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2014 FIFA World Cup |OT| Spa1n v The Netherland5

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venison crêpe

FIFA Thread Organising Committee:

Alternative Sepp Blatter: Wes


Executive Imagery Wizard: SunhiLegend

Report Committee Members:

From L to R, Askani, caramac, Cornballer, Clydefrog, darknil, FootballFan, Herr K, lastflowers, Mr Cola, prematureQuiche, pulga, Sviatoslav, The_Hitcher89, WoodenLung (Chief Location Scout)


The FIFA World Cup is the greatest international competition in all of football and the most watched sporting event in the world. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the sports global sporting authority and organiser of the tournament. Held every four years (two years after the last Olympic Summer Games) in the European Football Leagues' summer off-seasons (historically, at least), the Brazilian event this year is the 20th iteration of the competition.

This will be the second time Brazil has hosted the competition having previously done so in 1950. Since the controversy over Germany’s bid winning the rights to host the 2006 tournament over that of South Africa FIFA decided to cycle the hosts between continents (or more precisely between each of the continental football federations) for at least the next two events in 2010 and 2014. This meant that the hosts of this year’s competition would definitely be in South America. CONMEBOL, the governing body of football in South America voted unanimously to choose Brazil as they were the only candidate with a formal bid submitted after some cursory bids from Colombia and Argentina were withdrawn.

The teams compete to win the FIFA World Cup Trophy.



32 nations from a total of 207 FIFA recognised states across the world qualified for the Finals competition. The number of nations coming from each Continental Confederation varies depending upon the overall strength and number of competitors from each of those regions:
- Africa (CAF): 5
- Asia (including Australia) (AFC): 4
- Europe (UEFA): 13
- North and Central America (CONCACAF): 4
- Oceania (OFC): 0
- South America (CONMEBOL): 6


The tournament is comprised of two sections, a group round-robin and a knockout phase.
There are 8 groups of 4 teams, lettered A through H. Each group is comprised of:
- One of the top seven ranked teams in FIFAs Work rankings (as of October 2013) or the host nation of Brazil.
- One from Asia, North America and Central America.
- One from Africa or South America
- One from the unseeded European teams.

The teams play each other once. They receive 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, 0 for a loss. The group positions are decided by points, and then goal difference (number of goals scored minus number of goals conceded). The top two from each group progress to the knockout stage.

The winner of one group will then play the runner up from another group. The victor of this match then goes on to play another winner from a similar knockout match, reducing the number of remaining teams from 16 to 8 then to 4 before the last two teams face each other in the Final on 13th July.


The 64 matches will be played in 12 different locations across Brazil.


Images courtesy of WoodenLung.


All times are local. This gets a bit confusing in a few instances as Brazil covers multiple timezones. Most are Brasilia Standard Time (BRT) which is UTC-3.
A couple of locations (Cuiaba and Manaus) are in Amazon Standard Time (AMS) which is UTC-4.

The best thing you can do is go to this site and click here and click the 'Change to your time' button.

Alternatively you can find out your current time zone in relation to UTC and BRT here.

[B]Thursday 12th June[/B]
17:00 -- Brazil	        v Croatia	:: Group A :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
[B]Friday 13th June[/B]
13:00 -- Mexico	        v Cameroon	:: Group A :: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
16:00 -- Spain	        v Netherlands	:: Group B :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
18:00 -- Chile	        v Australia	:: Group B :: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
[B]Saturday 14th June[/B]
13:00 -- Colombia	v Greece	:: Group C :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
16:00 -- Uruguay	v Costa Rica	:: Group D :: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
18:00 -- England 	v Italy	        :: Group D :: Arena Amazonia, Manaus
22:00 –- Ivory Coast	v Japan	        :: Group C :: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
[B]Sunday 15th June[/B]
13:00 -- Switzerland	v Ecuador	:: Group E :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
16:00 -- France  	v Honduras	:: Group E :: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
19:00 -- Argentina	v Bosnia and H  :: Group F :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
[B]Monday 16th June[/B]
13:00 -- Germany	v Portugal	:: Group G :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
16:00 -- Iran       	v Nigeria	:: Group F :: Arena de Baixada, Curitiba
19:00 -- Ghana   	v United States	:: Group G :: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
[B]Tuesday 17th June[/B]
13:00 -- Belgium	v Algeria	:: Group H :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
16:00 -- Brazil    	v Mexico	:: Group A :: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
18:00 -- Russia  	v South Korea	:: Group H :: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
[B]Wednesday 18th June[/B]
13:00 -- Australia	v Netherlands	:: Group B :: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
16:00 -- Spain    	v Chile       	:: Group B :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
18:00 -- Cameroon	v Croatia    	:: Group A :: Arena Amazonia, Manaus
[B]Thursday 19th June[/B]
13:00 -- Colombia	v Ivory Coast	:: Group C :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
16:00 -- Uruguay	v England	:: Group D :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
19:00 -- Japan    	v Greece    	:: Group C :: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
[B]Friday 20th June[/B]
13:00 -- Italy      	v Costa Rica	:: Group D :: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
16:00 -- Switzerland	v France	:: Group E :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
19:00 -- Honduras	v Ecuador	:: Group E :: Arena de Baixada, Curitiba
[B]Saturday 21st June[/B]
13:00 -- Argentina	v Iran         	:: Group F :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
16:00 -- Germany	v Ghana     	:: Group G :: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
19:00 -- Nigeria	v Bosnia and H	:: Group F :: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
[B]Sunday 22nd June[/B]
13:00 -- Belgium	v Russia	:: Group H :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
16:00 –- South Korea	v Algeria	:: Group H :: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
19:00 –- United States	v Portugal	:: Group G :: Arena Amazonia, Manaus
[B]Monday 23rd June[/B]
13:00 -- Netherlands	v Chile       	:: Group B :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
13:00 -- Australia	v Spain      	:: Group B :: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
17:00 -- Cameroon	v Brazil	:: Group A :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
17:00 –- Croatia	v Mexico	:: Group A :: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
[B]Tuesday 24th June[/B]
13:00 -- Italy      	v Uruguay  	:: Group D :: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
13:00 –- Costa Rica	v England	:: Group D :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
17:00 -- Japan    	v Colombia 	:: Group C :: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
17:00 –- Greece 	v Ivory Coast 	:: Group C :: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
[B]Wednesday 25th June[/B]
13:00 -- Nigeria	v Argentina	:: Group F :: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
13:00 –- Bosnia and H	v Iran         	:: Group F :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
17:00 -- Honduras	v Switzerland	:: Group E :: Arena Amazonia, Manaus
17:00 –- Greece 	v Ivory Coast	:: Group E :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
[B]Thursday 26th June[/B]
13:00 -- Portugal	v Ghana     	:: Group G :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
13:00 –- United States	v Germany	:: Group G :: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
17:00 – South Korea	v Belgium	:: Group H :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
17:00 –- Algeria	v Russia	:: Group H :: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
[B]Friday 27th June[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Saturday 28th June[/B]
13:00 – 1st Group A	v 2nd Group B	:: RdTwo 1 :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
17:00 – 1st Group C	v 2nd Group D	:: RdTwo 2 :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro
[B]Sunday 29th June[/B]
13:00 – 1st Group B	v 2nd Group A	:: RdTwo 3 :: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
17:00 – 1st Group D	v 2nd Group C	:: RdTwo 4 :: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
[B]Monday 30th June[/B]
13:00 – 1st Group E	v 2nd Group F	:: RdTwo 5 :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
17:00 – 1st Group G	v 2nd Group H	:: RdTwo 6 :: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
[B]Tuesday 1st July[/B]
13:00 – 1st Group F	v 2nd Group E	:: RdTwo 7 :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
17:00 – 1st Group H	v 2nd Group G	:: RdTwo 8 :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
[B]Wednesday 2nd Jul[/B]y
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Thursday 3rd July[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Friday 4th July[/B]
13:00 – Winner RdTwo 5	v Winner RdTwo 6 :: QuFi 1 :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
17:00 – Winner RdTwo 1	v Winner RdTwo 2 :: QuFi 2 :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
[B]Saturday 5th July[/B]
13:00 – Winner RdTwo 7	v Winner RdTwo 8 :: QuFi 3 :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
17:00 – Winner RdTwo 3	v Winner RdTwo 4 :: QuFi 4 :: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
[B]Sunday 6th July[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Monday 7th July[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Tuesday 8th July[/B]
17:00 – Winner QuFi 1	v Winner QuFi 2	:: Semi 1 :: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
[B]Wednesday 9th July[/B]
17:00 – Winner QuFi 1	v Winner QuFi 2	:: Semi 2 :: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
[B]Thursday 10th July[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Friday 11th July[/B]
Rest Day – No Fixtures
[B]Saturday 12th July[/B]
17:00 – Loser Semi 1	v Loser Semi 2	:: Third :: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
[B]Sunday 13th July[/B]
17:00 – Winner Semi 1	v Winner Semi 2	:: Final :: Maracana, Rio De Janeiro


* If you have any further information to provide such as link or details for a country I haven't listed it here PM them to me in the same format as I've used below and I will include them.

