I had plans, so many plans, to write posts and to study heavily pre World Cup, but – as always – time flies and here we are, a couple of hours before kick off in the opening game.
The least I could do is to write a post about my thoughts. Who will win the tournament? Who will qualify from each group?
I sat down and guessed the result in each game. There will probably not be as many teams with full points (or no points) after the group stage as my picks suggest but here is what I came out with.
World Cup Group A: Brazil (9 points) – Croatia (6 p) – Mexico (1 p) – Cameroon (1 p)
The Brazilian team is strong and the home advantage will probably help them and I believe that they will win the last two games in the group. But I am not that certain that their attack is good enough in the long run. Moreover, is the midfield top-top-world-class? And what about the goalkeeping situation? For me, the Croatian midfield with Modric and Rakitic and others is the best in Group A and Brazil might struggle to beat Croatia.
I would say 1-0 in the opening game, but if you are into betting I think that Croatia +1.25 have good value. The prices are way above 2.00 at the moment and that is good (Pinnacle Sports have 2.33 and Bet365 2.25)! I considered an under bet earlier but the market seems about right for me.
Mexico and Cameroon have to fight to get anything out of this group.
Group B: Spain (9 p) – Netherlands (4 p) – Chile (4 p) – Australia (0 p)
I think that Spain have the best squad in the tournament and that they are a bit undervalued at the moment. If Diego Costa is fit enough Sain is my pick. Historically, European teams have problems to win World Cups in South America (and vice versa), but I do not think that this factor is very important. It was long ago since a World Cup was played in South America and I do not believe that this factor is as important today as years ago.
Australia’s squad is very young and inexperienced and they should not have any chances in this tough group. It is up to the Netherlands and Chile to compete for the second place. The question is if Chile´s offensive qualities will get them a place in the final stages. I picked Netherlands by goal difference, but here it could really go either way.
Group C: Colombia (7 p) – Ivory Coast (5 p) – Japan (4 p) – Greece (0 p)
Perhaps the most interesting group beforehand with four rather strong teams from different areas and football cultures.
Colombia are good despite the injury on Falcao. I think that they will beat Greece in the opening (2-0) and then qualify by a win against Japan and draw against Ivory Coast. Colombia could be the dark horse in the World Cup 2014. But they could also fail to qualify from the group…
I have the feeling that Greece will miss out, even though nil points is perhaps too harsh. Ivory Coast could also be one of the dark horses in this tournament. After failed to qualify from very tough groups in 2006 and 2010 they now have the possibility to go through. With players like Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Kalou, and Drogba they will be hard to defend against.
Group D: Italy (5 p) – Uruguay (3 p) – England (3 p) – Costa Rica (2 p)
Another very interesting group. Here I believe that we will see a hell of a lot of drawn games. I took draws in each game except Italy – Costa Rica.
Costa Rica are not bad and Celso Borges from AIK (in Sweden) is good enough to play in a top league. England are not bad, but I think they will find it difficult to win games and miss out in goal difference against Uruguay who will score (and concede) more goals.
Group E: France (9 p) – Ecuador (4 p) – Switzerland (2 p) – Honduras (1 p)
France might have found the formula that made them world champions in 1998. Their squad is top class and they have found themselves in a rather easy group. Watch out!
Ecuador are perhaps better than most think and I think the will go through after a win against Honduras and draw against Switzerland.
Group F: Argentina (9 p) – Bosnia and Herzegovina (4 p) – Nigeria (4 p) – Iran (0 p)
Iran were unlucky when they got two excellent teams (Agentina and Bosnia) and a good team (Nigeria). Argentina are one of the main favourites to win the complete tournament and I believe and hope that Messi has found the form and prove that he is one of the best ever. Argentine will perhaps play Spain in the semi final and if that happens I think that the winner will take the gold medal.
Bosnia are playing their first World Cup, but the new team could be one of many dark horses. Watch out for Nigeria though.
Group G: Germany (9 p) – Ghana (4 p) – Portugal (4 p) – USA (0 p)
Germany is world class and I think that they will go through to the final! They miss Marco Reus and that is a very big blow. Portugal did not impress in the qualification, but they never do. I hope that Ghana will go through to the final stages, but that might be a pick with my hart more than my brain…
USA have to hope for a point at all.
Group H: Belgium (7 p) – Russia (7 p) – Algeria (3 p) – Korea Republic (0 p)
Belgium are extremely hyped before the tournament and they have an extremely strong team. The question is if they can cope with the expectations. The players play in the largest clubs in Europe and should have the quality and experience to go through, despite lack of experience on the international level.
Russia are hard to predict. All the players play in the national league, but I believe that Algeria and Korea are too weak and guess that Russia will join Belgium to the final stages.
WORLD CUP 2014 – THE FINAL STAGES
ROUND OF 16
Brazil – Netherlands: Brazil (tough game for Brazil?)
Colombia – Uruguay: Colombia
Spain – Croatia: Spain
Italy – Ivory Coast: Italy (but here I have a feeling for Ivory Coast)
France – Bosnia: France
Germany – Russia: Germany (easy…)
Argentina – Ecuador: Argentina (easy…)
Belgium – Ghana: Ghana
France – Germany: Germany (but France could really surprise Germany)
Brazil – Colombia: Brazil (Brazil will have another tough game)
Italy – Spain: Spain
Argentina – Ghana: Argentina
Brazil – Germany: Germany (the steam is out…)
Spain – Argentina: Spain
Brazil – Argentina: Argentina
THE BIG FINAL
Spain – Germany: Spain – Spain are the World Cup winners!!!