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Team Analysis - A-D

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When Spain captured the World Cup Trophy for the first time in 2010 little did they realize only two countries have managed to win back-to-back titles in World Cup history. 
 
Furthermore, no European team has won the World Cup in South America.
 
They say there is a first time for everything, although oddsmakers disagree with Brazil (3/1) and Argentina (4/1) listed as favorites to hoist the 2014 Cup, with Spain the 3rd choice at 13/2 (Bet $100 to win $650).
 
Here is a brief snapshot of what each team from the first four groups brings to the table in this year’s event, with each team’s FIFA rank in parenthesis. 
 
GROUP A

Brazil (4)– Only 5 of 23 players on its roster return from 2010… won last year’s Confederations Cup (no reigning Confederations Cup champion has won a World Cup)… have not lost a competitive game at home since September, 1975, a string of 57 games… the host nation has won the World Cup five times.
 
Cameroon(50)– Forward Samuel Eto’o has won four African Player of the Year awards… scored two goals in three games in 2010 World Cup while failing to win a point… beat Argentina in 1990 opening round match en route to reaching the quarterfinals… seventh World Cup appearance, most by an African nation.
 
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Croatia (20)
– First competed in World Cup in 1998, seven years after declaring independence from Yugoslavia… Real Madrid’s Luka Modric is known as “The Croation Cryuff” for his elegant passing skills… stunned here-time champion Germany. 3-0, in its third place finish in 1998… striker Mario Mandzukic is suspended for the first game for a red card in the final qualifying game.
 
Mexico (19)– Coach Miguel Herrera forbids his players from alcohol, sex and eating red meat while in Brazil… El Tri went through four coaches before grabbing one of the last qualifying spots with win over New Zealand in November - and then proceeded to go 6-0-2 after … lost to Argentina, 3-1, in the Round of 16 in 2010 World Cup.
 
GROUP B

Australia (59)– First team to arrive in Brazil.  Set up camp 16 days early… Only two of the Socceroos starters are older than 29… Tim Cahill, 34, is the team’s all-time scoring leader… Aussies hold the record for the most one-sided wins in international soccer history, a 31-0 romp over American Samoa in a 2001 World Cup qualifier.
 
Chile (13)– Lost 3-0 to Brazil in the Round of 16 in 2010 World Cup… La Roja’s last three national team coaches have come from Argentina… color them dangerous: scored 29 goals in qualifying, beat England and Costa Rica, lost by a goal to Brazil and Germany and played Colombia and Spain to a draw… slogan is “For a Chilean, nothing is impossible,” based on miners trapped underground for 69 days in 2010.
 
Netherlands (15)– Runner-up in last year’s World Cup, the Oranje own three second-place finishes in the tournament… will open against Spain in Match 3 play, the team they lost 1-0 to in the 116th minute in the finals of the 2010 World Cup… experienced squad, with the majority of players back from the 2010 team, went 9-0-1 in qualifying games, finishing +29 in net goal differential… Bad news for opponents: Robin van Persie is healthy again and is one of the best goal-scorers in the world… Van Persie, recently named team captain, has nearly 5 million followers in the Twitter universe.
 
Spain (1)– With wins in the last two Euros and the 2010 World Cup, in which they allowed 6 goals in 19 matches, Spain is the only country to win three consecutive major international championships…the Spaniards became the first team to ever win a World Cup last season after losing its opening match… it’s been 52 years since there has been a repeat winner in the World Cup.
 
GROUP C

Colombia (5)– First appearance in the World Cup on 16 years when Carlos Valderrama was on the team… star player Radamel Falcao tore his ACL in January and was left off the roster… Falcao, who scored 8 goals in 11 qualifying games last year, has more than 4.5 million followers on Twitter… 22-year old midfielder James Rodriguez assumes the scoring load for Los Cafeteros… coach Jose Pekerman, an Argentine, managed Argentina in the 2006 World Cup. 
 
Greece (10)– The Greeks won the 2004 European Championship but has never advanced out of World Cup group play… play a low scoring, boring style of soccer, allowing 6 goals in 12 qualifying matches… have lost five of six World Cup matches in two previous World Cups, outscored 15-2… professional soccer was not played in Greece until 1979.  Fifteen years later they qualified for their first World Cup.
 
Ivory Coast (21)– The Elephants have gone 22 years since winning its last major title in the 1992 African Cup of Nations… Aging forward and two-time African Footballer of the Year 36-year old Didier Drogba leads a veteran team that can outrun and overpower most of its opponents… unbeaten in qualifying games this year… have never made it out of group play.
 
Japan (47)– The Blue Samurai has reached the Round of 16 in 2002 and 2010… outscored opponents 30-8 in qualifying games but lost all three Confederation Cup group games to Brazil…  first team to qualify in each of the last three World Cups… Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa and Milan’s Keisuke Honda are among other with a European pedigree… have never won a game beyond group play.
 
GROUP D
 
Costa Rica (34)–Second to the U.S. with five wins in 10 games in CONCACAF qualifying, including a 2-1 win over Mexico… they ended the United States 12-game winning streak in September… leading scorer Alvaro Sabrio is out with a broken foot… Los Ticos is the only Central American nation to win a World Cup game.
 
England (11)– World-class striker Wayne Rooney headlines a relatively non-descript roster… Manchester United’s Joe Hart is solid in goal… the Three Lions have gone unbeaten in 14 games since Roy Hodgson took over as coach two years ago…  Hodgson had players begin training camp working out in three layers of clothing to simulate Brazil’s heat and humidity.

Italy (9) – The Azzurri went undefeated through qualifying but left home players responsible for nine of its 19 goals in those 10 qualifiers… New Jersey-born striker Guisippe Rossi, Floretina’s top scorer with 16 goals, was among the final cuts, as he was four years ago… Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg in last week’s friendly with Ireland… Mario Balotelli insists he’s the No. 1 striker in the world… Along with Brazil, the 4-star Italians are the only other team to win the World Cup twice in a row.

Uruguay (6)– Los Charruas was the first host nation to win a World Cup in 1930 and is the smallest country (3.4 million people) to win a World Cup… scored one goal or fewer 10 times in 16 CONMEBOL qualifiers, including three shutouts… Luis Suarez (fighting to return from knee surgery) is one of the top strikers in the world, leading the CONMEBOL qualifier with 11 goals in 16 World Cup qualifiers.

  
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