Jules Rimet Trophy (First World Cups, Permanantly Awarded to first team to 3 WC wins [Brazil])
Hello everyone time again for some more World Cup group breakdowns! Sorry for the Delay, some stuff came up. But I am here to continue on! Here we go!!!
Here is a group that should probably interest most people, even if they don’t follow soccer. It has all the hallmarks of a great soap opera. The young upstart who hopes to get out there and make a lot of noise (Honduras), the one who is overshadowed by more impressive workers in his division (Ecuador), the insane one you don’t know if it is going to sing a song, enter a destruction derby or just sit there and mope (France), and Switzerland. Hmm, that comparison fell apart rather quickly. Well Anyway, the Swiss (UEFA Group E Winner) are the UEFA equivalent of the US or so it seems to me. They play together and get results that on paper shouldn’t be happening due to talent differential. In the 2010 World cup, they Beat Spain 1-0, but failed to get out of the group. However given this grouping of teams, I think they have a good chance to move on. Ecuador (4th Place Conmebol) is a solid side that anywhere else but South America could probably push for a title or at least worry some of the big sides. Having not qualified for the World Cup in 2010, Ecuador has a lot to prove. Their talent is obvious and without any of the other South American sides in their group their ability should shine through. France (UEFA Group I #2, Playoff vs Ukraine) wow… I will let the record speak for itself: World Cups 1990 + 1994, Did not Qualify, WC 98 (Host) Winner, WC 2002 Out in group stage (no goals scored), WC 2006 Runner up, WC 2010 Out in group stage (At least 1 goal this time!). Not only is that a spotty record, France barely got its butt in gear in the playoff (Losing 2-0 in Ukraine, and Pulling it out in France 3-0 for a 3-2 Aggregate). The best way I can describe them is as this. Remember that player on the sports team of your choice, the one with all the talent in the world, but struggled to put it together? (As a Chicagoan I think: Carlos Zambrano, Rex Grossman, Tyler Arnason) I think that is a fitting comparison for this team. 100$ Talent, 5¢ heads. If things don’t go well early for them, you can reasonably expect them to pack it in (Maybe not as spectacularly as 2010). However if they can mesh early and get going, they have loads of talent that they can call upon to be a serious threat in the knockout rounds. Honduras (Concacaf 3rd place) is a team on the rise. Having qualified for 2010 and 2014, this is the third World Cup in their history and unfortunately history is looking to repeat itself with an exit in the group stage. However this team is more than capable of taking points off any of their opponents. I just don’t see them having the firepower to put enough goals in to win, so they will have to settle for draws and potentially pray for goal differential.
Switzerland (Group Winner)
Ecuador (Runner up)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter referred to B&H)
Well, this is a tough group for me to call after Argentina (CONMEBOL Winners) Argentina is going to go through, their attack is amazing, and while the defense is shaky in comparison, it should still be enough to see them through to the KO rounds. If it is solid enough for that, we have yet to see. B&H (UEFA G Winners) qualified for their first World Cup. I do not know much of them, but they did top their group over Greece (on Goal Differential) and They have the potential to surprise (given that they are a new team to the World Cup). Iran (AFC Group A winners) is going to their 4th World Cup, having made appearances in ’78, ’98, ’06 Having gone out in the group stage all three times but still capable of pulling out results (1W 2D in those appearances) they look like a side that can finally get over the hump. Nigeria (Beat Ethiopia 4-1 agg.) is appearing in their 5th World Cup, having two Group stage exits to go with 2 Round of 16 exits. They have always been seen as a quality squad that due to incompetence from their FA or Confederation have fallen short. At one point they were ranked 5th in the world (April ’94). Nowadays I see them as the 3/4th best team out of Africa (based on recent results and current form)
Argentina (Group Winner)
B&H (Runner Up)
OW…OW…OW!!! This is a crazy dangerous group. Germany (UEFA Group C Winner) is the very definition of a well oiled machine. Great parts AND they work great together. Portugal (UEFA Group F runner up, Playoff vs Sweden) has an excess of attacking talent. Ghana (Beat Egypt 7-3 Agg.) is coming off a Quarterfinal appearance, and the US (Winner Concacaf Hex) had just won their WC Group for the first time ever in 2010. All 4 teams have great potential and all 4 can make noise in this tournament…IF they get past each other first. The Germans are pretty much equally skilled everywhere and will be tough opponents for all. The Portugal Team has an amazing attack, led by the talented Cristiano Ronaldo (arguably the World’s best player) The US is still led by the seemingly ageless Landon Donovan between him and the US Mids we have great quality that will be needed to cover for some not as strong backline. Ghana is tough, Great mid, decent attacking, mediocre defense and goalkeeper. As a US fan, here is how I figure the US is most likely to advance (obviously discounting the “LOL US WINS ALL 3-0 and everyone else draws 0-0 or something like that”) The US Needs 3 in the first game vs Ghana, any less and you have to worry about chasing the game vs. dangerous Portugal and Germany Teams. IF Germany can beat Portugal (as is expected) then going into Matchday 2, you only need to Draw(Win of course is great too) Portugal (lets say 1-1) and Germany beats Ghana then headed into day 3, Germany has clinched advancement on 6 points (even if they lose to the US, they get in as #2 seed) The US would have 4 Points, Portugal 1, and Ghana 0. With Ghana being eliminated and Portugal needing a win, they pull it off putting them at 4. In this situation the US needs a Tie or better to clinch advancement, and even if they lose to Germany (still VERY possible) it would come down to Goal Differential and Goals scored. I believe this is the most likely route for the US to advance, and If it comes true in this fashion, I look forward to the adulation of US soccer fans everywhere! *evil laugh*
Germany (Group Winner)
US (Group Runner up)
People have been calling Belgium (UEFA A Winners) the Dark Horse for this tournament, I don’t see it. I think that people are getting really up on some very talented youth on this squad, but I don’t particularly see them making noise, maybe a KO round appearance based on the group, but I don’t see them getting past a Germany or Brazil or such when the chips are REALLY down, they are just too young…yet. Cannot say much about Algeria (Beat Burkina Faso 3-3 agg, Away Goals) Last WC go around, they had a great defense (only 2 goals against) but struggled on offense, not scoring a single goal and going out with 1 point. Russia (UEFA Group F winner) is another side that as of late hasn’t done much of note. Since the USSR disbanded, they have not done too much internationally speaking, but their league is improving constantly, and they hope to use this as a springboard into 2018 where they are the host. South Korea (AFC A Runner up) is very similar to Japan in that they are very solid as a team, but don’t have too much in the way of individuals that can sway an outcome. They are built around possession and can be very frustrating to a team not prepared.
Russia (Group Winner)
Belgium (Group Runner Up)