2014 World Cup Draw Preview: Seeded Teams

We’re just over a month away from the important World Cup Draw for the tournament next summer. Mark your calendar for December 6, because it is an event all World Cup fans want to follow. The draw can determine how the tournament will play out six months in advance. So far 21 teams have earned a spot in Brazil and 11 more teams will qualify for the World Cup in mid-November.

There are four pots of eight teams for the draw in December. The host country Brazil and the seven highest ranked teams October’s FIFA world rankings be in a seeded pot while the other three pots will be based on geography. Right now Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland are guaranteed to be seeded in Pot 1. The eighth team will likely be Uruguay if they beat Jordan in November’s intercontinental playoff. If Jordan shocks Uruguay, the Netherlands will be a seeded team. This would drop the Dutch to the pot of European teams that will also include Italy.

There are certain teams from the seeded pot that wouldn’t be a bad draw but most of them could be part of “The group of death.” Here is how I would rank the seeded teams from teams you want to avoid in the draw to teams you would want to play.

1. Brazil- The host our ranked 11th in the FIFA World Rankings because they haven’t played many competitive matches in the last three years. Brazil didn’t have to go through the grueling South American qualifying and were left to play international friendlies. When Brazil had the opportunity to play in competitive matches they impressed by winning the Confederations Cup in the summer. A young squad including Neymar, Oscar, Paulinho will be a force next summer especially playing in their home country.

2. Germany- The Germans have been successful in the last four major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), but from their standard they have disappointed. They finished third in the last two World Cups including the one they hosted in the 2006. Germany lost in the Euro 2008 final and were bounced in the semifinals by Italy in 2012. Now the Germans have one of their deepest talent pools in years and will have experience. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defenders Mats Hummels, Phillipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng will make it difficult for teams to score on them in the group stage. Head coach Joachim Low will have a luxury of midfielders to pick from including Bastian Schweinsteger, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Sami Khedira, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle. The Germans lone weakness might be at the striker position where Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski are getting older and have faced past health issues.

3. Argentina- The South American giants will have plenty of fans in Brazil and the best player in the world on their side in Lionel Messi. Argentina topped the South American qualifying and scored 35 goals in 16 games. Along with Messi, Argentina has great depth in attacking options with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Argentina will score a lot in the group stages and then spend the knockout phase trying to figure out how to defend stronger teams.

4. Spain- It might be a surprise the the reigning World Cup winners are this low on the list. However, there are question marks with the Spain roster at the moment. Their star goalkeeper Iker Casillas isn’t consistently starting at Real Madrid. There are uncertainty on who will play on their back line. Midfield stars Xavi and Andres Iniesta will be 34 and 30 respectively next June. Spain has a few options at striker but their isn’t a name that is playing great with their club teams right now. Add in potential drama between Barcelona and Real Madrid players because of El Clasico and Spain might be beatable in the group stage. Reminder: Spain did lose to Switzerland in their first game at the 2010 World Cup.

5. Belgium- Most of the soccer world and EPL watchers have fallen in love with this team. A year ago they were a World Cup dark horse and now they are one of the favorites to win it all. The only negative with his team is lack of experience in major tournament. Simon Mignolet, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertongen, Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke are all names EPL fans have probably heard in the last year. If Belgium plays well in the World Cup warm up matches, they will be a hard team to beat in the group stage.

6. Uruguay- I’m assuming they beat Jordan behind the attacking power of Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani and Diego Forlan. If they do they will be in the seeded pot and you can certainly expect their fans to make the trip to Brazil. The defense for Uruguay is unpredictable as they gave up 25 goals in qualifying. Uruguay is a great team but I don’t think team will mind playing against them in the group stage.

7. Colombia- Los Cafeteros are back in the World Cup after being absent from the tournament this millennium. Striker Radamel Falcao replicated his form with Atletico Madrid in World Cup qualifying last season and scored nine goals in the cycle. Falaco now plays for Monaco with country and club teammate James Rodriguez. Teams will focus on marking Falcao so players like Rodriguez, and strikers Teofilo Gutierrez and Jackson Martinez will need to step up.

8. Switzerland- Every non-seeded team in the World Cup would love to be the a group with the Swiss. They were in a very weak qualifying group in Europe and don’t have a strong roster on paper. Midfielders Gokhan Inter, Valon Behrami and Xherdan Shaqiri are solid players. However, the Netherlands or Italy should be one of the seeded teams and having Switzerland seeded is one of the major flaws of the FIFA World Rankings.

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