Well, it is two days away. (Arguably) the greatest sporting event on the planet has returned, this time in the land of o jogo bonito. I have filled out my WC bracket, but I feel as if I need to elaborate more. So here it is:
Brazil- Croatia: 2-0
In a sea of yellow and green in Sao Paulo, the brazilians walk away victorious. Neymar starts the party early, and Brazil dominate a listless Croatian side without Mario Mandzukic.
Neymar 15', Fred 62'
In a meeting between two of the most dramatic and disorganized teams on this planet, viewers have trouble figuring out which team is a bigger trainwreck. However, the team representing CONCACAF comes out victorious on the back of an Oribe Peralta brace.
Samuel Eto'o 35', Oribe Peralta 48', Oribe Peralta 71'
Mexico- Brazil: 0-4
After a win over Cameroon, Mexico goes into the match against the hosts on a high. However, the skill of the Brazilians overpowers Mexico in one of the biggest blowouts of the tournament, with Neymar continuing his Golden Boot bid.
Neymar 12', Neymar 25', Dani Alves 43', Oscar 74'
Croatia- Cameroon: 3-2
Both teams show much better than their previous performance. Mandzukic makes an immediate impact, and Cameroon dominate on set pieces. However, the abilites of La Liga stars, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, shine brighter than the whole Cameroonian national team.
Mario Mandzukic 7', Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting 23', Luka Modric (pen) 38', Luka Modric 84', Aurelien Chedjou 89'
In an relatively poor showing, Brazil sweeps through Group A with a lackluster win over dwellers Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions bid adieu to Brazil without gaining a single point.
Thiago Silva 29'
Mexico- Croatia: 1-3
In what turns out to be the deciding game, Croatia shows up and Mexico simply plays like the smell of Mexico City streets. After a poor showing in the opener, the Croats look like a real force to contend with.
Mario Mandzukic 22', Dario Srna 36', Mario Mandzukic 46', Chicharito Hernandez 88'
What really matters:
Brazil romps through the group as everyone suspected. Croatia rounds into form, and Mexico and Cameroon hide for the next 4 years.
Brazil: 9 pts Croatia: 6 pts Mexico: 3 pts Cameroon 0 pts
After a hideous showing at Euro 2012, the Netherlands look heavy underdogs against Spain in the 2010 WC Final rematch. However, somehow, someway, the Dutch pull off a miracle in the final seconds after parking the bus for an entire match.
Chile- Australia: 2-1
Even without Arturo Vidal, Chile dominates a young Socceroo side. However, the team from down under plays with incredible heart and is rewarded with a goal, courtesy of a Tim Cahill header.
Alexis Sanchez 32', Gonzalo Paredes 43', Tim Cahill 84'
Australia- Netherlands: 0-1
While posting a second consecutive 1-0 victory, something looks off about the Netherlands. Internal issues brew, and star players start to switch off. Fortunately, centerback Ron Vlaar saves the day with a diving header.
Ron Vlaar 74'
Chile- Spain: 0-3
Spain regains their form and tiki-taka's their way through the Chilean defense. Not even the return of Vidal can slow the Spanish juggernaut.
David Silva 5', Diego Costa 10', Cesc Fabergas 52'
Another one goal game from the Netherlands, but this time it goes against the Dutch. However, one goal is not enough to advance for the South American side.
Spain- Australia: 4-0
Unfortuantely for the Socceroos, the Spanish squad is just too good. This game in Curitiba acts as a warmup game for the second round for La Furia Roja.
Sergio Ramos 17', Xabi Alonso (pen) 37', Diego Costa 65', Fernando Torres 82'
What really matters:
Spain and the Netherlands advance on goal difference, although some say that Chile deserves to go through more. Australia has a good time and starts preparations for Russia 2018.
Spain: 6pts +6 Netherlands: 6pts +1 Chile: 6pts -1 Australia: 0 pts -6
In a group where anybody can get out, Colombia defeats Greece besides the fact that the Greeks stick 15 men behind the ball. Striker Jackson Martinez makes his presence known in the place of Radamel Falcao.
Jackson Martinez 26'
Ivory Coast- Japan: 0-2
The Ivorians lay an egg and the Japanese come out strong. On top of it all, star midfielder Yaya Toure misses the next match after picking up a second yellow in the 50'.
Shinji Okazaki 36', Keisuke Honda (pen) 51'
Colombia-Ivory Coast: 3-1
The Ivory Coast look bad without Yaya Toure and Colombia plays to the "South American advantage" Drogba's chance of making it out of the group stage diminish severely.
James Rodriguez 13', Jackson Martinez 41', Didier Drogba 66', James Rodriguez 84'
Our first nil-nil game of the tournament comes from this Group C match. Nothing to watch in this one, move right along.
Ivory Coast- Greece: 2-1
The Greeks manage their only goal of the competition, while the Ivorians pick up the W. The highlight of the game comes from a 35 yard blast from Yaya Toure on his return from suspension.
19' Soloman Kalou, Kostas Mitroglou 39', Yaya Toure 76'
Colombia- Japan: 1-2
The Colombians fail to win the group, while the Japanese surprise us all by winning it. Not even a furious second half by the Colombians could stop the Japanese.
What really matters:
Japan shocks a lot of people by winning the group, while the Colombians finish in second. The Ivorians bust out of the World Cup, and Greece proves that parking the bus doesn't work.
Japan: 7pts Colombia: 6pts Ivory Coast: 3pts Greece: 1 pt
England- Italy: 1-1
A young Three Lions squad shows well against the Italians in a thriller. Thankfully for England, you can't go to penalties in the group stage.
Sturridge 63', Immobile 78'
Uruguay-Costa Rica: 1-0
Even without Saborio, Costa Rica plays well against the Uruguayans. Cavani leads the line for Uruguay as Suarez isn't fully fit.
In an impressive performance, England handles Uruguay comfortably. The young talent and speed of England is too much for the Uruguay backline to handle.
Sterling 42', Sturridge 60'
Costa Rica-Italy: 0-2
A magical performance by Andrea Pirlo combined with a rare glimpse of sublime skill by Balotelli helps Italy keep up with the Three Lions.
Daniele De Rossi 57', Mario Balotelli 77'
England-Costa Rica: 2-3
The shock of the tournament comes as Costa Rica defeats a hot England side. We witness the first hat-trick of WC 2014 as Olympiakos man (and pathetic diver) Joel Campbell delivers on a hot day in Belo Horizante.
Campbell 20', Campbell 35', Gerrard 64', Campbell 69', Rooney 73'
The Italians took advantage of the England loss to register the first place in Group D. Once again, Pirlo the star of the Italian show, this time registering a free kick goal.
What really matters:
With the shock loss to Costa Rica, England finishes in second behind Italy. Uruguay and Suarez bow out with no real contributions, and Costa Rica feels surprisingly good about their performances.
Italy: 7pts England: 6pts Uruguay: 3pts Costa Rica: 3pts
So that wraps it up for this time. Stay tuned for my predictions of Groups E-H.