Travis Garcia
Corporate instructor, 43

Who is the USA’s man to watch?

I’d say Jose Altidore is the guy to watch. I mean, he’s scored three goals in internationals, so I think that this guy, he’s been playing overseas his whole career, so I think he’s gonna have a breakout series here.

How far do you expect the USA and Japan to get?

Honestly, America, I don’t think they’re gonna make it that far. Their group’s called the “group of death,” and I think it’s kind of unfair because they put Ghana in there again, and Ghana has knocked us out the past two times, so, c’mon — I don’t see us going very far.

Japan, I think, has a really good chance of getting out of their group. They’ve got (Keisuke) Honda and they seem well coached, so I think they’re gonna go — I’m gonna go on a limb: Let’s say second round for Japan.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

Well, in the first round, I think that Argentina-Nigeria is gonna be a really good match. They’ve met three times and they’ve had some real corkers — Argentina’s won them all, but I would say that’s gonna be the match of the first round.

Second round: anything with Germany and, hopefully, maybe England — we’ll see.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I guess I’ll go with Spain. I mean, I think that they’re on form again, and all of their players are playing well, and I know that a European team has not won in the Southern Hemisphere for a long time but I think they could pull it off. But I seriously think that Argentina could be the dark horse here. I know it’s kind of weird to call them a dark horse, but they haven’t won in ages, so I’d go there.

Justin Sears
Business skills instructor, 50s

Who is Australia’s man to watch?

That would be Josh Kennedy. He’s a forward, playing at the moment with Nagoya Grampus and having a really good season.

How far do you expect Australia and Japan to get?

Australia is the underdog at the moment, but I think, if we manage to get through the first round — and it’s gonna be tough — we may have a chance in the second.

As far as Japan goes, I think they’ve got more of a chance than Australia, and I expect to see them easily get into the second round.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

Ah, the final. And to me, it doesn’t matter what team’s in the final — the final’s always the most interesting game for me.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I think it’s gotta be a South American team, because no outside team has ever won there, so it’s a bit of a toss-up, I think, between Argentina and Brazil, but probably — home-ground advantage — Brazil. Dark horse? Australia.

Download a FIFA World Cup group-stage wall chart in PDF form, packed with opinions culled from these interviews and facts about the tournament.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.