One With Two Finalists And One For The Fans: Analysing The Groups Of FIFA 2014 (Groups B And C)

Posted on June 9, 2014 in Specials

By Aritra Mukherjee:

This is a continuation of my analysis of the 8 groups in FIFA world cup 2014. Find Group A here. 

fifa

Group B (Story of two finalists) 

This group has both the finalists of the previous edition; whilst, Spain has been consistent and won the recent European tournament, Netherlands has been dismal and lost in the group stages. Chile may fancy its chances and it may get tight, so watch out for that goal difference. Australia looks the weakest and would be lucky to get a point out of this tough opposition.

Spain

Firstly, Amen to La Liga for producing one of the best team known to our generation and maybe for generations to come. Vicente Del Bosque would have thanked his lucky stars for having the likes of Casillas, Alonso, Iniesta etc. in his arsenal. This team has barely changed and the core remains the same since 2008 when they first won a major cup. Objectively, one would have to rate Spain as one of the favourites to enter the final if not the favourite. The team looks like one of the strongest on paper but Del Bosque would pay any amount for Costa’s fitness as his strike department without him, does not seem up to the mark. Furthermore, Spain did try playing a false number 9 (Fabregas) which has worked but with a lot of struggles. Opponents with strong defence and good counter-attacking football may fancy their chances against this team

  • Star(s) to watch out for:  
  1. Iniesta: The most under-rated and yet the most hardworking player in the world. Many people who watch regular football would have taken a couple of Balon D’or out of Messi’s home and given it to Iniesta for his sheer contribution to his club and country. He scored the goal which won Spain the world cup, and the tiki-taka football between him and Xavi is eyegasmic.
  2. Iker Casillas: Mr. Reliable; even if you break their defence which isn’t the hardest thing to do; facing or going one on one against Casillas is worse than facing the Devil himself. He has been the Guardian of Spain’s defence and is also the captain; one would fancy his chances of winning the ‘Golden Gloves.’
  • Team Rating: 4 ½ (or 4 depending on Costa’s fitness, their defence is much more stable than before and their midfield is better than ever, however, the exclusion of Navas may not go that well with the fans)
  • Expected Position: Finalists or Semi-Finalists

Netherlands

A group of talented individuals who are not familiar with the phrase ‘passing the ball’. They had a list of who’s who from the Football world and yet found it excruciatingly difficult to score a goal during the Euros. They have reflected back and seem very strong and with Van Gaal as coach one can expect that ‘Total Football’ is coming back. The Oranje have reached the final thrice, only to lose it on all three occasions, however, this time they would like to turn it around and finally win the World Cup.

  • Star(s) to watch out for:
  1. Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich winger loves to probe inside with the ball under his feet. Known for his pace and dribbling abilities, he provides Dutch the X-Factor. However, he has been known to be quite selfish and that tag has haunted him over the years.
  2. Robin Van Persie: Suffered another injury struck season this time around, yet his national form seems to be good. His volley and outrageous technique inside the 18-yard circle makes him one of the best strikers in the world.
  • Team Rating: 4 stars (This team lacks the experience of Vaart and lack of communication between players may end up haunting them again and their defence doesn’t look like the strongest fit)
  • Expected Position: 2nd in the group and Quarter-finals at least.

Chile

Well let’s say that Netherlands or Spain lose a game or screw up, and then Chile will definitely pounce on that opportunity. Whilst, many may think it’s a lost case, however, Chileans know about their chances and do not lack inspiration. Chile has the likes of Vidal, Bravo and most importantly Alexis Sanchez in its ranks to provide the cutting edge it needs.

  • Star(s) to watch out for:
  1. Vidal: Arturo Vidal is no stranger to winning as he won the Series-A with Juventus twice in a row. He is very solid and can provide with good runs when needed.
  • Team Rating: 3 stars (The defence looks a bit weak and seems weak when compared to the likes of Holland and Spain).
  • Expected Position: 3rd in group at max 2nd and Round of 16.

