SB Nation

Kevin McCauley | December 4, 2013

SB Nation’s 2014 World Cup Draw Preview

The World Cup draw takes place on Friday and SB Nation is here to get you ready with everything you need to know about the 32 qualified teams.

SB Nation's 2014

World Cup Draw Preview

Your complete guide to the World Cup Draw presented by

On Friday, a large group of celebrities and former players will walk down a red carpet and head into a room where they will watch grown men fumble around with ping pong balls. There will be musical guests. There will be very cheesy video packages about the wonderful culture and landscape of Brazil, the history of the World Cup and the great careers of the players participating in the draw. It will be ridiculous, but the results of the draw matter. A lot.

Upsets happen in the group stage of every World Cup, but for many teams, their fate will be sealed with the draw. They'll know instantly if they have a shot to make a deep run or if they should be happy just to get the experience of going to Brazil and playing three World Cup games.

The 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup have been organized into four pots. Usually, the teams are organized into even pots with eight teams apiece, but a lower number of European teams than usual have been seeded, resulting in one nine-team pot and one seven-team pot. One European team will end up as a wildcard and we could end up seeing the Group of Death to end all Groups of Death as a result -- it's possible that Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States all end up together.

There's also the possibility of some notoriously weak groups popping up, thanks to some less than fantastic teams getting seeded. Uruguay went to the semifinals of the last World Cup and has plenty of talent, but finished fifth in South American qualifying. Belgium is similarly stacked, but hasn't even qualified for the last two World Cups or the last three editions of the European Championship. And then there's Switzerland, which got seeded thanks to a couple of solid wins and a quirky aspect of the FIFA rankings that didn't reward playing lots of tough games unless you won all of them.

For those who haven't followed the entire qualifying process, there's a lot to get caught up on, especially since almost every team has a reasonable chance to make some noise in Brazil. Below, you'll find a preview of every team in the draw to help you do just that.

The Seeds

Brazil is only 11th in the FIFA rankings, but by virtue of hosting the tournament, they're a seeded team and will be automatically placed in Group A to allow tournament organizers to plan for home games. They're joined by quite a few of the usual suspects in Germany, Spain and Argentina, but the other four seeds are newcomers to the upper echelon of the sport. Uruguay, a semifinalist in 2010, squeaks in despite finishing fifth on their own continent in qualifying. Colombia and Belgium have earned their way into the top group with spectacular performances over the last two years, while Switzerland did a bit of gaming the system, though it's not clear whether or not they knew what they were doing.

Brazil

+

Brazil

As hosts and reigning Confederations Cup champions, Brazil is expected to win the World Cup. They don't have the same kind of quality depth that Spain, Germany and neighboring rivals Argentina have, but they make up for it with their high-pressure side and a defense that's considerably better than their tournament rivals.

Neymar is undoubtedly the star of the show and hasn't skipped a beat since moving from Santos to Barcelona in the summer. Whatever learning curve between Brazilian and Spanish football exists took him a couple of months to master, and with Lionel Messi battling injuries, he's emerged as the Blaugrana's most important attacker in recent weeks.

People don't think about defense when they think about Brazilian soccer, but depth and quality at the central defense position are what sets Brazil apart from the rest of the field. Thiago Silva is arguably the best central defender in the world, and Luiz Felipe Scolari's biggest decision is which puffy-haired star Silva should be partnered with. Dante and David Luiz have both had their turns in the starting role, and it's tough to go wrong with either.

The biggest question between now and the World Cup for Brazil will be whether or not Sandro can get healthy. Tottenham Hotspur's midfield wrecking ball was among Europe's best in 2012 and an automatic starter for Brazil, but he's had a couple of setbacks in recovering from an ACL tear. If he comes back, it'll be harder to score on Brazil than it will be to stop them from scoring, which is saying a lot.

Key facts

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

How they qualified Hosts

2010 World Cup result Quarterfinals

Best player Neymar

FIFA ranking 11th

Argentina

+

Argentina

When you think Argentina, you think Lionel Messi. Or possibly steak. Or tango. But soccer fans think of Messi. OK, younger soccer fans who don’t automatically think of Diego Maradona think of Messi. Just go with it, OK?

Not so long ago, Messi’s contributions to the Argentina national team were seen as trifling, as nothing compared to what the attacker was able to do at Barcelona. Messi wasn’t scoring; ergo, he wasn’t helping out his national side. But even if that was a line you bought into, it’s irrelevant these days: Messi scored 10 goals in CONMEBOL qualifying, more than any player other than Luis Suárez.

But Suárez practically is the Uruguay national football team, whereas on Argentina, six players scored at least three goals during qualifying. In fact, come Brazil, the biggest question will likely be which attacker has to be dropped to a bench role. Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ángel di María … none of these are exactly unknown entities. Reading the Albiceleste roster makes one nod and go “Oh. Yes. There’s a reason they scored 35 goals in 16 matches.” But casting an eye over their defenders, many of whom are on the young side, have been recently injured, or are plying their wares outside the top leagues, explains why Argentina concede in nearly every match.

Not even the biggest madridista will be hoping Messi’s recent injuries prevent him from playing a pivotal role in the World Cup. But even in the absence of Leo, this Argentina side, with their bright attack and devil-may-care approach to defense, will be fun to watch.

Key facts

Coach Alejandro Sabella

How they qualified Top four, CONMEBOL

2010 World Cup result Quarterfinals

Best player Lionel Messi

FIFA ranking 3rd

Colombia

+

Colombia

Any team with Radamel Falcao has a chance to win a match, but Colombia heads to Brazil with much more than a chance, and their goals are much bigger than winning just one match. Falcao, arguably the world's best striker, has a wonderful collection of teammates in James Rodriguez, Teo Gutierrez, Jackson Martinez, Fredy Guarin and Cristian Zapata. Give Jose Pekerman that kind of talent, and the team is bound to win, as Colombia did en route to second place in CONMEBOL qualifying and a seed for the draw.

