World Cup Fixtures 2014: Odds and Favorites for Each Group Match

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

Indian artist Sukumar Rudra Pal gives finishing touches to clay models of Brazil and Argentina soccer players beside a clay replica of soccer World Cup as they are made ready for display at a club in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Soccer fans around the world are gearing up to watch the World Cup soccer tournament that kicks off Thursday in Brazil. (AP Photo/ Bikas Das)
Bikas Das/Associated Press

We are but two days away from the start of the 2014 World Cup, and the sports world in buzzing with anticipation. Hosts and tournament favourites Brazil will immediately put their form on display in the opening fixture, and with one of the deepest fields of contenders in the tournament's history, this year's World Cup is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

Let's go over the schedule one last time and discuss the odds and favourites for the tournament ahead of the opening fixture between Brazil and Croatia.

Group A Fixtures
June 12Brazil vs. Croatia9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETSao PauloBrazil
June 13Mexico vs. Cameroon5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETNatalMexico
June 17Brazil vs. Mexico8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETFortalezaBrazil
June 18Cameroon vs. Croatia8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETManausCroatia
June 23Cameroon vs. Brazil9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETBrasiliaBrazil
June 23Croatia vs. Mexico9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETRecifeCroatia
Group A Odds
Group A OddsGroup A Odds

Everyone seems to be backing the hosts to go all the way in 2014, with having assigned Brazil odds of 3-1 to win the tournament.

Apparent from a brief injury scare over star forward Neymar (which turned out to be nothing worth mentioning), preparation for the World Cup has been nearly flawless for Brazil. The Selecao haven't played a lot of friendlies, but they looked more than solid in the ones they did.

Via Selecao Brasileira, the team has looked very healthy and in fine form in training so far:

There were a handful of players who didn't seem to be giving it their all during the team's friendlies, but Barcelona's Dani Alves told the media those players were mainly concerned with avoiding injuries, as shared by Selecao Brasileira:

Brazil will play in one of the more intriguing groups of the World Cup, facing three teams all capable of pulling off an upset. Mexico haven't been in spectacular form lately, but on their day they have the talent and chemistry to go up against anyone.

Croatia are a Cup team, nearly defeating the two finalists of Euro 2012 during the group stages two years ago. The trio of Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic would walk into most teams in world football, and the talent backing them up isn't too shabby either.

Cameroon are a bit of a wild card, but their 2-2 draw in Germany showed they aren't afraid of playing with the big boys. If Samuel Eto'o can find his best form and the rest of the team can rally around him, they too could make life hard on the Brazilians.

Group B Fixtures
June 13Spain vs. Netherlands8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETSalvadorSpain
June 13Chile vs. Australia11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETCuiabaChile
June 18Spain vs. Chile11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETRio de JaneiroSpain
June 18Australia vs. Netherlands5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETPorto AlegreNetherlands
June 23Australia vs. Spain5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETCuritibaSpain
June 23Netherlands vs. Chile5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETSao PauloNetherlands
Group B Odds
Group C Fixtures
June 14Colombia vs. Greece5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBelo HorizonteColombia
June 14Ivory Coast vs. Japan11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETRecifeIvory Coast
June 19Colombia vs. Ivory Coast5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBrasiliaColombia
June 19Japan vs. Greece11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETNatalJapan
June 24Japan vs. Colombia9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETCuiabaColombia
June 24Greece vs. Ivory Coast9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETFortalezaIvory Coast
Group C Odds
Ivory Coast4/1
Group D Fixtures
June 14Uruguay vs. Costa Rica8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETFortalezaUruguay
June 14England vs. Italy11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETManausItaly
June 19Uruguay vs. England8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETSao PauloUruguay
June 20Italy vs. Costa Rica5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETRecifeItaly
June 24Italy vs. Uruguay5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETNatalItaly
June 24Costa Rica vs. England5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBelo HorizonteEngland
Group D Odds
Costa Rica50/1
Group E Fixtures
June 15Switzerland vs. Ecuador5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBrasiliaSwitzerland
June 15France vs. Honduras8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETPorto AlegreFrance
June 20Switzerland vs. France8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETSalvadorFrance
June 20Honduras vs. Ecuador11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETCuritibaEcuador
June 25Honduras vs. Switzerland9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETManausSwitzerland
June 25Ecuador vs. France9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETRio de JaneiroFrance
Group E Odds
Group F Fixtures
June 15Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETRio de JaneiroArgentina
June 16Iran vs. Nigeria8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETCuritibaNigeria
June 21Argentina vs. Iran5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBelo HorizonteArgentina
June 21Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETCuiabaB&H
June 25Nigeria vs. Argentina5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETPorto AlegreArgentina
June 25Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETSalvadorB&H
Group F Odds
Bosnia and Herzegovina6/1

Whether or not Argentina have the talent required to become world champions isn't the question—it's whether or not they can come together as a team in time to perform against the other favourites.