Full PDF of FIFA World Cup 2014 Media Rights Licensees


CBC or Sportsnet (for some knockout matches)

TF1 or beIN Sport



RAI or SKY Italia

Fuji TV, NHK, Nippon Television, TBS, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo

Televisa, TV Azteca, Cinépolis


United Kingdom

United States
ABC, ESPN, Univision
Detailed Coverage Information at this Article on Philly.com (found by CraigerGamer)
All game broadcasts will be streamed via ESPN3.com. For mobile devices and tablets, games will be available via the WatchESPN and WatchABC apps. Streams will be free of charge, but will require authentication via participating cable providers.

Additional Information

GAF Related:
There will be an IRC channel up for discussing all things World Cup. Will most likely be used if/when the servers go down. You can find this at:
Server: studio64.yi.org
Channel: #Football
Further information on how this can be achieved can be found here.

Fantasy Football
Predictions Game: Kicktipp.de/GAFWC14
Fantasy League: Neogaf (30044)

Worldcupify Your Avatar!
Click here to go to the Worldcupify Your Avatar thread - ask in here or help others declare your allegiance and who you support during the World Cup by incorporating your country within your avatar!

Media *Section to be completed
Official FIFA World Cup Website

Guardian World Cup Daily

Sports Articles
Grantland: How to Watch the World Cup Like a True Soccer Nerd - Guide to higher level tactical discussion for someone that has a rudimentary understanding of the game.

News Articles
GAF: Official Song of the FIFA World Cup 2014 - thoughts?
GAF: Documents detail possible match fixing ahead of South African World Cup.
GAF: Qatar World Cup: '£3m payments to officials' corruption claim
GAF: Brazilians say Brazil's World cup is already a failure
GAF - Sony demands appropriate investigation over Qatar winning World Cup 2022


venison crêpe


Brazil – report by FootballFan


Nickname: A Seleção (The Selection)
WC Rivals: Argentina
World Ranking: 4th
Previous WC: 20 Visits
Best – World Cup winners in: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
Last – Reached the quarterfinals at the 2010 World Cup.
Route to the finals:
Due to being the host nation, Brazil gained automatic qualification to participate in the World Cup.
Reappointing Luiz Felipe Scolari as head coach in 2013 has been a great choice so far. It has been 12 years since he guided Brazil to World Cup victory in 2002, he will be looking to repeat that feat in 2014. His first job as head coach this time around, was the 2013 Confederations Cup. Brazil ended up winning the tournament in an impressive manner, beating great teams like Italy, Uruguay and Japan along the way, eventually defeating current World Cup champions Spain 3-0 in the final.
As favourites, both in the bookies and in the fans eyes, Brazil will be under immense pressure to perform in their home country. If Scolari can get that 2013 Confederations Cup spirit in this squad again, and if star players like Neymar and Fred continue to score, there is no doubt Brazil can win the tournament.
Players to watch:
Neymar Jr


One of the most talked about footballers on the planet, the 22 year old Brazilian boy-wonder made a long awaited move to Europe in 2013, joining FC Barcelona for €87.2 million. A month after his move to Barcelona, Neymar won the Golden Ball(player of the tournament) at the Confederations Cup, with an impressive 4 goals and 2 assists. Neymar has an incredible 30 goals in just 47 games for A Seleção. Even at his age, he is seen as a leader in the team. He will aim to dazzle and entertain his fans with his exquisite technique and dribbling skills on the left-wing. All eyes will be on the youngster to continue his great performances for Brazil as he looks to lead them to their 6th World Cup trophy.
Thiago Silva

What can be said about Thiago Silva, simply regarded by most as the best defender in the world. Comfortable and elegant on the ball, brave and wise when taking it away from his opponents, strong in the air, he has it all. Set to earn his 50th cap for A Seleção, Thiago Silva has won the Samba Gold trophy for the last 3 seasons, the award is given to the best Brazilian footballer in Europe. As captain of the squad, the complete centre-back will play a big role for the team, both as one of the most experienced and as one of the best players in the squad. The 29 year old Paris Saint-Germain star is going to lead from the back, he will be vital to A Seleção at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


Croatia – report by lastflowers


Nickname: Vatreni (The Blazers)
WC Rivals: N/A
World Ranking: 15th
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 1998, Third place
Last – 2006, Group Stage
Route to the finals:
Having not qualified for the 2010 World Cup after qualifying for three in a row, Croatia proved their mettle by displaying well in Euro 2012. The team, helmed by Slaven Bilić, featured Luka Modrić and Mario Mandžukić but ultimately went out in the group stage. Igor Štimac became head manager for a brief term, and was succeeded by former national team captain Niko Kovač
Croatia head a difficult qualification period, with five wins, three losses, and two draws to result runners-up for their group behind Belgium. They succeeded in beating Iceland in the UEFA second round playoffs to seal their qualification.
Players to watch:
Luka Modrić


Christiano Ronaldo recently said: “He's showing the best football his my career this season. Not only playing fantastically, but to do so continuously…is not easy." At age 28, he’s at the prime age and in good form to display his attacking creativity. He’s quick on the ball, and keen to set up his teammates for success. With a shaky defense, Croatia needs Modrić to threaten opposing teams in order to make it out of the group stage.
Mario Mandžukić

Forced to miss the first match, Mandžukić’s dangerous striking capability is needed to push Croatia through the group stage and into the round of sixteen.


Mexico – report by Cornballer


Nickname: El Tri
WC Rivals: Argentina, USA
World Ranking: 20
Previous WC: 14 visits
Best - Quarter-finals in 1970 and 1986
Last - Round of 16 in 2010
Route to the finals:
Mexico won only two of ten matches during the fourth round of 2014 World Cup qualifying, but barely qualified for an intercontinental play-off as the fourth-highest placed team in the CONCACAF region after their arch-rival, the United States, defeated Panama in the final round of matches. They hammered New Zealand 9–3 on aggregate in the play-off to qualify for a sixth consecutive World Cup. After numerous coaching changes and poor results during qualifying, expectations are lower than usual for this talented but underachieving Mexican side.
Players to watch:
Oribe Peralta

The 30-year-old long time Santos Laguna and now Club América striker tallied 10 goals in qualifying and has shown a knack for scoring from anywhere. A Mexico international since 2005, Peralta did not become a regular call-up until 2011, being one of the over-aged reinforcements who won the 2011 Pan American Games with the under-22 squad. He scored two goals in the gold medal match at the 2012 Olympic football tournament against Brazil, which was the first Olympic gold medal for Mexico in football.
Carlos Peña

Peña typically lines up at center midfield for El Tri, and the 24-year-old is a decent shooter from outside the area, good in the air, and very creative in the final third. Nicknamed “El Gullit” because his hairstyle similar to that of Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, Peña could be in line for a lucrative European move if he fulfills some of his promise at this year’s World Cup.


Cameroon – report by FootballFan


Nickname: Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions)
WC Rivals: Nigeria
World Ranking: 56th
Previous WC: 7 Visits
Best – Quarterfinals in 1990
Last – Eliminated in the group stage at the 2010 World Cup, with 0 wins and 3 losses.
Route to the finals:
Finishing as group leaders in Group I of the CAF qualification, Cameroon then faced Tunisia in the third round play-off. A 4-1 victory securing their qualification to the 2014 World Cup.
It was not as easy as it sounds however. Togo had beat Cameroon 2-0 in one of the group games, but due to Togo fielding an ineligible player, Cameroon were retroactively awarded a 3-0 win. That proved to be a huge result, as Cameroon would likely have missed out on qualifying without that win.
With 7 different managers since 2007, Cameroon have been unsuccessful in trying to bring back the glory days of Roger Milla. Off-field rifts and unstable managing have played big roles in taking the Indomitable Lions down from being ranked 11th in the FIFA rankings in 2006, to being 56th currently. Volker Finke will be looking to turn things around, the German manager took over the Cameroon job in May 2013. Unfortunately rumours of rifts in the squad still persist, one of the most important things for Finke, is to get the team united and fighting for one another. In a difficult group, which includes Croatia, Mexico and tournament favourites Brazil, unity will be essential if Cameroon are looking to qualify for the second round.
Players to watch:
Samuel Eto'o

The top scorer in Cameroon's history with 55 goals. Samuel Eto'o is definitely the star man in the team. Aged 33, though some believe he is over 40, Eto'o will be participating in his 4th FIFA World Cup. He had previously announced his retirement from international football in 2013, however, he came out of retirement for the play-off victory over Tunisia. A lethal finisher, the captain of the team and 3 time Champions League winner, Eto'o is indeed the main man in the squad. He is not as sharp as he once was, but the 4-time African Player of the Year will be motivated to go out with a bang in Brazil. Reaching the second round will be considered a great success for the legendary striker and for the Indomitable Lions.
Alex Song

In a team that is lacking a creative and attack minded midfielder, the former Arsenal star and current Barcelona player will play a vital role for Cameroon. A player who can control the tempo of a match, keep possession and break up opposition attacks, Song will also be the creative source for Cameroon. Song will be under a lot of pressure, but with years of experience at some of the biggest clubs in the world, he will be ready to lead the team alongside Samuel Eto'o. Here's an interesting fact about Song, the defensive midfielder has 27 siblings, 17 sisters and 10 brothers.


