Saturday, June 7, 2014

World Cup Group Predictions: Group A

First Team To Advance: Brazil
Second Team To Advance: Croatia
Teams Heading Home: Mexico, Cameroon

I don't think anybody doubts that Brazil will exit this group in first place, especially considering they will have the home-field advantage. Though they have not looked incredible in friendlies, when they have played to their potential, Brazil look nearly unstoppable, as evidenced by their recent 4 - 0 thrashing of Panama. Meanwhile, the battle for second place in Group A is much more interesting, with Cameroon, Mexico, and Croatia all being formidable teams. Cameroon certainly have the firepower upfront, with the experienced Samuel Eto'o and Ligue 1 second-leading goalscorer Vincent Aboubakar, and they have a decent back-four, but they are fairly weak in the midfield, which could be a fatal flaw against dominant midfield teams such as Brazil and Croatia. Mexico also are an intriguing outfit, as they are a historically solid team, but have failed to impress this year, especially in their recent friendly losses to Bosnia and Portugal. Finally, Croatia are extremely well endowed up front, with Mandzukic providing goals from the striker position and Modric and Rakitic dominating possession in the midfield, and, despite their minor deficiencies at the back, they should be able to ride their attack out of this group. My pick for the leading goalscorer of the group is Brazil's Neymar, but Croatia's Mario Mandzukic won't be far behind. Additionally, I expect Croatia's Luka Modric to lead the group in assists. Outside of Brazil, who are nearly locks to move on to the next round, this group becomes a very even and exciting battle for the second advancing spot.

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