Finding it tough to keep up with all the players and the teams at the World Cup? Don't worry, the Man Cave has you sorted. 

Everyone around you in the office, in the pub and at home is probably watching or talking about the World Cup, so if you want a quick cheat sheet to get involved in the conversation and throw out a few knowledge nuggets, then our series of World Cup bluffer's guides will be able to cover everything you need to know about the teams, the stars and the tournament. 

Check out the other parts here: 

Part One

Part Two 

Part Three

Or if you want some background to all the protests in Brazil during the tournament, head over here.


Where: Group C with Colombia, Japan and Ivory Coast

Need to Know: Greece's unlikely victory at Euro 2004 should serve to prove that every underdog has their day but it would take heroics of the largest order for them to come close to repeating their giant-killing success of ten years ago. One of European football's less heralded teams, the Greeks qualified for Brazil 2014 by virtue of a 4-2 aggregate victory over Romania in the playoffs after pushing Bosnia and Herzegovina all the way in the group stages but their lack of quality would suggest that qualifying from their group is most likely their best case scenario.

For them to navigate a route out of Group C, the Greeks will have to beat either Japan or Ivory Coast (or, preferably, both) and, given how those two teams looked when they played each other in the small hours of Saturday night, you wouldn't feel overly confident laying your money down on a Greek victory in either of those games - especially after their abject defeat against Colombia.

Greece do have one of the most experienced (read: oldest) squads in the tournament and if the wise old heads of Karagounis, Gekas, Vyntra and Katsouranis play at their absolute best they'll be in with a shot of getting results against Ivory Coast and Japan. But that's a big 'if'.

One to Watch: Celtic striker Giorgios Samaras is one of the more divisive players in Scottish football. He's blessed with a great sense of physicality and uses every inch of his six foot four frame to bully opposition defenders into making mistakes but, despite some heroics in the Scottish league, his strike rate of just eight goals in seventy-five appearances for his national team just isn't good enough. On his day though, he's a very difficult target man to contain and an expert at bringing his teammates into play.



Where: Group E with France, Ecuador and Switzerland

Need to Know: In their group they are certainly seen as the whipping boys, but they are headed to their second World Cup finals in a row and will hope that they can improve on their last time out when they didn’t win any points and didn’t score a single goal. It sounds patronising to say, but they will certainly think that a draw against the remaining sides would be a pretty decent return.

Their first game, a 3-0 loss against a formidable French side, was never one where they planned to get any points, but given the dire affair served up by Switzerland and Ecuador, they may be confident that there are weaknesses that could be exploited. If they have a hope to draw on, it will be that they head to the humid, warm climate of Manaus to take on the Swiss in the next game, and that could play to their advantage.

They have a few players that may be familiar to those who watch European football, but perhaps not as many as in years gone by. Maynor Figueroa of Hull is a player who will definitely feature for them and will take on added importance for the side after Wilson Palacios, another familiar name, was red-carded in the game against France. His other two brothers, Johnny and Jerry are also in the side, but are not to the same level as their sibling, while Roger Espinoza, who has been in and out of the Wigan team, will be one of their other starting players to whom they will look for inspiration.

One to Watch: Andy Najar is just 21-years-old, and already has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders as “the next big thing”, a tag which has never done a single player any good, really. However, he has been touted as a real star since the age of 17, and is currently playing for Anderlecht in Europe. A good few performances on the biggest stage will do him, and the national side in the future, the world of good.


Where: Group F with Nigeria, Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Need to Know: Managed by Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese manager will hope to make an impact with a side that will be seen as the weakest in the group by the continental powerhouses of Africa and South America amongst them and the technically gifted Bosnians. However, while we have already seen that neither Iran nor Nigeria were able to produce anything of real quality in their opening game, bringing about the first draw of the World Cup so far, and the only game that produced no goals.

Rarely has the political situation impacted on the sporting side of things so clearly as it has with Iran, and their preparations (in terms of getting international friendlies organised) were severely hampered by sanctions. They failed to secure a major international opponent and instead have been locked in a training camp to try and be as prepared as possible.

Their best player, or at least their most well-known star, is Ashkan Dejagah of Fulham, who, despite his side going down this season, didn’t have the worst year it must be said. He showed flashes of flair and skill, as well as the odd goal, including this effort against Everton. Likely to be the creative focus of the team, as he clearly is a step above the others.

One to Watch: Sardar Azmoun, a highly-tuouted young player who is based in Russia with Rubin Kazan and is rumoured to be an Arsenal target, didn’t make the final squad, and so the man to keep an eye out for is Alireza Jahanbakhsh. He plays for NEC in Holland and has experience in Europe, something which is lacking amongst the rest of the squad. He only got 15 minutes in the game against Nigeria, but he could impress if given more time.


Where: Group D with England, Uruguay and Costa Rica

Need to Know: This was seen as one of the most intriguing groups when the draw was made, with three teams seen as having a real chance of going through, but after Costa Rica, originally seen as the weakest in the set up, beat Uruguay by 3-1 in their first match, the whole group has now been put up in the air. 

Italy however showed a degree of tactical intelligence and skill to deal with the conditions in their win over England, and it is hard to see where Costa Rica, who they take on next, could get any points, as they will surely be better prepared to deal with the threat that they possess, which is based mainly around their incredible pace. 

The player that many are talking about after Saturday night, and before the tournament, is Andrea Pirlo, the heartbeat that keeps this Italy team ticking. While man-marking him is a solution that some have tried, very few have ever been successful at it because he plays in such a varied way. If given time and space, he can slice open opposition defences from deep, if pushed and pressed he can move the ball quickly, transitioning play from back to front at pace, and is surrounded by players who can equally play at that tempo. His set pieces are also impeccable, as Joe Hart almost learned to his detriment on Saturday in Manaus.

Pirlo is not the only danger man either, with Balotelli showing that he too needs to be watched closely, after scoring a great header and nearly pulling off an audacious chip in the first game. His season at club level at AC Milan was not great, but he has played very well for Italy under Cesare Prandelli, who manages to get him to not only produce his best but also act extremely professionally on the field, something which other managers have not succeeded in. Perhaps one of his best goals this season sums him up pretty perfectly, as he was fairly quiet against Bologna in Serie A until producing this moment of magic from nothing to win his side the game.

One to Watch: Marco Verratti is hardly an unknown, given that he pays for Paris Saint-Germain, but given the unfortunate injury suffered by Ricardo Montolivo against Ireland, he may well see more playing time than Prandelli had expected to give the 21-year-old. With an aging Pirlo beside him more likely to feel the effects of the games in this tournament coming thick and fast, and given he's seen as the natural successor to the Italian maestro, they may turn to him to pull the strings a bit more for the national side in the same way he does at club level. He's more than talented enough to do it, and this may prove to be the challenge that pushes him on to find another level in his game.