The last time Colombia entered a World Cup with such high expectations, they bombed out of USA 1994. Then again, nothing went right for Colombia that time around, before, during or after the tournament. Chalk that up to bad luck, the nature of tournament football or Pablo Escobar, but they also didn't have the antidote to all that ailed the team 20 years ago -- Falcao.

Step forward, Falcao, the man who will take the neon-yellow men to glory. The World Cup is back in South America, and if a team from the continent is going to win it, why not Colombia? They may not be Brazil or Argentina, but they aren’t far off.

Key facts

Coach Jose Pekerman

How they qualified Top four, CONMEBOL

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Radamel Falcao

FIFA ranking 4th

Uruguay

+

Uruguay

Being a Uruguay fan can’t have been much fun for the last couple of years, with Óscar Tabárez’s team having fallen off a cliff since their brilliant win at the Copa América in 2011. Despite having literally two of the world’s best strikers at his disposal in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, the coach has struggled to make the team gel as a cohesive unit, tinkering endlessly with formations and personnel. That the Celeste had to go through a playoff just to qualify for Brazil 2014 is indicative of their troubles.

They are certainly weaker at the back than up top, with aging captain Diego Lugano sadly no longer as defensively pleasing as he famously is aesthetically. Fortunately they have plenty of gritty anchormen in the midfield to shield the porous back line, while the inclusion of talented young playmaker Nicolás Lodeiro can help maintain possession and ease the attacking burden on their star strikers.

Also in Uruguay’s favour is their habit of punching above their weight at major tournaments. Despite their small population they’ve won the World Cup twice, including their first ever edition back in 1930. For all of their recent struggles, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they find their groove when the action gets underway in Brazil. It’s difficult to envision them seriously troubling the best sides, though with Cavani and Suárez in attack, you never quite know.

Key facts

Coach Oscar Tabarez

How they qualified Intercontinental playoff

2010 World Cup result Semifinals

Best player Edinson Cavani

FIFA ranking 6th

Belgium

+

Belgium

For several years now, Belgium has been fancied as the next new “It” team in international soccer. However, before qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, there has been a lot of sizzle and not much steak when it comes to the Belgians.

2014 will be Belgium’s first World Cup appearance since 2002, and they got there in style. They won their UEFA qualifying group going away, conceding only four goals in 10 games, winning eight, drawing two and losing none. Manager Marc Wilmots’ squad is littered with club stars, led by a potent attack featuring Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, and Kevin Mirallas.

Midfield is where the Belgians are really loaded. It’s truly a luxury to be able to deploy Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Kevin DeBruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel and other quality players in the middle of the park. Some may consider having that many options to be a problem, but that would be somewhat silly, since having more good players is better than not having them.

The squad is captained by center back Vincent Kompany, who leads the impressive backline that includes Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld. Behind them, Wilmots is able to choose between two capable goalkeepers in Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet.

Some may short the Belgians’ chances to win the 2014 World Cup due to a lack of big-game international experience, but there’s no question that they have the talent to win the tournament.

Key facts

Coach Marc Wilmots

How they qualified Winner, UEFA Group A

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Eden Hazard

FIFA ranking 5th

Germany

+

Germany

Germany has gone into the last few major international tournaments with the swagger of a serious contender, but has tended to disintegrate in the heat of the knockout stages. Since their last World Cup win in 1990 -- which happened to be their last tournament before reunification -- they have wound up as beaten quarterfinalists and semifinalists twice, and runner-up in 2002. So much for German reliability.

But, could Brazil 2014 finally be the tournament at which Germany picks up their first World Cup in almost a quarter of a century? Boasting an ever-more talented squad and just about the strongest domestic team in world football at the moment in Bayern Munich, expectations are high. Germany has an embarrassment of riches in midfield, including Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze -- playmakers who could stake a claim for a starting spot on any team in the world.

Germany’s defense, with the exception of captain Philipp Lahm -- a player so versatile he could excel in pretty much every position on the field -- isn’t quite as strong, and coach Joachim Löw has occasionally gone Spanish and experimented with a midfielder in attack in the absence of a truly world-class center forward. However, given the team scored 36 goals in their 10 unbeaten qualifying matches, that doesn’t seem to have been a problem. A powerful side capable of destroying opponents with brutal counter-attacks, there’s no doubt that Germany is scary indeed.

Key facts

Coach Joachim Löw

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group C

2010 World Cup result Semifinals

Best player Bastian Schweinsteiger

FIFA ranking 2nd

Spain

+

Spain

Spain is the defending World Cup champions and the winners of the last two European Championships. They’ve been the dominant force in international soccer over the past six years but Spain has started to show cracks in their aura of invincibility recently.

There’s no doubt Spain remains a talented and dangerous team that is certainly among the favorites for success in Brazil. But in order to be the first European team to win a World Cup in South America, they must rediscover some of the form that defined their successful run over the past few years.

Who ends up starting in goal for Vicente del Bosque will likely be a big story leading up to next summer’s tournament. Captain and longtime starter Iker Casillas remains out of favor at Real Madrid, opening the door for Barcelona’s Victor Valdés to earn some starts recently. Casillas still seems the likely choice considering his experience and resume, but if he spends the rest of the season on the bench behind Diego Lopez, Del Bosque may be tempted to go with Valdés.

Spain’s true strength remains their midfield, where they possess a plethora of riches in terms of talent. Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are all regulars in the starting lineup, but the biggest boost could come from the return of Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso, who is finally healthy after a prolonged absence due to injury.

While Spain’s system doesn’t rely on a true out-and-out striker, the Spaniards will nonetheless need their forwards to be effective to find success in Brazil. Atlético Madrid’s David Villa and Manchester City’s Álvaro Negredo will be in the mix, with Villa’s Atéti teammate Diego Costa a potential wild card up front.

Del Bosque will also need a strong performance from his defense if Spain wants to become the first country to repeat as World Cup champions since Brazil won back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1962.

Key facts

Coach Vicente Del Bosque

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group I

2010 World Cup result Winners

Best player Andres Iniesta

FIFA ranking 1st

Switzerland

+

Switzerland

The Swiss may generally be seen as a fairly docile and harmless lot, though Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side is emphatically not just traveling to Brazil to provide the cheese and chocolate. Switzerland’s national team is bursting at the seams with exciting, young talent, and they will be looking to better their group-stage exit at the last World Cup in South Africa.

