World Cup Preview and Predictions: Group A – Brazil Hosts and Coasts

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Expectations are always high for the host nation in a World Cup, but when it’s Brazil opening their doors, it’s astronomical.

The World Cup begins Thursday afternoon, and all eyes are on the Verde-Amarela as they open up the competition against Croatia. There is little question that Brazil is favored to win their group. Few teams in that bunch — or in the entire competition — can boast the kind of defensive stability and offensive prowess of the host nation.

However, they do have some competition that can surprise them.

You can start that conversation with Croatia. Defensively, the Croats fall short of the world class level. However, their midfield and forwards can certainly be a threat. Croatia boasts creativity and firepower, led by Real Madrid’s Luca Modric. Ivan Rakitić will be a force at midfield with the Madrid man. Mario Mandžukić leads the front line, which features both young strikers and experienced veterans (Ivica Olić).

A strong counter and disciplined defense can help the Croats escape Thursday’s encounter with a point. Beyond that, they are the clear challenger for Brazil in the group.

Further in the group, we find a familiar opponent for American fans; Mexico. While El Tri backed into their spot for the World Cup, they are hardly the team of José Manuel de la Torre. Miguel Herrera has brought with him not only the tactical know-how to best utilize his roster, but the motivational prowess to inspire them. Yes, Chicharito Hernandez continues to under-perform with the national team, but Mexico have a plethora of weapons that can be dangerous. That and a history of pushing Brazil may find them to be the surprise of the group.

Finally, there is Cameroon — another sleeper pick. Led by team captain Samuel Eto’o, the Indomitable Lions boast a roster with excellent experience throughout the highest leagues of Europe. The young Joel Matip joins Alex Song and Jean Makoun in a formidable midfield. While a well-traveled bunch, Cameroons defense and goalkeeping situation have been the bane of recent international fixtures, letting in nine goals in five friendlies leading into the World Cup.

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June 12th: Brazil vs. Croatia
June 13th: Mexico vs. Cameroon
June 17th: Brazil vs. Mexico
June 18th: Cameroon vs. Croatia
June 23rd: Brazil vs. Cameroon, Croatia vs. Mexico.

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EOS PREDICTIONS:

FINISH COUNTRY WIN LOSS DRAW POINTS G/D
1 BRAZIL  3  0  0  9  +3
2 CROATIA  2  1 0  6  +2
3 MEXICO  1  2  0  3  -1
4 CAMEROON  0  3  0  0  -4

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Brazil 3-2 Croatia
Mexico 2-1 Cameroon
Brazil 2-1 Mexico
Croatia 3-1 Cameroon
Brazil 2-1 Cameroon
Croatia 1-0 Mexico

Brazil is the clear class of this Group.  No other team has the kind of balance the host country boasts, and in games where they find themselves behind, the passionate Brazilian fan base will be there to lift them up.  Expect Neymar to make his mark on the international stage, raising his already soaring stock. Croatia’s hard-nosed defense will be just enough to ward off Mexico and Cameroon on the way to points.  Mexico is a sleeper pick in this group.  As stated earlier, they consistently give Brazil a hard time and it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility that they manage an upset.  While Cameroon has the firepower in both the midfield and in attack, inexperience on the backline and between the sticks costs them.


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