As the 2014 World Cup draws to a near, everyone has their eyes on the groups that were drawn out on December 6th. With a mix of newer entrants such as Belgium and Bosnia, as well as historical football teams, such as Italy, Brazil and Germany, this series will be a clear confrontation between the young and talented against the older and more experienced, generating a clash among the many playing styles of the different football generations.
It is also interesting to note the rivalry between the two major continents in football, that have dominated the world’s most-watched sport since its creation—Europe and South America. Despite Europe dominating the last two series of games, Spain was the only European team that has managed to win the prestigious title outside of Europe itself.
While pundits predict that Brazil is most likely to win this time around, taking into account recent victories and the advantages of playing in home territory, the host is under immense pressure after several disappointing matches and a deteriorating performance since 2002. Under the management of Felipe Scolari, Brazil has managed to form a complete and consolidated squad and have fixed their main defensive flaws. The spotlight will also be on the 21-year-old Brazilian Neymar, who is now a key player in Barcelona after playing with the national team in the Confederation’s Cup.
On the other hand, many have considered Argentina as a possible winning candidate. So far, Argentina has been impressive throughout the qualifying matches, topping the South America table. Argentina will be minded for their world-class attacking players, but will experience considerable hardship on the defensive aspect of their matches. The spotlight will also be on Lionel Messi—so far, Messi has been underperforming with the Argentinean national team, and his only fully convincing performances have been in friendly matches. Nevertheless, the Argentineans are looking to lift themselves up from the great disappointment of the Copa America 2011.
The European Struggle
Back in Europe, Germany and Spain are seen as the two main European contenders for the throne. Germany has a slight advantage over Spain, due to their dynamism and solidity shown by both the national team and individual regional clubs. The German squad this year is generally very young, with only a handful of experienced players who may prove to be decisive further into the games. With Germany’s strong backbone of midfielders and defenders, and the assumption that their offensive midfielders would keep its current consistency, it is without a doubt that Germany will progress quite far this season.
Spain, on the other hand, has been dominating for the last 5 years, winning two consecutive European cups and a World Cup. Nevertheless, their tiki-taka style of playing may prove to be outdated and ineffective, as was demonstrated by opponents Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals of the 2013 Champions League. Critics argue that Spain must provide more backing beyond their accurate ball-passing abilities to prevail over their contenders.
At the end of the list of the World Cup contenders, we can find several other teams that may actually triumph with strong performances. Italy, Colombia, Belgium and Netherlands will present a danger to the favorites. Italy, since manager Prandelli’s takeover, has gone through a thorough renewal in managing style, in which younger players with the stamina to engage in a more offensive style of play have been brought out. With the growing partnership between the two players Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi, Italy may improve their goal scoring ability. Colombia, on the other hand, has significantly improved throughout the last two years, mostly thanks to Radamel Falcao. The cafeteros come with a very offensive attitude and play well on the wings. Belgium, currently one of the best teams, a golden generation of football stars in its squad. Netherlands, the runner-up for the 2010 World Cup, has prevailed through the qualifying rounds, being without any doubt of high quality, with the presence of world-class players such as Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie.
Don’t miss the upcoming World Cup and take the chance to support your country!