We continue our predictions for the Group Stage of the World Cup, if you missed part 1 it’s right here.
Will the French fall apart again? Can Miroslav Klose kick himself to a World Cup record and will the Belgians emerge from Group H?
All this and more in our predictions…
Group E: The French Revolution
France limps into the World Cup and surprise: Find themselves in a group most teams would kill to be in, sure Ecuador and Switzerland are going to be tough tests – with Honduras breaking a few legs – but France should top this group easily, even without Franck Ribery. Even without Samir Nasri – playing brilliantly for City – this is a French team that shouldn’t capitulate a la past performances.
Switzerland will be a tough opponent, always stingy on defence, but I see a young, exciting Ecuador getting out of this group – with the matchup between the two my match to watch in this group. The quick, pacey counter of Ecuador against a hard to break down Switzerland side? Sounds fun.
Only 22 and already at his second World Cup, Xherdan Shaqiri will be looking to breakout and could be the difference between Switzerland limping home or making it to the knockouts.
Must Watch Match: Ecuador v Switzerland
Standout Player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Prediction: 1. France, 2. Switzerland, 3. Ecuador, 4. Honduras
Group F: Lionel Messi and a few Others
Argentina will win this group, with a goal difference of about 20. Seriously though, they’ll stroll through this group like they’re in a field full of daisies, just hoping to not injure anyone as they head to the knockouts.
With first place locked up, it’s a three way battle for second place and I like the odds of Bosnia-Herzegovina making it through to the knockout rounds – at their first World Cup I expect them to overcome the challenge of Nigeria and Iran. There is no doubt that the likes of Edin Dzeko and Asmir Begovic will be difference makers for this side, but I expect Captain Emir Spahic to be a difference maker in defence.
Must Watch Match: Argentina vs themselves
Standout Player: Lionel Messi
Prediction: 1. Argentina, 2. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 3. Nigeria, 4. Iran
Group G: The Klosest group
Without Marco Reus and just one striker, can the Germans prevail in Brazil? Of course they can, but they’ll have to navigate perhaps the toughest group, facing Portugal, USA and a tough to break down Ghanian side.
Miroslav Klose is looking to break records, while Philipp Lahm in defence could be just as important to the team as what Muller, Ozil and the rest can create in midfield, especially against a never-say-die USA side and the stupidly talented Cristiano Ronaldo. I fully expect Germany to top this group, but the battle for second will be the fiercest in the group stage.
Portugal are lead by Ronaldo, but it’s the depth of the team that has many wondering if they have enough to get out of the group, many predictions showing the Portuguese falling out to the Americans lead by Jurgen Klinsmann.
However, I think Portugal will do enough to scrape through, with the USA finishing third – Ghana has only won once in their last five matches, although destroyed South Korea 4 – 0 in their final warm up after being held scoreless in their prior four matches.
Must Watch Match: Portugal v USA
Standout Player: Miroslav Klose
Prediction: 1. Germany, 2. Portugal, 3. USA, 4. Ghana
Group H: The Belgians are coming
Many have labelled Belgium as a Darkhorse in this tournament, with the talent to upset the apple cart and make waves on the international stage – and I say, why not? Front to back this team has talent, Thibaut Courtois in net, Vincent Kompany at the centre of a sturdy defensive corps and Axel Witsel managing the midfield. That’s without mentioning the attacking trio of Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku, who poses a lethal record up front.
This group is an excellent way for Belgium to warm-up, face some sturdy competition and get ready for the knockouts, anything less than topping the group will be a disappointing start to their campaign.
So who joins Belgium in the knockout rounds? South Korea were creamed 4 – 0 by Ghana in their final warm-up, while Fabio Capello’s Russia are undefeated in their last five matches (Albeit against the likes of Morroco, Slovakia and Armenia), so who goes through? I’ll stick with South Korea to sneak through, by the skin of their teeth but for me, it’s a coin-toss between Russia/South Korea to make it to the next round.
Must Watch Match: Belgium v South Korea
Standout Player: Eden Hazard
Prediction: 1. Belgium, 2. South Korea, 3. Russia, 4. Algeria
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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.