Spain - report by Clydefrog


Nickname: La Furia Roja ("The Red Fury")
WC Rivals: France, Portugal, Netherlands
World Ranking: 1st
Previous WC: 13 visits
Best – 2010, Champions
Last – 2010, Champions
Route to the finals:
After winning the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Spain continued to dominate its opponents by winning the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland/Ukraine. After joining in 2008, Vicente del Bosque remains the team’s stoic and much-admired coach. Del Bosque has named a familiar roster selection that has not changed much from two or even four years ago. Sixteen of the 23 players that won in 2010 are returning. New arrivals such as the Brazilian-born Diego Costa will look to jump start the attack with Chelsea’s explosive fullback Cesar Azpilicueta looking to feed balls from the wing. It is truly hard to find a weakness in this Spanish side. However, there will be questions on whether or not this legacy team can continue its historical run of international championships.
No one doubted Spain’s ability to qualify for 2014; they topped their qualifying group by remaining undefeated in their 8 matches and forcing second-place France into a playoff (which they won). Barcelona’s Pedro was their top scorer in qualifying with 4 goals. Alvaro Negredo netted 3 goals in qualifying however he failed to make the 23-player squad this year.
Players to watch:
Sergio Ramos


A staple in the team’s center-back position, Sergio Ramos remains an integral part of the team. His effort is unquestionable although some people may know him more from his faults than his successes. He stunningly missed a penalty kick against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League in 2012. However, this year, he propelled his Real Madrid club team to success by scoring late to tie the game for the UEFA Champions League final. Diego Costa

This will be the Brazilian-born 25 year old striker’s first international competition with Spain after he caused controversy by “snubbing” an opportunity to play for Brazil. He will not be a fan-favorite in Brazil if the two teams meet but his worth is invaluable. This year, he has enjoyed a fantastic season with Atletico Madrid scoring 27 goals, leading his team to champions of La Liga. Questions remain over an apparent hamstring injury as well as whether or not he will be playing for Chelsea or elsewhere after the tournament.


Netherlands – report by lastflowers


Nickname: Oranje
WC Rivals: Germany
World Ranking: 15th
Previous WC: 9 visits
Best – 1974, 1978, 2010 Runners-up
Last – 2010, Runners-up
Route to the finals:
Coming off the 2010 World Cup as runners-up, the dutchmen were thrust into the spotlight. Coach Bert van Marwijk did not repeat his success at the Euro 2012 competition. The Netherlands seemed to have lost the magic touch and lost all three group stage matches. Desiring a change, the Netherlands replaced van Marwijk with the widely known (possibly for being the new coach of Manchester United) Louis Van Gaal.
Under Van Gaal’s helm, the Dutchmen regained the dominating form. They cruised through 2014 World Cup qualifying round, topping their UEFA group with nine wins and only a single draw. Despite their good results in qualifications, many question the Netherlands defensive capabilities due to the loss of Kevin Strootman. If they are to succeed, they must shore up the defense and display their flare for attacking football.
Players to watch:
Arjen Robben


Nominated in 2010 for the World Cup’s best player, Robben is attempting to maintain his form for a third world cup. Robben is a quick-cutting, speedy winger who displays the beauty of Dutch football that can be traced back to Cruyff’s creativity in the Dutch ’74 squad.
Robin van Persie

While van Persie hasn’t had the most spectacular season at Manchester United, he’s been a constant imposing force at the helm of his home country’s attack. The Oranje’s attack during qualifications relied on his 11 goals, and has become the Netherlands top goalscorer of all time. With the large questions surrounding the Netherlands, van Persie is the one of the main men that need to perform well to get into the later rounds.


Chile – report by Herr K


Nickname: la roja
WC Rivals: Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay
World Ranking: 13th
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 1962, Third Place
Last – 2010, Round of 16
Route to the finals:
At the end of 2012, the Chilean Football Federation made the decision to replace Head Coach Claudio Borghi with the Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli, after seeing Borghi's poor performance. The replacement of coaching staff proved to be a wise move by the FFCh, seeing how Sampaoli managed to take Chile to the 3rd place in the CONMEBOL.
Sampaoli took over Chile in a moment of desperation, and managed to bring the best out of the squad, which caused Chile to perform at a high level during the Qualification Rounds. La Roja, under Sampaoli's direction, managed to beat Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay, which proves the strength of its players.
Players to watch:
Arturo Vidal


El Rey Arturo is, without a doubt, one of the players to watch in this World Cup. Vidal is one of the best midfielders in the world right now. Along with his club, Juventus FC, Arturo has conquered 3 Serie A titles in a row, and now he seeks international glory with his country.
Alexis Sánchez

Sánchez is a world class striker who plays for FC Barcelona. After a disappointing season with his club, the World Cup is the only thing he has left to turn this season around. His quality and determination will certainly put rival defenders in trouble.


Australia – report by Mr Cola


Nickname: Socceroos
WC Rivals: Italy
World Ranking: 59
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 2006 Round of 16th
Last – 2010 Group Stage 21st
Route to the finals:
The road to Brazil 2014 proved to be a bumpy one for the Socceroos, who had to overcome some erratic form to secure their progression.
A narrow comeback win over Thailand and a loss to Oman in the opening stage served as a warning shot, although they ultimately progressed to the next phase as group winners. Then the Australians opened the next round in miserable fashion, drawing against Oman and Japan before losing to Jordan 2-1.
Though stunned, they rallied to claw back into contention with a victory over Iraq before two draws and a 4-0 defeat of Jordan put them on the cusp of qualification. They kept their cool in the final match of the round against Iraq as substitute Josh Kennedy scored late to seal their passage through. Coach Holger Osieck was dismissed in October 2013 after successive 6-0 defeats against Brazil and France, with former Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory and National Youth Teams coach Ange Postecoglou appointed.
Players to watch:
Tim Cahill

Despite his move from the Premier League to the MLS Tim Cahill has remained an integral part of the Australian national team. In World Cup qualifying he scored three goals as Australia reached a third consecutive finals. In a match against Ecuador in March 2014 Cahill became Australia’s all-time top goalscorer with 31 goals, scoring twice in a 4-3 loss.
Matthew Ryan

After Mark Schwarzer announced his retirement there was a two way battle between Ryan and Langerak to secure the goalkeeping spot. Because of his regular football with Club Brugge Ryan was selected over Schwarzer and because of his form has been linked with Real Madrid. Ryan is agile and has great distribution and will be a focal point in a group where Australia are considered the underdogs, this is a World Cup that can see his stock rise exponentially.


venison crêpe

Colombia – report by darknil


Nickname: Los Cafeteros
WC Rivals: Argentina
World Ranking: 8th
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 1990, Round of 16
Last – 1998, Group Stage
Route to the finals:
Having missed the last 3 World Cups, Colombia was called to start a new process leaded by Falcao. After a complicated start losing points as local against Venezuela and Argentina, Leonel Alvarez was fired and replaced by José Pekerman, in hopes a foreign DT was able to consolidate a play style again for Colombia. Despite Falcao’s injury, the team has seen many of his forward players have step up in their clubs in order to take the top striker spot.
Colombia finished 2nd in the CONMEBOL qualification tournament, having big wins against Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador; even resisting Argentina on their stadium. The team usually plays local in Barranquilla, a coast city having climate pretty much like most of Brazil’s cities, tells for a team that should take advantage of the weather conditions of the World Cup.
Players to watch:
James Rodriguez


Rodriguez is the one being called to take Falcao’s place as the star of the team. After crucial appearances in away matches against Chile and Peru, this player now has the fans’ blessing to take number 10 shirt with pride after legendary Valderrama.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado

Probably the player that had the best season of Colombia’s squad, Cuadrado quickly became the player that unstuck hard games in the qualifiers. First as the super sub, now it’s one of the keys of Colombia’s wing play thanks to his ball skills and speed.


Greece – report by Wes


Nickname: N/A
WC Rivals: N/A
World Ranking: 12th (5th June 2014)
Previous WC: 2 visits
Best – Group Stage in 1994 and 2010
Last – Group Stage in 2010
Route to the finals:
Since their shock win at the Euros in 2004 Greece have followed much the same approach to football; defense, defence and more defense. Their coach, Fernando Santos, is well renowned in his home country for his domestic proficiency whilst he coached at AEK Athens and PAOK where he boasted a win rate greater than 50%. He was chosen as the new manager of Greece following the 2010 World Cup and helped lead them to the Quarter Finals of the Euros in 2012.
Greece missed out on automatic qualification on goal difference to fellow World Cup finalists Bosnia and Herzegovina. They conceded only 4 goals during their qualification run, with only current World Cup champions Spain conceding less, but scoring goals remains a problem. They then faced a playoff against Romania for a spot in Brazil in which they managed to win 4-2 over two legs.
Players to watch:
Kostas Mitroglou

If Greece do manage to score any goals this year it will likely come from Mitroglou. Adept at using either foot, Mitroglou exhibits good close ball control, enabling him to quickly make room for himself to get a snap shot away. He’s had an uneasy last 6 months, having made a big money move to the Premier League only to be fit enough to play a handful of matches before seeing his new side be relegated. If he is fully fit come June then he’ll be chomping at the bit to prove himself on the big stage.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos

The heart of Greece’s defensive structure is the Borussia Dortmund central back. A veteran after playing in the World Cup in South Africa at the age of 21, Sokratis has great ability at reading the game and remains calm and resolute throughout the sustained attacking pressure Greece can typically find themselves under.


Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) – report by PrematureQuiche


Nickname: Les Éléphants (The Elephants)
WC Rivals: <their normal rivals who are also in the WC>
World Ranking: 23rd
Previous WC: 2006, 2010
Best – Group Stage - 2006, 2010
Last – Group Stage - 2010
Route to the finals:
Since the 2010 FIFA World Cup Côte d'Ivoire have had 2 different managers, Sven-Göran Eriksson didn't renew his contract after the World Cup and was replaced by François Zahoui. He led the country to the final of the African Cup of Nations but ended up losing to giant underdogs Zambia in a penalty shootout. After this match he was replaced by the Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi who will lead them into the World Cup. In the 2013 African Cup of Nations Côte d'Ivoire underperformed crashing out in the Quarter Finals to eventual winners Nigera.
However, Côte d'Ivoire had a fantastic qualifying campaign finishing top of Group C in the CAF Second Round undefeated with Yaya Toure finishing top scorer in the Group with 5 goals. They were drawn against fierce rivals Senegal in the Play Off to see who would make it to 2014 FIFA World Cup where they won 4-1 on aggregate following a goal in both legs from Salomon Kalou and single goals from Didier Drogba and Ludovic Sané
Players to watch:
Didier Drogba


In what must be Didier Drogbas last tournament for his country he will want to head out on a high just as he did for his previous club Chelsea when he scored the winning penalty kick in the 2012 Champions League final. He is the top goal scorer for his country and has repeatedly said how he would love to take them all the way to a World Cup final.
Yaya Touré

After coming off of a stellar season for Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League with 20 goals and 9 assists, Touré will be hoping to take that form to the World Cup. He is one of the best box to box midfielders in the world and when he starts running at defences he becomes tough to stop. He sometimes doesn't help out the defence as much as other midfielders in his position and he does usually need someone more disciplined to sit alongside him and let him have a freer role in attack.




Nickname: Samurai Blue
WC Rivals: South Korea
World Ranking: 47
Previous WC: 3 visits (+1 Withdrew)
Best – 2002, 2010 Round of 16, 9th
Last – 2010 Round 16 9th
Route to the finals:
The mammoth, two-year qualifying campaign saw Japan progress game-by-game under Alberto Zaccheroni, who took over in the wake of the team’s impressive run at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The new-look Japan were struggling to fit into the Italian’s strategy as they began their qualifying bid in lacklustre style, losing to Uzbekistan and Korea DPR before seeing their progression into the fourth round secured.
Their transition proved successful, inspired by talisman Keisuke Honda and spearheaded by the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki, the Japanese began to gel in the fourth round. Two emphatic opening victories over Oman (3-0) and Jordan (6-0) saw the Samurai Blue as the group’s runaway leaders and although they were held by Australia to a 1-1 draw, Oman and Iraq’s losses put Zaccheroni’s side on the cusp of qualification.
An unexpected 2-1 loss in Jordan may have briefly delayed their celebration party, but they battled back to draw Australia 1-1, providing Japan with the requisite point to seal their fifth successive FIFA World Cup appearance.
Players to watch:
Keisuke Honda


Honda is an attacking midfielder for both Ac Milan and the Japanese national team, known as a dead ball specialist. He has earned 50 caps for Japan since 2008, playing at both the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, where he was voted player of the tournament. Honda missed the majority of the AFC World Cup qualification due to an injury picked up while playing club football. He came back with a bang scoring a volley against Oman for a 3-0 Japan win. He continued with a hat trick against Jordan and assisted in his next game against Australia. Although injured again he came back and scored a vital penalty against Australia to secure Japan's qualification, becoming the first country to book their place.
Shinji Kagawa

Although suffering another in and out season with Manchester United, Kagawa is still celebrated as a national hero in Japan. There is no doubt he possesses the vision and technique to cause any team trouble, but can suffer from mental fragility, ex international manager Culpi said of him "Shinji has a great sense of responsibility as a professional, but this means he fears making mistakes”. There is no doubt that when he is on form he is capable of great things, definitely a player to look out for.


Uruguay – report by The_Hitcher89


Nickname: Los Charrúas
Rivals: Argentina and Brazil
World Ranking: 7th
Previous Record: 11 visits, including this one
Best: Champions, 1930 and 1950
Last: Semi-final, 2010
Route to the Finals:
Most players remain from their 2010 team, as does the head coach, Oscar Tabarez. Diego Forlan, their most capped player may well be used as a substitute, being 35 years old
Uruguay had a very underwhelming qualifying campaign, finishing 5th in the CONMEBOL table. While they finished reasonably comfortably above 6th place, which would have seen them miss out, they did not finish high enough to avoid the intercontinental playoff, in which they beat Jordan 5-0 on aggregate.
Players to watch:
Edinson Cavani

One of Uruguay's star strikers, Cavani actually has a strange record for Uruguay. Forced to play as a left inside forward due to the presence of Suarez/Forlan, he has a poor record of competitive goals for his country. Uruguay will be hoping for him to improve in that area, without losing the balance that he brings to the side by playing out of position.
Diego Godin

Proved himself over the last season to be one of the best centrebacks in the world, winning the league with the Athletico Madrid and scoring the goal that won it for them. Also scored in the Champions League final. If he can retain his club form for the tournament, Uruguay will prove to be a very tough nut to crack. Will need to be at his best to cover for a declining Diego Lugano, his partner at centreback.
Luis Suarez

Where to start with this guy? A jack in the box. An enigma. A timebomb. One of the best, one of the worst. Jawdropping, for the right and wrong reasons. Bound to do something that leaves you in a state of disbelief. Bound to do something that leaves you in a state of disgust. Third best player in the world, debatably. Just had his best season as a pro, scoring 31 goals in 33 league games, with no penalties. Propensity to lose his head, combined with stunning ability and a steel desire to win. Entered sporting infamy worldwide when he handballed a certain last-minute Ghana goal off the line in 2010, from which they missed the penalty and lost the shootout. Followed that up with a smidgeon of racist abuse, an insulting gesture towards some fans, and a gentle knawing of an arm. I'll be honest, I should hate him, and you should too. But he possesses such talent, it's worth watching football matches just to see what he can come up with. Not just one to watch for Uruguay, one to watch overall. Uruguay's top scorer with 38 goals in 77 games. Coming into the tournament on the back of an operation on his knee. May underperform given that fact, in which case the entire tournament is a write-off.


Costa Rica


Nickname: los ticos, la sele, la tricolor
WC Rivals: Honduras, US Soccer Team, Mexico
World Ranking: 34th
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 1990, Round of 16
Last – 2006, Group Stage
Route to the finals:
Los ticos are back. After finishing their worst World Cup performance in Germany 2006, where they finished 31st out of 32 teams, and after losing to Uruguay and not making it to South Africa 2010, this is their year of redemption. This time around, young talent will replace old legends, such as Walter "El Paté" Centeno and Rolando Fonseca, both retired in 2009 and 2011 respectively, as they seek glory and revenge after their last World Cup appearance.
Under Pinto's coaching, the team managed to advance to the Fourth Round of Qualification, also known as the Hex, without trouble, after beating both El Salvador and Guyana. The Hex didn't present much trouble to los ticos either, as they secured their ticket to the World Cup two matches before the Round ended. During this final Qualification round, they managed to beat Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Mexico and even the US's national teams, proving they're not playing this time around.
Players to watch:
Joel Campbell

With only 21 years of age, Campbell is representing a whole new generation of Costa Rican talent. The striker is owned by the English club Arsenal FC, but is currently loaned to the Olympiacos FC. Campbell is a fearless striker with great physical qualities and a taste for scoring.
Celso Borges

Celsinho Borges is the active player with the most scored goals with La Sele. Borges plays as a midfielder with AIK Estocolmo, and at 26 years, his European experience will prove to be invaluable as his team tries to write a story with a happy ending in Brazil.


England – report by The_Hitcher89


Nickname:The Three Lions (though nobody really calls us that)
Rivals: Argentina
World Ranking: 10th
Previous WC: 12
Best: Champions, 1966
Last: Round of 16, 2010
Route to the Finals:
Pretty big changes between the national setup now, and that of 2010. Many players have retired. Also a change at the managerial level, with Fabio Capello departing and Roy Hodgson taking charge. This World Cup is set up to be a little muddled, with some players looking to gain experience from being there, others seeing it as their last chance to do something for England.
The path to the tournament was reasonably simple as it was never really out of our hands, though we cut it fine at the end, only finishing above 2nd placed Ukraine by a solitary point. Nobody in the country much fancied our chances in a playoff scenario, so that was a welcome relief, though there was never much chance of finishing third given the fact that there was a 6-point gap between Ukraine and 3rd-placed Montenegro. Playing for a 0-0 draw in Ukraine, which was hugely criticised at the time, ended up being a smart move as it proved the difference.
Players to watch:
Wayne Rooney


England's talisman, the man we look to before every big match to make the difference for us, the most marketed English player. But that tells nowhere near the full story with this guy. Prone to lose his head, prone to disappear when we need him most, prone to score, prone to look like the only competent player in our attack, prone to be the worst player in our attack. For the first time in his career, the question has been asked about whether he is worth his squad position as a guaranteed starter, no matter what form he's in, how fit he is, or which tactical setup will be employed. At 28, this is perhaps his last chance to make an impact on a World Cup (a positive one, anyway), as he's yet to score at one.
Daniel Sturridge

The unexpected rise of the Liverpool striker has been something to behold, and thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for the national team. It used to be that it was Rooney+1, and nobody really had any faith in that +1 doing something special, or taking pressure off of Rooney to score all the goals, since Owen declined anyway. Now, England finally seem to have someone capable of leading the line either alongside Rooney, or in his stead if necessary. Fast, quick on the turn, occasionally annoyingly selfish, with a left foot like a traction engine, and a great sense of where to be to get a shot on goal, he's finally living up to the potential he showed 4 year or so ago.
Steven Gerrard

Similar to Rooney in many ways, Gerrard has never truly recaptured his club form for England, constantly struggling to find a role within the team to get the best of his own ability. However, England's captain has had something of a renaissance over the last 12 months, moving to a deeper midfield quarterback role, which in theory gets the best of his long passing ability, and negates his declining pace and stamina as much as possible. This will almost certainly be Gerrard's final tournament for England, so he'll be desperate to make it a good one, especially coming off of last season's stomach-punch. If Gerrard plays decently, England will have a platform to succeed. If he doesn't, we're screwed.