They have a great blend of youth and experience, with veterans Gökhan Inler, Blerim Džemaili and Valon adding steel to the midfield, while Gladbach's Granit Xhaka, Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri and Fulham's Pajtim Kasami offer a more youthful zest. It’s in midfield that the Swiss are best stocked, though emerging attackers like Real Sociedad’s Haris Seferović and Freiburg's Admir Mehmedi have kept the more experienced Eren Derdiyok and Innocent Emeghara from recent squads.

Defensively, Switzerland is rather less well endowed, despite the industry of Juventus’ Stephan Lichtsteiner at right back. It’s this defensive weakness as much as anything else that keeps Hitzfeld’s side from being a genuine dark horse. However, it’s certainly a side capable of causing an upset or two, and possibly progressing into the knockout stages. If you’re looking to adopt a nation for a month and are too hipster for Colombia or Belgium, Switzerland could be a fun choice.

Key facts

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group E

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Xherdan Shaqiri

FIFA ranking 7th


Asia, North and Central America

The United States feels better about this World Cup than most after they surged through The Hex, but like the other teams in this pot, their World Cup fate could be decided by the draw. There are possible easy paths to the knockout stage and impossible group stage draws in play for everyone. Costa Rica and Honduras will probably struggle to get out of their groups no matter what happens, but the U.S. and Mexico could go far if the draw shakes out well.

A similar dynamic exists with the Asian teams. South Korea and Japan are knockout stage veterans at this point and will pose a threat to whoever draws them. Iran and Australia, meanwhile, probably need a miracle draw to feel like they have a decent shot of getting out of their groups.

Australia

+

Australia

You’d expect a nation that qualified for the World Cup for the first time 32 years in 2006 to not be so picky, but Australians are a fickle bunch. Four years after that famous underdog showing in Germany, Pim Verbeek took a side to South Africa that had been widely criticised in qualifying as being too defensive, and promptly got smashed 4-0 by the Germans.

Probably thinking that if you can’t beat them, copy them, the Socceroos appointed their own German, Holger Osieck, whose initially promising regime – starting with second place in the 2011 Asian Cup – ended ultimately in qualifying success. That’s not enough, though, for the demanding Australian public, and after successive 6-0 friendly losses to Brazil and France that exemplified the widespread concern at a lack of squad regeneration and underwhelming tactics, Osieck was sacked.

In comes Ange Postecoglou just eight months out from the tournament. Having conquered the A-League with an unprecedented possession-based brand of soccer at the Brisbane Roar – and looking ominously like doing the same at the Melbourne Victory until he got the call from head office – his appointment has tied in with a wave of fresh optimism, with supporters feeling Postecoglou is the man to oversee a long-awaited changing of the guard, away from the heroes but also veterans of 2006, and in with the newer, younger players.

It’s easier said than done, though. Australians are no longer prominent in the Premier League and far more likely to be found plying their trade in the Middle East or lower-tier European leagues. The feeling is that Brazil 2014 may come too soon for a side likely to be in transition under a new coach. Still, the appointment of Postecoglou is a significant step forward for the Socceroos, as he’s the first native in the job since 2005, and the first Australian to take the national team to a World Cup since 1974.

Key facts

Coach Luiz Ange Postecoglou

How they qualified Top two, AFC Group B

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Mile Jedinak

FIFA ranking 57th

Iran

+

Iran

While there’s no one as lame as North Korea hanging around this edition of the World Cup, three other countries will inevitably be pleased when they draw Iran. They’re potentially the weakest team in the field and a serious beneficiary of the success of Japan and South Korea, who have managed to play well enough in the last three tournaments to secure four automatic qualifying spots for Asia.

Iran won their qualifying group, beating South Korea in the process, but the win in Ulsan that saw them top the group happened after the Koreans had already secured qualification. Now that they’re in the big show, they’re trying to drum up some dual nationals to come over and help their cause, adding Iranian-American defender Steven Beitashour and Iranian-German goalkeeper Daniel Davari. Iranian-Dutch striker Reza Ghoochannejhad joined up during qualifying.

Yes, that is his real name. Yes, he will be starting in Brazil. Yes, the staff here are going to negotiate pay-per-letter contracts.

They’re coached by Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, a journeyman who you may know as the guy who outlined U.S. soccer’s youth setup, the guy who used to stand next to Alex Ferguson or the guy who guided Portugal to their most boring and unwatchable spell in their history. You’ll enjoy watching his Iran team pack 11 men behind the ball, then inevitably lose.

Key facts

Coach Carlos Queiroz

How they qualified Top two, AFC Group A

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Jevad Nekounam

FIFA ranking 49th

Japan

+

Japan

If you’re a soccer hipster whose national team didn’t qualify for the World Cup (or perhaps it did, but you’re still too cool to support it, aren’t you?), you’re most likely going to cheer on Colombia, Belgium or Japan. Probably Japan, ‘cause Colombia and Belgium are already too mainstream. You’re going to be so proud of yourself when Japan wins the World Cup.

OK, no, that won’t happen. And besides, winning anything would make Japan uncool, wouldn’t it?

Though you’ll certainly enjoy Shinji Kagawa’s Panenka in the penalty shootout against England in the first knockout stage. It’s going to give you endless satisfaction to tell everyone how idiotic Manchester United was for never believing in that guy. You’ll have even more to rant about when Japan loses to Brazil in the quarterfinals thanks to a penalty resulting from a blatant Neymar dive.

In reality, Japan probably won’t become world champions, but they just might become more than the hipsters’ choice team. Quick, modern soccer, a few great players like the already mentioned Kagawa, as well as Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Takashi Inui, and Alberto Zaccheroni, a coach who captured the scudetto in Italy. What’s there not to like?

Key facts

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni

How they qualified Top two, AFC Group B

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Shinji Kagawa

FIFA ranking 44th

South Korea

+

South Korea

If you loved/hated South Korea in 2010, you’ll love/hate South Korea now. Park Ji-Sung has retired, along with a few other older players, but they’ve been replaced by a bunch of young K-League and J-League stars who look just as capable as their predecessors.

