The road to Brazil

Craig Farrell

What can we expect when Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014?

When England hosted the 1996 European Championships it was said, “football’s coming home”. So with the 2014 World Cup due to take place in Brazil it is safe to say that “football is going to the place that perfected it”.

Brazil first hosted football’s greatest tournament back in 1950, which was the first World Cup that consisted of four groups of four teams after the second and third tournaments changed to a solely knockout format.

With the 2010 World Cup taking place in South Africa, the 2014 World Cup will be an historical event as it will be the first time two consecutive World Cups took place in the Southern Hemisphere.

Brazil can boast as being the most successful country in the World Cup having lift the trophy five times (’58, ’62 ’70 ’94 ‘02). Brazil also lost two finals, one in 1950 – which they were hosting – and a second in 1996. Only they and Germany have reached more then six World Cup Finals, and they are also the only two countries that have reached three consecutive finals – although Germany did so as West Germany.

There is anxiety however that Brazil will not be able to construct everything on time. With less than two years remaining things in Brazil are said to be “slow” and FIFA’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke went as far as saying Brazil need a “kick up the backside”, which lead to outrage from the Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo.

However Poland and Ukraine had the same worries in the build-up to the European Championship earlier this year, but everything came together and the tournament was quite successful.

The hosts are the favourites to lift the cup, with the samba stars hoping to avoid a repeat of 1950. Current World Champions Spain are the second favourites with Argentina a very close third, and in some bookmaker’s eyes on par with Spain.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s men were humiliated in Poland this past summer at the European Championship. Trapattoni is adamant that his style of play is the best way forward for Ireland, and the Italian seems set to continue to set his team out to attempt to grind out results in a defensive manner.

Ireland have been grouped with Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands, which many would have assumed was 12 easy points. However after Ireland’s disastrous opening display away to Kazakhstan, those 12 points can’t be seen as a formality just yet.

Austria, Sweden and Germany make-up the rest of the teams from Group C. Austria and Sweden are not footballing powerhouses, but both teams are solid defensively, which will make them hard to breakdown – even harder for Ireland since they play so negatively. Both teams also have enough in their arsenal to trouble Ireland.

Germany are guaranteed group winners due to their formidable squad that is peppered with quality players that all play at the top of European football.

Ireland’s best hope for making it to Brazil is to make the playoffs by finishing second in the group, but based on Ireland’s current form that seems like a quite a stretch.

England will be expected to win Group H as they boast one of the greatest domestic leagues in European football. However Ukraine, Poland and Montenegro won’t be pushovers. England can struggle when much is expected of them. San Marino and Moldova should be easy wins, put Ukraine showed that England have weaknesses after their recent visit to Wembley.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all fighting uphill battles, as they have both been extremely unfortunate to be grouped with some of the best sides in Europe.

Sadly, from the Home Nations perspective, it looks most likely that England will be the only country represented at the 2014 World Cup, much like in South Africa in 2010.

Image top: via FIFA world cup Brasil 2014 – Facebook


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