32 Nations, Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

Well, here we are. About three weeks and 32 teams later, together we’ve explored, debated and discussed the visual identities of all 32 Nations participating in the 2014 World Cup - and we’ve created a unique design for each one. I hope you’ve enjoyed it; I know I have. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we still have one group to go. Not to be overlooked all the way at the back of the draw, Group H is an interesting mix of countries.

Belgium is trending upward, and is a consensus dark-horse World Cup finalist. With a talented, young team, a seed, a not-so-intimidating group and potentially the easiest path the the finals, they are a team to keep an eye on. Algeria didn’t qualify easily, but they have experience and, thanks to Landon Donovan, motivation. Russia are looking ahead to 2018 when they will host, but they survived a bruising European qualifying campaign, and look like potential knockout-rounders. And Korea Republic always seem to come up big in big spots - powered by their incredible fans - and there’s no reason to think they won’t again.

Group H is an exciting, and fitting, way to conclude our series. Let’s go:

Belgium

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Our penultimate group has a lot to love: nations from four different confederations, and four very different parts of the globe. Argentina is a strong favorite, of course - they seem incredibly likely to move on from this group of four - but the other spot is anyone’s guess. Bosnia-Herzegovina are making their World Cup debut as an independent nation, and strong qualifying play notwithstanding, it’s tough to know just how the world stage will suit them. Iran haven’t had much success, yet, in a World Cup, but are always one of Asia’s toughest sides. And Nigeria have the talent and experience to make things interesting for the higher seeds, but their form next summer is far from certain.

I say Argentina (with confidence) and Nigeria (with hesitation) pull it off. From a visual perspective, Group F is unique - it’s the group the fewest fiery red/orange/yellow colors, almost none at all to speak of. Cool colors (blues, whites and greens) dominate. Will that give the matches in the group a distinctive tenor? And what does that mean for their 32 Nations designs? Let’s check it out.

Argentina

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

We’re coming down the home stretch now - just three groups left to get us all the way to 32 teams. As I was working on these designs before the draw, I frequently wondered what configurations would create my favorite design group. I was thinking it would have a world power or two, maybe an interesting underdog, or an especially diverse color palette. I wasn’t even close to guessing that it would be a group made up of Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras. But here we are: front to back, this group is my favorite collection of the 32 Nations project.

(Where do I see the teams finishing? I’ll give Ecuador and France the nod to move on, with Honduras spoiling Switzerland’s Cup.)

Let’s get to the designs.

Switzerland

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Because we refuse to be held hostage to the rule of ping-pong balls, we’re skipping ahead to Group G today. (We’ll loop back to E, F and H after.) Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States form an intimidating group; by the numbers it’ll be the toughest one in Brazil. Amongst the four teams, there are four different tiers of expectation: “Anything less than a trophy will be kind of disappointing.” (Germany); “Maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle while we have this guy.” (Portugal); “[eyes narrowing] Just get us back to where we were last time.” (Ghana); “It’s cool, the matches will get easier once we get to the knockout rounds.” (USA).

(As a US fan, I hold no illusions; it’s not looking overly easy for the boys in red, white and blue.  One semi-silver lining: a victory over Ghana will feel great, even if they don’t progress. I expect that, and then draws against Germany and Portugal. That would give the US 5 points in this group, and I think that might just be enough. I say they’re going to be one of the two teams to survive this scrum.  That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.) 

It’s a distinctive looking group, too.  Let’s discuss.

Germany

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

There’s nowhere to hide in Group D.  With three clubs in the world’s top 15, and a fourth who can beat anyone (just ask Concacaf).  Uruguay will feel a little pressure playing as a seed, close to home, and with Luis Suarez at the absolute apex of his career.  England will feel pressure because they’re English.  Italy will feel pressure, but they’ve built their entire footballing strategy about turning pressure in on itself.  It’s going to get dicey; my picks: Uruguay and England (somehow). 

And as far as the design implications, there’s a lot to tackle. Let’s go:

Uruguay

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group C: Colombia, Greece, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan

The 32 Nations project keeps rolling with Group C! This is the most balanced group we’ve covered so far; Colombia is a slight favorite, but can they remember how to be a world power? Greece is a former European champion without much of the attendant hype. Côte d’Ivoire are aging, but capable of playing anyone int the world tightly, and Japan is better than they get credit for on the global stage. (Prediction: Colombia and Japan sneak through).

And as far as design goes? It’s a fun group. Let’s dive in.

Colombia

image

Read More

32 Nations, Group B: Spain, The Netherlands, Chile, Australia

The 32 Nations project continues on with Group B! The matchup between 2010 finalists will get all the press here, but I think Chile is coming out of this region, one way or another. Australia is a spoiler, fully capable of drawing or even beating a favorite that expects a result. The second-place finisher will likely play Brazil in the round of 16 - so the scramble should be especially intense through all three games.

On-field exploits aside, let’s get to the important stuff: how does Group B stack up, design-wise? Let’s take a look.

Spain

image

Read More