With the 2014 FIFA World Cup slated to get underway this afternoon, all the talk surrounding the quadrennial tournament can finally cease and we can at last see some actual, meaningful football be played. There will be no shortage of intriguing storylines in the opening matches, as the favorites will face the pressure of getting off to a good start while the underdogs can apply some pressure to the teams expected to top their groups.
The group breakdown is, functionally, “feast or famine.” The groups are basically either really difficult and loaded with good teams (Group B, Group D, Group G) or relatively easy if you’re an elite team (Group C, Group E, Group F, Group H), with really only Group A falling somewhere in the middle.
However, just because the skill levels aren’t all the same does not mean that there won’t be top-quality games in every group. Over the next two weeks, there is a fascinating matchup pretty much every single day, games where the result will have a huge impact on the entire tournament.
But who will come out on top and advance to the knockout stages? Every tournament, there’s at least one Cinderella team that emerges out of nowhere and storms into the Round of 16 (USA/South Korea in 2002, Australia in 2006, Uruguay in 2010). Who will it be this year? Here are our Group-by-Group Predictions for the World Cup.Follow me on Twitter @dcsibor