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The 2014 world cup will kick off in Brazil on the 12th of June at 22.00. Thirty-two countries will compete in 8 groups of 4 teams. The games will be held in 12 stadiums from the beautiful seaside city of Rio de Janeiro to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon jungle. The final will take place at the Maracana stadium in Rio on the 13th of July.

Brazilis the spiritual home of the beautiful game and this promises to be a wonderful tournament. Brazil has won 5 world cups, more than any other team but strangely, the last time the competition was held in Brazil in 1950 the team lost to neighbours Uruguay in the final.Even though Brazilians love their football, there have been protests against the rising cost of the tournament. Another problem is that many stadiums are not ready yet, which has put a lot of pressure on workers, and unfortunately, a worker was electrocuted and died.

Here is a run-down of all the groups.

Group A

Brazilis in group A and they are expected to win the group quite comfortably. Their coach Luiz Scolari won the cup in 2004 with Brazil and is one of the most respected coaches in the world. Brazil, as the hosts, are also favourites to win the tournament. The team is built on a strong defence with Thiago Silva and David Luiz providing a very strong centre back partnership. In midfield they have the creativity of Oscar and in attack they have the strength of Hulk and the brilliance of Neymar.

Croatiashould qualify in second place. In midfield they have the creativity of Modric and Rakitic and up front they have the goals of Mandzukic. Mexico struggled in qualifying but they remain an unknown quantity. The final team in the group are the much loved Cameroon, despite having Samuel Eto’o in attack, I feel the Africans may struggle in this group.

Group B

This is the group of death. Spain, the holders should win the group, they have one of the strongest squads in the world and have had an excellent record over the last 6 years. The heart of the team remains the same with Casillas, Pique, Xavi, Fabregas and Iniesta still going strong. They have also added Brazilian-born Diego Costa to their attack. This has caused some upset in Brazil as Costa has chosen to play for Spain rather than his native Brazil.

One of the dark horses of the tournament could be Chile if they get out of this group. They play excellent attacking football which is a joy to watch. In midfield they have the brilliant playmaker Vidal and in attack Barcelona’s Sanchez. Holland is unbeaten in qualifying, playing some amazing pass and movefootball. They have the experience of Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder to call upon. Their coach is the very experienced Louis Van Gaal, soon to be the new Man Utd manager. Australia make up the group, but they have little chance of qualification. I predict Spain and Chile to qualify, with Chile winning the group, which should then set up Spain v Brazil in the last 16, now that could be some game!

Group C

Should be won by Colombia if star man Falcao is fit, as along with Bacca and Martinez they have a powerful attack. In midfield Rodriguez will provide the creativity. Second place is between Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. I will pick Japan; they have some good players like Kagawa and Honda and always have a strong work ethic. This is probably the weakest of all the groups.

Group D

This is England’s group and their first game is against Italy in the heat of Manaus, and neither team can afford to lose. England has Rooney as their star striker and some very talented youngsters like Lallana, Barkley and Sterling. Italy are one of the giants of the game but this will be one of their weakest teams with the vastly experienced Pirlo running the team. I expect Uruguay the outsiders to win the group: they have Premiership player of the year Suarez to lead the team, as well as Cavani, another highly rated attacker. Costa Rica are the minnows of the group but are more than capable of springing a shock.

Group E

Franceshould win this group and are my outsiders to reach the final, in fact I have money on them to get to the final at 33/1. They have an excellent manager in Laurent Blanc, a good goalkeeper in LLoris, Mangala a talented young centre back, creative midfielders in Cabaye, Pogba and Ribery and goals in Benzema. The only negative thing is that the French have a tendency to self-destruct but saying that they did come back from 2-0 down to defeat Ukraine 3-2 which really impressed me. Switzerland should finish second. Look out for Drmic, the young Swiss forward; he could be one of the stars of the tournament. Ecuador and Honduras are both unknown quantities but the heat of South America could be to their advantage.

Group F

This is the group of Argentina, led by the best player in the world, Lionel Messi; they also have players like Higuain, Aguero and Di Maria who are all capable of scoring goals. This team promises exciting football. They are virtually playing at home and should have a very strong following from just across the border. Argentina is my favourite to win the world cup.  Bosnia is in their first major tournament and I expect them to surprise everyone and qualify for the last 16. With the quality of players like Dzeko, Pjanic and Begovic they are a team to look out for. The other 2 teams are Iran and Nigeria neither of which have been particularly exciting in qualification.

