The World Cup is creeping closer by the day and with club play coming to an end (in European countries), the pressure will start zooming in on Brazil. Pressure already comes with the name, but now that Brazil is hosting 2014’s World Cup, the tension will be even higher than usual.
Brazil leads Group A and is the biggest favorite of any team to advance to the knockout stages at 4 to 1 odds. (lay $400 to win $100). The rest of the group is a toss-up with Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon filling out the next three spots. The odds show an even chance for Mexico and Croatia to advance at 9 to 1 odds (lay $100 to win $900), while Cameroon is the long shot at 3000 to 1. Those odds can be found at 5 dimes sportbook where you can bet all of the World Cup matches.
Brazil manager LUiz Felipe SColari released his 23-man roster almost a full month in advance of the June 2 deadline which may be an underlying sign for other teams. The Brazilians are ready to defend their home soil, especially after last year’s Confederations Cup title.
Their roster is fluttered with tons of big-club talent including Neymar, Oscar, Fernandinho, Marcelo and Dante. Julio Cesar will likely be the team’s goalkeeper for the third straight World Cup. Left out of the roster is Kaka and Ronaldinho, who are both in in the latter stages of their careers. While many know Brazil for their “Joga Bonita” type of play, their defense is a step above what they had at 2010’s Tournament with much more experience, and the same can be said about the rest of their squad.
Mexico may be the toughest challenge for Brazil in this group. Despite barely getting to the World Cup, they needed a playoff win over New Zealand. After having Four managers in 2013, the Mexicans look to be settled on Miguel Herrera, who hasn’t lost in five matches (although that sample size is extremely small). Mexico has made it to the Round of 16 in five straight World Cups, but can’t seem to jump that wall.
The Mexican roster doesn’t look too intimidating with only a handful of international club players. Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) is the golden boy Mexico will put their faith in, but Oribe Peralta may end up being their leading scorer in the Tournament. With Rafael Marquez likely leading the backline, Mexico will try and bank on his experience to lead the way with inconsistent players like Giovani Dos Santos and Andres Guardado filtered throughout the roster.
Croatia usually has a feisty squad, but playing in South America could present a problem for the European team. The Croatians failed to make last year’s World Cup and didn’t advance out of group stages in the two before that. Normally a defensive squad, this unit will present problems due to their attacking force. This may be one of Croatia’s best offensive units in recent history. Mario Mandzukic, Nikica Jelavic and Eduardo lead the front line, while LUka Modric and Ivan Rakitic lead the midfield. Then of course there’s Darijo Srna, who’s always a mainstay in the squad.
The problem for Croatia is that their opener is against Brazil. They’ll be looking for a draw in that match to gain any type of confidence, although a big win over Cameroon in their second match could propel them heading into the final Mexico match.
Like most teams coming out of Africa, Cameroon’s shot in the World Cup is slim. In 2010’s Tourney, they failed to secure a point, scoring just two goals in three matches. All eyes will be on Samuel Eto’o once again as it is his team and it will probably be his last World Cup. He’ll need help from the likes of Alex Song, Jean Makoun, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and possibly Pierre Webo if Cameroon is to have a shot.
Croatia and Mexico aren’t hands down favorites to advance, but it will require a special effort from a player like Eto’o if Cameroon were to advance.
It’s hard to see how Brazil is not going to win this group, as none of the other teams are as capable from top to bottom as them. In the second spot, Mexico has the advantage of having less travel, but Croatia’s team may be more suited to advance if their potent strike force can get going against an unpredictable Mexican defense.
Brazil is also listed as the favorite to in the World Cup this year, at 5 dimes sportsbook, with odds of 3 to 1.