Don’t be too concerned by the fact that South Korea finished second in a qualifying group with Iran -- they had qualified before the final game and didn’t put their best foot forward in that last match.

Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Son Heung-Min is unquestionably the star of the group and is enjoying a great season at his new Bundesliga club. He’s been touted as one of the best young talents in Germany since he just barely missed out on the last World Cup, but South Korea have some questions to answer in front of him. Attacking midfielders generally can’t do much without some help at striker, and both Park Chu-Young and Koo Ja-Cheol are seriously out of form, while Kim Shin-Wook has just two goals in 22 caps. South Korea might be depending on Lee Dong-Gook, who will be 35 when the tournament comes around, to roll back the years and give them one last big-tournament performance.

Overall, expect to see what you’ve seen from South Korea in the past: a solid, well-organized side that is neither flashy nor overly defensive. They have a lot of players who are good at everything, but not great at anything. They’re not going to win the World Cup, but they’ll provide a formidable foe for everyone they come up against.

Key facts

Coach Hong Myung-bo

How they qualified Top two, AFC Group A

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Son Heung-Min

FIFA ranking 56th

Costa Rica

+

Costa Rica

Its glorious beaches and relative lack of crime when compared to other Central American countries have long made Costa Rica a popular tourist destination for anyone who wants to feel like they went on an adventure without really taking their lives into their own hands. Their soccer reputation? Not quite as fun. The country of about 4.5 million has experienced some pretty good highs -- going undefeated in the 1990 World Cup group stage and qualifying for the Round of 16 -- but hasn’t really established themselves as the CONCACAF power one might expect. After losing all three of their games in the 2006 World Cup, Costa Rica failed to qualify in 2010.

Maybe that failure woke up a sleeping giant. Flying just under the radar, Los Ticos nearly finished atop the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying by winning all five of their home games. Among those wins were a dominating victory over the United Stages (3-1 on Sept. 6). They now head into Brazil with their highest ranking since 2005 (currently No. 31).

Costa Rica does not necessarily have a roster full of international stars, but there’s enough talent there to believe they can at least make life difficult for the opponents. Bryan Ruiz (Fulham) was their leading scorer during qualifying with three goals, mostly being deployed as a wide attacking midfielder in either a 4-2-3-1 or, more recently, a 5-4-1 formation. The lone forward has usually been filled by Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio, who is his country’s current leading scorer with 31 international goals. Joel Campbell -- the 21-year-old who might best be remembered for his glorious acting job that got Matt Besler booked in Costa Rica’s game against the United States and suspended for the next match -- has blossomed into one of Greek giant Olympiacos’ top attackers.

Sure, Costa Rica will probably still be better known for their beaches than their soccer after Brazil, but it’ll still be fun.

Key facts

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto

How they qualified Top three, CONCACAF

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Alvaro Saborio

FIFA ranking 31st

Honduras

+

Honduras

Honduras makes their second straight appearance in the World Cup after a surprising third-place finish in CONCACAF qualifying, ahead of the heavily favored Mexico. Los Catrachos have never made it out of the group stages and their chances of finally breaking that streak will likely depend greatly on how friendly a draw they receive.

There’s no question that Honduras has talent but when you line up their players against the types of teams they are likely to face in Brazil, the odds quickly get long for them.

Honduras has a nice blend of experience and youth with one of their best players being midfielder Óscar Boniek García, a creative winger who plays in MLS for the Houston Dynamo. There are several MLS stars, and former MLS stars, in the Honduras fold, including the New England Revolution’s Jerry Bengston, along with Víctor Bernárdez and Marvin Chávez of the San Jose Earthquakes. Midfielder Roger Espinoza and striker Carlos Costly also spent some time in MLS.

Los Catrachos will need to solidify their defense in order to have any chance of getting out of the group stages. Throughout World Cup qualifying, Honduras was inconsistent in the back, looking like world beaters in some matches and getting picked apart in others. Defensive consistency will be the key for them in the end.

Key facts

Coach Luis Fernando Suarez

How they qualified Top three, CONCACAF

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Roger Espinoza

FIFA ranking 34th

Mexico

+

Mexico

While the managers, star players and styles of play have long been established for most World Cup teams, there will be nothing but questions about Mexico in the build-up to the World Cup. New manager Miguel Herrera and a squad without any European-based players demolished a poor New Zealand team, but it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll look like in late May and whether they’ll be able to compete with the world’s best.

Mexico is probably closer to the team that won the 2011 Gold Cup and smashed the Kiwis than the one that failed to finish top three in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. Even if “Chicharito” Javier Hernandez isn’t starting regularly for Manchester United and Rafa Marquez is old, they’re still loaded relative to the rest of North America. This team probably has more talent than the one that made the knockout stage in 2010.

Still, it’s a mystery how that talent will be used or even if their biggest talents will play. There are nearly a dozen foreign-based Mexicans that are among El Tri’s best 23 players, but does Herrera think he needs them? Can he convince Carlos Vela to accept a call-up after he spent years turning down “Chepo” Jose Manuel de la Torre? Will he even try?

No one knows who Mexico is or what they’re going to look like at the World Cup. For reasons similar to not starting a fight with a crazy person, shouldn’t everyone want to avoid drawing them?

Key facts

Coach Miguel Herrera

How they qualified Intercontinental playoff

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Carlos Vela

FIFA ranking 24th

United States

+

United States

The United States is headed to its seventh straight World Cup, but hold off on the party. The Americans have alternated good and bad World Cups in each of the last six, and their last one, in 2010 when they won their group for the first time in more than 70 years, was a good one. Then again, each of the Americans' bad World Cups has come when the tournament was played in Europe, and this one will be in Brazil so, theoretically, the curse will not follow them south of the equator. Toss in the fact that Jurgen Klinsmann has given the middle finger to everyone and everything to great effect since taking over as U.S. manager, and it's tough to imagine history getting in the way of the U.S. in Brazil.

