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: Ottmar Hitzfeld
Captain: Gokhan Inler
Cheer for this team if you like: Cheese, logistics, Wichita State.
FIFA world rankings are flawed, but still it’s hard to believe that a team as unknown as Switzerland is in the top 10. Playing with ruthless efficiency in qualifying, only allowing six goals throughout, and finishing seven points ahead of their closest competition, the Swiss team will rely on a stout defense and a pressing style to try and push into the knockout rounds. With Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler pulling the strings in midfield, and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri given a chance to flourish in first team play, unlike his club, the talent for Switzerland is there. If the goals can come as well Switzerland will be quite dangerous in one of the weaker groups in the tournament.
Manager: Reinaldo Rueda
Captain: Antonio Valencia
Cheer for this team if you like: Emotional stories, Loyola Marymount’s 1990 March Madness run.
This is a pretty mediocre Ecuador team that could prove the emotional heart of the tournament, with the exclusion of Bosnia, especially if they can make a deep run in the tournament. Back in July striker Christian Benitez passed away suddenly because of cardiac arrest, leaving the team and country with incredibly heavy hearts. With Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia taking up the mantle of captain following the death of his friend, this will likely be the tightest knit group in Brazil and that could be enough for them to get through. Although not as talented as some of the other teams in their group, Ecuador could prove to be the story of the tournament and make it to the knockout stages.
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Captain: Hugo Lloris
Cheer for this team if you like: Talented but under-performing teams, squads lacking any true identity.
If this had come out a couple weeks ago, France’s could have been one of the darkhorse teams to win the entire tournament. But with the news that Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery will miss out on Brazil because of a back injury, and no Samir Nasri on the squad, could very well damage the once bright chances of the French. But with Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema all on the field France still has the talent to be one of the most creative teams in the tournament. With a strong defense as well with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala France looks like the class of the group. Although the team might not make it far after advancing, they could be the closest thing to a lock to advance from this group.
Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez
Captain: Noel Valladares
Cheer for this team if you like: Participation trophies, the other Luis Suarez.
Although Honduras has become a semi-regular participant from CONCACAF at the World Cup, the Central American side has never won a game in three appearances, but looks to turn that around in Brazil. With Wigan’s Roger Espinoza, Stoke City’s Wilson Palacios and Anderlecht youngster Andy Najar all grouped together in the midfield, if Honduras can keep out the goals there could be a big surprise in store for some of the teams in the group. It isn’t likely that Honduras can advance from the group stages, but the squad could very well be the difference maker in a tight race for second in the group by taking points off some of the favorites.
June 15: Switzerland v. Ecuador noon France v. Honduras 3 p.m.
June 20: Switzerland v. France 3 p.m. Honduras v. Ecuador 6 p.m.
June 25: Honduras v. Switzerland 4 p.m. Ecuador v. France 4 p.m.
Final table prediction: Even without Franck Ribery, the French side is the most talented in the group and, barring another internal squabble, the team will likely finish at the top of the group. The other spot will be a tight battle between Ecuador and Switzerland, but the Swiss squad proves too good a team for the South American side to handle.