Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2014 Contents 20
Azzurri are going to match host
Brazil with their record-tying fifth
title, Balotelli will have to both be-
have and perform at his best.
Uruguay... Few teams can match
Uruguay's strength at forward, with
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani lead-
ing the way and veteran Diego Forlan
a strong substitute.
Suarez has been one of the main
reasons behind Liverpool's resur-
gence in the English Premier League,
and Cavani has been a goal-scoring
machine with Napoli and Paris Saint-
Germain in recent seasons. Forlan
was named the best player of the
2010 World Cup and shared the tour-
nament scoring lead with five goals,
although he'll be 35 for this year's
edition and joined Japanese club
Cerezo Osaka in February, signaling
that his top-level career may be fin-
England... The worry in football's
home country is that England won't
even advance from such a tough
group. England hasn't gotten past
the quarterfinals in its last four
World Cups and star player Wayne
Rooney failed to score in the last two
tournaments. Making matters
worse, Rooney is coming off a diffi-
cult season with Manchester United.
Costa Rica... would like nothing
more than to repeat its surprise ef-
fort from its World Cup debut in
1990, when it beat Sweden and
Scotland to reach the knockout
round under experienced coach Bora
The key to this squad is its de-
fense, as evidenced by conceding
only seven goals in 10 matches of
the final qualifying phase.
PSV Eindhoven forward Bryan Ruiz
is the team's creative spark and per-
haps its best-known player after his
spell at Premier League club Fulham.
France, Honduras, Switzerland,
France... The traumatic exit from
the last World Cup --- where the play-
ers went on strike and failed to even
win a game --- is still etched in their
The way France qualified through
the playoffs sums up the inconsis-
tency. France trailed Ukraine 2-0
after a pitiful performance in the first
leg in Kiev, only to turn the situation
around in spectacular style with a 3-
"We have a competitive team ca-
pable of doing great things but also
capable of alternating with much
less good things," Deschamps said.
Switzerland... The Swiss and
French will meet on June 20 in Sal-
vador in a match that is likely to de-
cide the Group E winner --- and
possibly avoiding Argentina in the
"We have a mature team now. I
can say that it's become 'adult,' it's
grown up. We had a superb qualify-
ing campaign, we didn't lose a single
game and we've developed a great
team spirit," Hitzfeld told RMC radio.
"I hope to beat France so that we can
finish first. But beating France will be
an enormous surprise because, for
me, France remains the group
Ecuador... Ecuador will be France's
final opponent when they meet in
Rio de Janeiro on June 25 and Matu-
idi is bracing himself for an awkward
match that could decide whether
France wins the group.
Ecuador could well line up with two
Valencia's on the field.
Ecuador's best-known player is
Manchester United winger Antonio
Valencia. But the less illustrious
Enner Valencia --- who is no relation
--- has made a late push for a start-
ing place in the team two years after
his first call up.
He contributed a goal and an as-
sist, as well as winning a penalty, as
Ecuador came back from 3-0 down
to beat Australia 4-3 in a friendly last
He has shown his goal touch at
club level, too, scoring 10 times in 14
league games for Mexican side
Honduras... After missing the last
World Cup because of injury, Hon-
duras striker Carlos Costly should fi-
nally get to emulate his father.
Allan Costly, was part of the Hon-
duran team that made history by
qualifying for its first World Cup in
1982. A tough-tackling, rugged cen-
tre back, he made 41 international
appearances, scoring twice, and was
the mainstay in defense.
The 31-year-old Carlos is better at
the other end of the field, scoring 30
goals in 68 international appear-
ances. He would have played four
years ago in South Africa if not in-
"He was eager to follow my
achievements in playing at a World
Cup but unfortunately that problem
at the last minute prevented him
from doing so," Allan Costly said. "I
tell him to keep giving everything,
but that if he wants to emulate me
he should be careful and avoid hefty
Argentina, Nigeria, Bosnia, Iran
Nigeria... This is Nigeria's fifth World
Cup and the fourth time they have
been put in the same group as Ar-
The South Americans have won
each encounter so far by a single goal,
including a 1-0 victory in 2010.
Argentina also came out ahead
when the two nations met in the
2008 Olympic final.
Argentina... Lionel Messi, Gonzalo
Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Sergio
Aguero --- Argentina coach Alejandro
Sabella has more attacking talent
than he can fit into the lineup.
By comparison, the defense doesn't
look quite as impressive.
Still, concerns about Argentina's
vulnerability in the back shouldn't be
exaggerated. The team conceded only
15 goals in 16 qualifying matches.
Bosnia... Of the 32 countries in the
tournament, only Bosnia is making its
first World Cup appearance.
