Once again, I’m putting my “reputation” as a “sports journalist” on the line and making a few predictions for the upcoming Football World Cup.
Spain. I don’t understand why so many people are writing off the Spanish. Their second XI would beat the majority of the teams at the World Cup, and unlike Brazil & Argentina there are no weaknesses in their team. People are making a lot out of the South American weather. Whilst Spain‘s climate doesn’t match Brazil‘s in terms of humidity, they will be accustomed to playing in uncomfortable temperatures so I don’t think they’ll be disadvantaged in that regard.
Argentina. Definitely the team with the greatest wealth of attacking talent. In Messi, Aguero, Higuaín and di María, it’s pretty clear that Argentina‘s mentality will be an attacking one. Drawn in a group with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, one can almost guarantee that there will be goals galore. After that, a rollercoaster ride to the semi-finals, culminating in defeat to Spain, seems the most likely eventuality for the Argentines.
We’ll get out of the group with 5 points. I think we’ll scrape a no/low-scoring draw against Italy, followed up by victory against (the overrated) Uruguay and, needing just a point to qualify, secure a nervy draw against a Costa Rica side with nothing to play for but pride. After that, who knows? It seems likely that we’ll face Colombia in the last 16; if that proves to be the case, I’d fancy the South American side to knock us out. Which leads me nicely onto my next prediction…
The Dark Horse:
Colombia. Everyone is saying Belgium will be this year’s dark horse, but as fifth favourites with virtually every bookmaker they surely can’t be considered such. Should Colombia, at 40/1 to win the thing, reach the quarter finals then I think that could legitimately be considered a surprise success. With a straightforward group and the prospect of a last 16 game against England, back Colombia to make it to the last 8. I also think Russia might cause a few upsets, and may pip Belgium to first place in Group H. Oh, and watch out for the French. I like the look of their set-up.
Uruguay & Portugal. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this Uruguay team, and there’s no doubt that in Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani they have two of the world’s finest strikers. Look beyond the front line, though, and there’s really not much to write home about. Uruguay‘s back four are far from brilliant, Emmanuel Godín their only defender of international quality. Their midfield doesn’t look any better, relying on the distinctly average Walter Gargano and the ageing Diego Perez for their creative spark. The Uruguayans won’t make it out of the group, and won’t take points off either England or Italy.
Portugal will probably get out of their group, but I don’t think they’ll progress any further than the last 16 where they’ll most likely face Russia. Ronaldo will undoubtedly try and score at any opportunity, but realistically he has a poor shots/goals conversion record and his selfishness is likely to cost Portugal when they play against a Russian team who will be well-organised and extremely disciplined
Golden Boot: Lionel Messi
Golden Ball: Lionel Messi