It is the greatest sporting event in the world. March Madness has it’s fun each year, and the Olympic spirit is nothing to be scoffed at, but the majesty that is the FIFA World Cup cannot be matched by any other competition.
With that competition comes 32 teams fighting it out for the ultimate prize of hoisting the trophy and earning eternal glory. But which of them should you cheer for?
Sure, more likely than not, your home country is represented in this years competition, but if it isn’t, or if you are a U.S. Men’s National Team fan looking for someone to cheer for after the Yanks are eliminated, we have a guide for you.
Going group by group each day leading up to kickoff between Brazil and Croatia we will be breaking down each group and what makes each team someone you could get behind.
Manager: Jose Pekerman
Captain: Mario Yepes
Cheer for this team if you like: The Chicago Bulls after Derrick Rose got hurt, the coolest save of all time.
Colombia comes into the World Cup without arguably the biggest star on the team, but that isn’t going to stop them from being a force to be reckoned with. Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, one of the worlds best strikers, has been ruled out of the tournament because of injury, but a strong defense, only 13 goals allowed in qualifying, is going to be the heart and soul of a still hopeful Colombia squad. In a group where every team has noticeable weaknesses, a strong defensive side coupled with Porto’s Jackson Martinez up top and Monaco’s James Rodriguez and Toulouse’s Abel Aguilar patrolling the midfield, Colombia looks like the highlight of the bunch. Expect the South American side to make it out of the group, and potentially make some waves in the knockout rounds.
Manager: Fernando Santos
Captain: Giorgos Karagounis
Cheer for this team if you like: Big Ten basketball, the opposite of goals, unrealistically long names.
Although the numbers might not back this up, it is safe to assume that Greece comes into Brazil with the most combined letters making up the players names. Between Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bologna midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis, the pundits have their work cut out for them with Greece. Otherwise this is a wildly defensive team that isn’t likely to score more than a goal in any single game, only scoring 12 times over 10 matches in qualifying. Be expecting a strong defensive performance, but unless something miraculous happens don’t be surprised if the Greeks bow out of the tournament early this time around.
Manager: Sabri Lamouchi
Captain: Didier Drogba
Cheer for this team if you like: Super rich English teams, golden generations, birthday cake.
Despite being one of the better African teams in each of the last two cups, the Ivory Coast has yet to advance beyond the group stages. In part because of tough groups, bad luck was a big part in the disappointing results in years past. But now with Manchester City’s Yaya Toure on the best form of his life and Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, Didier Drogba and Cheick Tiote alongside the midfielder, Les Elephants look to have their best chance to make it to the knockout rounds in it’s history. The only thing that could prevent a deep run for the squad is a weakness in the back line, which comes in as one of the weaker units in the group. If Ivory Coast can outscore all of it’s opponents, and hope the defense doesn’t look to badly, look for the team to threaten some of the favorite teams later in the tournament. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure Yaya Toure knows his birthday has been celebrated as well.
Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni
Captain: Makoto Hasebe
Cheer for this team if you like: Talented players who struggle at the club level, samurai.
With one of the best performances in qualifying, Japan still comes in as a mystery team to some. With many of it’s top performers failing to gain a foothold at their club teams, it could be a struggle to predict the form they will be on in Brazil. Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa and AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda both struggled during this past season, but are still both incredibly talented and will likely make the difference for a team that made it to the round of 16 in 2010 but were eliminated by Paraguay on penalties.In a group where no team stands out as elite Japan has a chance to make it out of the group stages
June 14: Colombia v. Greece noon Ivory Coast v. Japan 9 p.m.
June 19: Colombia v. Ivory Coast noon Japan v. Greece 6 p.m.
June 24: Greece v. Ivory Coast 4 p.m. Japan v. Colombia 4 p.m.
Final table prediction: Yaya Toure and the Ivory Coast are too strong for the other teams and win the group, while Colombia tops Japan for a second place finish in the group despite a lack of Falcao up top.