Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough

Updated: 2013-11-26 14:19

Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough

Editor's note:

Every four years, there is joy for victory and weeping for defeat. There are young talents rising to fame globally, and there are superstars who fail to live up to expectations. There are unknown teams outshining strong rivals, and there are favorable teams going home trophyless. This is the World Cup.

Important dates (Local time)  Host cities 
June 12 (Thursday) - Opener  Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough
June 28, June 29, June 30, July 1 - Round of 16
July 4, July 5 - Quarterfinals
July 8, July 9 - Semifinals
July 12 - Match of the third place
July 13 - Final 
FIFA's official calender

Stars to watch 

 Lionel Messi(Argentina)  Cristiano Ronaldo(Portugal)
Golden boot, World Player of the year… Honors come easy to Lionel Messi, just as do his eye-catching goals. If Messi has one and only regret for his nearly flawless soccer career, it must be that he wasn't able to touch the trophy. If the Argentines do dampen their long-time rival Brazil's hope of home victory, Messi will be worshipped as the new Maradona. The unstoppable forward delivered a dazzling hat-trick to send Portugal to Brazil and meanwhile disheartened the Swedes at nail-biting qualifiers. Fierce and ambitious, the Portuguese captain just needs more luck to take the coveted trophy to his country and reclaim the title of World Player from his arch-rival, Lionel Messi.
Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough


Messi receives record 3rd Golden Boot

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was presented with a record third Golden Boot on Wednesday for scoring the most goals in Europe's domestic leagues last season. 


C. Ronaldo diagnosed with left hamstring injury

Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo was diagnosed with a left hamstring injury on Monday. Ronaldo was substituted out of Real Madrid's 5-0 victory at Almeria on Saturday after scoring his 33rd goal of the season. 

 Neymar da Silva Santos Jr (Brazil)  Vincent Kompany (Belgium)
The Brazilian soccer stud made the global stage after helping his nation defeat seemingly invincible Spain to win the Confederations Cup, drawing more comparisons between him and his Barcelona FC teammate, Argentina's Lionel Messi. Bearing the feuds between the two South American soccer giants, it's showtime for Neymar. Watch out, Messi. Every World Cup brings new faces. The Belgium national team, featuring a young generation of hotly-sought-after emerging talents, is ready to stun both their rivals and fans. Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, to name just a few, already prove themselves in the Premier League, and now all they need is a global stage.
Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough


Neymar lives up to hype as Brazil buries Spain

Any doubts that Brazil is a serious contender for next year's World Cup were swept away by a majestic 3-0 victory over world champion Spain as it won the Confederations Cup in front of an ecstatic crowd at Maracana Stadium on Sunday. 


City not seeking salvation - Kompany

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has rejected suggestions his side's entire season hangs on whether or not it can overcome Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final. 

Alexis Sanchez (Chile)  Mario Balotelli (Italy)
In Barcelona FC people come and go, but Alexis Sanchez stayed and is being increasingly counted on as the club is going through a hard time without the injured Lionel Messi. The winger is undoubtedly the most high-profile at the Chilean national team, which is able to get in the way of any trophy hopeful. The 23-year-old bad boy proved his ability to deliver magic at the Euro 2012 by helping Italy dismantle Germany in a semifinal. His score is as unpredictable as his off-court behavior, both of which are expected to amuse fans. Italian coach Cesare Prandelli has mixed feelings of both love and hatred toward the "Super Mario", who is full of surprise on the pitch, for good or bad.
Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough


Vidal wants World Cup win with Chile

Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, who plays for Italy's Juventus, said Wednesday he hopes his winning streak will lead to a win for Chile's national team at the 2014 Brazil World Cup qualifier.


Italy coach blasts 'silly' match-winner Balotelli

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli tore a strip off tearaway striker Mario Balotelli despite the controversial star grabbing the winner in the 2-1 Confederations Cup victory over Mexico at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Group-by-group guide 

Group A  Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Brazil Neymar (Barcelona) Luis Felipe Scolari Winner (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
Croatia Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich) Niko Kovac Third place (1998)
Mexico Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) Miguel Herrera Quarterfinals (1970, 1986)
Cameroon Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea) Volker Finke Quarterfinals 1990
Highlight Host Brazil, eyeing their sixth trophy, swept away doubts that it would be a strong contender at this tournament by crushing world champion Spain 3-0 at the Confederations Cup, which may be just the prelude of the return of the king. This time they have Scolari back, who led the The Selecao to win the 2002 World Cup and certainly knows this team better than anyone else.

Group B


Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Spain Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) Vicente del Bosque Winner (2010)
Netherlands Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) Louis van Gaal Runner-up (1974, 1978, 2010)
Chile Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) Jorge Sampaoli Third place (1962)
Australia Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls) Ange Postecoglou Round of 16 (2006)
Highlight  With a team in transition, Spain will have to kick off their defending campaign by facing the Dutch, who are still holding a grudge about their loss to Spain at the 2010 final and see this tournament as the best chance of revenge. What makes it worse for Spain is that the Netherlands has recruited Van Gaal, who used to coach Barcelona and is familiar with the style of Spanish key players like Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, meaning he knows how to defeat them.

