Between Scylla and Charybdis

By Gabriel Cazotto

    Ah the Draw! One of the finest moments of the World Cup. Perhaps better than some games that you will find during the tournament. The anxiety one day before, the anxiety during the show, and specially, the anxiety before, during and after you know that team your National squad will get. We can now say with 100% sure. The World Cup has begun!

    The feelings here in Brazil after the draw was of a pure party. The majority of the audience, which includes a lot of people who are unknown to international football, or only follows the Brazil squad during the World Cup are notorious happy, Brazil got a fine first round. No European powerhouse nor Group of Death like B or D. Brazil will steam over every opponent, no doubts about, will say the most majority in Brazil.

    But, not everyone is a Pacheco, as we call the one with a high praised nationalism. The pundits, the serious football media, and the passionate fans, who follows football worldwide, and even the ones who support another national teams, where I include myself (as crazy as it might be, I support Portugal as a homage to my great-parent since I was a child), can look a little less with the heart, and more with the brain, and take a few conclusions.

    First. Yes, Brazil got a fine group. With an inexperienced team and the huge (and put huge in that) pressure that a Canarinha with have in Brazilian fields, a group with a middle difficulty will put Brazil on test and will also bring some tranquility, since there is no doubt that Brazil may finish round in first position. Even with this very talented Croatian squad, and Mexico, who has been Brazil´s Black wing in the last years (Especially during the last Olympics).

    So, we can reach the second point, and return to the mislead euphoria of the majority here. The Second Round and beyond. Everyone, who knows how works the World Cup will say that Brazil got a really tough draw! Why you say? Because Brazil from the second round on will put himself in a Scylla/Charybdis situation.

    If you are not familiar with the Greek myth of Scylla and Charybdis, let me resume to you. After the Trojan War, Ulysses, the Greek hero, tried to return home to Ithaca. During his travel he found himself in a ship which had to go through a left or right turn, in the left he would found Scylla, a monster formed by six beasts which enchanted and devoured the travelers, into the right he would find Charybdis, another monster, with giant fangs and prompting of maelstroms. He would have to make a choice that he would lose in any response.

    This is Brazil's situation from the second Round and beyond (if nothing extraordinary happens). Spain or Netherlands in the round of 16? Argentina, Uruguay (and the Maracanazo ghost) or England in quarter finals? France or Germany in Semi-Finals? Argentina, Portugal and Spain/Netherlands in the Final?

    You see, not as lucky as everyone thought? (Historically Brazil always begins the difficulty games in quarter-finals. The only two times that this not happen, and he got a powerhouse was 1982 and 1990 both with Argentina, which he beat and lost respectively).

    But, if a round of 16 loss, even to Spain or the Dutch will be an incredible failure for the squad, winning the Cup with this path, and probably, the most difficulty path ever, would be the success that every Brazilian one desires and dreamed about.

Just to enter in this World Cup Fever, I will make my choices for the second round qualifiers.

Group A
1) Brazil, 2) Croatia.
Brazil may top the group, no doubt. But who will be second? I've seen the Spanish team in all this last 6 years have 3 difficulty games that has made them prove themselves, two played the same style to stop them. An advanced defense line, and pressure in the beginning of the ball exchange of the Spanish team (Portugal in 2012 euro semi-final and Brazil in confederations cup final, which Felipão included said that he inspired the team in Bento´s tactics). The other one was also in the Euro, but for me, accomplished something even bigger even losing, they defied Spain in their own game, in the control of the ball, and that was Croatia. So, for me, the Blazers might get their revenge in Round of 16.

Group B
1) Spain, 2) Netherlands.
For me, the first of two Groups of Death. But even with a very talented squad, Chile are one step below Spain and the Dutch. I rank Spain first because I believe they can get a better result against Chile than Netherlands might.

Group C
1) Ivory Coast, 2) Colombia
Don't be fool and expect an easy group, Japan and Greece are tougher teams than before, especially this Greek team, who is truly difficulty to crack. But Drogba and Yaya Touré can lead this quad to first position, followed by a very talented Colombian team.

Group D
1) Italy, 2) Uruguay
The second Group of Death, and unfortunately I believe England will die. Italy is too strong for both teams, and Uruguay has the best duo partnership in attack of the competition, Suarez and Cavani. Gerrard and Rooney can make the difference, but this English squad is on a renewal, and might suffer from some lack of experience.

Group E
1) France, 2) Switzerland
France was the luckiest team in the draw. From a possible Group of Death as the worst European ranked team, to a very accessible Group. They and Hitzfeld's very good Swiss squad are my bet.

Group F
1) Argentina, 2) Bosnia-Herzegovina
Argentina might top the group, especially if Messi reaches the World Cup at 100% fit. The other 3 teams has the same chance. I'd go with Bosnia mainly because of the talent that Pjanic, Dzeko, Ibisevic and Lulic have.

Group G
1) Germany, 2) Portugal
A very tough group, don't get me wrong, Germany, as always, will pass, and this is a perfect group for Portugal, who seems to play better with stronger teams such as USA and Ghana, and have one two things which may cause an advantage for them, Cristiano Ronaldo and the first game at the heat of Salvador, something the Germans are not used to as the Portuguese, who have several players with roots from Africa, including Ronaldo, who was born in Madeira Island, as hot as Salvador. USA will be the team with the most amount of travel, which may cause some problems for them.

and finally, Group H
1) Russia, 2) Belgium
Almost the same Group of 2002, Belgium, Russia, and Asian powerhouse (Korea / Japan) and a Northern African team (Tunisia / Algeria). But this time around, both Belgium and Russia are better than those teams, while Korea decreased a little. Russia first because I think they have the best coach of the tournament, Capello.



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