Predictions

World Cup Group Predictions (Part 2)

wc-1400859202We 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.

World Cup Group Predictions (Part 1)

wc-1400859202Ahhh – it’s finally here!

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.

Euro 2012 Group Predictions, how did we do?

Wayne Rooney returned for England, heading them to top of Group D

Euro 2012 Group Predictions, how did we do?

By: Henry Whitfield

The wild roller coaster of the Group Stage is over, but the ride is far from over for the eight teams who have made it through to the knockout rounds.

Greece and Czech Republic are unlikely members of the final eight,  while Germany dominated the Group of Death and the Dutch were unable to get a single point out of their three matches.

England were surprise winners of Group D, turning a poor performance in their final game against Ukraine into a vital three points.

With the opening round of the tournament complete, here’s a wrap up of where everyone sits and how our predictions went:

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Group A

My Prediction – Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Greece

Actual Standings Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Poland

Who saw this one coming? Russia dominated the Czech Republic in their opener 4-1, sending waves through the tournament but they were unable to replicate that performance and crashed out. Greece snuck into the final rounds, using their defensive nature to scratch out results.

Group B

My PredictionNetherlands, Germany, Portugal, Denmark

Actual StandingsGermany, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands

What went wrong for the Netherlands you ask? Everything. After losing their opener against Denmark, the Dutch were in tough and never seemed to get started. Germany rolled through the group, picking up all nine points, while Portuguese star Ronaldo finally showed up against the Dutch and booked his team a place in the final eight.

 

Torres will need to start firing on all cylinders to help push Spain forward.

Group C

My Prediction – Spain, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Croatia

Actual StandingsSpain, Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland

Spain and Italy made short work of the Republic of Ireland and Croatia, Spain did however look questionable in their final match against Croatia. Italy looked strong defensively and were able to get the points needed to progress.

Group D

My Prediction – France, England, Ukraine, Sweden

Actual ResultsEngland, France, Ukraine, Sweden

England clawed and scratched their way through, it wasn’t pretty and it was often ugly, but they drew France and picked up vital wins over Ukraine and Sweden. France were frustrated by England on opening day but were able to beat Ukraine to ensure their progression, but concern will be abound after a convincing 2 – 0 loss to Sweden in their final match.

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Correctly predicting 6 of the 8 teams to progress wasn’t too shabby, but i’d have to question anyone’s sanity who was able to correctly put the Czech Republic and Greece through. Insanity indeed.

Predictions for the Quarterfinals will be coming soon! 

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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Prediction: World Cup Final

After a month of matches, hundreds of goals and countless memories that will live on for a lifetime, we have finally reached the end of our World Cup journey: The World Cup Final is here.

We’ve seen the old Italians get stuck in the group stage, a surprise run by Uruguay, England crash out against a young, upstart German side, Maradona’s dream fall apart and most impressively, we got to see a talented French team implode and surrender during a World Cup.

Now we are left with two nations, an experienced Spain that were pre-tournament favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy and a resilient Dutch side that has been pushed forward by the outstanding play of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.

Here’s the prediction for today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

Yesterday, I predicted a 4-2 win for Germany over Uruguay and they very nearly gave me that scoreline, but a resilient Uruguayan side fought hard and kept the score close until the very last kick of the match.

So without further adieu, here is my breakdown of today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

If you’ve checked out week’s edition of Haligonia Sports, you saw me break down the Dutch and Spanish sides with Bill McLean and you heard the reasoning behind my predictions.

If you haven’t, well you should go check it out right away for more detail on my thoughts of today’s match, but for now I think this game comes down to two players: David Villa and Wesley Sneijder. The match will come down to whoever has the better game and my money is on the Dutch midfielder to play phenomenal and single-handedly give his country their first World Cup trophy.

Look for the Dutch keeper to keep his side in it and make some fantastic saves, while Arjen Robben will draw a red card from at least one Spanish player. The Dutch will control for much of the second half and pull away, not allowing Spain to carry out their usual plan of attack.

That’s it for today, but check back after the match as I will be doing a minute by minute re-cap and breakdown of today’s match.

World Cup Third-Place Preview & Predo

Let’s pause the heat wave for a second and forget LeBronmania for just a second and turn our focus back to the World Cup.

The final two matches are finally upon us and I for one can’t be happier, a final matchup between old-world rivals Spain and Netherlands sets up a fantastic stage for the beautiful game to display its talent.

Just as interesting is the third place match between a young, surprising German team and an equally surprising Uruguay side that has seen it rise once again to the top tier of international football, led by the talismanic Diego Forlan and controversial Luis Suarez.

To get here we saw Spain dispatch Germany in a closely fought game that finished one-nil and saw Spain dominate an inexperienced Germany side with their passing and patience. On the other side of the draw, the Netherlands first beat arch-rivals Brazil and then took their time beating Uruguay 3-2 in one of the most exciting matches of the tournament thus far.

