With the 19th World Cup due to start on Friday as South Africa vs Mexico will kick us off, I’ve decided to publish my infamously bad predictions which I make for every tournament. I’ve gone with each group, 2nd Round, etc whilst also picking out who will be the star players, top scorer and surprise package. So take a read, go to the bookies and bet the opposite for some easy money.
--> The opening group should see a surprise as a woefully poor France side will see another 2002 on their hands as they crash out in Round 1. Squeezing through qualifying by a hand and with a car crash of a coach in Raymond Domenech it looks tough for them. Where will the goals come from too? That leaves 3 teams for two spots and I think Mexico will top the group with their young, counter attacking side while the hosts will squeeze in for 2nd. No host country has ever failed to leave the group, do not underestimate the power of their 12th man.
Winners: Mexico, 2nd Place: S.Africa
--> Surely a team containing Messi, Di Maria, Tevez and Higuain cannot be ruined by a mental coach? Argentina may not be in the best form leading into this tournament but a team with that much attacking talent, and a decent defence too surely will make it out this fairly easy group. For 2nd place, I will have to be bias and select my sweepstake team in Nigeria, although dark horses South Korea will pose the biggest threat to that. We must look at past from though, and S.Korea have only ever made it out the group stage once. On home turf. Greece will just be happy to be there.
Winners: Argentina, 2nd Place: Nigeria
--> As much as I’d love to say England would be going out at this stage, I can’t. Its just a question on whether they finish on 7 or 9 points for the group. USA will probably be the only team that could stop them getting an 100% record, and even if they succumb to a shock defeat to the US in their 1st game, England should have enough to see off Algeria and Slovenia. The US have enough star quality in their team to take 2nd place while Algeria should overcome Slovenia. The little nation from Europe are actually the smallest ever country to qualify for 2 non-consecutive finals.
Winners: England, 2nd Place: USA
--> Very tough group to call, but I’ve gone with Ghana to win it. Even though Michael Essien is out for Ghana, playing in their home continent with a decent squad should see them top. Germany will find it tough, but I believe they should come through in 2nd, but this group will be very very close.
Winners: Ghana, 2nd Place: Germany
--> From one close group to one that really isn’t, Holland should see anything less than 100% in this group a failure. The other 3 “average joes” will be fighting for that 2nd spot with Japan my pick to qualify. Although their recent poor form leading up to the tournament isn’t great, they still look better than a woefully out of sorts Cameroon and any team that is relying on Niklas Bendtner for its main source of goals will be in trouble.
Winners: Holland, 2nd Place: Japan
--> The reigning Champions should have enough to go through in this group, but will surely then struggle as Italia’s “Dad’s Army” gets to grips with the heat and humidity. I’ve gone with Paraguay to get 2nd in the group, mainly because they aren’t actually a bad team, but New Zealand and Slovakia have only 1 previous World Cup appearance between and will just enjoy being involved.
Winners: Italy, 2nd Place: Paraguay
--> Poor North Korea, a great qualification campaign saw them finish ahead of Iran and Saudi Arabia, but then get lumbered with 3 of the better teams in World football. If NK get a point, that will be a great achievement for them. That leaves the Big 3, well 2 as Brazil should have the quality to get through this group. I’ve gone with Ivory Coast as they are on African soil and Portugal are deeply out of form and the loss of Nani will only exacerbate matters.
Winners: Brazil, 2nd Place: Ivory Coast
--> 10 wins out of 10 in qualifying, regarded as the best team in the World currently and an extremely easy group. Spain should coast through this without breaking sweat. Chile should get 2nd place in the group, although sturdy and boring Switzerland will give them a run for their money.
Winners: Spain, 2nd Place: Chile
- Mexico vs Nigeria
- England vs Germany
- Ghana vs USA
- Argentina vs South Africa
- Holland vs Paraguay
- Brazil vs Chile
- Italy vs Japan
- Spain vs Ivory Coast
Wins for teams in italics. No real shocks, although I think Italy’s Dad’s Army will suffer in the heat and Japan can finally make the quarter-finals on their 4th attempt. England vs Germany should also be close but I think (sadly) England might just win it.
- Holland vs Brazil
- Mexico vs England
- Argentina vs Ghana
- Japan vs Spain
These are now big, big games, especially the 1st one. Brazil vs Holland should be game of the tournament which I think Brazil should just win it. Mexico might be a surprising choice, but ignore the result of the recent friendly between the two sides. Mexico could have been 2 up before England scored and it was an under strength Mexican side. As for Argentina, Ghana will be backed strongly by the home fans wanting to see an African winner and Ghana’s excellent performance in the ACN earlier this year gives them the confidence to produce a shock I believe. Spain should cruise past Japan.
- Brazil vs Mexico
- Ghana vs Spain
The two favourites should beat these two to reach the final, although Mexico and Ghana reaching this stage would be a tremendous achievement for both sides. For what its worth, I think Mexico would beat Ghana in the 3rd place play-off
- BRAZIL vs Spain
The final everyone wants to see I think will happen, with Brazil winning it for a 6th crown. It really could go either way, but Brazil are so far, the only team to win a World Cup outside of their own continent and I believe that will continue with the Samba Boys winning in South Africa. But what do I know?
Top Scorer – Luis Fabiano (Brazil) –> A player who will have a crack at the N.Korean defence in the group stage will have a head start on most other players in the tournament and with Brazil likely to go far, their main source of goals is in for a great shout.
Surprise Team – Ghana –> A team from Africa surely has to do well. With S.Africa not that good, Cameroon woefully out of form, Ivory Coast shackled by an inept Sven and a crocked Drogba, that leaves Ghana or Nigeria to shine. I think Ghana can go a long way in this tournament, a decent team and an ok passage to at least the Quarters awaits.