So another four years has passed. And as Brazil vs Croatia kicks off the 20th World Cup, I will add my predictions to the millions that are already out there to try and guess which one of the 32 will actually go on and win the thing. Ignoring my sweepstake picks (‘Mon the Chile!) and my complete satisfaction when England throw it away, again, take a read and go and bet on the opposite. You’ll make good money.
--> Brazil on home form should see a comfortable 9 points from 9, without even breaking too much of a sweat. That leaves the small conundrum of who gets second. A team that loses to Scotland twice in qualifying shouldn’t even be at the tournament so that rules out Croatia. (You can’t rely on Luka Modric for everything!) Mexico were utterly awful in qualification, although results this year have improved slightly. So that leaves Cameroon. And before you laugh yourselves away. A team that has no expectations, have little problem with the climate and could have one last hurrah for that generation. The hurrah will be short lived however, have you seen Group B?
Winners: Brazil, 2nd Place: Cameroon
--> Poor old Australia. Getting lumped in a group they have little chance of even taking a point from, never mind qualifying out of. With Spain not the Kings they once were, it could be a proper fight for the 2 qualifying spots from B. However, you feel they have enough in them to top the group with Torres normally finding form at tournaments and Diego Costa looking a handful, if fit. Holland for me are the ones to crash out. Despite cruising through qualification, this team lack experience at the back and may not have the temperament in a potential ‘winner takes all’ final group game vs Chile. Also, Chile have Mauricio Pinilla in their team. Job done.
Winners: Spain, 2nd Place: Chile
--> Some bizarrely weak groups at this year’s tournament, started by Group C. Colombia will miss Falcao massively, however with James Rodríguez and Jackson Martínez in their lineup, it should be enough to win this one. I cannot see Japan doing anything here, so watch them win the Group now. Greece, having had their nosebleed in 2004 are back to normal and will exit here too. That leaves Ivory Coast who I have big hopes for. Some world class players, and players that are in form too. They should finally have enough to make it out of the Group Stage.
Winners: Colombia, 2nd Place: Ivory Coast
--> Not sure Uruguay will go as far as some people are making them out to be (the Final?!), but they should cruise through this group. Have enough up front to rip the other 3 defences to pieces which means it looks like Italy vs England is the decider. (Sorry Costa Rica) I can just see England scraping through that, although the firepower of Immobile and Balotelli just make me seriously consider this one.
Winners: Uruguay, 2nd Place: England
--> Having tipped France for an early exit in 2010, I can’t see them making the same mistake this time, especially with Didier Deschamps in charge which should see them top the group too. The other 3 I actually can’t split, with Switzerland likely to be steady and lacking in the goals again, that could give Ecuador and Honduras a chance. However, Switzerland are the top seeds in this group and if they can keep Josip Drmic fit and in form, then 2nd place should be achievable. What a key first game for them though!
Winners: France, 2nd Place: Switzerland
--> What Argentina needed to get them settled into the tournament was an easy group that they can’t possibly throw away. Group F is pretty much perfect then as apart from Bosnia (who don’t have any World Cup pedigree anyway), they face a woeful Nigeria and an Iran side just happy to be there. Putting a strikeforce of Messi, Aguero, Lavezzi and Di Maria is just unfair, so 100% for Argentina. Bosnia have the quality of Sejad Salihović and Vedad Ibišević (before we even consider Džeko!) to easily pick up 2nd place.
Winners: Argentina, 2nd Place: Bosnia
--> Not massively sure what point Germany coach Joachim Löw is trying to prove by only taking one striker to Brazil. 36 year old Miroslav Klose will no doubt be in the goals again, but if he gets injured, then what? They do of course have one of the most exciting midfields at the tournament and a rock solid defence so should easily make it through the group. Portugal have Ronaldo, but then scratch beneath the surface and you have the makings of an average team. Having to qualify for the play-offs after finishing below Russia in the group also just adds to the feeling they aren’t going far. Ghana have always made it out of the Group and you feel they can do the same here again. Especially if it comes down to the final game.
Winners: Germany, 2nd Place: Ghana
--> Belgium, who are everyone’s “dark horses” have a decent draw to make the QFs, especially with an easy looking group such as this. That leaves the extremely interesting battle between Algeria and Russia for 2nd. (South Korea barely deserve to be here so will be bottom) Russia have the class and the tactical nous through Don Capello to just pip the Algerians.
Winners: Belgium, 2nd Place: Russia
- Brazil vs Chile
- Spain vs Cameroon
- Colombia vs England
- Uruguay vs Ivory Coast
- France vs Bosnia
- Argentina vs Switzerland
- Germany vs Russia
- Belgium vs Ghana
Wins for teams in italics. All but one of the Group Winners I see making it past the 2nd Round. Brazil should have enough flair and home support to see off Chile, while Spain will also have enough attacking talent to dismantle Cameroon’s aging defence. Colombia vs England will be a tight one if it happens, but the lack of experience in key areas vs the Colombians will probably see them out. Uruguay likewise, on a home continent, should beat the Ivorians. The only real shock I can see is Bosnia beating France. There is always one at this stage and the Bosnians have some quality to see off France. Belgium vs Ghana is also my tip for game of the tournament. Sexy football all round.
Brazil vs Colombia
Spain vs Uruguay
Bosnia vs Germany
Argentina vs Belgium
Potentially the best QF line up at a World Cup ever if this happens. Brazil, again have the fans behind them to just see off Colombia, who will miss Falcao too much at this point. Spain’s attacking threat should also be enough to beat Uruguay, but goals goals goals in that game. Yes, I have tipped Bosnia to beat Germany. There is something exciting about that team and with a large chunk of them playing or played in Germany, they’ll know what to expect. Argentina should easily see off Belgium. The Red Devils crashing out against the first big team they come up against.
Brazil vs Bosnia
Spain vs Argentina
While Brazil should finally end Bosnia’s dream World Cup debut, the Spain vs Argentina game is one that is likely to go all the way. However, a defence that has not looked the rock it once was, may be Spain’s undoing against that rampant Argentine defence. Also, Messi has clearly been saving himself during the last few weeks of the La Liga season, so what better chance to turn it on than against the country he plies his trade in.
- Brazil vs ARGENTINA
I tipped Brazil to win in 2010 and they crashed out at the QF stage but I see a shock with Argentina winning it in Brazil. A squad that has the games to build it up to the Final and an attack and defence that you feel is stronger than the home side. Brazil have been here before remember. 1950 – when they bottled it at home. It can happen again…
Top Scorer - Lionel Messi (Argentina) –> While the top scorer rarely comes from the team that wins it, for Argentina to get as far as I think they will, they’ll need Messi to smash them home. Aguero will help, but the magic will come from the wee man.
Surprise Team – Bosnia –> Have a relatively ok draw once they get out of the Group as they will fancy their chances against whoever comes from Group E and then anything can happen from the QFs onwards.