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World Cup 2014 group stage preview

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The 2014 World Cup's so-called "Group of Death" is by both consensus and average team ranking considered to be the one that the Americans happened to have landed in: Group G.

The U.S. men's national team will have to be successful against the likes of Germany, Portugal, and Ghana to move on to the knockout stage. All four teams have a realistic chance of making it to the second round. Germany is among a handful of favorites to win the whole thing with their deeply talented and tested squad. Portugal is led by the man currently considered the world's best soccer player: Cristiano Ronaldo. Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of the last two World Cups in a row.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is trying to portray cool confidence about the group heading into the tournament.

"Obviously it's one of the most difficult groups in the whole draw," U.S. Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN after hearing about his draw. "It couldn't get any more difficult or any bigger. But that's what a World Cup is about. It's a real challenge and we'll take it. We'll take it on and hopefully we're going to surprise some people there."

Another group that could be considered a "Group of Death" is appropriately labeled "Group D" - and it is also a brutal one: Italy, England, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.

While many say Costa Rica doesn't stand a chance, they aren't a squad that anyone should sleep on with rising 21-year-old star Joel Campbell leading the charge.

That said, it's a tossup as to which two of the other three international powerhouses will come out on top. If any of them don't make it out of the group stage, it will be the equivalent of a national tragedy, so expect a series of exciting matches from them.

In the rest of the groups, exciting matches abound.

In Group A, a recently struggling but talented Mexican squad will try to prove themselves against favorites Brazil, as well as tough outs Cameroon and Croatia. In Group B, the two 2010 finalists, Spain and The Netherlands, will have to face off early. In Group C, Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast are all ranked in the top 25 in the world, and Japan is regularly the best in Asia. In Group E, France will be out to prove its recent international disasters were a fluke, and they should have a tough time against Switzerland and Ecuador. In Group F, Argentina is widely expected to run away with the top spot, but Nigeria is always a talented squad and Bosnia and Herzegovina rank 25th in the world. Finally, in Group H, one of the tournament's dark horses picked to make a deep run, Belgium, is likely to take the top spot, but the other three -- Algeria, Russia, and South Korea -- could pull off some surprises as they duke it out to advance.


Group listings below are country name, followed by FIFA world ranking as of April 28, 2014


Brazil - 6

Croatia - 20

Mexico - 19

Cameroon - 50


Spain - 1

Netherlands - 15

Chile - 14

Australia - 59


Colombia - 4

Greece - 10

Ivory Coast - 21

Japan - 47


Uruguay - 5

Costa Rica - 34

England - 11

Italy - 9


Switzerland - 8

Ecuador - 28

France - 16

Honduras - 32


Argentina - 6

Bosnia and Herzegovina - 25

Iran - 37

Nigeria - 45


Germany - 2

Portugal - 3

Ghana - 38

U.S.A. - 13


Belgium - 12

Algeria - 25

Russia - 18

Korea Republic - 56

The coaches of the national football teams of the 32 nations that have qualified for the 2014 World Cup Finals pose on stage with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter after the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Costa do Sauipe Resort on December 6, 2013 in Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil. Buda Mendes/Getty Images

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