Nickname: “Gli Azzurri” (“The Blues”)
WC Rivals: France, Germany
World Ranking: 9th
Previous WC: 18 visits
Best – Winners, 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
Last – 2010, Eliminated in the group stages.
Route to the finals:
Notable names missing from the 2014 World Cup squad include Fabio Cannavaro and Gennaro Gattuso. More recently Riccardo Montolivo was unfortunately ruled out of the 2014 World Cup tournament after suffering a broken leg in a friendly match against Ireland on 31 May.
Often below par during qualifying before raising their game at final tournaments, Italy went about things differently for once by taking imperious control of Group B in the European Zone. They were able to easily win the group without losing any match finishing ahead of Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Malta. Despite of this they were not able to be seeded in pot 1 for the final seeding due to poor results (2 draws) in the last two matches of the group, giving them a low ranking in the October 2013 FIFA World ranking.
In December 2013, Italy were drawn in GROUP D against Costa Rica, England and Uruguay.
Players to watch:
Andrea Pirlo

Although not gifted with pace, physicality or notable defensive or tackling abilities, Pirlo has been praised for his touch, technique, control, dribbling, incredible vision, inventive play and accurate passing ability. He is also a set-piece and penalty-kick specialist, who is known for his long distance shooting and passing. Fellow players on the Italian national team gave him the nickname l'architetto ("the architect"), because his long passes frequently set up goal-scoring opportunities. Pirlo has been one of the best midfielders in world football for years and, even as a veteran, is still able to change a game with a single pass. He has already stated his intention to retire from international football after this summer’s tournament in Brazil, even though the thought pains him immensely. Pirlo wrote in his book that it would be like “hanging up my heart.”
Pirlo competes with Spain's Xabi Alonso for the world's coolest looking footballer title.
Mario Balotelli

Agile, quick and powerful, Balotelli is credited with pace, strength, and technical ability, but criticized for a perceived poor and immature attitude at times. Balotelli is also a set-piece specialist due to his powerful shot, and is regarded by teammates and the media as a promising but undisciplined player.
Balotelli has been given a reputation by the media for being a difficult character and taking part in questionable and often amusing activities. He was once described by Jose Mourinho as "unmanageable. Within days of joining Manchester City, Balotelli was involved in a car crash. It was reported that Balotelli was carrying £5,000 cash at the time – and that when a police officer asked why he had such a large sum of cash Balotelli replied: "Because I am rich".
Andrea Barzagli

Juventus centre-back Barzagli has spent most of his professional career in his native Italy before sealing a move to German outfit Wolfsburg in 2008. After a three-year stay, he headed back to his home country to Italian giants Juventus where he would become an integral part of their title-winning team. He’s a strong passer of the ball, vital for a centre-half in modern day football, and has so far appeared for The Old Lady 21 times domestically this season. At 32 years old, Brazil 2014 may well see Barzagli make his last appearance in a major tournament for the four-time World Cup winners. His commanding performances in the current Juventus defence have seen him nicknamed “La Roccia,” and he is undoubtedly the rock on which the current Juventus defence is built. Once distinctly average, now Andrea Barzagli is among the best defenders in the world.


venison crêpe

Switzerland – report by FootballFan


Nickname: Schweizer Nati(German), La Nati(French), Rossocrociati(Italian)
WC Rivals: Neutral - No major rivalry.
World Ranking: 6th
Previous WC: 10 Visits
Best – Quarterfinals in 1934, 1938 and 1954
Last – Eliminated in the group stage in 2010 even though they beat eventual winners Spain in the first match.
Route to the finals:
Switzerland qualified for the 2014 World Cup in impressive fashion. An undefeated campaign, earning 24 points in their 10 matches played. Their stunning form shooting them to 6th place in the FIFA World Ranking.
A good mix of youth and experience, Ottmar Hitzfeld is in charge of a team which will look to surprise many. Seasoned players like Inler and Barnetta leading the team in experience, while the youngsters Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka add a youthful spark. There are no doubts that Ottmar Hitzfeld will look to finish his stunning career with a strong showing.
The Swiss, however, are not without faults. Most notably, they are missing a prolific striker. Their top scorer during qualifications being a defender, Schar, with 3 goals. This could play a major role in how far Switzerland can make it in the tournament, a lot of weight on the shoulders of young strikers Drmic, Mehmedi, Seferovic, and the oldest forward in the team, 24 year old Gavranovic. The Swiss do have hope though, especially for young Josip Drmic, the Croatian-born striker had a great club season, scoring an impressive 17 goals for Nürnberg, he will look to continue his form into the World Cup.
Players to watch:
Xherdan Shaqiri


Playing his part at right-midfield/wing at Bayern Munich, Shaqiri looks to be one of the star players for Switzerland. The Kosovo born, odd-shaped youngster has the dribbling skills and passing ability to split teams open in an instant. Unfortunately he has struggled to impress his coach Pep Guardiola at Bayern, mainly being used as a substitute, with a number of injuries during the season only making it worse. He may look to move on from Bayern during the transfer window and will be looking to prove a point by showing his worth in Brazil.
Granit Xhaka

Dubbed "The Swiss Ronaldo", mainly for his looks and sometimes for his technique, Xhaka is an intelligent play-maker. He has the skills to bamboozle defenders, with his vision and passing ability matching his great technique and understanding of the game. Like Shaqiri, Xhaka was also born in Kosovo, the duo have a great understanding on the pitch, and while Shaqiri keeps busy out wide, Xhaka will be a driving force in midfield.
Stephan Lichtsteiner

One of the most experienced players in the team, 30 year old Swiss star Lichtsteiner is one of the best fullbacks in the world. Constantly zipping up and down the field, the Juventus fullback will play a major role for Switzerland on both ends. A good crosser of the ball, an engine rivaled by very few and a solid defender, Lichtsteiner will be a huge part in Switzerland's aim for success in Brazil.




Nickname: La Tri
WC Rivals: Colombia, Argentina
World Ranking: 28th
Previous WC: 2 visits
Best – 2006, Round of 16
Last – 2006, Round of 16
Route to the finals:
Ecuador faced an unprecedent situation during the run up the 2014 World Cup with the tragic sudden passing of their star striker, Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez, aged just 27 mid way through qualification. Chucho was a hugely popular figure within the team and had scored 5 times during qualification before his death in July last year, with 24 goals in total out of 58 appearances for the national team. The Ecuadorian Football Federation retired the #11 shirt from the national team in his honour.
They eventually finished 4th in the CONMEBOL qualification tournament, ahead of the highly regarded Uruguay. Wins againt Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and two draws against Argentina show that Ecuador have good pedigree facing up against more highly regarded opposition in tournament football taking place in their home continent.
Players to watch:
Antonio Valencia

Whilst in the domestic game Valencia is widely regarded as not being the rampaging dangerous winger he once was, he is still a vital cog in the Ecuador machine. The manager, Reinaldo Rueda, gave him the captaincy role after the loss of Benitez as the two were such close friends, “like twin brothers” as Rueda put it, treating it as a way the team could rally around the memory of Benitez. They really need Valencia to perform well this summer.
Jefferson Montero

Ecuador’s biggest strength is in their wing play. With Valencia likely doing his tireless work along the right flank for Ecuador, Montero will be performing the same down the left. Montero has good dribbling skills and is capable of befuddling retreating full backs with his mixture of physicality and guile on the ball.