Group C  Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Colombia Radamel Falcao (Monaco) Jose Pekerman Round of 16 (1990)
Greece Konstantinos Mitroglou (Olympiakos) Fernando Santos Group stage (1994, 2010)
Cote d'Ivoire Yaya Toure (Manchester City) Sabri Lamouchi Group stage (2006, 2010)
Japan Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) Alberto Zaccheroni Round of 16 (2002, 2010)
Highlight This group looks toughest to predict, but we can still expect Shingi Kagawa, who is having hard time finding his position in the transitioning Manchester United, to deliver some surprise.

Group D

(Group of Death) 

Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Uruguay Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Roberto Gomez Cavani (PSG) Oscar Tabarez Winner (1930, 1950)
England Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) Roy Hodgson Winner (1966)
Italy Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) Cesare Prandelli Winner (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
Costa Rica Joel Campbell (Olympiakos - on loan from Arsenal) Jorge Luis Pinto Round of 16 (1990)
Highlight Poor England. This so-called the group of death includes three winners with any of them likely to be sent home after the group stage. England has had knowledge about how hard to penetrate Italy's fierce defending line by a loss to the latter in an Euro 2010 quarterfinal. Uruguay, despite a bumpy qualifying road, still features Suarez and Cavani, who have proved to be able to deliver a goal when it's needed.

Group E 

Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Switzerland Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich) Ottmar Hitzfeld Quarterfinals (1934, 1938, 1954)
Ecuador Antonio Valencia (Man United) Reinaldo Ruela Round of 16 (2006)
France Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Karim Mostafa Benzema (Real Madrid) Didier Deschamps Winner (1998)
Honduras Wilson Palacios (Stoke City) Luis Fernando Suarez Group stage (1982, 2010)
Highlight Compared with their European peers, France might as well be just relieved. As long as they avoid scandals such internal feud and boycotting training that hit them in 2010 and sent them back home right after the group stage, they still can expect to go further.

Group F

Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Argentina Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli) Alejandro Sabella Winner (1978, 1986)
Bosnia-Herzegovina Miralem Pjanic (Roma) Safet Susic N/A - First appearance
Iran Javad Nekounam (Esteghlal) Carlos Queiroz Group stage: (1978, 1998, 2006)
Nigeria Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce) Stephen Keshi Round of 16 (1994, 1998)
Highlight Bosnia, the only one of the 32 teams taking part in their first World Cup finals, will have their first impression of the tournament by clashing with Argentina, one of the favorable hopefuls.

Group G


Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Germany Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Joachim Low Winner (1954, 1974, 1990)
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) Paulo Bento Third place (1966)
Ghana Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke) Kwesi Appiah Quarterfinals (2010)
US Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) Jurgen Klinsmann Third place (1930)
Highlight History repeats itself. Germany and Portugal will have to meet again at the group stage just as what they did at the Euro 2012.

Group H

Teams Key player(s) Coach Best showing moments
Russia Igor Denisov (Dinamo Moscow) Fabio Capello Fourth place *as Soviet Union* (1966)
Belgium Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) Marc Wilmots Fourth place (1986)
South Korea Song Henug-Min (Bayer Leverkusen) Hong Myung-Bo Fourth place (2002)
Algeria Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia) Vahid Halilhodzic Group Stage (1982, 1986, 2010)
Highlight An easy group. Belgium can finally flaunt its young generation at a global stage, while Russia, which might still regret about their failure to advance to the knockout stage at the Euro 2012, is given this chance to go further. Don't forget South Korea, a self-perfecting Asian team which stands out by their perseverance.

Stars to miss 

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)  Gareth Frank Bale (Wales)
The moment when Cristiano Ronaldo proved he is the person Portugal can count on, Sweden's Ibrahimovic was left with the harsh reality that he will end his career without scoring at World Cup finals. The Swedish captain has been one of the best performing scorers at this season's Champions League, but that's all for him. It would be better if we could tell on the World Cup arena whether the world's most expensive footballer can live up to the money Real Madrid spent to snatch him from Tottenham. With Wales unable to qualify, Bale will have more time to relax before the next season starts than many of his Real Madrid teammates.
Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough


Four-goal Ibrahimovic nets special strike to down England

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four outstanding goals including a contender for goal of this or any other season as Sweden opened their new Friends Arena with a 4-2 win over England in a superb friendly on Wednesday. 


Healthy Bale looks to justify huge price tag

Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive player at $135 million, is hoping to kick-start his career with Real Madrid after returning to action in its 2-0 win over Malaga on Saturday. 

 Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic)
Fans have kept fresh memeory about his performance at the Euro 2012 which Poland co-hosted with Ukraine. Good news is that the Dortmund forward, 25, still has time. Bad news – time is ruthless. For this 33-year-old midfielder, it's better to focus on his performance in Arsenal when the Premier League club, still needs him since he is probably unlikey to reach the 2018 World Cup.
Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough Look ahead to 2014 World Cup: England, Italy and Uruguay given tough


Dortmund's Lewandowski stuns Arsenal

Robert Lewandowski scored in the 82nd minute to give Borrusia Dortmund at 2-1 Champions League win at Arsenal on Tuesday, ending the Premier League-leading Gunners' unbeaten run that stretched back to mid-August. 


Chelsea and City lead pursuit of Arsenal

Chelsea and Manchester City offered compelling evidence that they will lead the pursuit of leaders Arsenal and champions Manchester United lost further ground on a Sunday that brought the third managerial casualty of the Premier League season.

 Qualifier moments



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