While only five days have passed in the 2014 World Cup, some teams are already a lock to advance to the knockout-round bracket.
Others are almost guaranteed to be eliminated.
Teams have only played one game thus far, if that. But with only three group-stage matches before the Knockout Round, every one is very important.
After five days of crucial games, here are updated predictions on which nations will advance.
*All odds are according to Odds Shark
Brazil entered the World Cup a 3-1 favorite to win it all. It gave odds makers no reason to doubt after its opening match. Neymar scored two goals in a 3-1 victory over Croatia clouded by controversy, but not enough for anyone in their right mind to question Brazil's ability.
If Brazil should win out their remaining games against Mexico as well as Cameroon, which has improbable 25-1 odds to win Group A. Cameroon winning would be as surprising as Brazil losing, leaving Mexico and Croatia to battle for the second seed.
Croatia entered with slightly better odds to win the group over Mexico. Mexico can establish itself as a favorite to advance with an impressive showing against Brazil, but until then, Croatia remains the favorite for their win-or-go-home showdown on Monday, June 23.
Unlike Group A, Group B's favorite has given odds makers plenty of reasons to doubt. In 2010, Spain won the World Cup over the Netherlands. This year, though, the Netherlands looked far more likely to win it all in their opening match.
They embarrassed Spain by the score of 5-1. The Netherlands' play would have to plummet for them to not win Group B. With Australia showing little signs of life in a 3-1 loss to Chile on Day 2, Chile vs. Spain should decide the second seed.
Spain entered with far higher odds to win the group than Chile, but they proved to be meaningless on Day 2. The Netherlands likely exposed too many weaknesses for Spain to recover against a strong Chile team on Wednesday, June 18.
Group C's defining match already happened.
The second seed was up for grabs between Ivory Coast and Japan. Greece wasn't regarded as a legitimate threat, and Colombia confirmed this by shutting it out 3-0. Colombia is 2-3 favorite to finish first in the group and likely won't lose a match.
Like Group A and B, two teams were left to compete for the final seed. And on Day 3, Ivory Coast beat Japan by the score of 2-1.
Japan led from the 16th minute to the 64th. Then Ivory Coast scored two goals in two minutes. Japan now needs improbable efforts from itself against Colombia and Australia against Ivory Coast to sneak in, so it's out.
2C: Ivory Coast
This began and remains the most intriguing group of the World Cup.
Italy, Uruguay and England entered headlining a stacked Group D while Costa Rica was supposed to serve as a bye. Then Costa Rica crushed Uruguay 3-1, giving the group four teams capable of advancing to the knockout round.
Italy entered as the favorite and remains such after a 2-1 win over England. But anything could happen with the second seed.
Costa Rica has a sizable head start in the standings on England, but Costa Rica will likely struggle to equal its performance again. Luis Suarez's absence and the element of surprise aided in its victory. England is the more talented team and should win when they face off on Tuesday, June 24.
Expect these standings to remain in this order.
France entered as a favorite to win Group E and punished Honduras 3-0 in their opening match. No one has lower odds to win the World Cup than Honduras. It wasn't projected to be in the mix for the second seed with Switzerland and Ecuador, and it still isn't.
And with Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Day 4, Ecuador needs Japan-like help to be able to leapfrog Switzerland for the No. 2 spot.
|4||Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||-1||1||0||0||1||1||2|
No team has been more impressive in loss than Bosnia and Herzegovina. Argentina beat it by the score of 2-1 on Day 4. And Argentina has the second-highest odds to win the World Cup.
Bosnia and Herzegovina hung with it throughout, and only an own goal by Sead Kolasinac separated the two at the final whistle. All this is to say that Bosnia and Herzegovina should remain favored over Iran and Nigeria to advance.
Argentina remains a heavy favorite in victory, but neither Iran nor Nigeria impressed in their draw. If the two weaker teams couldn't score against each other, they'll continue to struggle against Bosnia and Herzegovina which held stacked Argentina to one earned goal.
2F: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Portugal feels Spain's pain.
Cristiano Ronaldo and company were abused by Germany on Day 5 by the score of 4-0. While they were underdogs to Germany, as heavy favorites to advance with the second seed, they weren't supposed to lose that badly. After the United States' 2-1 win over Ghana, it's difficult to pick Portugal against the U.S. on Sunday, June 22.
Germany gave the U.S. plenty of weaknesses to watch film of and exploit. And Portugal will be without Pepe who drew a red card in its opener. With a five-point lead in goal differential, all the U.S. has to do is tie Portugal and not get devoured by Germany.
And not to completely ignore Ghana, but its hope to advance vanished with John Brooks' game-winning header.
2G: United States
Group E is the most difficult to predict at this point because no one has competed. However, Belgium enters as a 4-7 favorite to win the group, making it a heavy favorite to at least advance.
Algeria will likely end up at the opposite end of the standings It. has the third-lowest odds to win the World Cup.
This leaves Russia and South Korea as the most likely teams to earn the second seed. They play on Day 6. The reward of a win will almost definitely include that second seed.
Russia is a 50-53 favorite to win the match and should be expected to advance.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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