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The World Cup Is Here!
updated: Jun 10, 2014, 12:00 PM

By K. Prieto

The time has come and the wait is over. The most coveted and excitable global sporting event is here: The World Cup. It has been four long years with many changes and much anticipation to the countries squads and coaches. Every four years we get an opportunity to see the best of the best compete, to determine who will be the World's champion and who will get to hold that title for the following four years. For most participating countries, soccer is more than a game; it's an identity. They eat, breath, and dream of a time when their country's colors are being represented on the largest platform for the sport.

I am here to do the same. Ed and the Dedicated Staff have so kindly allowed me to write a column during the 4-5 weeks the World Cup airs. If you haven't guessed by now soccer is a sport I hold near and dear to my heart. I have played since I was 4 years old and it has afforded me so many opportunities. From playing competitively with a club team to a state, regional, national, and collegiate level, soccer was what I dreamt about nightly. It provided me with a sense of camaraderie, responsibilities, and lifelong friendships that I am forever grateful for.

I have read many articles and followed as much press as possible, leading up to the start of the tournament and I am here to provide my two cents. I have broken down the brackets and picked my two favorites from each category. ESPN.com has a great interactive bracket.

The Brackets

Group A:
Brazil
Croatia
Mexico
Cameroon

My Predictions for Second Round Qualifiers: Brazil and Mexico

Brazil, although considered overrated by most analysts, should have no problem moving out of this bracket. As a host country expectations are set high. Mexico, if they can incorporate their young additions and stay focused moving on to the second round should be no problem.

Group B:
Spain
Netherlands
Chile
Australia

My Predictions: Spain and Netherlands

Skill and composure alone will be more than enough to help Spain move on. The Netherlands are being called overrated, but I wouldn't settle with that. Between Robben and van Persie, opponents will have a hard time tracking and keeping up with their pace, both on and off the ball.

Group C:
Colombia
Greece
Ivory Coast
Japan

My Predictions: Colombia and Japan

Both teams come in as underdogs and heavily underrated. Japan has two things other countries lack: patience and discipline. Chile has one of the strongest midfields of the tournament. Will they win the cup, not likely, but they are a solid opponent.

Group D:
Uruguay
Costa Rica
England
Italy

My Predictions: England and Italy

Italy will always be a strong contender. The sport runs thick in their blood. If they can stay cool and not flop they should go far in the tournament. England is a personal favorite of mine. All of my favorite players are English. However, they are presented with challenges. They will heavily rely on Rooney to put up the most points. With Steven Gerard holding down the midfield, England's defense will really need to step up and make a presence early on.

Group E:
Switzerland
Ecuador
France
Honduras

My Predictions: France and Honduras

France is an all or nothing team. If they are all in, they could make it very far. Honduras has the entire nation supporting and pulling for them to advance. That alone has the entire squad hungry to succeed.

Group F
Argentina
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Iran
Nigeria

My Predictions: Argentina and Nigeria

Argentina has Linoel Messi. Need I say more? The second spot, I think, is really up for grabs. I picked Nigeria bc they have speed and a physicality that generally is difficult to match.

Group G (or the group of death):
Germany
Portugal
Ghana
USA

My Predictions: Germany and Portugal

This was a difficult selection to make. Germany is all skill and all brut. Portugal is crafty and skillful. Ghana, is Ghana. They are continuously underrated, but have so much to offer. Strength, speed, and skill. The US has a lot of new talent and that hasn't necessarily translated well during qualifying matches and the friendlies. I don't think the absence of Landon Donavon will make a significant difference, however his experience and knowledge on a national and international level will be greatly missed. He will go down as one of the all time greatest American soccer players, but it's clear Coach Klinsmann had other things in mind for his roster.

Group H:
Belgium
Algeria
Russia
South Korea

My Predictions: Belgium and South Korea

What most don't know about South Korea is, like Japan and a lot of your Asian style soccer, they clutch a sense of discipline and patience that's unattested. For that reason alone I think they will be successful offensively. Belgium has one of the more solid and fierce lineups of the tournament. Don't sleep on them, they went 10 for 10 for their qualifiers.

Where I'll Be Watching

  • Press Room (15 E Ortega St.)
  • Dargans (18 E Ortega St.)
  • Uptown Lounge (3126 State St.)

    Or watch from the comfort of your own home. The first game is on Thursday, June 12th at 1pm (PST) and games will be broadcasted on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.

    Related Articles

  • June 21, 2014: World Cup Group Match Highlights

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    K. Prieto is a UCSB alum and former Gaucho midfielder. You can usually find her at the Press Room with fellow England fans analyzing Italian flops.

    (Photos: FIFA)

     

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