Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup 2014 Status Update

Now that all 32 teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup have played at least one match, I thought it would be helpful to give a progress report in each group. Let's see how things stack up...and evaluate how my picks are looking!

(World ranking in parentheses)

Group A
Brazil (3), Cameroon (56), Croatia (18), Mexico (20)
I had Brazil and Mexico advancing here. Brazil took care of Croatia after some touchy moments early, including giving up an own goal to start things off. Mexico dropped Cameroon, and then played the host Brazilians to a draw earlier today - so I feel good about picking Mexico to advance second out of the group. The Mexico-Croatia match will be crucial if Croatia defeats Cameroon as most expect to happen tomorrow.

Group B
Australia (62), Chile (14), Netherlands (15), Spain (1)
The shocker of the first week was Netherlands routing the defending champion Spain by a 5-1 count. I had both of those teams advancing, but Spain will need to beat Chile tomorrow to restore order and get back on track. Australia lost to Chile in the first match and will need to upset Netherlands to stay in contention.

Group C
Colombia (8), Greece (12), Ivory Coast (23), Japan (46)
As expected, Colombia and Ivory Coast were victorious over Greece and Japan, respectively. The winners and losers from the first matches play each other on Thursday - look for Colombia to win and advance, while Japan will beat Greece and stay alive. I am sticking with my prediction of Colombia and Ivory Coast to advance.

Group D
Costa Rica (28), England (10), Italy (9), Uruguay (7)
Costa Rica's win over Uruguay was the most stunning upset of the week, but look for them to crash back to reality against an Italian team that looked solid in a 2-1 victory over England. Uruguay should see the return of Luis Suarez for its crucial match with England on Friday. I still think Italy will win the group and Uruguay will rebound to finish second. Uruguay-England is probably the match I am most looking forward to in this next set of matches, except of course for Portugal-United States.

Group E
Ecuador (26), France (17), Honduras (33), Switzerland (6)
As I predicted, France and Switzerland were able to win - France convincingly over Honduras, and Switzerland in exciting fashion with a stoppage time winner over Ecuador. I think France will continue to be the class of Group E and defeat Switzerland on Friday, but those two should be able to fend off the others for advancement to the Round of 16.

Group F
Argentina (5), Bosnia and Herzegovina (21), Iran (43), Nigeria (44)
Argentina struggled with Bosnia more than most expected, but I see B&H as an upstart in its first World Cup as an independent nation and still think both will advance. Look for Argentina to blowout Iran on Saturday, while Bosnia will defeat Nigeria and be on course to play into July.

Group G
Germany (2), Ghana (37), Portugal (4), United States (13)
My two picks to advance out of the "Group of Death," Germany and the United States, were both able to win but in very different fashion. Germany routed Portugal by a 4-0 count, aided by a penalty kick and a red card. The US overcame an 82nd minute goal from Ghana to tally a game winner in the 86th minute and emerge victorious. Now, Germany faces Ghana in a match they should dominate, while the US gets Portugal in what should be a winner advances into the Round of 16 match. I still see the US earning a draw in this one, but a win for the US coupled with a Germany victory over Ghana would mean automatic advancement.

Group H
Algeria (22), Belgium (11), Russia (19), South Korea (57)
Belgium struggled with Algeria until the middle of the second half, when they rallied to win by a 2-1 count. Russia and South Korea played to a 1-1 draw. Next up in Group H on Sunday, Belgium takes on Russia in a match that should decide the group winner, while South Korea and Algeria will play in what I still think is a matchup that will do nothing more than decide who finishes third.

Overall, I still feel good about my picks. Of the 16 teams I had advancing, here's how things look after 1 match for each:

Winners - 12
Draws - 1
Losses - 3 (but two of them were to teams I also had advancing - Spain to Netherlands and Bosnia and Herzegovina to Argentina)
So the only "bad" loss of my Sweet 16 picks was Uruguay to Costa Rica. The draw was Russia to South Korea.

Let's see how things shake out after this week...

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