By MITCHELL KAHALLEY
Hello everyone! My name is Mitchell Kahalley and I’ll be spending the month blogging about the World Cup here on Sportschasers. Here’s a quick look at what to watch for in the three groups with their first round matches to play.
Group F – Will Sweden or South Korea be able to capitalize on Germany failing to get three points?
After Mexico’s 1-0 upset of Germany yesterday, the door is open for one of these two teams to make a statement in Group F. The question is will either of them be able to do it? The most interesting thing about the Sweden as a footballing nation is Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he’s retired from international football. Sweden has not scored a goal in their last three matches and have only scored one in their last four leading up to the tournament. The experienced South Korea side is also coming into this match on a poor run of form with only one win in their last six matches and three straight losses heading into the World Cup. This fixture is mired in a bit of controversy. After learning that some Swedish scouts had attended their training sessions South Korean coach Shin Tae-young had the players switch numbers in their last two friendlies because “it is very difficult for westerners to distinguish between Asians and that’s why we did it.” Swedish head coach Janne Andersson has apologized for the incident and Tae-young has taken it all in stride. As for the result? Your guess is as good as mine. My heart tells me that Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min scores and South Korea escapes with all three points. But my head tells me that we’ll have our first goalless draw of the tournament.
Group G: Will England and Belgium Show Up?
Group G is the most top-heavy group in the tournament with most expecting England and Belgium to advance over Tunisia and Panama. Both teams have the potential to be contenders for the World Cup title and they’ll feel even better about their chances after some of the other tournament favorites got off to such shaky starts. Still we’re not sure which teams will show up against “lesser” opposition today. I wouldn’t be surprised if they steamrolled their opponents or if they struggle their way to an uninspiring 1-0 win. And with the way this tournament has gone I wouldn’t put it past a team like Tunisia to get a result against England. We’ll see which team is able to assert themselves in the group and possibly cement themselves as real title challengers.
Group H: Four Evenly Matched Teams, Four Different Continents
I adore Group H. It’s the only group in the tournament where four teams come from four different continents. Isn’t that what the World Cup is all about? In addition to the diversity on display in the group, all four teams are fairly evenly matched. The only thing I’m certain of is that Colombia, led by 2014 World Cup darling James Rodriguez, will come out of this group on top. If you’re looking to make a little money on the World Cup I think Los Cafeteros give you the best value (+4000 was the last I saw, that line could have moved.) And while we’re talking about gambling I also like Poland’s Robert Lewandowski as a sleeper to win the Golden Boot. (You can get that at 25-1 if you’re interested.)