2014 FIFA World Cup preview: Groups A & B

ANKARA (AA) - In Group A of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, host nation Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon will be playing against each other to advance to the round of 16.

- Brazil

With five World Cup titles under their belt and the advantage of being the host nation, Brazil are considered one of the favorites to win this year’s tournament. The "Seleçao" (The Selection) will need to improve significantly on their 2010 performance, when they fell at the quarter-final stage to a 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands.

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Henrique (Napoli), Maicon (Roma), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain)

Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter)

Forwards: Hulk (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Fred (Fluminense)

Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

- Mexico

Known by Mexican fans as Chicharito -- little green pea -- Manchester United’s enthusiastic forward Javier Hernandez will aim to propel his squad in the World Cup’s second round. He’ll be accompanied by Villareal’s explosive winger Giovani dos Santos who scored 12 goals and made 18 assists for his club this season.

In 2010 FIFA World Cup Mexico were knocked out of the tournament by Argentina with 3-1 in Round of 16.

Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio)

Defenders: Paul Aguilar (America), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen), Miguel Layun (America), Rafa Marquez (Leon), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Diego Reyes (Porto), Maza Rodriguez (America), Carlos Salcido (Tigres)

Midfielders: Juan Carlos Medina (America), Gallito Vazquez (Leon), Hector Herrera (Porto), Carlos Pena (Leon), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Luis Montes (Leon)

Forwards: Oribe Peralta (Santos), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Raul Jimenez (America), Alan Pulido (Tigres), Giovani Dos Santos (Villarreal)

Coach: Miguel Herrera

- Croatia

The height of Croatia’s World Cup success was a third place finish in the 1998 World Cup in France. This year's squad has the potential to repeat the feat, namely thanks to the talents of the crafty midfield pair of Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Ivan Rakitic (Bayern Munich). Croatia's attack features Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic.

Croatia did not qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.

Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Lokomotiv Moscow)

Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moskova), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg), Mateo Kovacic (Inter), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dinamo Kiev), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka), Sammir (Getafe)

Forwards: Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg), Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk), Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Münih), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)

Coach: Niko Kovac

- Cameroon

Cameroon’s 33-year old captain and record goal-scorer Samuel Eto’o will play in his fourth World Cup but his team's preparation has been hindered by a player strike. The players refused to board the plane for Brazil on Sunday because of disputes over bonuses with the Cameroon football federation. They finally took off from Yaounde on Monday.

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa, Cameroon was eliminated in group stages.

Goalkeepers: Charles Itandje (Torku Konyaspor), Loic Feudjou (Coton Sport), Sammy Ndjock (Fethiyespor)

Defenders: Allan Nyom (Granada), Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray), Nicolas Nkoulou (Olympique de Marseille), Joel Matip (Schalke 04), Henri Bedimo (Olympique Lyon), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Alexandre Song (Barcelona), Jean Makoun (Rennes), Stephane Mbia (Sevilla), Eyong Enoh (Ajax), Landry N'Guemo (Bordeaux), Edgar Salli (Lens)

Forwards: Samuel Eto'o (unattached), Eric Choupo Moting (Mainz 05), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Pierre Webo (Fenerbahce), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem)

Coach: Volker Finke

Fixture of Group A:

June 12, Brazil vs Croatia at 2000GMT

June 13, Mexico vs Cameroon at 1600GMT

June 17, Brazil vs Mexico at 1900GMT

June 19, Cameroon vs Croatia at 2200GMT

June 23, Cameroon vs Brazil at 2000GMT

June 23, Croatia vs Mexico at 2000GMT

2014 FIFA World Cup Group B

Lastest World Cup winners Spain and last runners-up, the Netherlands, will face in Group B this year. Chile have an opportunity become the surprise team of this World Cup to reach the round of 16 and Australia hope to merely exist.

- Spain

Defending champions Spain go into the tournament with a Euro 2012 victory under their belt. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona and Real Madrid are contributing a total of 10 players but this year’s Liga winners Atletico Madrid will also be represented, by their star striker Diego Costa.

Spain won the 2010 World Cup in a 1-0 victory against the Netherlands.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid),

Midfielders: Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich) Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal),

Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea)

Coach: Vicente del Bosque

- Netherlands

The Netherlands will rely on key players like Manchester United striker Robin van Persie and Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben in their bid to win the World Cup for the first time in their history. Last time around, they fell to Spain in the final.

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United)

Defenders: Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Daley Blind (Ajax)

Midfielders: Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Memphis Depay (PSV)

Coach: Louis van Gaal

- Chile

Under the expert supervision of Juventus' box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal and Barcelona's explosive forward Alexis Sanchez, Chile has its chances to qualify.

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa, Chile were kicked out of the tournament by Brazil in the Round of 16.

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)

Defenders: Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest)

Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jean Beausejour (Wigan Athletic), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo)

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo)

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

- Australia

Australia are assuredly the weakest team in the group. They will count on their experienced striker Tim Cahill to create an upset.

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 'Socceroos' were eliminated in group stages.

Goalkeepers: Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge)

Defenders: Jason Davidson (SC Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng), Matthew Spiranovic, (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Bailey Wright (Preston North End)

Midfielders: Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), James Holland (Austria Wien), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace, captain), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (FC Sion)

Forwards: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Duesseldorf), Matthew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets)

Coach: Ange Postecoglou

Fixture of Group B is as follows:

June 13, Spain vs Netherlands at 1900GMT

June 13, Chile vs Australia at 2200GMT

June 18, Australia vs Netherlands at 1600GMT

June 18, Spain vs Chile at 1900GMT

June 23, Netherlands vs Chile at 1600GMT

June 23, Australia vs Spain at 1600GMT

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