France – report by The_Hitcher89


Nickname: Les Bleus
Rivals: Italy
World Ranking: 17th
Previous WC: 13 visits
Best: Champions, 1998
Last: Group Stage, 2010
Route to the Finals:
A few new faces in and around the team since this time 4 years ago, with young players like Mamadou Sakho and Paul Pogba being integrated into the team. There are still a number of experienced players in the team, including a few who were assumed to be frozen out of the team after their actions in the last world cup. The biggest change is the manager, with France legend Didier Deschamps replacing Laurent Blanc in 2012, who himself had replaced Raymond Domenech, France's manager in 2010
France's path to qualification had a massive spanner thrown into the works when they were drawn into the same group as Spain, which made top spot, and automatic qualification, an improbable task. While they drew 1-1 in Spain, giving themselves a good opportunity to finish 1st, they lost 1-0 at home to the same opponents, leaving them 2nd, a massive 8 points ahead of Finland in 3rd. This finish left them with a playoff tie against Ukraine, in which they lost the first leg 2-0 in Ukraine, and won the second 3-0, with 2 goals from legendary centre back Mamadou Sakho.
Players to watch:
Paul Pogba:

One of the brightest young talents in the sport, Pogba is a brute. Technically brilliant, swaggering, strong, quick. Forced his way into France's starting line-up at the tender age of 21 with his performances for Juventus, if France are to do well in this tournament, it will probably be in large part due to his ability to carry the ball forward, and keep play moving in the final third
Laurent Koscielny

Coming off of his best season in an Arsenal shirt, Koscielny is a theoretically brilliant centre back. Fast, agile, a good tackler, decent header, very good passer and great at carrying the ball out of defense when the space allows it, to put his team right on the front foot. However, there's a reason I said 'theoretically.' He is well capable of completely losing his head, making a stupid mistake to cost his team, be it poor positioning, trying to win an unwinnable ball, giving a penalty away with a silly tackle or being sent off. At his best, he is fantastic, but there's always the feeling that he could easily do something to prove to be a liability as much as anything. If he can cut that from his game for just a month, France will have one of the best centre backs at the tournament.


Honduras – report by Pulga


Nickname: La H, Los Catrachos
WC Rivals: Mexico, USA, Costa Rica
World Ranking: 30th
Previous WC: 2 appearances
Best: 1982, Group Stage
Last: 2010, Group Stage
Route to the finals:
Honduras’ golden generation of players bid their farewell to the national team after South Africa 2010, a move that left the Honduran population with a great uncertainty of how the new players would cope and how many decades it would take for their team to qualify for the World Cup once again (28 years last go around). It wouldn’t take long, in fact, symbolically sealing their qualification in a famous 1-2 in Mexico’s daunting Estadio Azteca (only the second ever Aztecazo) and officially booking their ticket after a draw against Jamaica. Honduras finished third in the qualification, leaving Mexico out to fare in a playoff against New Zealand. One of the so-called weakest teams in the tournament, many have underestimated this small Central American nation and have been found licking their wounds after the final whistle.
Players to watch:
Maynor Figueroa:


Centre-back currently plying his trade in Premier League’s Hull City, famously scored a goal from his own half whilst playing with Wigan Athletic in 2010. A rock at the heart of the Honduran defense.
Emilio Izaguirre:

Left-back playing for current Scottish champions, Celtic F.C. He is most well-known for his overlapping runs and ability to fashion attacking moves with other players down the left hand side of the pitch and support forward play. He possesses great pace, is a skilful dribbler and a good crosser of the ball. Izaguirre won both the SPFA Players' Player of the Year and Scottish Premier League Player of the Year awards for 2010–11.
Carlo Costly:

This motherfucker played the qualifying rounds without even having a club. That’s how badass this striker is. Missed the 2010 WC due to a last minute injury, he’ll be looking to make an impact and prevent Honduras from leaving scoreless this time around. Watch out for his signature move, La Costlynha!


Argentina – report by caramac


Nickname: La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blue)
WC Rivals: Brazil
World Ranking: 6th
Previous WC: 15 visits
Best – Winners, 1978, 1986
Last – 2010, Eliminated in the Quarter finals.
Route to the finals:
As Brazil has already qualified as host, the remaining nine CONMEBOL teams took part in a double round-robin group, playing each other twice (home and away). Argentina qualified easily, they were the only side to win in Columbia, beat Chile twice, and impressed in home victories against Uruguay (3-0) and Ecuador (4-0). A first ever defeat by Venezuela, home draw with Bolivia and a meaningless final-game loss to Uruguay were rare blips.
Los Cuatro Fantasticos - the Fantastic Four of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi, would walk into practically any team in the world. Messi's improved international form suggests that he is ready to make this tournament his own - and strengthen his credentials as the best player of all time.
Critics feel the team is unbalanced and defensively vulnerable. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero struggled to get a game for Monaco and had to move to Sampdoria, while left-back Marcos Rojo, of Sporting, and Napoli centre-back Federico Fernandez are inexperienced at the top level.
Players to watch:
Lionel Messi


Often accused of failing to reproduce his Barcelona form at international level, Lionel Messi had gone 16 competitive matches without scoring prior to the appointment of Alejandro Sabella in 2011. However, the coach's decision to hand Messi, 26, the captaincy has proved inspired - he scored 20 goals in 21 Argentina games between October 2011 and March's 0-0 draw with Romania.
Angel Di Maria

Angel Di Maria’s work-rate and tactical discipline persuaded Real Madrid to sacrifice Mesut Ozil, rather than him, following Gareth Bale's acquisition. The 26-year-old will need those same qualities to give balance to Argentina's left flank.
Sergio Agüero

Agüero has a diminutive figure with a stocky build, which has led to comparisons with former Manchester City teammate Carlos Tevez and past strikers such as Romário and Diego Maradona. Some pundits go as far to say Agüero is Tevez's heir apparent at City and is superior to Tevez. His ex-manager at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini has compared Agüero to former Brazilian striker, Romário.
Agüero is characterised by agility, acceleration and strength, being described as "sharp and clever" by former Argentine player Osvaldo Ardiles. A view which is shared by his international captain Lionel Messi who believes Agüero possesses "immense power, strength and an ¬incredible work ethic. Combined with his close control and strength to keep the ball, he is described as a menace in the box.


Bosnia and Herzegovina – report by Don’t Laugh


Nickname: Dragons
WC Rivals: Croatia
World Ranking: 21st
Previous WC: First appearance
Route to the finals:
Bosnia-Herzegovina is making their very first World Cup appearance as an independent nation. The team has twice come close to reaching major tournaments, losing out to Portugal on both occasions in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.
Vedad Ibiševi&#263; scored in the 1-0 win over Lithuania in Kaunas to qualify his team for the tournament in Brazil. The squad was a surprise winner of their qualifying group, edging out Greece. The team won eight of its 10 matches in qualifying, drawing once and losing once. With 30 goals scored, Bosnia had the fourth-highest tally in the European zone while conceding only six goals.
Players to watch:
Edin Džeko


Known as The Bosnian Diamond, he leads his nation in scoring with 35 goals. Often a peripheral figure at Manchester City, the former Wolfsburg striker’s goal ratio is nonetheless impressive. Džeko is a confident finisher in the air and on the ground and his partnership with Ibiševi&#263; should not be underestimated by Bosnia’s group stage opponents. The pair netted 18 goals between them in qualifying.
Miralem Pjani&#263;

Midfielder schemer with exceptional technical and dribbling abilities. Although lacking pace, Pjani&#263; is a formidable playmaker. Coming off of an immense season in Italy with Roma, he has become one of the most sought after footballers in Europe. Expect him to be one step ahead of his opponents as he attempts to slip Džeko in behind the defense. Totti's protégé, he is perhaps the most important cog in this young Bosnian side.


Iran - report by Mr Cola


Nickname: The Princes of Persia, The Persian Stars, The Iranian Lions
WC Rivals: N/A
World Ranking: 37
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – 1978 14th
Last – 2010 Round 1 25th
Route to the finals:
Under former Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz’s watch, Iran opened the preliminary competition brightly, scoring five unanswered goals past Maldives to progress. And Team Melli were met with little challenge in the next phase, maintaining their undefeated run as they finished section winners with three wins and three draws.
However, despite logging an average of nearly three goals per match in the previous round,the fourth round proved to be more difficult for the strongly favoured Iranians. They found the net just twice in the opening five matches during which they lost twice and drew once to see their campaign in jeopardy. With so much at stake, Queiroz’s side rose to the occasion to see off both Qatar and Lebanon, before overcoming hosts Korea Republic 1-0 in the round’s final match to seal their return to the FIFA World Cup.
Players to watch:
Javad Nekounam


Filling the void left by Mahdavikia is captain Javad Nekounam, who has quickly established his place as the team's talisman. Javad plays in central midfield for both his country and Kuwait FC, having previously played for Osasuna in Spain. He has represented his side over 140 times, including two world cups and is often noted as being very similar to Frank Lampard with his range for goals outside of the box. He is as keen defensively as he is going forward, often used in defensive midfield to break up the play.
Reza Ghoochannejhad

Reza is a Dutch-Iranian footballer who plays for Charlton Athletic in the English Championship as a forward. Reza represented the Netherlands as a youngster for the under 19's before being invited to the Iranian national team by Carlos Queiroz. He became a prolific scorer for Iran shortly after his debut against South Korea, scoring against Lebanon, Qatar, South Korea, the latter leading to Iran's qualification to the top of their group for the 2014 World Cup. He continued his streak scoring in the Asia Cup qualifying matches against Thailand and Lebanon. Leading into the World Cup he has 7 goals in 7 international matches.