One thing that could cause the Americans problems is their defense, though. The U.S. defensive record has been pretty good since Klinsmann took over, but the team still has question marks all across the back line and is short on experience at the back. With the draw likely to land the U.S. in a tough group -- a result of being the best team in their pot -- and that defense could be their undoing -- unless Klinsmann tells his defense to give the opposition and common sense the middle finger, too.

Key facts

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann

How they qualified Top three, CONCACAF

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Michael Bradley

FIFA ranking 13th

Europe

The ultimate set of wild cards exists in the pot of unseeded European teams. None of the nine are weak, but the difference between the best and worst teams in this group is significant. No one wants to see Italy, while everyone's rooting to end up with Greece. No one's going to cry about drawing England, either.

Portugal, the Netherlands and the aforementioned Italians are a scary proposition for anyone and could have been seeded in another year. Italy is coming off a great run in Euro 2012, the Netherlands was runner-up at the last World Cup and Portugal, despite recent struggles to qualify for major tournaments, has Cristiano Ronaldo. They make up the top tier of teams in this pot.

England and France are certainly no pushovers and have enough talent and depth that they could become serious threats at any time. They just haven't looked great at any point in the last two major tournaments or qualifying cycles. Russia and Bosnia were both excellent in qualifying, while Croatia have a startling number of world-class players for the size of their country and strength of their domestic league.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

+

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is all set to take the stage at their first-ever World Cup as an independent country.* In case you haven’t heard anything about BiH since 1995, here’s a quick rundown … about their soccer team.

The one name you almost certainly know is Edin Džeko. If not, just wait – his lack of regular starting time at Manchester City will have him linked to your club in no time. But it took more than one 6-foot 4-inch man-giant to get Bosnia through the qualifiers with just one loss.

Talk to almost any Bosniak and they’ll tell you that the true linchpin of the side is AS Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic. The 23-year-old playmaker is the one setting up his side for success, providing the balls that allowed Džeko to score 10 goals during the qualifying campaign or Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibišević to score eight. Speaking of Ibišević, talk about him if you want to sound smart: He spent his high school years in St. Louis and was named NCAA Freshman of the Year while at St. Louis University, but wound up pledging his international career to his native Bosnia.

This Bosnia side isn’t filled with world-renowned superstars. The majority of the team’s core are plying their trade in mid-table German sides, or in Turkey, or maybe in Russia. But Safet Sušić has his boys playing dependable, steady soccer that doesn’t require too many tricks. Pjanic provides the dazzle, and Džeko and Ibišević are there to ensure the ball goes into the back of the net. Surprisingly enough, this tried and true formula often results in rather enjoyable soccer.

*Disclaimer: Yes, Bosnia has been to the World Cup as part of the nation of Yugoslavia. That is why we’ve included the phrase “independent nation.” Please cease writing complaints in all caps now.

Key facts

Coach Safet Susic

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group G

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Edin Dzeko

FIFA ranking 16th

Croatia

+

Croatia

Croatia is fun, talented, great to watch … and ultimately very disappointing.

Their impressive performance at Euro 2008, featuring a number of players in their early-to-mid-20s who were previously unknown to a global audience, looked to be a sign of great things to come for the country. Then they missed out on the 2010 World Cup, failed to get out of a group of death at Euro 2012 and finished behind Belgium in the most recent qualifying cycle, leading to their battling Iceland in a playoff that was closer than it should have been.

There’s no doubt that Croatia has the depth, talent and experience to be dark horse contenders at the World Cup and make a deep run in the tournament, but they’ve yet to prove that they’re capable of doing so. Ever since their shock win over Germany in 2008, they’ve had more setbacks than accomplishments.

While this shouldn’t be the last shot at a World Cup for Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic or captain Darijo Srna, they might be exiting their primes by the time Russia 2018 rolls around. This isn’t quite a “now or never” situation, but it’s pretty close.

Key facts

Coach Niko Kovac

How they qualified UEFA playoffs

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Luka Modric

FIFA ranking 18th

England

+

England

England just isn't comfortable in its own skin. Despite being home to the Premier League and a slew of superb players, despite being a formidable enough soccer power, the sense is that it's never enough. Forget the ghosts of 1966 -- the ghost of empire rules over the Three Lions.

The dual strands of optimism (read: arrogance) and dour realism permeate the England setup. In the leadup to this summer's World Cup, the story will be about the squad not having to deal with the same sort of pressure as usual; after they're knocked out, we'll be told that they didn't live up to expectations and would do well to take notes from [insert country]'s culture if they want to be serious about winning. Unless, that is, they play good soccer, in which case they'll lose on penalties in the quarters.

With the last remnants of a generation of greats fading out of the spotlight, the Wayne Rooney era is upon us. And frankly, it's a lot more boring than the prologue might have suggested, leaving England relying on a star player who too often looks as though he possesses the creative ability of a particularly dull rock.

Surrounding Rooney are a gaggle of (admittedly good) players who are either too limited, too old or too inconsistent to count on at the very top level, and perhaps the only position in which England has any depth at all is left back. The midfield is a mess, and the sooner everyone gets over the Andros-Townsend-will-save-us nonsense the better.

Despite the obvious problems, the Three Lions are a decent enough side. But barring a miracle, they're not coming close to winning. England, of course, confides that every man will do his duty.

Key facts

Coach Roy Hodgson

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group H

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Wayne Rooney

FIFA ranking 10th

France

+

France

Despite seemingly their best efforts to miss out on their first World Cup since 1994, France was able to scrape their way into the field for Brazil. The French overcame a two-goal deficit to the Ukraine and claimed their place with a 3-0 win, powered by two goals from Mamadou Sakho (of all people) and another from Karim Benzema.

Talent has never been a question for this French team. The squad list is loaded with stars that play for some of the biggest teams in Europe, but their results have been extremely lackluster since appearing in the World Cup Final in 2006. They famously finished last in their group in the 2010 World Cup and didn’t fare much better in Euro 2012, finishing second in their group but exiting the tournament in the quarterfinals.

The current squad features a wealth of talent, but the question remains whether they can be more than the sum of their parts. They have explosive attacking players in Benzema, Franck Ribery and the tantalizing Paul Pogba, as well as a mix of youth and experience on the backline ahead of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. However, the question remains whether this group of French players can put it all together when the pressure is on. They overcame a huge challenge just to secure their berth in the World Cup; now it’s time to see what they can do with it.

Key facts

Coach Didier Deschamps

How they qualified UEFA playoffs

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Franck Ribery

FIFA ranking 21st

Greece

+

Greece

Bosnia and Herzegovina almost saved us from the eye-torture that is watching Greece play soccer by forcing the Greeks into a playoff, but they got a fortunate draw and proceeded to advance by Romania comfortably. Now, the most defensive decent team in the world will take their talents to Brazil, where they will inevitably piss off everyone who isn’t Greek.

Seriously, Greece didn’t even try to attack Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein!

While Greece manages to annoy people by being outrageously dull and having players with names that are very hard to spell, the Greeks are pretty good at what they do and have the talent to challenge anyone. Forwards Konstantinos Mitroglou and Dimitris Salpingidis are physically imposing guys who are very solid in front of goal and work hard defensively. They have very good depth in the center of defense and their midfield is always well-organized and difficult to break down.

There’s a good chance you’re going to hate Greece, and for very good reason, but no one can say that they don’t deserve to be here and that they’re not very good at what they do. Moralizing about styles of play is silly, and the Greeks have every right to do what they do.

But seriously, these guys suck to watch.

Key facts

Coach Fernando Santos

How they qualified UEFA playoffs

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Kostas Mitroglou

FIFA ranking 15th

Italy

+

Italy

Italy. The very name conjures up images of heaping plates of pasta, flowing glasses of red wine, and defensive soccer teams set to bore us into turning off international tournaments and pouring another glass of wine. But, in the same way Italians don’t actually tuck into oversized platters of spaghetti and meatballs, the idea of a defensive Italian national team is an outdated construct that is still perpetuated by the media.

Sure, Italy used to be known for their defensive soccer – this is the country that popularized catenaccio, after all. But although Cesare Prandelli remains conservative, the Azzurri are not a tight-knit defensive unit. Remember Spain’s 4-0 win in the Euro 2012 final? And if it’s not fair to use Spain as barometer, think of it this way: Italy kept a clean sheet in the qualifying process in just four of 10 matches. If it weren’t for Gigi Buffon, it’s highly likely many more goals would’ve slipped in.

Italy certainly have potent strikers. Mario Balotelli can get the job done, whether from a fantastic goal or going to ground at the right moment. Giuseppe Rossi is finally healthy, and already has double-digit goals in league play. But it’s the Azzurri midfield that will make the difference. Daniele De Rossi will protect the back line. Alessandro Florenzi and Marco Veratti are both young and eager to impress at the national level. But it’s Andrea Pirlo that will make or break Italy’s World Cup. At 34, the midfield maestro is finally growing a bit inconsistent; however, when he’s in tune, he’s practically unplayable.

The “Italy as a defensive powerhouse” stereotype is likely to still be around come summer 2014. But, if Prandelli plays this right, it’ll be “Italy the magnificent midfielders” after Brazil.

Key facts

Coach Cesare Prandelli

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group B

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Mario Balotelli

FIFA ranking 9th

Netherlands

+

Netherlands

By the time summer rolls around it'll be four years since The Netherlands' latest glorious failure. They're not remembered as a great team -- if that match is remembered at all, it's for Nigel de Jong's flying kick into Xabi Alonso's sternum -- but as losing finalists go, they put up a very impressive showing against a Spain side that eased past Germany in 2008 and then embarrassed Italy in Kiev. Holland held out for 90 minutes before finally being undone by an Andres Iniesta strike with the relative safety of a penalty shootout within touching distance.

Nobody's expecting the Oranje to repeat their 2010 heroics, but that might be because the soccer world is badly underestimating Louis van Gaal's side. Yes, they stumbled badly two years ago, failing to get out of the group stages in Euro 2012, but they've been one of Europe's most impressive sides in qualification this time out, dropping just two points in ten games.

There are flaws in the squad. This is particularly obvious in defense. The veterans are adequate, but not top-class, and the youngsters have failed to develop as Holland might have hoped a few years ago. They're also missing some star power in the midfield – Wesley Sneijder's star has virtually extinguished itself since his Inter days, and the Kevin Strootman/Marco van Ginkel generation looks too young/too injured to make a difference at a major tournament.

But there are elite players, too. Manchester United's Robin van Persie will terrify whoever he faces; so too will Arjen Robben. Those two alone mean that the Netherlands are going to be tough opposition for more or less everyone, even if the Oranje are unlikely to go all the way to the final this time around. This is not a side to take lightly.

Key facts

Coach Louis van Gaal

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group D

2010 World Cup result Runners up

Best player Arjen Robben

FIFA ranking 8th

Portugal

+

Portugal

Portugal’s road to the 2014 World Cup culminated in one of the most eagerly anticipated playoffs in recent memory. The Portuguese, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, played Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden for a place in Brazil, and the matchup lived up to the hype. Ronaldo scored all four goals for Portugal in the two games against Sweden, including a stunning hat trick in the second leg to overcome a brace from the Zlatan.

The question with Portugal isn’t Ronaldo, it’s the supporting cast around him. He has to do basically all of the heavy lifting for his side; and while he’s probably the best player in the world at the moment, he can’t win a World Cup by himself. It’s not like the Portuguese squad doesn’t have other talented players like Nani, Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles and Fabio Coentrao, but if this team is going to make a deep run in 2014, it will need active contributions from players other than Ronaldo. Portugal received four goals during qualifying from Helder Postiga, so it’s clearly possible.

Portugal made it all the way to the World Cup semifinals in 2006, but followed that up with an exit in the first knockout round in 2010. Given Ronaldo’s current run of form and the team’s somewhat troubling depth, I’m not so sure people would be surprised if they repeated either result in 2014.

Key facts

Coach Paulo Bento

How they qualified UEFA playoffs

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Cristiano Ronaldo

FIFA ranking 14th

Russia

+

Russia

Although it’s fair to say that it’s unsurprising Fabio Capello was wooed by Russia’s hefty paychecks, it was still completely unexpected for the Italian to go from England to Russia. It was also an unusual move for the country, which had previously had two Dutch coaches in charge – first, Guus Hiddink for Euro 2008, then Dick Advocaat after his predecessor failed to qualify for South Africa. In nationalistic terms, the contrast is obvious. While Advocaat was inherently counter-attacking in his approach, the side was more fluid and expressive than they are under Capello – but after supposedly also offering Harry Redknapp the job, it’s hard for Russia to complain about style when it’s obvious they didn’t even know what they wanted.

Capello’s soccer, for what it’s worth, is structured, organized and reactive. Probably guilty of being too open with England in South Africa – and promptly being eliminated by a rampant counter-attacking Germany – Capello will be far more conservative with Russia than he ever was with his previous team, illustrated by their fine defensive record in qualifying. They conceded just five times during the campaign, and after an early spell of admirable but not aesthetically pleasing results in the first part of qualification, became more attacking after a pair of 1-0 defeats to Portugal and Northern Ireland, scoring 12 goals in their final four games.

Ultimately, though, they were indebted to Portugal’s slip-up in Israel, which allowed them to escape the potential pitfall of a playoff. Attention now for Capello can turn to Brazil, where Russia will be keen to leave a good impression so as to build for the forthcoming World Cup they will host in 2018.

Key facts

Coach Fabio Capello

How they qualified Winners, UEFA Group F

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Alan Dzagoev

FIFA ranking 19th

Africa and South America

Chile, the nerd darlings of the last World Cup, returns with a similar entertaining style. Marcelo Bielsa isn't coaching the team anymore, but his disciple Jorge Sampaoli has picked up where he left off. Ecuador has the pieces to get through the group stage, but understandably, they haven't been great since the death of star striker 'Chucho' Christian Benitez.

Ghana has just as much talent as the teams who made it to the Round of 16 in the last two tournaments, while the Ivory Coast will be hoping for some good luck, for a change. Les Elephants drew arguably the tournament's toughest group in the last two straight World Cups. Nigeria is also primed for a run to the knockout stages with a great roster and a beloved coach in Stephen Keshi, but their governing body usually finds ways to mess up a good thing. Cameroon and Algeria are the weakest teams in the pot, but their two stars -- Samuel Eto'o and Sofiane Feghouli, respectively -- are good enough to fire them to an upset or two.

Algeria

+

Algeria

Thanks to Africa’s awful qualification system, the World Cup will feature Algeria instead of more talented and entertaining sides like Egypt, Senegal and Zambia. Apologies if you’re Algerian or have a soft spot for the Algerian national team, but CAF qualifying is horrible and Algeria were the beneficiaries.

You may remember Algeria from the 2010 World Cup, when they squandered a couple of early chances to score against the United States, proceeded to park the bus even though a draw did them no good, then gave up a dramatic U.S. winner in stoppage time.

Some names and faces will be recognizable, but the biggest names from that 2010 team have since retired from international play. Nadir Belhadj, Antar Yahia, Yazid Mansouri, Karim Ziani and Rafik Saifi are gone, but not forgotten. At least by us -- you probably forgot about them a long time ago, and for very good reason.

It’s tough to see Algeria making any noise in the World Cup, simply because they don’t have any of the ingredients that usually lead to an underdog making a great run. There’s no superstar player, they don’t have a coach with World Cup experience, they’re not loaded with grizzled veterans and they don’t have a specific style that they’ve mastered. This might be the strongest World Cup field ever, but Algeria is one of the few teams opponents will truly be happy to draw.

Key facts

Coach Vahid Halihodzic

How they qualified Playoff winner, CAF

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Sofiane Feghouli

FIFA ranking 32nd

Cameroon

+

Cameroon

In a 2010 World Cup that was thought to favor the African sides, Cameroon was expected to provide some serious opposition to the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan. Many experts picked them to finish second in the group. Instead, they made a quick exit, losing all three of their games and joining North Korea as one of two sides that didn’t get a single point in the competition.

The four-time Africa Cup of Nations winners and first ever African World Cup quarterfinalists entered a period of decline after that, exiting the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarterfinals before failing to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 editions of the tournament, as well as the 2012 Summer Olympics. Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o, the nation’s all-time leading scorer by a considerable distance, has been suspended and reinstated, while also going through multiple aborted retirements from international football. It’s been a tough cycle for Cameroonian football, but Eto’o is back and they’ve been excellent in qualifying.

Their fate is likely to hinge on the draw. They have the talent to get through a lackluster group with teams that lack athleticism, but they’re not exactly a deep or versatile side. It wouldn’t be stunning to see Cameroon get five points from their group and make a knockout stage run, but another zero-point outing wouldn’t be a shock either.

Key facts

Coach Volker Finke

How they qualified Playoff winner, CAF

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Samuel Eto’o

FIFA ranking 59th

Ivory Coast

+

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast emerged from a nervy playoff against Senegal to ensure they qualified for their third consecutive World Cup. Considering they had never made it to a finals before Germany 2006, their recent run has been a pretty good achievement. With a mix of elderly stars and younger talents, Les Éléphants are definitely one of the more dangerous African sides in the draw.

They've got bags of experience from the likes of the Touré brothers, all-time most-capped player Didier Zokora and national hero Didier Drogba, who will spearhead the attack in what will surely be his last World Cup. His former Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou and winger Gervinho are also familiar faces in the Ivorian camp, while Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony is at the forefront of the younger generation waiting to break through into the starting 11.

However, despite their wealth of experience and depth, it’s hard to see Ivory Coast bettering their previous two appearances at the World Cup and progressing through to the knockout stages. While they certainly have a capable squad, it’s a side -- possibly with the exception of an on-form Yaya Touré -- without a truly world-class player. Anything better than a solid group-stage showing would be a great success.