Bosnia coach Safet Susic has seen
World Cup action before, though. As a
player he participated in the 1982 and
1990 tournaments for Yugoslavia.
Bosnia also scored 30 goals in
World Cup qualifying, but in only 10
matches (Iran played 16).
Iran... Iran isn't likely to rattle its op-
ponents with technical brilliance, but
watch out for set pieces.
Of the 30 goals the Iranians scored
in qualifying, nine came on corner
kicks or free kicks.
Germany, Ghana, United States,
Germany... Germany has a winning
record against all three group oppo-
nents --- the United States (six wins,
three losses), Portugal (nine wins, five
draws, three losses), and Ghana (two
Germany has beaten Portugal in
their last three matches, twice at Eu-
ropean Championships and in the
match for third place at the 2006
World Cup. The Germans beat Ghana
in their group match at the 2010
World Cup and also defeated the
United States in the quarterfinals of
the 2002 tournament.
Ghana... reached the quarterfinals
four years ago --- beating the United
States in the process. Ghana also
knocked out the Americans in its only
other World Cup appearance in 2006.
The Boateng brothers are likely to
face each other again, just as they did
four years ago when Germany edged
Ghana 1-0 in South Africa.
Raised by different mothers in Ger-
many, the brothers play in the Bun-
desliga. Jerome is a defender at
Bayern Munich and Kevin-Prince an
attacking midfielder with Schalke.
United States... It can be said only
slightly jokingly that the United States
will start as many Germans against
Germany as its opponent. Starting a
trend that began when Klinsmann's
predecessor, Bob Bradley, persuaded
Nuremberg defender Timmy Chandler
and Schalke midfielder Jermaine
Jones to play for the U.S. team, Klins-
mann has successfully recruited Ger-
man-Americans Fabian Johnson,
Daniel Williams, Alfredo Morales, Ter-
rence Boyd and Julian Green.
Johnson started for Germany
against England in the 2009 Euro-
pean Under-21 Championship final,
and Green played for Germany in
three qualifiers for the 2014 European
Portugal... lmay not be much be-
yond Cristiano Ronaldo, but some-
times he is enough.
The winner of the Ballon d'Or as the
best player in the world, Ronaldo
scored all four goals in two matches
that allowed Portugal to advance over
Sweden in the World Cup playoffs.
He even earned the applause of Zla-
tan Ibrahimovic, Sweden's equally
egocentric star. Add in Ronaldo's
record scoring in the Champions
League and Portugal has a big
weapon in the attack.
Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Al-
Russia... will organize the next
World Cup, has financial clout and
has attracted some of the best
coaches in the world to rekindle the
glory days of its 1960 European Na-
tions Cup success, when the Soviet
Union won the inaugural continental
Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink and
Dick Advocaat came and went, both
stopping short of the full interna-
tional recognition Russia craved.
Somehow, a nation of 142 million
people with a long football tradition
finds it incredibly tough to be a con-
Now it is up to Fabio Capello.
The Italian coach got Russia to
Brazil by winning a group which in-
cluded Portugal, and that has given
him enough confidence to keep his
eye on the second round.
Belgium... Like Fabio Capello, Bel-
gium coach Marc Wilmots is also al-
ready looking beyond the first round.
The Red Devils might still be too
young to reap the rewards of their
talent, but there will be no waiting
once they get to Brazil.
Perhaps the most exciting player
of the group is Eden Hazard. The
Chelsea playmaker has seen his
stock rise during a standout season
with Chelsea and an easy first-round
group can do wonders for a player
looking for recognition on the biggest
Belgium starts out against Algeria
and a solid performance against a
team which likely will throw every-
thing back in defense could quickly
turn Hazard into a big name, with
momentum going his way.
Algeria... Four years ago, they held
England to a scoreless draw but still
went out in the group stage. Looking
further back, 1982 should provide
even more inspiration.
Algeria beat West Germany in its
opening World Cup game, but a con-
troversial result later in the round
contrived to eliminate the north
Africans. The bitterness of that expe-
rience remains, and every Algerian
fan knows the team is still out for re-
South Korea... Even if South Korea
seems easy, the rest of the way in
the tournament will be anything but.
After the group matches, the road
will lead to the top teams from
Group G, arguably the toughest of
the tournament. And if Germany ad-
vances as expected, any of the other
group teams --- Portugal, Ghana and
the United States --- will also be a
tough opponent in the round of 16.
CONTINUED FROM PG 19
Jurgen Klinsmann ... re-
cruited coach who
guided Germany to Cup.
Marc Wilmots ...
looking beyond first round.
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