STCarlo 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
PositionPlayer
GKSergio Romero
RBPablo Zabaleta
CBFederico Fernandez
CBEzequiel Garay
LBMarcos Rojo
CDMJavier Mascherano
CMFernando Gago
CMAngel Di Maria
CFLionel Messi
STGonzalo Higuain
STSergio Aguero
The Telegraph
Bosnia-Herzegovina Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKAsmir Begovic
RBMensur Mujdza
CBEmir Spahic
CBErmin Bicakcic
LBSead Kolasinac
CDMSejad Salihovic
CDMMuhamed Besic
RMIzet Hajrovic
LMSenad Lulic
CAMMiralem Pjanic
STEdin Dzeko
The Telegraph
Iran Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKRahman Ahmadi
RBPejman Montazeri
CBSteven Beitashour
CBMohammad Khanzadeh
LBHashem Beykzadeh
RMKhosrow Heidari
CMAndranik Teymourian
CMJavad Nekounam
LMEhsan Hajsafi
CAMAshkan Dejagah
STReza Ghoochannejhad
The Telegraph
Nigeria Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKVincent Enyeama
RBEfe Ambrose
CBGodfrey Oboabona
CBJoseph Yobo
LBElderson Echiejile
CDMOgenyi Onazi
CDMJohn Obi Mikel
RMVictor Moses
CMMichael Babatunde
LMAhmed Musa
STEmmanuel 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
PositionPlayer
GKManuel Neuer
RBPhilipp Lahm
CBPer Mertesacker
CBMats Hummels
LBErik Durm
CDMBastian Schweinsteiger
CDM Sami Khedira
RAMThomas Mueller
CAMMesut Ozil
LAMMarco Reus
STMiroslav Klose
The Telegraph
Portugal Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKRui Patricio
RBJoao Pereira
CBPepe
CBBruno Alves
LBFabio Coentrao
CDMWilliam Carvalho
CMJoao Moutinho
CMRaul Meireles
RWLuis Nani
LWCristiano Ronaldo
STHelder Postiga
The Telegraph
Ghana Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKAdam Kwarasey
RBSamuel Inkoom
CBRashid Sumalia
CBJonathan Mensah
LBDaniel Opare
CDMMichael Essien
CDMSulley Muntari
RM Andre Ayew
CMKevin-Prince Boateng
LMKwadwo Asamoah
STAsamoah Gyan
The Telegraph
United States Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKTim Howard
RBGeoff Cameron
CBMatt Besler
CBJohn Brooks
LBTimmy Chandler
CDMMichael Bradley
RMGraham Zusi
LMFabian Johnson
CAMJermaine Jones
STJozy Altidore
STClint 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
PositionPlayer
GKThibaut Courtois
RBToby Alderweireld
CBVincent Kompany
CBDaniel Van Buyten
LBJan Vertonghen
CDMAxel Witsel
CMSteven Defour
CMMarouane Fellaini
RWKevin Mirallas
LWEden Hazard
STRomelu Lukaku
The Telegraph
Algeria Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKMohamed Zemmamouche
RBAIssa Mandi
CBCarl Medjani
CBMadjid Bougherra
LBFaouzi Ghoulam
RMSofiane Feghouli
CMMedhi Lacen
CMNabil Bentaleb
LMYacine Brahimi
CAMSaphir Taïder
STIslam Slimani
The Telegraph
Russia Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKIgor Akinfeev
RBAndrey Eshchenko
CBVasili Berezutskiy
CBSergey Ignashevich
LBDmitry Kombarov
CDMIgor Denisov
CMRoman Shirokov
CMVictor Faizulin
RAMAlan Dzagoev
LAMAlexander Kokorin
STAlexander Kerzhakov
The Telegraph
South Korea Predicted Starting XI
PositionPlayer
GKJung Sung-ryong
RBKim Chang-soo
CB Kim Young-gwon
CBKwak Tae-hwi
LBYun Suk-young
RMLee Chung-yong
CMKi Sung-yueng
CMPark Jong-woo
LMJi Dong-won
CAMSon Heung-min
STPark 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