World Cup Draw
Today, the draw was made for the next World Cup that is going to be played in Brazil in 2014. