Steve Rothgeb

World Cup Talk

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World Cup PL Influence Part 1

Monday, June 09, 2014


Sometimes when I am rummaging through my things and I look at the items I have accumulated over the years, I find myself asking, "When did I get this?" or "How long have I had this thing?...this dubbed VHS copy of three episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, this cheap hat with the Velcro back given away at some minor league baseball game, this library book I never returned" --Ok, I admit, I could probably check the card in the back to figure that one out. 1990-something?

 

But there is one item I recently uncovered that if nothing else, will always have that moment in time etched in my memory of when I first gained possession of it: my 2010 World Cup vuvuzela. There it rests, next to the case which contains a bass guitar I haven't picked up since the invention of the iPod. It remains there, a relic like a WWII hand grenade, right where it needs to be if I want to observe it, but otherwise, out of harm's way, because no one would want to be around if it goes off. 

 

June of 2010. For better or worse, as long as me and that vuvuzela are linked together, I can instantly recall exactly when I got my hands on it, and the memory of the tournament that surrounded it.

 

What will Brazil bring in 2014? It remains to be seen, but you can bet on there being some magical moments, and I am hoping to catch them all.

 

Originally, this column was going to have a bit more of a fantasy angle on it but with the official FIFA fantasy World Cup game's launch being delayed (they are now live) the focus here is to look at the Premier League players who are involved for the 32 countries. Remember, the moment this tourney is over, the Premier League preseason ramps up, and scouting the talent for your next season's fantasy squads is always a good idea. There are 114 international players that play for a club in the English system, 119 if you include Welsh sides Swansea City and Cardiff City.

 

 

We will dive in to Groups A-D today and finish up with Groups E-H soon.

 

Follow the Rotoworld Premier League team all summer for World Cup News, Transfer Analysis, and Season Previews



GROUP A


Brazil - (World Rank 3) 

 

PL Talent (6) -- David Luiz (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Tottenham), Oscar (Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea) Willian (Chelsea)

Thoughts: Neymar is the obvious talent for the home country to watch, though the pressure must be immense to be asked to shine brightest in a galaxy of stars. I will want to see Paulinho's performance most from the PL talent. After being dropped at times last season at Spurs, he should be nailed on for Brazil and have a chip on his shoulder.

Group Prediction: 1st

 

Cameroon - (WR 56)

 

PL Talent (2) Benoit Assou-Ekotto (QPR loanee), Samuel Eto'o (Chelsea)

Thoughts: Cameroon have a history of being upset specialists, most notably in 1990 when they reached the quarterfinals. If they have any hope of overachieving again, Samuel Eto'o will need to be scoring goals, something he had trouble doing more often than not last season at Chelsea.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

Croatia - (WR 18)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City)

Thoughts: Jelavic will probably be a bench option during the tournament with Mario Mandzukic getting all the starts to lead the line, though Lovren looks set to start every match at CB. While it is a close call between them and Mexico for the team to join Brazil out of the group, I think the Croatians are a better assembled unit right now.

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

Mexico - (WR 20)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)

Thoughts: The loss of Luis Montes in Mexico's midfield is a major blow and will likely trickle down negatively to players like Hernandez. Otherwise, it would be a much tighter race with Croatia for 2nd place in the group. 

Group prediction: 3rd

 

 

GROUP B


Australia - (World Rank 61) 

 

PL Talent (1) -- Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)

Thoughts: The Socceroos come in the lowest ranked country in the tournament, so their chances of advancing are practically impossible, especially given the strength of the other three countries in their group. Perhaps they eek out a draw and salvage a point out of things for their efforts.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

Chile - (WR 14)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Gary Medel (Cardiff City)

Thoughts: Chile will be very interesting to watch. They are ranked one spot ahead of the Netherlands in the world, and have their home continent to their advantage. Medel will shift from his usual CDM position in the PL to an outright center back for the Chileans. Their match against the Dutch will probably decide which of the two will advance.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

The Netherlands - (WR 15)

 

PL Talent (6) -- Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Tim Krul (Newcastle), Michel Vorm (Swansea City)

Thoughts: They can be brilliant, they can underachieve...they are probably the most talented country to never win the tournament. In Euro 2012, they were just awful. They are all about the attack and have issues in their defense, making them fun and frustrating to watch at the same time. Best kits in the world.  I think the Dutch squeak by as Louis van Gaal shows some managerial savvy on the eve of taking over at Old Trafford.

