Monday, June 9, 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014

The FIFA World Cup starts on Thursday for a month of football nirvanha. This is the Cup every footballer wants to win, every neutral sports fan wants to see. There is nothing like it, this is the zenith of all Cups. Forget UEFA Champions League, Summer or Winter Olympics, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, NBA Finals; there is no other championship that comes close to put sports fans in a frenzy like this one, and the winner of tournament is really the world's best.

The fact that the World Cup 2014 will be in the land of samba football Brazil adds more drama to the mix as the hope of a nation lies heavily on the host squad. Here are my thoughts and picks on those teams I think will have an impact and that will make it past the group stages.

Group A. It would be unthinkable if Brazil were not to go past this group. In fact, it would be a shock if they don't win it outright. Cameroon, Croatia and Mexico are no world-beaters and they will be fighting for the second and last qualifying spot. I give the nod to Croatia to follow Brazil to the next stage.

Group B. Spain are the current world champion and are still a force to reckon with. The Netherlands were runners-up to the Spanish team in the last World Cup and deserve the utmost respect with a strong squad having the likes of Van Persie and Robben. Some pundits believe that Chile can spring a surprise but I can't see them past the 2 above. Australia will get at most a point from Chile, nothing more.

Group C. This looks to be a balanced group and my vote goes to Colombia and Ivory Coast. Colombia are a strong balanced team that will be at ease in the South American surroundings and climate. This is kind of a last chance saloon for this Ivory Coast team to forge its reputation as a world-class team. They boast a golden generation with the likes of Toure, Drogba and Kalou but have been most disappointing in being unable to win any major silverware. The current Japan and Greece teams look inferior to their predecessors of previous World Cups, and I think they will struggle to get past.

Group D. Many pundits are thinking Italy should go through based on their history and that Uruguay and England will be fighting it for the last spot. I am not so sure I agree. I think Italy will struggle in this group and although they always prove to be a tough nut to crack in major tournaments, they might not have the proper weapons this time. Uruguay will feel at home and let's not forget that they won the Cup when staged in Brazil in 1950. But what ticks the box in their favour is boasting a wonderful strike force with the likes of Cavani and Suarez. What type of England team shows up remains to be seen but I think Roy Hodgson has the credentials to steer England to the next round. They are not a team that can easily be beaten and can get a result against either Italy or Uruguay on their best day. I see England coming first followed by Uruguay if Suarez if fully fit. If Suarez goes missing for all 3 matches, then Italy are in with a shout.

Group E. I think Switzerland and France will go through in this one. Ecuador could spring a surprise in beating one of the two Europeans, although I am not convinced they will do so. Honduras should end last. I will go for the Swiss to come out on top in front of the French although most pundits will probably have this in the reverse order.

Group F. This should be a formality for Argentina who are deservedly one of the tournament's favourites. It's a toss-up between Bosnia and Nigeria for the second spot. Probably it's going to be the Super Eagles by just.

Group G. A tough group but the Germans should go through on top. They lost Reus, which is a big blow for them. Portugal, the USA and Ghana all have legitimate aspirations for the second spot. The big question will be the disposition of Cristiano Ronaldo for the Portuguese. Without him, they are clearly an average team. It looks like he will play in at least 2 of the group matches, so I will opt for Portugal to go through on that basis.

Group H. Belgium and Russia loom large in this one. No-one in the tournament will want to face Belgium at any stage as they are an extremely-talented bunch that can beat any team on its day. Russia gets the nod for second place because Fabio Capello is a master trainer that can get a result where needed. South Korea seem to be one step behind the old Korean teams and Algeria will find it tough against the two favoured teams mentioned above.

Group A. Brazil, Croatia
Group B. Spain, Netherlands
Group C. Colombia, Ivory Coast
Group D. England, Uruguay
Group E. Switzerland, France
Group F. Argentina, Nigeria
Group G. Germany, Portugal
Group H. Belgium, Russia

1 comment: