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World Cup 2014: Group A Preview

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Warren Little

Teams: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Liverpool Players: None

Group A kicks off the World Cup on June 12th as Brazil takes on Croatia. From there, a relatively straightforward draw in terms of favorites and underdogs may be turned on its head if either Mexico or Cameroon find their form at the right time. The focus will be on Brazil, but the intrigue of this group likely lies beyond the host team.

Brazil come in as obvious favorites not only to win this group but also to win the World Cup. Besides Brazil, which team do you think has the best chance of making a deep run in the tournament?

It has to be Croatia, doesn't it? Cameroon haven't improved much since 2010 when they lost all three of their games and Mexico look too disjointed to pull themselves together in time. Meanwhile, Croatia are stockpiled with household names such as Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Mario Mandžukić, and the experienced presence of Olić. They have talent from the back four to the front line, and while they've had very little recent success on the world stage, it appears that they're set to open some eyes. (Dan)

Croatia by default. They have some exciting players, but this is more because I don't see Mexico or Cameroon going anywhere than it is because I actually think Croatia will make a deep run. Mexico have looked mediocre to downright bad for a while now, and I doubt they make it out of the group. Cameroon just don't really impress me. Croatia have big names, and, because UEFA qualification is so tough, are much more battle tested than Mexico or Cameroon. I could see them possibly getting lucky and making it to the quarterfinals, but no further than that. (blunatic)

I would have to go with Croatia myself. As said above, they have a great midfield, (Rakitic continues to be linked with us, a transfer I wouldn't mind seeing happen, and he looked as if he was saying goodbye in the celebrations of the Europa League win). They also have Mandzukic up front, who'll surely get the service he needs with Modric in there. I'm not sure they'll go so far, but I would expect them to get out of the group at least. That said, Mexico always seems to do well in a World Cup, so I wouldn't count them out. (JAceKopite16)

Which player's performance will have the biggest influence on the outcome of this group?

If Mexico finally figure out how to utilize Giovani dos Santos in their system, they might be able to string together a couple of victories. After his disappointing loan spell at Tottenham, dos Santos (who's only 25) has revived his career at Villarreal, playing with the electric style that drew the attention of Europe's top clubs when he was a youngster. (Dan)

I'll go with Samuel Eto'o. I don't think Cameroon will advance, but I have a feeling Eto'o will put on a show in what I would imagine is his last World Cup. If Cameroon get any good results, it will most likely be because of Eto'o. So, if he can score a couple timely goals, he and Cameroon could make this group interesting. (blunatic)

Neymar. I hate the guy, he seems like a bit of an idiot, but he'll have the weight of an entire country on his back, and he had an up and down season at Barca. I'll be interested to see how he deals with that pressure. Even though he did well in the Confederations Cup last year, that doesn't mean much. (JAceKopite16)

Which Group A matchup excites you the most?

I would say Brazil v. Croatia, but Mario Mandžukić is suspended from that match so Croatia's attacking firepower will be limited. So I'll go with Mexico v. Croatia in a potential battle for a knockout stage spot. (Dan)

I'm going with Mexico v. Croatia for the same reasons as Dan. Brazil should win the group easy enough, so this will likely be the game to decide who moves on to the knockout stage. (blunatic)

I'm not very interested in the group to be honest - we all know Brazil's gonna get out of it even if they get off to a shaky start. I'll say Brazil vs Croatia myself, but only because it kicks off the whole thing off. (JAceKopite16)

Reveal your bias! Which team in this group are you pulling for?

I'm rooting for Croatia simply because my dislike for the other three teams ranges from Maxi Rodriguez status (Cameroon) to Christian Poulsen (Mexico). (Dan)

I'd rather eat my own foot than root for Mexico, I really don't care for a Brazil sans Lucas and Coutinho, and I'm pretty much indifferent on Cameroon. So, I'm also pulling for Croatia. They have some exciting players and seem like they'd play a pretty interesting game. (blunatic)

Brazil are hosts. I usually root for the hosts, the US, Ireland if they make it, and Germany in tournaments. There's your answer. (JAceKopite16)