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

Spain - (WR 1)

 

PL Talent (1) -- Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City)

Thoughts: Spain is just always good, always tough, and the trip across the Atlantic should have less effect on them than other European contenders. Still, there are three solid countries in this group, and a first round slip up to the Dutch while Chile takes care of Australia could leave Spain in a very precarious situation. I wouldn't bet on it though. It may not be 9 points, but they will make the KO stage.

Group prediction: 1st



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GROUP C


Colombia - (WR 8) 

 

PL Talent (1) -- Pablo Armero (West Ham)

Thoughts: The loss of Falcao throws a serious wrench into the plans of the Colombians who, with their all-world striker, looked to have one of the easier paths to the KO stage with a very kind grouping. His loss though will level the playing field considerably and others like James Rodriguez will have to step up their game. Home continent should be enough to get them through the group but it may be an early exit after that.

Group Prediction: 1st

 

Greece - (WR 12)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham)

Thoughts: Word on the street is that Mitroglou is fit, certainly in better shape than in his half season at Fulham, and he will need to be in order for Greece to flex a little muscle in their attack. Otherwise, they will probably go with their typical international gameplan..defend and hope to nick a goal somewhere. Without any of the super strong countries in this group, fantasy investment in what should be relatively affordable Greek defenders could pay off nicely.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

Ivory Coast - (WR 23)

 

PL Talent (4) -- Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Cheik Tiote (Newcastle), Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)

Thoughts: Most years, Ivory Coast ranks highest among African nations in the world rankings and when you have had Didier Drogba leading the line for the past decade plus, it certainly has made their side a formidable one. That distinction has changed recently however as Algeria is the top ranked country from that continent, one spot above Ivory Coast.  I have to say they are getting a bit older as a squad though, and while experience is certainly not a negative quality, it can be tough to keep up with the kids. Personally, I would like to see Bony given a chance up top. He is coming off a phenomenal season and has the youth.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

Japan - (WR 46)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)

Thoughts: In a wide open group, I felt I needed to latch on to an underdog and Japan is the one for me. They are one of seven countries ranked outside the top 32 in the world, meaning just being there makes them underdogs. Keisuke Honda is hitting the prime of his career and this will be his best platform to be recognized on a world level. He and Kagawa have already shown some nice rapport in qualifiers and he is all over set pieces. I think they can get a win and a draw from the group and that should be enough.

Group prediction: 2nd

 

 

GROUP D


Costa Rica - (WR 27) 

 

PL Talent (1) -- Bryan Ruiz (Fulham, on loan at PSV)

Thoughts: Costa Rica have some nice players in their squad but none of the upper echelon and when you are grouped with three other countries ranked inside the top 10 in the world, you are looking at a country with very little hope of advancing. They will more likely make news as a potential spoiler as they play England in the final group match.

Group Prediction: 4th

 

England - (WR 10)

 

PL Talent (22) -- the only England player not playing for an English club at the moment is backup keeper Fraser Forster (Celtic)

Thoughts: It is a guilty pleasure but I always enjoy the English press' coverage of the Three Lions, and all the speculation and analysis that is somehow extremely optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. They always tend to anoint a youngster as the "savior" of whatever tournament is to come, and this time around, it looks like Raheem Sterling is being asked to take the country on his shoulders. You can't argue his talent, specifically his pace, but it seems much to ask for a lad whose abilities, while outstanding, are still a bit raw. It's a tough call but I think they fall just short of the KO stage.

Group Prediction: 3rd

 

Italy - (WR 9)

 

PL Talent (0) 

Thoughts: Italian players have historically shied away from playing in the Premier League, and the major stars tend to stay in their home country for the majority of their careers. One benefit of this would have to be the chemistry the Italians have on the international stage. While Mario Balotelli may have made your head scratch while at Man City more times than you can count, he has been lethal for the Azzuri. Personally, I will sit back and enjoy the exploits of Andrea Pirlo one last time. A long, illustrious career of unbelievable tekkers, he is the kind of athlete that Youtube compilation videos were designed for.

Group Prediction: 2nd

 

Uruguay - (WR 7)

 

PL Talent (2) -- Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Diego Lugano (West Brom), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool)

Thoughts: Looks like things are fine regarding Luis Suarez's fitness, and i expect him to help his country to the top of a tough group. They have the "home" advantage, Suarez couldn't be more familiar with England and how to beat their players. If Cavani can deliver anywhere near his potential, I think Uruguay can find goals against the likes of England and Italy.

Group prediction: 1st




Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for Rotoworld.com and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.
Email :Steve Rothgeb



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