Anyway, I was going to do a full preview/prediction nut sort of run out of energy. Here's the reduced version (teams to go through in bold):
Brazil are the obvious favorites and should be able to win all of their matches... although if they lose or even draw one there's the risk the crowd will really turn on them. Croatia to nab the second spot after a close run with Mexico; I think the Croatian team (even lacking a few key players) has a bit more to it than Mexico although we'll have to see how they handle the conditions.
Much like Brazil, Spain are the obvious favorites. I still have the Netherlands as dark horses to do well... but that's on the basis that everything clicks for them and truth be told it very rarely does. Far better Dutch teams have conspired to underperform despite the huge amount of talent available. For that reason I think Chile... a team somewhat lacking in superstars but performing as an excellent team, also one of my dark horses... get the second spot.
Arguably one of the tightest groups with the least difference between teams... and each team coming in with clear flaws. The Greek side is too defensively, the Ivory Coast has several players four years past their best (and key players nursing injuries), Colombia have had to leave Falcao at home and Japan tend to get bullied in matches. I give the edge to the Ivory Coast (although if Toure is badly injured that could become foolish) with Japan's all around game just about enough to edge out a Colombia team that still has talent but lacks its main strike point.
God this is a tight group and pretty much any of the top three could go through in any position. For me Uruguay just miss the cut... I think Suarez is being rushed back a bit quickly and rushed back players rarely perform on the big stage... but Italy aren't what they were and England are... well... England. I think Italy, for all their flaws, are defensively sound enough to get through the group while England are a more well rounded bet than a Uruguay missing one of their key weapons.
If France show up and don't riot/go on strike/fall apart their quality should mean they win the group easily. The real debate is over the second spot... Switzerland are arguably a more talented team but I think Ecuador being more used to the conditions gets them over the line.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Assuming something dramatic doesn't happen Argentina should win the group at a canter. The second spot seems to be a straight shoot-out between B&H and Nigeria... and I think B&H have enough to beat both Nigeria and Iran to get that second spot.
I think this group is one of the easiest to predict (at least for the two winners)... although that may be a mistake. Germany are a tournament favourite and should win while Portugal are a team with a fair amount of quality and one spectacular player (albeit nursing an injury). Both Ghana and the US can consider themselves somewhat unlucky that they're in a group this strong... in a weaker group they could be looking at a second place spot.
Belgium are the hipster choice, packed full of young, exciting talent with some experience to fall back on. Results haven't been great and they've lost one striker already while Lukkaku has joined the ever growing list of players coming in injured but they should still have enough talent to make it through. Russia and South Korea should fight out for the second spot... and I think Russia nick it.
Round of 16
Brazil vs Chile
Possible upset but I think Brazil have enough to beat a hardworking Chilean team.
Ivory Coast vs England
Perhaps I'm being too optimistic here but despite thinking Ivory Coast are dark horses for a serious run, I suspect England have enough to narrowly get through.
France vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
On paper it should be a one-sided French win.
Germany vs Russia
Too much quality in a German team wanting to break the "chokers" tag.
Spain vs Croatia
Croatia are an awkward, well drilled squad but Spain are Spain... it's a struggle to pick against them.
Italy vs Japan
Another chance of an upset here... I'm simply not that sold on Italy... but I'll take the safe option and pick them.
Argentina vs Ecuador
Too much quality in the attack.
Belgium vs Portugal
This could be the match of the second round. I think here youthful exuberance can't quite carry Belgium through against Portugal but this match is pretty close to 50/50.
Brazil vs England
Germany vs France
Spain vs Italy
Argentina vs Portugal
Brazil vs Germany
Spain vs Argentina
Germany vs Spain
Germany break their habit of losing "that one big match", their hoodoo against Spain and become the first European team to win the World Cup on South American soil.