Brazil World Cup 2014 Preview and Predictions Wall charts at the ready!

With less than 100 days to go, the countdown to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is well and truly underway. For England fans, this has become a time of hoping for the best but expecting the worse, and the recent performances under manager Roy Hodgson have done little to justify any other attitude. A tough draw has not made matters any easier and England will do well to progress from Group D where they have been drawn against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Combine this with an opening game in the heart of the sweltering Amazon rain forest, and you have the perfect recipe for an early England exit. If Italy progress as expected, then Hodgson’s men may have to face a crucial game against Uruguay to battle it out for the second place spot. This sets up a scenario where Luis Suarez could once again don his villains mask and score the vital goal to send England crashing out of the tournament – hopefully not with his hand.

Group B offers a fascinating match-up between the 2010 finalists Spain and Holland and also contains Chile, who recently overcame England in a friendly; and Australia, whose team of veterans are unlikely to cause any surprises in this tough group. Reigning champions Spain are still a force to be reckoned with and will be expected to qualify from this group along with Holland, but Chile are certainly capable of causing an upset along the way. Whether Spain can go all the way again is one of the big questions leading up to this event. With many of their star players now getting older they will be hoping that a new crop of talent – including a recently nationalised Diego Costa – can be smoothly assimilated into the team. Having an experienced Coach at the helm certainly helps and at 7/1 Spain could be a good bet to retain the trophy this summer.

Costa also represents great value as top goal scorer and can be currently backed at 28/1. Germany will be many people’s choice to make it to the semi-finals at the very least – just as they have done in the last four major tournaments. But first they will have to deal with Portugal, Ghana and the United States in Group G. Joachim Low has transformed the playing style of the national team and the Germans are now widely admired as purveyors of fluid attacking football. The recent success of German teams in club football has also had a positive effect on the national team but a potential semi-final clash against the hosts could prevent them from going all the way this year.

Brazil will start as favourites to win the tournament for obvious reasons; firstly, because they are on home turf; secondly, because they are current holders of the Confederations Cup; and finally, because they are Brazil. Since Luiz Felipe Scolari returned to the hot seat in 2012, they have regained their aura of invincibility and seem to be peaking at just the right time. There are still some doubts amongst critics as to their ability to adapt to the different playing styles of some European teams but they have enough flair in their side to cause anyone problems on their day. As the World cup is in Brazil we cannot ignore their fierce rivals from Argentina and a certain Lionel Messi. The Barcelona man has been slowly returning to form after his recent injury problems and if he is back to his best by June then his team will certainly be in with a chance.

With other attacking talent such as Aguero, Tevez, Lavezzi, Di Maria and Higuain, Argentina look like a potent attacking force. If Coach Alejandro Sabella can find a way of balancing this team then he will have a great chance of leading the Albiceleste to at least a semi-final place.

Belgium have some of the best young talent in Europe and players like Hazard, Kompany, Fellaini, Lukaku, Benteke and De Bruyne all have experience of top level club football. They are a popular outside bet to win the tournament but that may be a step too far for them this year. A quarter final place would be a more realistic option.

The surprise package this year could be first-timers Bosnia-Herzegovina. Not only is their inclusion a great story – after a long a bloody road finally led to a united team – but they also have some very good players at their disposal. Edin Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic, Miralem Pjanic, Senad Lulic and Asmir Begovic are all at the top of their game and could have the combination of talent, experience and passion required to get them out of their group and set up a potential last 16 clash with France. With the unpredictability of the French side, the Bosnians could pull off an upset and can be backed at 7/1 to make the quarter final stages. There is a strong possibility that the top four favourites could meet in the semi-finals, where Brazil would face Germany and Spain would take on Argentina but this assumes, of course, that they will all win their groups.

World cup predictions 2014

Group A Qualifiers: Brazil, Mexico

Group B Qualifiers: Spain, Netherlands

Group C Qualifiers: Colombia, Ivory Coast

Group D Qualifiers: Italy, Uruguay

Group E Qualifiers: France, Switzerland

Group F Qualifiers: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Group G: Qualifiers:  Germany Portugal

Group H Qualifiers: Belgium, Russia

Quarter Finalists: Brazil, Uruguay, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Russia

Semi finalists: Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina Finalists: Germany, Spain Winners: Spain @ 7/1

Top goal scorer: Diego Costa @28/1

Recommended bookmaker for the ante post World Cup Brazil market; Bet365.

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