World Cup 2014: Predictions for Favorites and Sleepers in All Groups

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of Argentina in action during the International Friendly match between Sweden and Argentina at the Friends Arena on February 6, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

You know the usual suspects. Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and Germany, to name a few. But which countries are the sleepers at this year's tournament? Who should be expected to win each group?

Ah, now that's the question, isn't it?

Below, you'll find a full set of predictions for every group, including a few notes on the favorites and sleepers from each group, where applicable. There will be twists and turns at this year's tournament, surely—with the information below, none will come as a huge surprise. 

Group A

Group A Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Favorite: Brazil

Sleeper: N/A

This is a pretty cut-and-dry group. It would be shocking if Brazil failed to win this group, while the second slot is going to go to either Croatia or Mexico. Cameroon is dramatically overmatched. 

Neither Croatia nor Mexico are to be taken lightly, of course. The Croatians are led by Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, players good enough to ply their trade for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, respectively. And while Mexico was pretty dreadful in World Cup qualifying, Javier Hernandez and company are still good enough to advance out of this group. 

Group B

Group B Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Favorite: Spain

Sleeper: Chile

This is one of three "Groups of Death," led by the defending World Cup champions Spain and the team they beat in the final, the Netherlands. Both will be favored to advance out of this group, but Chile are a very talented side that could spoil the party for one of the European nations. 

Led by Juventus' Arturo Vidal and Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez, Chile are a dangerous side and one that will be bolstered by playing on South American soil and likely having the crowds behind them. The Dutch can be tough to read and unceremoniously bowed out of the 2012 Euros in the group stage, so don't be surprised if Spain and Chile escape this group. 

Still, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben might have something to say about that.

Group C

Group C Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
Ivory Coast+4002

Favorite: Colombia

Sleeper: Greece

This is a really intriguing group, as feasibly all four of these teams could advance. Even the unquestioned favorites, Colombia, will have questions to answer, namely how they'll fare without star striker Radamel Falcao.

Japan are a technically sound side led by creative midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, but can they stifle the attack-minded Colombians or athletic, talented players littering Ivory Coast's roster? Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba are good enough to lead Ivory Coast to top billing in this group.

And then there is Greece, the sleeper team. The Greeks traditionally play a stifling brand of defense, but goals can be hard to come by. Still, those close results mean just about anything can happen. They nearly escaped a tough group in the 2010 World Cup that included Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea, and they escaped their group at the 2012 Euros. 

The Greeks have the least talented roster on paper, yes, but their defensive style of play always gives them a chance.

Group D

Group D Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
Costa Rica+50004

Favorite: Italy

Sleeper: N/A 

This is "Group of Death" numero dos. Poor Costa Rica. 

Any of the trio of Italy, England and Uruguay could win this group, though a lot hinges on the health of Luis Suarez for the latter. 

Italy's disappointing performance in the 2010 World Cup, when they didn't escape the group stage after winning the 2006 title, was the first time they failed to escape their group since 1974. It was also the first time in World Cup history they failed to win a single game.

But they cast aside that incredible disappointment, following it up by making a run at the 2012 Euros before losing in the title game to Spain.

This team will not want a reprise of 2010, that much is for certain.

England brings an interesting roster this year, as they'll rely on a lot of young talent. Four players from Liverpool—Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge—seem likely to play a huge role, while Wayne Rooney has to be one of the elite players at this tournament if the Three Lions are to make a deep run.

And then there's Uruguay, who boast one of the most dangerous attacks in this tournament led by forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. If Suarez is healthy, it wouldn't be surprising in the least if they won this group. If he can't play, however, it might be an all-European affair in Group D.

Group E

Group E Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish

Favorite: France

Sleeper: Ecuador

Boy did France luck out, drawing the weakest Pot 1 team (Switzerland) and a very winnable group overall. Switzerland were impressive in European qualifying, but they lack the star power or overall talent that France can offer. 

Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba should run roughshod over this group.

Ecuador are an interesting team to watch. Led by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia, they finished fourth in South American qualifying, forcing Uruguay into the playoff round. But while they are incredibly difficult to beat on their home soil, they are less dangerous away from Ecuador. It remains to be seen if they can bottle some of their home magic for Brazil.

Group F

Group F Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
Bosnia-Herzegovina +6002

Favorite: Argentina

Sleeper: N/A

Argentina are going to win this group, and they're going to win it rather easily. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria are not poor teams—far from it—but they don't boast the sheer talent possessed by Argentina. 

As if having arguably the world's best player, Lionel Messi, wasn't enough, they also have Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria, a group of attacking talent most countries simply can't match. 

Bosnia-Herzegovina are better than they are given credit for, however, led by Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Asmir Begovic. But Nigeria are a very dangerous side on their best day, even if they often don't put their best foot forward.

Group G

Group G Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
United States+10003

Favorite: Germany

Sleeper: Ghana

No, folks, the sleeper in this group isn't the United States, especially after Landon Donovan was left off the roster. That exclusion continues to be a head-scratcher, as surely Donovan could have played a valuable role coming off the bench.

Ah well. 

No, the sleeper team in this group is Ghana, the team that has beaten the Americans at the last two World Cups and boasts a ton of talent, highlighted by Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kwadwo Asamoah and Asamoah Gyan. Ghana are good and aggressive enough in the midfield that they could cause problems for all three of their opponents.

Few teams seem capable of giving the Germans much trouble. From top to bottom, the European powerhouse is loaded, and there might not be a better group of attacking-based midfielders in this tournament, highlighted by Mesut Ozil.

Of course, Portugal is one of the teams that could give them a run for their money. Any team with Cristiano Ronaldo has a chance, and the Portuguese play strong defense and often boss the midfield. 

This could be a very rough World Cup for the United States.

Group F

Group H Odds and Predictions
CountryOdds of Winning GroupPredicted Group Finish
South Korea+7503

Favorite: Belgium

Sleeper: South Korea

The Belgium team is stacked, folks, led by superstars like Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany and up-and-comers like forward Romelu Lukaku. They should dominate this group. 

Russia are the logical pick to finish as runners-up, with a group of players that should be quite familiar with each other, as nearly the entire roster plays professionally in the Russian Premier League.

But South Korea could make some noise. They surprised many folks by advancing to the knockout phase in 2010 over the likes of Greece and Nigeria, and they could do so again this year. Led by Sunderland's Ki Sung-yueng and Bayer Leverkusen winger Son Heung-min and bolstered by new manager Hong Myung-bo, South Korea could surprise some folks in Brazil.


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