In Lionel Messi, the team can field one of the world's very best players, and he's surrounded by arguably the team's deepest group of offensive talent.

Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain are all world-class forwards, and it seems almost unfair to put them all on the same team.

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

Argentina's biggest concern is the fact their defence doesn't boast the same kind of talent, and despite having excellent players like Ezequiel Garay and Marcos Rojo, the unit hasn't played up to standards in their recent friendlies.

Against the likes of Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this shouldn't be a problem. The Albiceleste will have three relatively easy group matches they can use to build confidence in the abilities of their defence, and if everything goes to plan, the team should be ready by the time the knockout stages begin.

In a single head-to-head, there are few teams that strike more fear into the hearts of opposing players than Argentina. Whether or not they can consistently perform in a tournament they haven't won since 1986 is a different question altogether, and it's one we can't wait to see answered.

Group G Fixtures
June 16Germany vs. Portugal5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETSalvadorGermany
June 16Ghana vs. United States11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETNatalUSA
June 21Germany vs. Ghana8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETFortalezaGermany
June 22United States vs. Portugal8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ETManausPortugal
June 26United States vs. Germany5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETRecifeGermany
June 26Portugal vs. Ghana5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBrasiliaPortugal
Group G Odds

Bleacher Report's Clark Whitney wrote an excellent article on the state of the German national football team recently, and for fans of the World Cup, it's a must-read.

Whitney believes manager Joachim Loew shouldn't be blamed for failing to bring home the trophy should the tournament not go to plan, and he's got a point—everything that could have gone wrong for Die Mannschaft has gone wrong:

However, for Loew to be castigated for Germany's probable failure to win the World Cup would be cruel and unwarranted. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Mannschaft has.

To start with, Germany's path to the title will in all likelihood be extremely difficult. Should they reach the semifinal, their opponents will in all likelihood be Brazil. In the final will be Spain or any team that can manage to oust the reigning world and two-time defending European champions.

Beyond the competition, Germany will face the harshest conditions at the World Cup. Analysis by Bloomberg found that based on historical patterns, the Germans will be subjected to the most extreme weather in their scheduled matches, with Italy the only country that comes close.

And then of course there is the most discussed problem for the German team: injuries and fitness.

Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Marcel Schmelzer are all absent due to injury—Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and Sami Khedira all have issues with their form and will most likely not be at their best during the tournament.

No matter how you spin it, that is a lot to overcome, even for a team as deep as Germany.

Group G is every manager's nightmare. Portugal are a dangerous team led by the single greatest player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana will play at full throttle for 90 minutes, and even if they can't beat them, their athletic style of play will take its toll on the German players.

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

As for the USA, they've been one of the most in-form teams during preparation, and in Jurgen Klinsmann they have a manager who knows a thing or two about German football.

Germany aren't just expected to win Group G—they're expected to make a deep run in the tournament. Surviving the group of death will be hard enough, and there's no way the team comes out of the group stages without taking some damage.

Yet for all of these setbacks, people still expect the team to dominate. They're just so talented, and when everything's clicking, they're as close to unbeatable as it gets.

Should Germany overcome the odds and win the 2014 World Cup, it would truly be a testament to the greatness of this team. And for all of their issues, very few people will bet against it happening.

Group H Fixtures
June 17Belgium vs. Algeria5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETBelo HorizonteBelgium
June 17Russia vs. South Korea11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETCuiabaRussia
June 22Belgium vs. Russia11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ETRio de JaneiroBelgium
June 22South Korea vs. Algeria5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ETPorto AlegreSouth Korea
June 26South Korea vs. Belgium9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETSao PauloBelgium
June 26Algeria vs. Russia9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ETCuritibaRussia
Group H Odds
South Korea15/2


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