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The Bayern Munich 2014 World Cup Preview

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A look at how the Bayern stars will fare with their countries at the world's biggest sporting competition

Buda Mendes

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Preview'

The tournament that only blesses the world once every four years is back to write another epic tale in the annals of football lore. The World Cup is in Brazil for jus the second time, giving the competitions most successful country the home field advantage for the first time in 64 years.

Bayern München are tied with Manchester United for having the most representatives at the World Cup with 14. While robbed out of a player or two – Franck Ribéry and Thiago Alcântara will both miss the World Cup due to injury – the talent on display will be worth monitoring nonetheless.

Belgium

FIFA World Rank: 11
Bayern Player: Daniel van Buyten
Group H Schedule: June 17 vs.  Algeria, June 22 vs.  Russia, June 26 vs.  South Korea

At 36, van Buyten is by far the senior member in an up and coming Belgian side – he is the only player over the age of 30 – and yet he still has found a way to cement a place within Marc Wilmots's side. He will punch in minutes along side Vincent Kompany, providing adroit tactical support in a rigid defense.

Wilmots will have to shift center backs out of necessity regardless if van Buyten plays. The early candidates for the fullback positions are Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, and Jan Vertonghen, all with enough experience to pull the switch off. While not a dynamic group of four, the Belgian defense could end up being the top blockade between the opposition attack and the back of the net, and van Buyten will be the seasoned soldier that keeps his comrades in line.

He will be the jalopy of the defense, his wheels near the maximum mileage on them, but the engine is humming nonetheless. Van Buyten has enough gas left in him to turn a few more heads before he packs his international kit away for good, being the rock of a team with high World Cup aspirations.

Brazil

FIFA World Rank: 3
Bayern Player: Dante
Group A Schedule: June 12 vs.  Croatia, June 17 vs.  Mexico, June 23 vs. Croatia Cameroon

Not much has changed since Seleçao won the Confederations Cup in their home country a year ago. Thiago Silva will lead the defense, with his new Paris Saint-Germain David Luiz colleague his side kick in the back. Former Bayern midfielder Luiz Gustavo will provide the extra shield while Dani Alves and Marcelo bomb forward to give an extra wing dimension in attack.

That leaves Dante once again on the outside looking in. While his seat is currently in the back, he could easily move to the front with a yellow card accumulation. David Luiz averaged a caution every three appearances, a pace that would surely lead to an inopportune ban. Dante will provide a seamless transition when Luis Felipe Scolari calls his number, more than capable to contain any opposition attack from the field of countries.

While the most glorious of World Cup countries, they have never won the heralded trophy in their own country. Dante will not contribute as much as he has for Bayern, but his services will be just what Scolari needs when the time comes.

Croatia Croatia

FIFA World Rank: 18
Bayern Player: Mario Mandžukić
Group A Schedulue: June 12 vs. Brazil Brazil, June 18 vs. Croatia Cameroon, June 23 vs. Croatia Mexico

For the second consecutive international tournament Croatia has been apart of, Mandžukić could use the World Cup as a springboard for a transfer. Having departed for his national team before the DFB Pokal, questions surround whether he will return to Munich, and solid performances in a tricky group could facilitate an exit.

Whether those solid performances will come is a whole other question. Without the same superstars he has at Bayern, Mandžukić has struggled to find the back of the net. He is a player not known for creating his own goalscoring opportunities, making him dependent on service that will come few and far between. The best chances will come on set pieces, where Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić will be delivering world class crosses to the 28-year-old target man.

Suspended for the first match, Mandžukić will have to make his impact count if Croatia are to have a chance in the knockout stage.

Germany

FIFA World Rank: 2
Bayern Players: Jérôme BoatengMario Götze, Toni Kroos, Philipp LahmThomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger
Group G Schedule: June 16 vs.  Portugal, June 21 vs.  Ghana, June 26 vs. United States United States

For what may be the first time ever, the Nationalelf will not rely on a traditional striker at the top of their attack. Joachim Löw could instead depend on Bayern midfielders to lead the line, with both Götze and Müller taking turns in the penalty area. The problem persists that, despite having devastating quality up front, the lack of a pure finisher could prove troublesome, and Müller's deflection ability will prove key to Germany's success.

The midfield injury stigma that both Bayern and Borussia Dortmund have experienced has extrapolated to the national team. With Schweinsteiger recovering from an ankle injury he suffered on the last match day of the Bundesliga season, Kroos could have to take his place, starting the buildup play from a deeper position.

Rumblings of Lahm-in-midfield are resurfacing, the Germany captain appearing in the center of the park in the final friendly against Armenia. Boateng has been getting several reps at right back in Lahm's stead, the position he played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He will be able to support his fellow center backs as well as provide serviceable support in attack, but his ability to close down the ball will hamper the defense on multiple occasions.

If Neuer's shoulder is match ready, Bayern could potentially account for nearly two thirds of Löw's starting XI. Players conditioned to winning club titles could provide Germany with one of its own.

Netherlands Netherlands

FIFA World Rank: 15
Bayern Player: Arjen Robben
Group B Schedule: June 13 vs. Spain Spain, June 18 vs. Croatia Australia, June 23 vs. Chile Chile

Robben may have been somewhat shackled to a specific section of the pitch at Bayern, but former Bayern manager Louis van Gaal has unleashed his 30-year-old superstar with the Oranje. Robben will get the chance to interchange with his longtime mates, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie, as part of arguably the most elite goalscoring front in the World Cup.

With van Gaal requiring more support in defense, the trio will have to provide the Dutch lion's share of the offense, with the tradeoff that their defensive duties are diminished. Robben, as well as van Persie, is tracking back in order to facilitate the build-up play, but he has also used his quickness to scoot his way into the attacking third.

