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The World Cup draw: And the Winner is… [VIDEO]
The World Cup draw: And the Winner is… [VIDEO]
Federico Farcomeni | 12/06/13 | 8:44 PM EST 0 Comments
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With now 107 days to go, the World Cup groups have been drawn and everything seems written in the stars. Or is it?

Brazil will open the tournament in Sao Paulo against Croatia on June 12. Many say they got the easiest of the groups, but Croatia are dark horses who are able to put an act together and perform well against the odds (remember their debut at France ’98?). Mexico have defeated Brazil in 2012 at the London Olympics. And if we want to go deeper into it, even Cameroon enjoyed good fortunes against the Brazilians at the Olympics in 2000. With the small matter of being unable to stage the three Brazil group games in close venues because of political reasons. The Seleçao will clock 2,523 miles in the space of eleven days in what is supposed to be a World Cup at home. You have been warned.

France, who were brave and lucky enough to overturn the two-goal deficit against Ukraine in the play-offs, have got the relatively easy task of facing Ecuador, Honduras and Switzerland. And we can say they are by far the winners of the draw.

It certainly seems very interesting US coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s reunion with Germany in a potential group decider in Recife. Klinsi knows those guys well and we should certainly expect good things from him. Obviously US record against the Germans is not positive, but one could still draws some encouragement with three won and six lost (none drawn). Germany have beaten USA two out of two in Paris (1998) and Ulsan (2002) at the World Cup. But Klinsmann’s side have already had the upper hand against Joachim Loew’s men last June in Washington after a crackling affair (4-3).

The head-to-head record against Portugal is won two (1/1 in the World Cup in Suwon), drawn one and lost two. It will be interesting to see whether the US have progressed after losing in both 2006 (Nuremberg) and 2010 (Rustenburg) against Ghana. The Black Stars (or Satellites as they are known at youth level) certainly are USA’s bogey team.

In terms of travelling, Germany have got an easy task as all their games are in the north-east, a swinging pendulum in Salvador, Recife (where June is the wettest and second cloudiest month of the year) and Fortaleza. But, were they to advance as group leaders (same is true for the USA) they should be ready for a thermic shock as the first knockout game is in Porto Alegre, where the winter solstice will just have occurred.

The remake of the 2010 World Cup final, Spain v Holland, certainly has great game written all over it. Nigel De Jong has already tweeted he is really looking forward to that first game in Salvador (and this spells for revenge right?). And with Barcelona – who provide the spine of the starting XI – losing tempo, pace and hunger (so it seems at least in December), Holland might be in for a surprise there.


Everybody has been talking about the toughest group in terms of travelling and temperatures and here are the verdicts. Belgium are the real winners as they will play in Belo Horizonte, Rio and Sao Paulo – three well-connected cities in the south-east with games likely to be played in mild temperatures. Croatia are definitely the big losers somehow, having drawn the hosts and then having to travel from Sao Paulo to Manaus to face Cameroon and all the way to Recife for their final game against Mexico – a staggering total of 3,429 miles. In any case, it’s worth remembering that in the four occasions in which the World Cup has been staged in South America, a European team have never won – in fact Uruguay have lifted the trophy twice, Argentina and Brazil once apiece.

All in all, we can see Belgium and Colombia as real surprise packages, although Argentina winning in Rio on July 13 would really spoil the party.

GROUP A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

GROUP B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

GROUP C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

GROUP D: Uruguay, England, Costa Rica, Italy

GROUP E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

GROUP F: Argentina, Bosnia, Iran, Nigeria

GROUP G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

GROUP H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea


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