Just a month remain until football’s biggest celebration kicks off in Sao Paulo on the 12th of June. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, Soccer Confidential will be showcasing all of the teams in the competition, highlighting each and every kit as well as some players to keep an eye out for. First up, group A.
Brasil go into this summer’s World Cup not only as hosts but also as serious title contenders. A Seleção will be banking on the flair of Neymar, the strength of Hulk, and the composure of Thiago Silva to secure top spot in what could be a tricky Group A. As per usual, Nike have created the home, away and third kits that the hosts will be wearing throughout the tournament each of which has taken cues from various aspects of the country.
The home kit is in the traditional yellow and green that has become synonymous with Brazilian football but features a new y-neck design and crest to give it a modern feel. Alongside the home-kit, the away kit is also in the traditional blue and is inspired by the energy and movement Brazilian people bring to sport, dance and life.
Arguably the best kit of the lot is the third kit, an all-dark green uniform that evokes the country’s Amazonic landscapes. If you’re a fan, like we are, wear it with pride but don’t expect it to be worn on the pitch as it is actually prohibited by the CBF’s regulation to wear anything but the classic verdeamarela or blue as an alternate kit!
Players to Watch
Neymar da Silva
Despite the fact that this will be his first World Cup, all eyes will be firmly on Brasil’s new number ten Neymar to deliver on the world stage. Neymar will also be one of the faces of one of their most recent silos, the Nike Hypervenom, with which he already made a splash when he won the Golden Ball award as the best player of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. If his performances for Barcelona this season are anything to go by, Neymar should be in top form for the World Cup.
adidas Predator man Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, most commonly known by his first name only, has had a break-out season at Chelsea and will surely be an integral part of the Brazilian midfield. The young ex-Internacional player will be one of the top adidas names on one of Nike’s hottest teams. Look out for his defence splitting balls and his superb dribbling ability while wearing a very flashy style of the Predator not yet released!
Hulk’s meteoric rise to the top may have slowed down since his move to Zenit, but the powerful striker will nonetheless be a key part of the Brazilian team. While he will most likely be deployed on the wing, Hulk will be hoping to score some crucial goals. The ex-Porto striker is actually a Mizuno player, and will represent the Japanese brand’s Morelia Neo silo during the tournament.
Captain Thiago Silva will be marshalling an extremely strong Brazilian back four as well as providing leadership to the entire team. Silva has enjoyed a brilliant season at PSG and has fast become one of the world’s top center backs. While he currently wears the CTR360 Maestri, Brazil’s captain is one of many top Nike players widely expected to wear the Nike Magista for the tournament, sure to be one of the focal points for boot fanatics during this summer.
Even though it took a playoff win against Iceland for Croatia to reach the World Cup, Vatreni will believe they stand a chance of securing second place in Group A. Like Brasil, Croatia have had their home and away kits produced by Nike in more or less the traditional design. As expected, the home kit features the famous checkered design first worn by an independent Croatia back in 1990, now incorporating red sleeves and a V-neck design in honor of precisely that first ever Croatian shirt.
While the away kit is predominantly blue, it also features the red-and-white checks as well as red trim on the shoulders from the collar to the hem of the sleeves. The checkered design is a source of pride for the Croatian people, hence its incorporation on both kits, as it was first used in the country’s coat of arms in 1499 and has gone on to represent the freedom and bravery of the Croatian people.
Players to Watch
Darijo Srna is not only the current captain of the national team, but is also the most capped player in the countries relatively short history. Srna will be playing in his second World Cup and the Nike Hypervenom man will most likely be deployed somewhere on the right wing. At the age of 31, Srna is a hugely influential player for Croatia and will be hoping to make a big impact in what may be his last World Cup.
The star of the Croatian national team, the likelihood is that if Modric plays well, then so too will his team. Modric has come into his own at Real Madrid since Carlo Ancelotti’s reign began and will most likely occupy a similar role for Croatia this summer. His great vision along with his ability to play both offensively and defensively means that he will most likely be the core of the Croatian team, and his speed will be complemented by wearing a pair of the Nike Mercurial Vapor.
Mandzukic has become an established name in European football after recent prolific seasons in the Bundesliga. The Bayern Munich man will be playing in his first World Cup and is widely expected to lead the Croatian front line. After an impressive showing at Euro 2012, during which he finished joint top scorer Mandzukic will be expecting to score a fair few goals, this time wearing a pair of cleats made for deadly strikes: the Nike Hypervenom.