Nigeria – report by Wes


Nickname: The Super Eagles
WC Rivals: Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast
World Ranking: 44th (5th June 2014)
Previous WC: 4 visits
Best – Round of 16 in 1994 and 1998
Last – Group Stage in 2010
Route to the finals:
The Super Eagles are becoming mainstays of the World Cup. Since qualifying for the competition in 1994 at a time when they ranked 5th in the world Nigeria have only failed to fail to make the finals once. They finished third in this year’s African Cup of Nations, coming unstuck in the Semis against fellow World Cup finalists Ghana after a penalty shoot-out.
For the 2014 World Cup Nigeria went undefeated during qualification, eventually beating Ethiopia 4-1 in the Third and final qualification round.
Players to watch:
John Obi Mikel

Best known as a once promising, but lacklustre defensive midfielder for those who follow the Premier League, Mikel is used in generally used in a more attacking role by his country as they lack an obvious creator from central midfield. Having missed the last world cup through injury Mikel will be looking to make an impact in Brazil.
Emmanuel Emenike

Expected to lead the line for Nigeria this summer, the Fenerbache striker will have an opportunity to put himself in the shop window during this World Cup. A host of top European clubs are already thought to be chasing him but with a number of other strong and pacey strikers of a similar build to Emenike likely to be entering the market this window as well, the Nigerian will be hoping to separate himself from the pack by scoring a handful of goals for the Super Eagles and catapult his nation in to the latter stages of the competition.


venison crêpe

Germany – report by Herr K


Nickname: Nationalmannschaft, Nationalelf, DFB-Elf, Die Adler, Die Mannschaft
WC Rivals: Holland, France, Italy, Spain
World Ranking: 2nd
Previous WC: 17 visits
Best – 1972, 1980, 1996, Champions
Last – 2010, Semi-finals
Route to the finals:
They've been historically among the best teams in the competitions they play in, but as of late, their dominance has taken serious blows. After the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euro fiasco, it's time for them to prove why they've been World Champions 3 times, and for the Nationalelf, the only way to prove so is by conquering Brazil. And they have the means to do it.
Joachim Löw is the head Adler. Under his coaching, Germany's play style has been praised by both press and fans, but that has proved to be not enough to conquer titles. The Qualification Rounds came and went for the Germans, who easily beat their rivals and secured their spot on Brazil early on. Now it's time for Germany to climb back to the top of FIFA's World Ranking.
Players to watch:
Mario Götze


One of Bayern's most important signings during the last season. Götze is an incredibly talented attacking midfielder, and his boots may hold the key to victory.
Manuel Neuer

The talented German goalkeeper is back. Since the last World Cup, Neuer has tasted glory with his team, FC Bayern München, and will, without a doubt, want to taste Worldwide glory with his National Team.


Portugal – report by askani


Nicknames: Selecção das Quinas (National Team of the Shields)
WC Rivals: Spain, Germany
World Ranking: 3rd
Previous WC: 6 visits
Best – 1966, Third Place
Last – 2010, Round of 16
Route to the finals:
After losing to eventual champions Spain in World Cup 2010, squad regulars Simão, Paulo Ferreira, and Miguel, and Tiago retired from international football. Coach Paulo Bento took over from Quieroz, and the team did manage to qualify for Euro 2012. Portugal defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 in the quarterfinals, but lost to Spain in the semi-finals on penalty kicks.
Portugal’s World Cup qualifying finish was anything but easy, and they were made to sweat almost to the very end, but they eventually booked their place at the tournament. It was a great setting for a World Cup qualifying playoff matchup when Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal took on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden last November - two of the top scorers in the world going head-to-head as a pair of World Cup-worthy nations battled in a two-legged series for a spot in Brazil. As expected, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic stole the show. The two combined for all six goals as Portugal, who won the first leg 1-0 at home, rallied from a one-goal deficit on the road in the second leg to win 3-2 and lock down a World Cup spot. Ronaldo overshadowed Ibrahimovic with his 4-2 goal advantage.
Players to watch:
Cristiano Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, CR7 is one the most well-known and talented footballers in the world, if not THE most. He joins the Portuguese team fresh off a UEFA Champions League win with his club team, Real Madrid. Ronaldo scored a league record 17 goals in 13 games, with #17 coming off a PK in the final. He will be one of the most watched players during the World Cup. There are some lingering questions right now about his fitness as he recovers from a thigh injury. Also, there are some reports of issues with tendonitis in the patella tendon, but the 2013 Ballon d'Or winner seems to be on track to be fit before World Cup play starts.
Nani (Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha)

Nani's style plays a classic winger's style, able to play on both wings though more comfortable on the right, utilising pace, ball control and trickery to create space. While capable of cutting off both wings to strike at goal from distance, Nani has fewer goals than his teammate Ronaldo, yet has a substantially higher proportion of assists. He can also play in the more attacking position of forward or wing forward and is a great weapon.
Pepe (Képler Laveran Lima Ferreira)

Pepe’s play is very technical, tactical, and he has a great sense of positioning, speed, strength and intelligence. He is very strong in the air and is also well suited to playing the ball out of defence. Pepe will be a key member of Portugal’s defensive plans.


Ghana – report by askani


Nicknames: Black Stars
WC Rivals: Uruguay (mostly just Luis Suarez’s hand), Nigeria
World Ranking: 38th
Previous WC: 2
World Cup 2006, Round of 16
World Cup 2010, Quarter Finals (7th)
Route to the finals:
Ghana met with an untimely end to their 2010 World Cup dreams and has used it for motivation going into Wold Cup 2014. Uruguay and Ghana met on July 2nd 2010 at Soccer City, Johannesburg for a place in the semi-final against the Netherlands. Late in extra time, Ghana sent a free kick into the box; Luis Suárez blocked Stephen Appiah's shot on the goal line. Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing penalty kick off the crossbar and Suárez celebrated the miss. Uruguay would win the game in a penalty shoot-out 4–2.
For World Cup 2014, the Ghana national football team was given a bye past the first round of qualifying. The second round group stage saw Ghana play Lesotho, Sudan and Zambia. Only the group winner progressed to the third round and Ghana the heavy favourites didn’t disappoint with five wins out of six. In the third round Egypt were the opponents and a huge 6-1 win in the first leg ended the tie. The two legs eventually ended 7-3 on aggregate and Ghana were on their way to Brazil.
Players to watch:
Asamoah Gyan

Asamoah Gyan is a regular international for Ghana since 2003. He is the author of the fastest goal of the 2006 World Cup which he scored in the 68th second. Moreover, that goal was the first one that Ghana national team ever scored in the World Cup. Currently he plays for club Al Ain in the UAE Pro-League where he scored 28 goals in 25 appearances.
Michael Essien

Michael Essien is the most expensive African player. He is the most titled footballer of the Ghana national team in spite of his age. Michael is good at all defensive positions; he is the national team captain. With a powerful engine, strength in the tackle, pace and an eye for the spectacular goal, the Ghana star is the complete package.
Kevin-Prince Boateng

Boateng has eleven caps with two goals for the Ghana national football team, and was among the ten players nominated for African Footballer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Boateng is known for his strength, foot speed, and ball-juggling tricks. Boateng was an instant hero in Ghana following his exploits in the 2010 World Cup, including a goal against USA, but the nation felt a sense of betrayal when he failed to turn up for subsequent international games on perceived health grounds before bowing out of the team three years ago. He reversed his decision to retire in 2013, just in time for another World Cup. With a goal in his comeback game against Egypt in the playoff to reach Brazil, he believes he has won back the hearts of the country.


United States of America


Nicknames: The Stars and Stripes, The Yanks, Team USA
WC Rivals: Ghana, Mexico
World Ranking: 14th
Previous WC: 9 visits
Best – 1930, Third Place
Last – 2010, Round of 16
Route to the finals:
After the team made it out of group play in World Cup 2010, they were eliminated from the tournament in an overtime game by Ghana. The following year, new coach Jurgen Klinsmann came on board with the squad as US Soccer looked to make a change. His tenure started with a whimper as the team tallied a paltry 1-1-4 record in six games. The tables started to turn next game however, as the US beat Italy in Italy in an International Friendly. It was also the first win against Italy since 1934. Later that year, they also beat Mexico in Estadio Azteca, winning 1-0. Notably, the US later that year defeated Germany 4-3 in another International Friendly. The team has started to gain confidence with the new coach and playing together during tournaments and World Cup qualifying. However, some questions have been introduced with the exclusion of Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup squad by coach Klinsmann. The 32 year old who is second all time in caps for the US, the all time leading goal scorer for the US with 57 goals, and the all time leading MLS goal scorer with 137 (and counting) is being left at home for the tournament.
The team struggled in a few of the games leading up to the Hex which opened up some questions. During the World Cup qualifying Hex however, the USMNT set themselves up as a team team to look out for and on the rise before World Cup 2014. They all but won their CONCACAF group in a walk. The team ended group play with 22 points, a four point group stage lead, and a 7-1-2 record. An early 2-1 loss in Honduras, and a 3-1 loss in Costa Rica were their only missteps. During qualifying, the US defeated Costa Rica 0-1 in the infamous "Snow Bowl" in Denver and recorded another "Dos a Cero" against Mexico in Columbus Ohio. Also during this time, they handily won the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Players to watch:
Michael Bradley

Arguably one of the best and most consistent players on the team, Bradley is a talented midfielder. He generally controls the area around very him well and he is a creative passer. He generates a lot of solid chances from the run of play. Although not quite as solid in the last few friendlies in the World Cup run up, the US look for him to put up a strong performance. He currently plays for Toronto FC in MLS after recently being traded from team AS Roma in the Italian Serie A league.
Clint Dempsey

He is the US team's primary center forward. They will be relying upon him heavily to score goals and create chances in and around the box. Dempsey played six seasons for EPL team Fullham and one season for EPL team Tottenham before being traded at the start of the 2013 MLS season. He currently plays for the Seattle Sounders in MLS. His return to the league and arrival with his new team started with a dry spell, scoring only once in nine games (six starts). However, 2014 has been kinder to him and he has eight goals in nine games (eight starts) so far this season.
Jozy Altidore

Jozy is an important forward for the US but also a huge question right now. After scoring 23 goals for Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands during the 2012/13 season, he has been struggling since joining his new EPL team Sunderland. He has not scored a goal for the USMNT, or Sunderland since December 4th of 2013. Sunderland had even demoted him to their U21. What Jozy will the US get during the World Cup: the great striker he can be or the scoreless one?