Just as amazingly as Uruguay being in the final four, was the fact I got a pick right and went 50% in the final four for my predictions, which as always you can find right here.

So with those two matches out of the way and just two World Cup matches remaining, it’s time for my last two predictions of the tournament before some match pre-views and then two surprise posts that are being worked on for all the readers out there.

Third place match – Uruguay 24 Germany

So now that you’ve got the prediction, here’s some more in-depth information on why I think that I may actually be right this time:

Uruguay 2 – 4 Germany

I’m almost, but only almost, looking forward to this match more than the finals for a number of exciting reasons.

First being that we might finally see the Uruguayans playing an attacking, open game now that the pressure is off and combine that with the style that Germany played prior to their semi-final loss and well, you’ve got yourself and stupidly exciting third place match.

Luis Suarez is back from his one-game suspension after his dubious handball against Ghana, whilst Diego Forlan is rumoured to be playing for a new contract and maybe a transfer to a bigger club.

On the other side of the pitch we have a young German side who were taught a tough lesson by an experienced Spanish side and will be looking to redeem themselves, although, they will be extremely happy to of already made it this far in the tournament.

While the Germans have played a fast-paced, free-flowing style for much of this tournament, their hopes of another World Cup win came crashing down when the Spanish Armada came to town and showed their experience and class, thoroughly outplaying a tired looking Germany.

I think that the German’s have nothing left to prove and now a weight is off their shoulders, the young team will play with confidence and in a relaxed manner. A scary thought for a Uruguay fan, but I don’t think they have the talent to compete with German, but the match will be an exciting shoot-out with a lot of exciting action.

Key Germany Player – Thomas Muller

Key Uruguay Player – Luis Suarez

Check back Saturday for the World Cup Final preview, complete with my prediction and in-depth analysis of Spain and the Netherlands.

As always you can follow me on twitter @HenryWhitfield during the match for live tweets and insight, plus tune in Tuesday to CKDU 88.1 FM @ 11am for Sports talk and World Cup wrap-up with Bill McLean.

World Cup: Semi Predo’s

Let’s all collect our breath shall we?

Now then, it’s time for some Semi-final predictions. Now that Germany has thrashed another opponent, and for the third time this World Cup scored four goals in a game, they will face pre-tournament favourites Spain, who have struggled thus far to put in an impressive performance in any of their games.

The other matchup features Two time World Champions Uruguay, who  are now the only South American team left in the tournament after Brazil and Argentina crashed out, against the inventors of Total Football, the Dutch who showed they can go down and come back with fighting spirit as they knocked off the Samba Boys.

Last round my predictions were almost spot on, picking three out of four winning teams correctly. Uruguay, Spain and Germany all went through, while the Netherlands upset my Brazil to book their place in the final four. Going 75% was a big improvement, but let’s see if I can keep it going this round.

If you were listening to CKDU Sports today, you heard my predictions on air with Bill Mclean, but for the rest of the world, here we go with my predictions for the semi-finals:

Uruguay 0 – 2 Netherlands

This is by far the tougher of the two matches to pick a winner and it features a defensively responsible team in Uruguay, against a patient Netherlands team who is more than willing to sit back and wait to pick apart their opponent bit by bit.

The Dutch fell behind early to Brazil, but instead of breaking apart like they have in the past, they used a game-turning save by their keeper to gain momentum and beat the five-time world champions. Their execution and pin-point passing was spot on and they looked incredibly strong in their play.

Uruguay needed penalties to barely squeeze by an inspired Ghana side, which more than deserved to win the match. A handball by Luis Suarez in the final moments of extra time was the only reason they booked themselves into the final four, and without their leading goal scorer they will have to rely even more on Diego Forlan.

The strength in midfield for the Dutch will be the key to this match and both Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder will be relied on heavily to both control the pace of the match and create chances on the attack.

Although Uruguay is extremely solid in the back, their team is susceptible to the speed of the Dutch attack and I am looking for the passing game of their opponents to really expose the back four.

In the end, the quality of the Dutch team will shine through and after a first-half goal gives them the lead, they’ll score a late second half goal to secure their spot in the finals and one win away from their first World Cup.

Key Netherlands Player – Arjen Robben

Key Uruguay Player – Diego Forlan

Spain 1 – 4 Germany

I know what you’re all thinking, four goals against Spain by Germany? You must be crazy!

But let’s look at the teams not just on paper, but in form and the recent performances both teams have put together.

Germany destroyed Australia in their first match, but got set back by Serbia in a 1-nil loss, however, since that game the young Germans have not looked back and each game has seen them get stronger and stronger. The combination of Miroslav Klose’s experience and the influx of speed and creativity by Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil, has seen the easy destruction of both England and Argentina.