The Dutch had a disappointing follow-up to their 2010 World Cup final appearance, failing to record a single victory at the European Championships in 2012. Robben is familiar with the pressure at the highest level, and his finishing ability will be key for Netherlands to make another extended run.

Spain Spain

FIFA World Rank: 1
Bayern Player: Javi Martínez
Group B Schedule: June 13 vs. Netherlands Netherlands, June 18 vs. Chile Chile, June 23 vs. Croatia Australia

A transition that started with the national team in the Confederations Cup is now complete as Vicente del Bosque has fully integrated Martínez into the La Roja defense. He has held his own thus far, although friendlies against Bolivia and El Salvador are not ideal barometers for what he will have to face in the World Cup. The 25-year-old appears to be the third choice center back at this time, with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué the names to appear on del Bosque's team sheet.

The fact that Ander Iturraspe was left off is a good sign for Martínez as well. Sergio Busquets is the incumbent holding midfielder in the Spain side, his seniority and experience being the ticket to a guaranteed spot in the lineup. However, Martínez now has an inside edge at two positions as a super sub, and the Confederations Cup proved that del Bosque is not gun shy to stretching Martínez's role tactically.

Spain are no doubt among the favorites for the World Cup, and with a squad more stacked than a peanut butter, jelly and fluff sandwich, Martínez will have to be patient for pitch time.

Switzerland Switzerland

FIFA World Ranking: 6
Bayern Player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Group E Schedule: June 15 vs. Croatia Ecuador, June 20 vs. France France, June 25 vs. Croatia Honduras

All the tireless work Shaqiri has done to return from a thigh injury finally has a reward. Normally stuck behind world class wingers at the club level, he will get his chance to lead his Swiss attacking line as part of his first World Cup appearances of his career.

While playing almost exclusively on the flanks in Munich, former Bayern manager Ottmar Hitzfeld has shifted his top attacking player around his youthful front. With Ricardo Rodriguez and Stephan Lichtsteiner in the side, the 23-year-old will continue to link up with some of the World's elite fullbacks, combinations that have already been breathtaking to watch. One of the best finishers on his team, his goalscoring will be key to the direction the Swiss heads in at the World Cup.

FIFA conspiracy theorists will have their eyes pealed to Switzerland, who received the final seeded spot in the World Cup draw. Shaqiri could single-handedly shake the skeptics with a strike or two, getting Switzerland out of the group stage for only the second time this millennium.

United States United States

FIFA World Ranking: 13
Bayern Player: Julian Green
Group G Schedule: June 16 vs. Croatia Ghana, June 22 vs. Croatia Portugal, June 26 vs. Germany Germany

There should be no question that Green's skill set is rather raw, not even playing 100 minutes with the national team. What he does bring to Jürgen Klinsmann's squad is a youthful spark plug, one that can get behind the defense and requires the opposing backs to account for his raw abilities. The final touch is not quite there, but the work rate is, and he will provide support on both ends of the pitch if and when Klinsmann calls his number.

Klinsmann is unlikely to rely on an 18-year-old to lead the United States through a tough World Cup group, but Green remains one of two players designed for the left wing – the other, DeMarcus Beasley, will be required in defense. Klinsmann has been more inclined to use a diamond in midfield as of late, meaning Green will likely be merely a catalyst of a mid-game tactical change.

The United States will assume their underdog role, going against two very good European teams and the bugaboo Ghanaian side. Every time Green takes the pitch, his American critics will rain their glares down upon him.

Bavarian Football Works Predictions

Ryan Cowper

Allegiance lies with: United States United States
Bayern player most likely to root for: Xherdan Shaqiri Switzerland
Bayern player most likely to root against: Arjen Robben Netherlands
Bayern top goalscorer: Thomas Müller Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Thomas Müller Germany
Golden Boot winner: Sergio Agüero Argentina
World Cup winner: Chile Chile

Sam Carter

Allegiance lies with: England England
Bayern player most likely to root for: Philipp Lahm Germany
Bayern player most likely to root against: Javi Martínez Spain
Bayern top goalscorer: Thomas Müller Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Manuel Neuer Germany
Golden Boot winner: Gonzalo Higuaín Argentina
World Cup winner: Germany Germany

Samrin Hasib

Allegiance lies with: United States United States
Bayern player most likely to root for: Toni Kroos Germany
Bayern player most likely to root against: Are you kidding? No way I can do that!
Bayern top goalscorer: Thomas Müller Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Philipp Lahm Germany
Golden Boot winner: Miroslav Klose Germany
World Cup winner: Spain Spain

Phillip Quinn

Allegiance lies with: United States United States
Bayern player most likely to root for: Bastian Schweinsteiger Germany
Bayern player most likely to root against: Javi Martínez Spain
Bayern top goalscorer: Thomas Müller Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Arjen Robben Netherlands
Golden Boot winner: Thomas Müller Germany
World Cup winner: Argentina Argentina

Scott Schroder

Allegiance lies with: United States United States
Bayern player most likely to root for: Julian Green United States
Bayern player most likely to root against: Impossible!
Bayern top goalscorer: Mario Götze Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Franck Ribéry France
Golden Boot winner: Neymar Brazil
World Cup winner Brazil Brazil

Davis VanOpdorp

Allegiance lies with: United States United States
Bayern player most likely to root for: Daniel van Buyten Belgium
Bayern player most likely to root against: Javi Martínez Spain
Bayern top goalscorer: Thomas Müller Germany
Bayern player most valuable to his country: Arjen Robben Netherlands
Golden Boot winner: Luis Suárez Uruguay
World Cup winner: Argentina Argentina