Key facts

Coach Sabri Lamouchi

How they qualified Playoff winner, CAF

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Yaya Toure

FIFA ranking 17th

Ghana

+

Ghana

Ghana’s road to the World Cup was relatively smooth, as the African nation easily won their Round 2 group with a four-point cushion over Zambia. Their much ballyhooed final-round playoff tie against Egypt never really materialized, either, as Ghana hammered The Pharaohs in the first leg and never looked back.

No doubt many U.S. Soccer fans looked with some level of annoyance or disappointment as former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley — Egypt’s head coach — once again was denied by Ghana.

The Black Stars first qualified for the World in 2006 and have failed to miss out on a place in the finals every opportunity since. They also had excellent success in their first two appearances, reaching the Round of 16 in 2006 and the quarterfinals in 2010 (at the expense of Bradley and the USA). The bar is thus set fairly high for this group of players, which will attempt to defy the odds and try to advance even further in Brazil.

Ghana is an extremely experienced side led by veterans Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari — two players with extensive top-flight club experience in Europe — supported by a talented roster that includes Juventus’ Kwadwo Asamoah and Schalke 04’s Kevin-Prince Boateng. Striker Asamoah Gyan will also need have a strong tournament for the Black Stars to try and meet or exceed their previous results.

Key facts

Coach Akwasi Appiah

How they qualified Playoff winner, CAF

2010 World Cup result Quarterfinals

Best player Kwadwo Asamoah

FIFA ranking 23rd

Nigeria

+

Nigeria

Winning their first African Nations Cup this year since 1994, Nigeria’s optimistically styled Super Eagles appear to be flying high. They’ve qualified for four of the last five World Cups, and though they haven’t made it through to the knockout stages since 1998, their recent silverware has left the most populous nation on the African continent optimistic of a good World Cup showing.

Stephen Keshi’s team is pretty inexperienced when compared to some of the sides in the draw, such as their African neighbor, Ivory Coast. Though Nigeria has a couple of veteran stars like Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, they largely have relied on younger players -- the highlights including Liverpool’s Victor Moses and Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi -- in their recent endeavors.

Nigeria brought a younger squad than anyone else to the Confederations Cup earlier this summer, and their impressive pedigree at youth level was illustrated by winning the Under-17 version of the World Cup for the fourth time earlier this year. But, does their current crop stand any chance of success in Brazil next summer? Sorry, Super Eagles, but probably not. Lacking any world class players means they’ll do well to improve on a group stage exit.

Key facts

Coach Stephen Keshi

How they qualified Playoff winner, CAF

2010 World Cup result Group stage

Best player Ahmed Musa

FIFA ranking 33rd

Chile

+

Chile

The road to World Cup qualification has been a rocky one for Chile, but it’s excelled under new management, winning five of their last seven qualifiers. Jorge Sampaoli has guided Chile to 16 of their 28 points in qualifying, despite being manager for less than half of their games.

If you enjoyed Chile during the last World Cup, you're going to like them just as much this time around. Sampaoli is a noted admirer of 2010 Chile manager Marcelo Bielsa and employs a similar high-pressure system with a three-man defense. Many of Chile's players became national stars while playing under Sampaoli at Universidad de Chile before moving on to play in Brazil and in Europe.

Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez is the team’s biggest star, and he's playing much better than he was at this time last year. Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal is arguably their most important player, providing some tenacity and the ability to play anywhere in the midfield.

This World Cup could also provide an opportunity for Angelo Henriquez to become a global star. The 19-year-old forward came up under Sampaoli at La U as a 17-year-old before moving on to Manchester United. He's been excellent on loan at Real Zaragoza in La Liga this season, and a solid World Cup could see him secure a place in Man United's senior squad.

Key facts

Coach Jorge Sampaoli

How they qualified Top four, CONMEBOL

2010 World Cup result Round of 16

Best player Arturo Vidal

FIFA ranking 12th

Ecuador

+

Ecuador

The main story, sadly, of Ecuador’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014 was the untimely passing of Christian Benitez. A fine talent, the striker was not only a key player to the team, but more significantly, an important member of the squad whose death shook many of his teammates.

Understandably, Ecuador’s form dipped after Benitez’s passing, shrouding what had seemed like assured qualification in doubt. Still, Ecuador maintained their undefeated record at home – attributable, also, to the difficult altitude of Quito – although they were dismal playing away, failing to win at all on the road but clinching qualification thanks to a superior goal difference to Uruguay, whom they beat 1-0 in the penultimate round of qualification.

Benitez’s death also meant changes to Reinaldo Rueda’s system, which had previously used the clever forward in a second striker position. For the second half of qualification, Antonio Valencia was somewhat unexpectedly shifted inside – as very much a natural wide player for Manchester United, it seemed disastrous on paper, but his power and physical strength proved useful in helping protect a midfield that had sometimes felt overrun. Rueda’s main problem, though, comes in wide areas, where left-winger Jefferson Montero headlines a generation of quick Ecuadorian wingers who are exciting going forward but tend to leave their full-backs woefully exposed.

Still, after the tragic events of August, just being there in Brazil will be enough for Ecuador.

Key facts

Coach Reinaldo Rueda

How they qualified Top four, CONMEBOL

2010 World Cup result Did not qualify

Best player Antonio Valencia

FIFA ranking 22nd

  • Editor Kevin McCauley
  • Producers Brian Floyd, Chris Mottram
  • Writers Kevin McCauley, Ryan Rosenblatt, Graham MacAree, Kirsten Schlewitz, Tim Palmer, Jeremiah Oshan, Zach Woosley, Peter Berkes, Uros Popovic, Jack Sargeant, Andi Thomas
  • Project Manager Chris Haines
  • Lead Designer Georgia Cowley
  • Lead Developer Josh Laincz
  • Designer Ramla Mahmood
  • Special Thanks Tate Tozer, Brian Anderson, Cory Williams

About the Author

Hoodie

The best thing about soccer is that there's always a game on somewhere in the world. Unless you like sleep. Then that's the worst thing about soccer.

My favorite game of all time is the second leg of the 2011 Copa Libertadores Round of 16 tie between Junior Atletico and Jaguares de Chiapas.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.