What to expect from the 2014 World Cup

The most prestigious international sport- ing event is soon will be kicking off during 7th Week. To prepare everyone for what will be an exciting, samba-filled epic, here is Cherwell’s official preview of the 2014 World Cup. The FIFA World Cup, brainchild of Jules Rimet, started in Uruguay back in 1930 with 13 teams. It has grown a little since then though, with a grand total of 203 teams at- tempting to qualify. The competition will take place across Brazil, from the Amazon, to Rio de Janeiro where the famous Estádio de Maracana will be packed for the final.

On home soil, with a team full of world class talent, and having won the tournament a record 5 times, not to mention thrashing Spain 3-0 to win last year’s Confederations Cup (a kind of warm-up event), it is hard to look past Brazil as favourites. Having said this, the last time they played on home soil at a World Cup, in 1950, they lost the decider to relative minnows Uruguay in front of a record 173,850 spectators.

A win in Brazil would be particularly sweet for continental rivals Argentina, who will be dreaming of replicating Uruguay’s party-ruining antics. They have a team filled with amazing attacking talents (Carlos Tevez – scorer of 31 goals for Juventus this season – did not even make the cut) including (arguably) the world’s best player Lionel Messi. Mirroring compatriot Diego Maradona, and leading Argentina to a World Cup victory would surely give Messi a claim to being the greatest player of all time.

Interestingly, no European team has ever won a World Cup in America. However, with new sports science techniques helping the players to acclimatise to the hot conditions don’t be surprised to see a European side come out on top. Star-studded Germany are well placed to win their first World Cup since 1990 given the recent success of German sides packed with home-grown stars in Europe, whilst Spain are also likely to hang around until the latter stages (it’s easy to forget that they’ve now won their last three major international tournaments).

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Italy, Holland, and France will always be able to threaten on their day, although none are as consistent as the four favourites. Italy have won the tournament four times but this year’s squad seem to lack the quality of previous teams. The Dutch, under soon-to-be Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal, have a promising young side, but must overcome the mental block which has seen them fall in the final three times. The French are alternatively sublime and ridiculous on the world stage – having won the title in 1998, and been runners up in 2006, only for both 2002 and 2010 to see them crash out in the group stages in farcial circumstances.

Slightly more exotic sides with an outside chance of victory are Belgium, Uruguay and Portugal. The Belgians have recently developed a team full of young stars including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, and are tipped to do well. Uruguay’s scary strikeforce could also leave either the Italians or England in tears, whilst Portugal led by a highly motivated Cristiano Ronaldo will be dangerous.

This may also be the year we see a team from Africa reach the semi-finals. Ghana will be hoping to repeat 2010’s form, but this time a strong Ivory Coast side boasting a Didier Drogba who will be looking for a last hurrah might be a better bet, especially as they’ve avoided a horrible draw.

The only side to have qualified for a World Cup for the first time are Bosnia and Herzegovina. They had a strong qualifying which saw them finish top of their group, their squad includes Premier League stars like Asmir Begovic and Edin Dzeko. There is no reason they can’t trouble a few of the bigger names.

Amongst all of that competition, where do England rank? Well, for once, thanks to the perpetually underwhelming ‘golden generation’, there aren’t great expecttions. In addition, England will have done well to escape from a difficult Group D which includes Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. If they do qualify, Spain and Brazil lurk in the same half of the draw, primed and ready to ruin English dreams. However, on a more optimistic note, if a promising crop of youngsters blend well with the experienced heads, a march to the quarter-finals and potentially beyond is not totally unrealistic.

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