Belgium – report by Woodenlung


Nickname: Red Devils
WC Rivals: Netherlands
World Ranking: 12th
Previous WC: 11 visits
Best – Fourth place in 1986
Last – 2002, round of 16
Route to the finals:
Having failed to make it to the world cup since 2002, at a time when Belgium’s current coach Marc Wilmots was still an active player, it's now time for the new self-declared golden generation to finally do Belgium proud again. In between retiring from football, Marc Wilmots also retired as a politician, having been elected as a senator in 2003, before resigning again only two years later. After his political career Wilmots had three years as assistant manager for the Belgian team, before eventually becoming the main coach himself in 2012, taking over from Georges Leekens.
Belgium had an impressive run through the qualification group stage, finishing first in their group with 26 points from 10 matches, and breaking their own record with seven successive qualifying wins.
Players to watch:
Vincent Kompany

The captain of Belgium and his club, has had another good season at center back position, organizing the defense of Manchester City, eventually resulting in winning the premier league. As any other defender playing for a team that also possess great attacking players, it’s easy to forget him when everything goes well, but the likes of Kompany is what holds a team together, he is anything but forgotten when he’s missing.
Eden Hazard

Played on the wing or central attacking midfield, Hazard is known for his speed and creativity, often beating defenders with his quick feet. As the most important offensive force for Chelsea, he has had a great season, also winning the PFA young player of the year award. When not playing football Hazard is known to be watching anime, kicking ball boys who refuses to give him the ball in timely manner and rage eating hamburgers when substituted.
Romelu Lukaku

The big man up front and a player dubbed the new Drogba already at the age of 17. As a result of Benteke’s injury, Lukaku is the man Belgium will look to for goals. Yet another Belgian player owned by Chelsea but without reaching more than 10 matches for them, he has been loaned out to West Bromwich and Everton with big success in the Premier League, making many Chelsea supporters suffering with the likes of Torres, wish the club would have kept him. Standing 6’3 feet, he got the power but also pace, with a nose for goals that could prove important to Belgium.


Algeria – report by Woodenlung


Nickname: Les Fennecs (The Fennec Foxes)
WC Rivals: Morocco, Tunisia and lately especially Egypt
World Ranking: 25th
Previous WC: 3 visits
Best – Group Stage
Last – 2010, last place in their group with 1 point
Route to the finals:
Having failed to ever make their way through the group stage of a world cup, Algeria have set it as their goal to do exactly that this time around. Algeria came close in 1982 but missed out on goal difference to Austria. Their latest world cup in 2010 was more modest, only getting one point against England in a goalless draw, failing to score a single goal in the whole tournament.
Algeria’s road to the world cup this year around came rather comfortably, through finishing on top of their qualification group with 5 wins and only one loss. The squad picked by manager Halilhodži&#263; is a rather inexperienced one, featuring only one player with more than 30 international caps.
Players to watch:
Sofiane Feghouli


A team without many stars there is one that stands out, Valencia player Feghouli, a versatile attacking midfielder. Not a man to score a huge amount of goals, but a good passer and is responsible for many assists in the last seasons for Valencia. Feghouli is half French and half Algerian, which had him playing for the French national team in his Under 21 national team days, but he eventually made the switch to the Algerian national team in 2011.
Saphir Taïder

Unlike Feghouli, we here got a player that rarely takes too big chances or scores goals, Taïder is however a competent passer of the ball but his energy is what truly stands out. Hard work is his philosophy, and is the main reason for his success. He will do whatever possible to protect his defense, which more often than not means many tackles. His weakness is his shooting, having only scored 5 goals in 89 matches.


Russia – report by Sviatoslav


Nickname: Sbornaya
World Ranking: 18th
Previous WC: 10 visits (7 as Soviet Union)
Best – 1966, 4th place
Last – 2002, Group Stage
Route to the finals:
After a disappointing Euro 2012 Russia underwent many changes, starting at the top with new manger, the legendary Fabio Capello. Out were past mainstays in the national team such as Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Konstantin Zyryanov and in was a more pragmatic, defense-orientated style of play. It wasn't just the geriatrics who made way, Euro 2012 standout Alan Dzagoev's role with the national team has also been marginalized. Capello has his vision and he's not afraid to drop those players who aren't suited towards it.
Russia won their qualification group ahead of Portugal thanks to a perfect 5-0-0 record at home (including a key 1-0 win over Portugal) and conceding only 5 goals in the 10 qualification games. A shock away loss to Northern Ireland was perhaps the one failure in an otherwise solid qualification campaign.
Players to watch:
Roman Shirokov

The brain of the team who pulls all the strings in midfield. Great technique, passing vision, and a penchant for popping up with goals by making late r&#822;u&#822;n&#822;s&#822; jogs into the box. Just don't ask him to move around the pitch at any pace above a light jog. Quite the interesting character to boot. Somehow captain material for the national team. Don't ask.
Aleksandr Kokorin

Kokokin is the stand out player in an admittedly quite weak group of of players at the striker position for Russia. At a young age of 23 he is the most likely player on this team to engineer a big move to Europe on the back of a strong tournament. Thanks to his vague resemblance to the Canadian pop star he has been dubbed the Russian Bieber. Thankfully, he has a bit more talent.
Igor Akinfeev

Akinfeev is the closest Russia comes to having a world class player. He is already breaking several of the many records in Russia held by the legendary goalkeeper, Lev Yashin. If Russia were to make a deep run in this tournament then he will be key, along with his chemistry with the pair of CBs (Ignashevich and Berezutsky) who have all played together for 10+ years now at club level with CSKA Moscow. He is a scary man so I am not going to risk making a joke at his expense.


South Korea



Nickname: Taegeuk Warriors
WC Rivals: Japan
World Ranking: 55
Previous WC: 9 visits
Best – 2002 4th place
Last – 2010 Round of 16, 15th
Route to the finals:
Before finally securing their eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup™ qualification, Korea Republic had twice seen their campaign in significant peril. Unlike Japan, who counted on the same starting XI and Australia, who used their core of experienced players throughout qualification, a proven and reliable starting line-up was elusive for Korea Republic throughout the qualifying competition.
With the squad changing constantly, an unprepared Taeguk Warrior side were stunned 2-1 by Lebanon in the third round’s penultimate match, which left their hopes hanging by a thread. The defeat cost Cho Kwangrae his job but under new boss Choi Kanghee, Korea Republic dispatched Kuwait 2-0 to progress at the West Asian’s expense.
The next round continued nearly in the same vein, with Choi’s side floundering with draws against Uzbekistan and Lebanon and a defeat to Iran. A 1-0 home win against Uzbekistan in the penultimate game saw their fortunes revived, but after losing the closing game to Iran by the identical scoreline, they had to wait until Uzbekistan’s 5-1 defeat of Qatar to confirm their direct qualification by edging the central Asians on goal difference.
Players to watch:
Son Heung-min


Son Heung-Min is a South Korean striker for German side Bayer Leverkusen. After initially missing the first two games of South Koreas qualification process due to injury Son was featured in the team against the United Arab Emirates. Despite only scoring one goal for the national team Son has become a regular call up because of his potential as a finisher, widely regarded as a game changer in Korea. Son is a striker who possesses pace and a great shot, especially from range. He is a confidence player who tends to score in streaks, which makes him an unpredictable quantity in Brazil.
Ki Seung-Yiung

Sunderland player Ki Sung-yeung controls the tempo of the South Korean team and is bound to be full of confidence after Sunderlands latter season revival. At 25 Ki is approaching his peak and is adaptable enough to play both deep as an outlet for defenders and in more attacking postitions where his passing can cause teams problems.


venison crêpe
If anyone notices any problems with the OT then PM me and I'll get to it when I can.

A big thanks to Sunhi for all the GIFs. To WoodenLung for helping with the imagery too. To all the report contributors for volunteering and Kabouter and Cornballer for being a sounding board for my ideas over the past few months.

Remember, usual Off Topic GAF Rules apply in this thread.

At the end of the day football is just a game, the beautiful game in fact, and we are all here to enjoy watching this competition together. So be nice to one another!

With that said I hope everyone enjoys this OT and the World Cup 2014 in Brazil!


England are going to win the World Cup. There's no point in hoping for anything different, sorry everyone.

Had to get that one in early.
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