Spain has yet to impress me in this World Cup, a pre-tournament favourite to lift the Jules Rime Trophy, but the team has failed to show any interest in winning while in South Africa. However, this team has made it into the semi-final’s without showing anything exciting, an optimist would say that it’s only a matter of time for Spain to find their game and play the way they can, but a realist must look at the team and say, that maybe, just maybe, this team doesn’t believe in itself anymore.

The play of Fernando Torres has been dismal to say the least, and the manager’s insistence on sticking with the out-of-form striker is as baffling as the loss of his scoring touch.

The only reason Spain is in the finals is the fantastic play of David Villa and one crucial save by Iker Casillas, who made the save of the tournament when he stopped the Oscar Cordozo penalty shot in their last match.

The Germans are inspired, full of belief and already have one foot in the door and now find themselves against a lacklustre Spanish side that played like they were already going home against Paraguay.

This Germany side has left pundits wondering if they’re lucky or just that good, but yes, they are just that good. Eight goals in two games against England and Argentina shows how lethal they are in front of goal, their ability to counter in a moment and the passing of their midfield shuts out their opponents from the match.

Keep in mind that Klose is just one goal behind All-Time World Cup goal scorer Ronaldo and leads all-time goals from headers, and you’ve got one inspired player that is SURELY going to hit the back of the net once today.

Easy win for the Germans today and if we’re lucky, that sets up an exciting Netherlands – Germany finals.

Man of the Match: Miroslav Klose

Quarter Final Predos

This year’s Round of Sixteen gave us some mouth-watering matchups with rivals Germany destroying England 4-1, neighbours Spain crushing Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugual with a 1 – nil win, while the Brazil gave a lesson in football to Chile in a 3 – 0 thrashing.

I went a dismal 3/8 in the last round with my predictions, only correctly sending through Netherlands, Brazil and Argentina.

If you need a reminder you can find my predictions for this round right here, but here we go with my Quarterfinal Predictions:

Netherlands 1 – 3 Brazil

With Arjen Robben back in the line-up, the Dutch had much more movement against Slovakia and will look to exploit the attacking nature of the Brazilian players to try and pounce on the counter attack.

Look for Wesley Sneijder to make runs to open up the back for of Brazil, while his forwards create problems in the box. However, their attacking prowess will not be enough to get past an inspired defence-first Brazilian side.

Look for Kaka and company to once again dominate the game, allowing another late goal after controlling the match for much of the full ninety minutes.

Key Player For NetherlandsArjen Robben

Key Player For BrazilKaka


Uruguay 3 – 2 Ghana

This match is the one that I personally look forward to the most in this year’s Quarterfinals.

It offers us an African nation with the possibility of making it into the Semi-Finals, but also a chance for Uruguay to announce their return to the top of the football world.

Ghana will off early attacking pressure, but once again the counter-attack will be key to this match with Uruguay pegging them back time, and time again. Asamoah Gyan will attempt to get the win for his team and will be the catalyst for the Ghanaian attack but it just won’t be enough.

Look to Diego Forlan to hit the back of the net twice and lead his team to an inspired 3 – 2 victory, booking the Uruguayan’s place in the Semi-Finals.

Key Player for Uruguay Diego Forlan

Key Player for GhanaAsamoah Gyan

Argentina 1 – 2 Germany

What a matchup this is!

It’s tough to choose a winner between this two teams, with both being heavy favourites before the tournament to life the Jules Rimet trophy, it is unfortunate that this will not be the final matchup.

Both team’s feature very young goalkeepers, with a combined age under 45 and just 19 caps between the two, but both teams have full confidence of making it through to the final four. Germany has relied on the inspiration of youngster Mesut Ozil, while Diego Maradona’s side will focus their movements forward through Lionel Messi.

The pace and creativity in the German side will win out, as they will sit back and wait to hit back on the counter attack, causing havoc on the Argentina back four.

I’m predicting a dominant performance from Germany, on their way to a 2 – 1 victory.

Key Player for GermanyMesut Ozil

Key Player for ArgentinaCarlos Tevez

Paraguay 0 – 2 Spain

With Paraguay lucky to squeeze by a resilient Japan side in their last match, I make Spain heavy favourites to pick apart their South American opponents.

I had thought that Portugal would be able to exploit the Spanish side going forward but their players showed control, and efficiently pulled apart their opponents game plan.

I look for David Villa to be key in this matchup and for the Spanish defence to provide a masterclass performance, giving Spain a clean sheet and a place in the Semi`s.

Key Player for SpainDavid Villa

Key Player for ParaguayRoque Santa Cruz

Well, there you have it, going through to the finals will be: Brazil, Uruguay, Germany and Spain.

Throw me your comments, concerns or your own predictions and let me know how wrong you think I am!

We`ll be back with match-day recaps this week and will keep you updated with all the football news!