Australia

The Socceroos have nothing to lose coming into this group as they are clearly the underdogs. For most of them it, is their 1st or 2nd world cup experience and hence. Tim Cahill is their highest goal scorer and his stay with the New York Redbulls’ has helped him a lot, hence, he would be looking to extend his record in this world cup and also would love to cause an upset against one of the bigger teams.

  • Star(s) to watch out for:
  1. Mile Jedinak: Captained Crystal palace and finished a staggering 11th in the BPL. He seems to be their best mid-fielder at the moment and can provide Cahill the ball he needs to score a goal or two.
  • Team Ratings: 2 ½ Stars (although it has few good players but it just doesn’t measure up to the star quality of the previous teams.)
  • Position: 4th in the group (hope for an upset)

Group C (Underdogs)

 This group is one for the fans, because there are 4 mediocre (I may face some heat for this) sides battling it out to enter the round of 16. If you were looking for close and nerve-racking matches then this is your group. The Greeks are solid in their defence whilst, Japan and Ivory Coast fancy their offensive tactics. This group promises to be anything but boring. Japan vs. Ivory Coast ought to be a must watch between the two continental giants, so do tune into that.

Columbia

Columbia finished second in the qualification round and is believed to be the favourite to pass this group. However, given their past record in this tournament (passed the group stages once) and the absence of their star Radamel Falcao is sure enough to dent their hopes for going the distance. The team still looks good and without Falcao, the group gets that bit more interesting. Team cohesion will be very important in Columbia’s success as it will be turning to the likes of Quintero and James Rodriguez for inspiration.

  • Team Rating: 3 ½ stars ( probably half extra for playing in South America, surely Falcao’s injury will hurt this team’s performance should they enter the later stages of the tournament.)
  • Position: Round of 16 and Quarter-Final at maximum.

Ivory Coast

The strongest African side on paper with the likes of Yaya, Kolo Toure, Drogba and Zokora. They would look at their midfielders and forwards to provide the break when needed and with Yaya and Tiote in their team one can only hope for a solid outing in these games.

  • Star(s) to watch out for:
    1. Yaya Toure: Manchester City’s big man undoubtedly is in scintillating form; he has had an unforgettable 3 years with City and would look to give the same punch for his country too. He loves going forward but can also settle down when needed and with Tiote as his partner, be prepared for the goal of the tournament (fingers crossed)
  • Team Rating: 4 stars (half a star extra for Yaya. While this team surely looks quite strong on paper, yet it has failed to make an impact as they have never managed to clear the group stages.)
  • Position: My favourites to top the group and reach the quarter finals (fingers crossed)

 Japan

Currently ranked 43 in the FIFA Rankings, but when did rankings ever display a team’s true ability? Japan plays with a lot of heart and relies very much on their set piece play, however, they also rely highly on momentum; for example, in 2002 (albeit the hosts) they stormed into the second round yet in 2006 could only secure a point. This team would be looking for consistency and also an all-round team performance. Not much is known about their team other than talisman Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa. Hence, prepare yourself to be surprised this time when you watch them play.

  • Star(s) to watch out for:
    1. Keisuke Honda: Japan’s Mr. Reliable, a set piece genius and moves like a cheetah with the ball. His pace, precision and technique has caught the world with surprise and also provides Japan the edge it needs. He has successfully replaced Nakamura and Nakata and is likely to be Japan’s player of the tournament.
  • Team Ratings: 3 ½ star( a great mix of domestic with international players sure seems to provide Japan the impetus it needs and with Yoshida and Sakai. Their defence also seem to be good)
  • Expected Position: Round of 16 and 2nd in the group

Greece:

Greeks are no strangers to winning as they have won the EURO 2004 in Portugal, however, they are not the best performers in this tournament. Having never passed the group stages once in their history, it seems quite hard for the fans to believe in the same. However, with no real heavy-weights in the group, they would surely love to turn their fortune around this time and at least reach the round of 16 if not the Quarter Final. Known to have a solid defence, one can expect ‘parking’ the buses against attacking opposition like Japan and Ivory Coast.

  • Team Ratings: 3 ½ stars ( 2 stars simply for their defence, watch out for some counter-attacking football when they are on the pitch)
  • Position: Realistically 3rd but may finish 2nd in the group stages.

 

 

 

 

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