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World Cup Preview: Group A

Ahead of this summer's World Cup in Brazil. I give the low down on each of the 32 teams that will contest the World Cup finals in this magical summer of Football.

Alexandre Loureiro

What looks a fairly straight forward group for the hosts, Group A contains Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. It looks a certainty for Brazil to win the group but the runners-up spot could go to anyone.

Brazil: Felipe Scolari’s side are deemed one of the favourites to win the competition this year with great expectation expected from the hosts after being given a somewhat straight forward group. The well organised South American outfit have their plan well set out. The 4-2-3-1 formation Scolari has adopted which he took when he guided his team to the World Cup in 2002, does seem to work well. The effective pressing game allows both fullbacks and adventurous centre back David Luiz to venture forward with some creativity and purpose whilst Luiz Gustavo drops in to the defense. Often involving the charismatic Neymar, the long ball which is not often associated with South American sides can be effective allowing the Barcelona man to isolate his opposing fullback.

Key Player- Neymar, he certainly does deliver what everyone says he does. The Barcelona wide man has had a difficult 6 months at the Nou Camp this season after being the subject of alleged tax evasion by Barcelona but He will certainly look to deliver this summer with his quick feet and electrifying pace.

Prediction- 1st-Semi Final

Croatia: It could be another difficult major tournament for the Croatians. The lack of goals will be a cause of concern despite being in the presence of the Bundesliga top scorer in Mario Mandzukic and with little reliability on the defensive side of things; Niko Kovac’s side could be in for another disappointing summer. All is not lost for the Croatians however, few nations can match a midfield pairing with the class and creativity of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric but a lack of depth could become a problem if one of the key players could suffer an injury setback.

Key Player- Luka Modric, the former Spurs man has excelled at the heart of the Real Madrid midfield this year, he is adopted the same sort of role for his country in the deep lying playmaker role and will hope to create the same sort of performances for his country as he does for The Galaticos.

Prediction- 3rd

Cameroon- Volker Finke’s side will be in for another disappointment.  The Indomitable Lions lost all 3 games in South Africa and haven’t qualified for the African Cup of Nations since. It has been a while since they have been a giant in African football having been overshadowed by the likes of Nigeria and Ivory Coast in recent tournaments. The ongoing dispute between the national team and the Cameroon FA could prove too much of a distraction for Cameroon and with a too many defensive players could see them on an early plane home.

Key Player- Samuel Eto’o, the Chelsea man still remains Cameroon’s top scorer but has had a bumpy national career of late. After a brief retirement last September from a dispute between him and Finke, the former highest paid player in the world has recently fallen out with his team mates after they allegedly planned to not pass him the ball in their play-off with Tunisia. Despite all of this, he still remains a prolific striker and after a bright latter half of the season at Stamford Bridge, there may still be some hope yet.

Prediction- 4th

Mexico- Their bumpy qualifying campaign where they used 47 players and 4 coaches has left current boss Miguel Herrera in a desperate attempt to gather a stable squad which seems heavily reliant on domestic players. Their tactics are anyone’s game to guess but they look to be playing an attacking 5-3-2 where they will attempt to repeat the sort of form they did in London 2012 where they won Olympic Gold against fellow Group A opposition in Brazil.

Key Player- Oribe Peralta, someone I know little about but the current North and Central America Player of the Year certainly knows where the net is. His 22 goals for Santos Laguna last year has already earned him a move to Mexican giants America. Certainly one to watch this summer.

Prediction- 2nd-Last 16