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: Joachim Low
Captain: Philipp Lahm
Cheer for this team if you like: Being that guy, winning on penalties, lack of strikers
If the World Cup had been held last summer, Germany would have been far and away the favorites to win the whole thing. But following a disappointing season, disappointing by the unreal standards of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, there are actually some questions for this superpowered German squad. Although the midfield will be fine, with a healthy Sami Khedira back alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and an uncountable number of talented attacking midfielders, the defense has some tough questions to answer.Philipp Lahm will be solid, and Per Mertesacker has had a great season, but outside of those two it is a very questionable back four in front of Manuel Neuer. Another interesting thing to see if 36-year-old Miroslav Klose can break Ronaldo’s record of most goals in the World Cup.
Manager: Paulo Bento
Captain: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cheer for this team if you like: The best player in the world, beautiful human beings, proving the FIFA rankings are jokes.
Based on the World Cup rankings, Group G is the second hardest of any of the groups. A big part of that is the fact that Portugal is ranked No. 4 in the most recent release. Portugal is a very talented team, and have the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, but the fourth best team? I don’t think that is fair for a team that many are calling, Ronaldo plus 10. That isn’t completely fair, as Portugal comes in with a pretty solid back four, and a stronger midfielder based in the Primeira Liga than most give them credit for. Sure, if Ronaldo cannot prove 100 percent fit heading into the tournament then the outlook is not good for the Portuguese. But if he can play to the level he did all season Ronaldo has the ability to carry this team on his back to a World Cup title.
Manager: James Kwesi Appiah
Captain: Asamoah Gyan
Cheer for this team if you like: Karma, beating the United States, sibling rivalries.
Little fun fact for you, Ghana have been to two World Cup’s and have never been eliminated in the group stages. The Black Stars have also, in both of their World Cup appearances, been the team that eliminated the United States from competition. But this time around things might not go quite as well for Ghana. After making it to the quarterfinals in 2010, and losing on a Luis Suarez handball and missed penalty, Ghana brings back a lot of the star players from South Africa, many of whom aren’t up to the standards they once were. Forward Asamoah Gyan, despite playing in the United Arab Emirates for Al Ain, can be counted on to step up on the big stages, but AC Milan’s Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari make up a midfield that could impress, but could be a wild disappointment as well. Drawn into a tough group you can never count out Ghana, but it is going to be tough to predict a finish in the top two.
Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann
Captain: Clint Dempsey
Cheer for this team if you like: Freedom, Major League Soccer, America.
The Americans head into Brazil, despite finishing at the top of CONCACAF qualifying, with a lot of questions on their squad. A team that had very high hopes before the group draw, things have been sort of muted about the U.S. chances of advancing. The talent is there to pull off some shock upsets, but can Jurgen bring the team together enough to pull them off. With Jozy Altidore up top and having looked to recapture the scoring touch with two against Nigeria to go along with his great hold-up play, and Aron Johannsson coming in off the bench, the goals should come this tournament. A strong midfield core of Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey, pending where Klinsmann lines him up, will be the heart of the unit. But the back line still could be a weakness for the Yanks. Fabian Johnson has looked good in the friendlies, but Geoff Cameron sometimes struggles positionally and Matt Besler has never faced the quality he will see against the likes of Germany and Portugal. An advance to the knockout stages is possible, but it will require, as Klinsmann said, the team to play the best games of their lives.
June 16: Germany v. Portugal noon Ghana v. United States 6 p.m.
June 21: Germany v. Ghana 3 p.m.
June 22: United States v. Portugal 6 p.m.
June 26: United States v. Germany noon Portugal v. Ghana noon
Final table prediction: Even with a lot of injury issues, Germany is the best side in this group and should advance as the winners. The second spot could be decided by the health of Ronaldo, but even without the world’s best player the quality of Portugal is too much for the U.S. and Ghana, and they advance as runners-up.