The World Cup is just days away from kick-off, even if Brazil isn’t ready for it, the World is waiting.
While the issues surrounding the World Cup in Brazil can’t be ignored, we find ourselves far too excited for a competition that only comes around every four years – the greatest sporting event in the World.
With our favourite to win Brazil – we’d look like idiots if we said England, right? – we give you Part One of our World Cup Predictions
Group A: Brazil’s to lose
Perhaps the easiest group to predict, as it is clearly Brazil’s group and dare I say, World Cup, to lose. Their opening day match will be the hosts toughest, with a resilient and talented Croatia team, but as long as Neymar et al can handle the expectations, they should stroll through this group.
Now, who finishes second? It should be a battle between Mexico and Croatia, with the final group match between the two the decider. The talent in Croatia is undeniable with Rakitic, Modric, Jelevic and Bayern striker Mandzukic in their lineup – I give the edge to the Europeans to overcome Mexico and move on.
The big question for many is how will Brazil cope with the pressure? I guess only time will tell…
Must Watch Match: Brazil v Croatia
Standout Player: Fred
Predictions: 1. Brazil, 2. Croatia, 3. Mexico, 4. Cameroon
Group B: A Chilean Surprise
One of the tastiest match ups of the tournament will be Spain v Netherlands, where no love is list between these two foes. Who wins this matchup should decide who finishes first, with second not guaranteed to fall the losers way.
I like Chile as a dark horse in this tournament, while riddled with injuries, the form of Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez could be what slips the South Americans into the next round. I like the chances of Chile beating Australia and sneaking a point against Spain, putting pressure on the Dutch to get a result in the final group match – where I favour the Chileans.
Oh and the Australians are there, for a nice vacation – don’t expect them to win a game, but they’ll play a physical game, reminding everyone that they’re actually there.
Must Watch Match: Netherlands v Spain
Standout Player: Arturo Vidal
Predictions: 1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Netherlands, 4. Australia
Group C: The rise of the Elephants
This is a tough group to predict with all four teams holding a realistic chance of moving onto the next round. For me, the Ivory Coast win this group by a hair, using the guile and talent of Yaya Toure, Wilfred Bony and Didier Drogba to reach the knockout phase.
As far as second place goes, Colombia is down Falcao and Greece pose more of a threat than they have in recent years. The Greeks have a defensive mentality that Jose Mourinho would be proud of, sneaking a goal and frustrating opposing strikers.
Lastly, with all due respect to Keisuke Honda – I just don’t see a way out of the group for Japan. Then again, with a group this close, they could top it off if they scrape out the results.
Must Watch Match: Japan v Colombia
Standout Player: Wilfred Bony
Predictions: 1. Ivory Coast, 2. Colombia, 3. Greece, 4. Japan
Group D: My biased prediction
We start this group off with a disclaimer: I am a full-fledged, red-blooded, patriotic England supporter.
Now that is out of the way, how does Group D shake out? Italy has the most talented side in this group, no arguing that, even without Guiseppe Rossi the team possesses talent up front in Ciro Immobile and Mario Balotelli, combined with the ageless Pirlo – this is a scary good Italian side. As pointed out by a friend, they’ve even got experience in Brazil after last Summer’s Confederations Cup, where they narrowly lost to Spain on penalties in the semifinal before beating Uruguay on penalties for third.
Then there is Uruguay, led by Luis Suarez (Assuming he’s healthy..) who seems to thrive amid controversy and against the odds, how he performs will be crucial to his teams success. Their weakness is in defence, where teams with pace will be able to take advantage, meaning Suarez and company will need to score early and often.
That brings us to England. No expectations and a team that Roy Hodgson has tried to play down from day one. But as we close in on their opening match, it’s tough not to expect something from a team that boasts Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the Captain himself, Steven Gerrard.
Much like Uruguay, their weakness is in defence with unreliable Glen Johnson at right-back and Phil Jagielka unproven at international level – but the talent could surprise some in Brazil, sneaking past Uruguay and Costa Rica and moving on.
I’ve got a much more indepth Group D preview coming your way, don’t worry.
Must Watch Match: Italy v Uruguay
Standout Player: Luis Suarez
Prediction: 1. England, 2. Italy, 3. Uruguay, 4. Costa Rica
Don’t forget to check out PART 2 of our Group predictions, with the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and darkhorse Belgium still to come.
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Henry is covering the World Cup all Summer long – previews, recaps and more – daily updates on the beautiful games greatest competition.
You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he live tweets about sports far too much.