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: Alejandro Sabella
Captain: Lionel Messi
Cheer for this team if you like: Pre-tournament favorites, Mike D’Antoni coached teams, lots and lots of scoring.
Despite the tournament taking place in Brazil, and Spain coming in as the defending champs, Argentina is the name on the lips of most experts. The squad comes in with easily the most talented offensive group in the field, consisting of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, and looks primed to score a lot. With Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria on the form of his life, the service to the front line will be better than usual, and a defense that isn’t as poor as most people believe, this does look like one of the favorites. If the players can come together as a team, rather than just a group of superstars, the Argentians could very well live up to the pre-tournament hype.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Manager: Safet Susic
Captain: Emir Spahic
Cheer for this team if you like: Being a good person, incredible stories and first time teams.
This is the team. If you are a casual fan and don’t know who to cheer for, choose the Bosnians. The only country that is making it’s World Cup debut in Brazil, Bosnia comes in with a generation of players who lived through a civil war. But this is also a generation of talented players, who will look to make a big ripple in a field of more experienced teams. Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, the countries all-time leading goal scorer, is a star up front and will be playing alongside Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibisevic and Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will be the secondary outlet should Dzeko falter. With a relatively open group behind the favored Argentinians it could be a successful debut for the European side.
Manager: Carlos Queiroz
Captain: Javad Nekounam
Cheer for this team if you like: Teams that won’t advance, the unlikeliest of the unlikely
Earlier when breaking down Group B, it was said that Australia wasn’t the worst team in the tournament despite the unlikelihood of advancement. The moniker of worst team goes to Iran. Although the team qualified for the tournament relatively easily, finishing first in their group ahead of South Korea, there isn’t really much chance for this squad. Even with a couple talented players, Fulham midfielder Ashkan Dejagah perhaps being the pick of the bunch although Charlton Athletic forward Reza Ghoochannejhad might make a case, it will not be enough to advance, even in a relatively weaker group. Don’t expect much more out of Iran than we saw out of North Korea in 2010, at best a point, but likely not much more.
Manager: Stephen Keshi
Captain: Vincent Enyeama
Cheer for this team if you like: Players you have likely heard of but don’t know anything about, disappointing performances.
Even in relatively easy group draws, Nigeria is one of the teams that more often than not disappoints. The team hasn’t won a World Cup game in quite some time and will be looking to turn that trend around. With players like Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, Liverpool’s Victor Moses and Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi the midfielder has a lot of name recognition, but not a lot of consistency over the last couple seasons. A pacey team, if the players can live up to their potential, and catch a few breaks, it is entirely possible that the Nigerians will advance to the knockout rounds.
June 15: Argentina v. Bosnia Herzegovina 6 p.m.
June 16: Iran v. Nigeria 3 p.m.
June 21: Argentina v. Iran noon Nigeria v. Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 p.m.
June 25: Nigeria v. Argentina noon Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Iran noon
Final table prediction: This group seems pretty cut and dry, with Argentina easily advancing at the top of the group and Bosnia finishing as runners-up. Nigeria might be able to challenge Bosnia for second, but don’t expect anything miraculous.