Group G

This is a tough group with the top two, Germany and Portugal sure to fight it out for the top positions. Germany has a very powerful squad built around the top two teams in Germany, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. In goal they have the excellent Neuer, Hummels runs the defence, Schweinsteiger controls midfield, Lahm is an inspiring captain and Reus provides the goals. The only weakness the Germans have is a lack of an out and out goal scorer. Portugal is built around the talents of Ronaldo, the second best player in the world, as long as he is stays fit, Portugal will be a tough side to beat.

Group H

This is an interesting group and I make Belgium the favourites to win it. These days Belgian football is going through something of a renaissance and they have some of the best young talents in Europe at the moment. Eden Hazard is the playmaker, Courtois at 21 is the best young goalkeeper in the world and then there are the striking options like Benteke, Lukaku and Mirallas. They also have the excellent young Manchester Utd youngster Januzaj, that’s if he makes the squad.

Second place is between Russia and South Korea. I fancy South Korea to finish second because I think the Russians do not travel well and the heat of South America will be better for the Koreans. Algeria are an unknown force but have done nothing special in qualification to rate them a danger.

5 Players to Watch      

Messi

This is Lionel Messi’s great chance to prove that he is the greatest player in the world and to do it on the world stage. He is one of the best goal scorers in the world, he also has the ability to create for others or to do something special. I believe that this will be his world cup, especially if Argentina can win it.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo is Messi’s greatest rival and an exceptional talent. He is lightning quick, deadly from free kicks and powerful in the air, in many ways the complete footballer. Unfortunately, Portugal is a good side but not a great one, so they are unlikely to win the tournament.

Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan is a natural born goal scorer and has been voted player of the year in England. If you can forgive the racist comments and the biting incident which got him banned for 10 games then you cannot deny he is a great talent.

Neymar

The young Brazilian forward should be a revelation playing on his home soil and, if given the freedom to express himself, could be one of the players of the tournament.

Reus

The Germans are blessed with a lot of talented midfielders and the Dortmund midfielder is one of the best. He is also a prolific goal scorer from midfield and I expect Germany to come very close to winning the tournament.

I think this will be a wonderful and colourful tournament played out in the glorious sunshine of Brazil. I think Brazil will be strong favourites to win but my money is on Argentina. Also Germany are overdue a major tournament win and with a bit of luck they should come very close. I think Spain is rebuilding and their draw is a nightmare. England should get to the quarter finals and lose on penalties to a much better side. I also like France at a big price to get to the final. Top scorer is also interesting; I will take Ronaldo at 14/1 and Neymar also 14/1 to score the most goals. Benzema the French striker is also worth a punt at a big price, I expect France to do well and he is their main goal threat.

to kick off – elkezdeni
to compete – versenyezni
final – döntő
spiritual home szellemi hazája
tournament – torna, verseny, mérkőzés
protest against – tiltakozás valami ellen
to put pressure on – nyomást gyakorolni
to be electrocuted – áramütés éri
run-down – tájékoztatás
to be expected to – arra számítanak, hogy
coach – edző
defence – védelem
centre back – középhátvéd
midfield – középpályás
attack – támadójátékos
to qualify – továbbjutni
to struggle – kínlódni, küzdeni
unknown quantity – ismeretlen tényező
squad – csapat
upset – sérelem, felbolydulás
dark horse – titkos befutó
to call upon – felkérni, hívni
to predict – jósolni
work ethic – munkamorál
to afford to – megengedheti magának
striker – csatár
talented – tehetséges
outsider – kívülálló, esélytelen
minnow – cselle, itt “kis hal”
to spring a shock – nagy megdöbbenést kelt
to have money on someone – fogadni valakire, pénzt tesz rá
goalkeeper – kapus
self-destruct – önpusztít
forward csatár
advantage – előny
to score a goal – gólt rúgni
in goal – kapuban
a lack of – valaminek a hiánya
renaissance újjászületés
rival – vetélytárs
lightning quick – villámgyors
free kick – szabadrúgás
to be banned – letiltják, eltiltják
home soil – hazai pálya
draw – sorshúzás
quarter finals negyeddöntő
penalty – büntetőrúgás
top scorer gólkirály
to be worth a punt – érdemes fogadni rá

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