With the world’s biggest sporting event just around the corner, soccer fans around the globe are eagerly drawing up brackets and praying for certain players to kick into overdrive in time to see their countries through to the elusive FIFA World Cup Final. This World Cup is widely promised to be one of the greatest tournaments in the history of the game. Taking place in Brazil, the event is bound to have some surprises that are sure to blow the previous World Cup in South Africa out of the water.
Groups to Watch:
Host nation Brazil should have no trouble making it out of the group stages with flying colors in this one. Pressure will be high, but don’t expect the Samba Boys to cave this early. Cameroon and Mexico will most likely be fighting it out for the third place spot while Croatia takes silver. Should Mexico’s disastrous qualification campaign prove to be any indicator of their tournament performance, then the tournament will be a certified disaster. Croatia’s strong midfield and attack headed by Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic should pose a significant threat in the second round of play.
First place in this group will be a bloody melee fought for inch by inch between Spain, Chile, and The Netherlands. Expect an upset victory by the Dutch and a second place seed for the Spanish with the Chileans losing out of second round play by the skin of their teeth.
Here too, the first place spot will be a hotly contested commodity. In this case, expect an inconsistent English side to flounder while a resurgent Costa Rican side battles it out with the Uruguayans and Italians for first place. In the end, expect the Italians to come out on top with the Uruguayans to finish as close seconds.
This is easily the group of death for this tournament. Efficient Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ghana, and an improving US side under Jurgen Klinsmann all pose a threat to each other in one way or another. Germany is an outright favorite to win the entire tournament this year while the Portuguese might or might not do well based on how Lord Ronaldo is feeling on any given day. The USA vs. Ghana is also an interesting matchup considering that the Ghanaians have consistently knocked the Americans out of the World Cup. The African side is getting old however, and the Americans are in a current high under the Klinsmann regime. Expect the Germans to finish first and the Americans to come in second in a major upset victory.
Brazil vs. Uruguay:
Tough match for both teams, but expect Brazil to shut down Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani to take the win.
France vs. Germany:
Germany, no doubt. France simply cannot contain the attacking and midfield prowess of Die Mannschaft
Spain vs. Italy:
Tough match here but Spain is getting older and with other teams becoming accustomed to Spain’s deadly Tiki-Taka passing style combined with Iker Casillas’ continued experience of being second string to Diego Lopez at Real Madrid, the Italians might just come out on top here to get revenge for Euro 2012.
Argentina vs. Belgium:
Belgium has had an incredible run of form of late and Eden Hazard is nigh impossible to stop when he is running at 100%. Lionel Messi and Argentina have continued to roll in the world stage but as usual, they cannot win the crucial matches. Expect a Belgian win in this match,
Brazil vs. Germany:
The Brazilians will finally choke in the semifinals. Home teams generally do not finish in the top spot due to the sheer stress and expectation placed upon them. Brazil will be no different, if anything; it will be worse. German efficiency will without a doubt prevail here.
Italy vs. Belgium:
The Italians shouldn’t have a problem here given that they play their game. The Italian midfield is just too good for the Belgians to cope with. Although Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku should pose a significant threat, one does not simply beat Gianlugi Buffon between the sticks. The Italians will win this with ease.
Germany vs. Italy:
This will be a game to remember. The Italians won it in 2006 but the Germans won’t make it easy this time around. Midfield matchups such as Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi vs. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos and Defense-Forward matchups like Mario Balotelli vs. Per Mertesacker will be written down in the annals of history. This match will do the entire tournament justice. Expect the Germans to come out on top in this matchup of the ages.