The group stage draw gives the hosts, Brazil, a rather comfortable start with Croatia as their opening rival, along with Mexico and Cameroon. The world champions, Spain, do have to play Netherlands in their opening match, but also have Chile and Australia to contend with, making it a relatively comfortable start to the 2014 World Cup defense tour for them.
A group of death? There always is, which happens to be group D. Three world champions – Uruguay, Italy and England were drawn in the same one, with Costa Rica being the team stuck between three teams that all expect to finish first in the group. Argentina have a rather comfortable draw with Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran to worry about, while Germany, another one of the major favorites to win the trophy, have to start the tournament against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, and later play Ghana and the United States.
The tournament will open on June 12, 17:00 local time in the Arena de São Paulo, with Brazil playing against Croatia. The tournament will end a month later on July 13. The final will be held at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
Group A – Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
Brazil can’t be disappointed with the opening group they’ve gotten, avoiding any one of the tougher European nations. Croatia will be their opening rivals, with Mexico and Cameroon both likely to finish third and fourth in the group, although things might change in the next six months.
Group B – Spain, Netherlands, Chile , Australia
Spain and Chile find themselves in the same group for a second consecutive time. The opening match of the tournament is a rematch of the 2010 World Cup finals, with Spain and the Netherlands clear favorites to grab the top two spots. Australia will be fortunate not to finish fourth.
Group C – Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Quite an open group with Colombia and Greece probably coming in as slight favorites to finish as the top two, although the Ivory Coast and Japan are both sides that it’s impossible to cast aside as negligible.
Group D – Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
The group of death? If there’s on group that deserves that title, it’s this. Uruguay open the tournament with Costa Rica, but most of the attention will go to England and Italy, who clashed in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals, with Italy coming out on top. England are probably the team most likely to finish third in this group.
Group E – Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
A comfortable group for France, although they do tend to complicate things for themselves considering their performances in the qualifiers, the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 European championship. Switzerland are probably considered slightly better than Ecuador, but not by much.
Group F – Argentina, Bosnia, Iran, Nigeria
Argentina the top seed with the easiest of draws, facing Argentina in the group stage for a third time, while Iran and Bosnia won’t pose a problem for Lionel Messi to finish first. The second spot will probably be taken by Nigeria (depending on the internal situation with the team by the time the World Cup comes) or Bosnia.
Group G – Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Germany and Portugal are the clear favorites to finish as group champions, with Germany being the best side out of the two. The United States and Ghana are quite difficult teams, but it’ll be a huge surprise if they manage to get in the way.
Group H – Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
Belgium might have been away for quite some time for major tournaments, but they have, by far, the deepest and most talented team in the group. Russia, who tend to mess up in World Cups, and South Korea, will battle for the second spot.