At the young age of 19, Kovacic is very much an up-and-coming Croatian talent. Despite making only 8 appearances for the senior team thus far, Kovacic is expected to be an influential figure in the Croatian midfield this summer. Kovacic has been a regular Tiempo Legend plater, but we expect him to switch over to the Nike Magista for the tournament where the perfect fit of the knitted boot might aids his performance in what will be his biggest test yet.
Despite boasting the most World Cup appearances out of all African teams, Cameroon have only made it out of the group stage once. Les Lions Indomptables missed out on AFCON last year and so will be hoping to turn the corner in Brasil this summer. As with all of the African teams at this year’s World Cup bar Nigeria, Cameroon have had their kits produced by Puma.
Cameroon’s home kit is arguably one of the best that we will see in Brasil, in large part due to the detailed design at the front. The front-graphic is inspired by their nickname as the indomitable lions and also features the shape of Cameroon, stars from its flag and a football field. The away kit features the same design as is seen on the home kit, but comes in a bright shade of yellow with red detailing.
Players to Watch
After describing Cameroon’s exit from the 2010 World Cup as the biggest disappointment of his career, Samuel Eto’o will be hoping for a happier ending to what will most likely be his last World Cup. Eto’o has come good for Chelsea at pivotal moments throughout this season and Cameroon will most certainly be relying on his goals to make it out of Group A. To match his kit, Cameroon’s iconic striker will be wearing a pair of Puma evoSpeed.
Despite the fact that Alex Song has been used sparingly by Gerardo Martino for Barcelona this year, he remains a hugely important player for Cameroon. Song only played one match during the last World Cup and has yet to score an international goal and so will have many doubters to prove wrong. As with others in this list, he currently wears the CTR360 Maestri, which points to a natural transition into the Nike Magista for the World Cup.
22 year old Aboukar will play deputy to Samuel Eto’o and is the future of the Cameroonian team. Aboukar has scored an impressive 11 goals in 20 appearances for Lorient this season and scored the only goal during Cameroon’s 5-1 demolition by Portugal. If Nike are as high on him as we are, he might soon replace his CTR360’s for a pair of Magista Obra.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Choupo-Moting had a poster of Samuel Eto’o on his wall as a child and will now be lining up alongside his childhood idol this summer. Born in German to Cameroonian parents, Choupo-Moting will most likely be deployed on the wing despite his natural position being up front. As his childhood idol, he will be wearing a pair of Puma evoSpeed as he makes his World Cup debut.
Despite their poor qualifying form, many point to El Tri as favorites to finish second in group A, having progressed past the group stage in the two last World Cups. It will be the second time in two years that Mexico have gone to Brasil after featuring in last year’s Confederations Cup.
For the event, adidas have produced two flashy kits for Mexico, including a predominantly red away kit with black detailing. The pattern on the front features a special Mexican pattern similar to the one seen on the home kit. The home kit is a two tone green with a graphic at the front that is meant to represent Mexican power and is inspired in the country’s Lucha Libre tradition.
Players to Watch
Giovani Dos Santos
While Dos Santos’ has only just become successful in European football, he has been a mainstay of the Mexican team for a number of years. Dos Santos started every game of Mexico’s 2010 World Cup campaign and was voted runner up for the FIFA Young Player of the Tournament and so will be looked towards for experience. As the team’s playmaker, he should be wearing a pair of Magista if he is willing to part with what has been his traditional choice of cleats: the CTR360.
Former Barcelona man and captain Rafael Marquez will be hoping to go out on a high in what surely will be his last major tournament. Versatile in that he can either be deployed a centre back or defensive midfield, expect to see Marquez leading the Mexican team. Rafa has recently worn both T90 Lasers and the CTR360 Maestri, so he might actually transition into the Tiempo Legend V just in time for the World Cup, but we are not so sure as with other players in this list.
Hernandez burst on to the scene back in 2010 after a seriously impressive World Cup. The Manchester United striker has now receded into the periphery after featuring sparingly for his club side and may have lost his national team starting spot as a result. Regardless, Chicharito is a player that can come off of the bench and make a real difference, and El Tri will be hoping that he chips in with a fair few goals. As in previous seasons, the popular Chicharito will be one of few offensive players wearing the Nike Tiempo Legend.
Midfielder Pena is definitely one unfamiliar name to look out for among the Mexican side. Currently plying his trade for Leon, if he performs impressively during the World Cup a move to Europe may well be on the cards. As with other domestic stars, Peña is actually sponsored by Concord, one of Mexico’s strongest local brands.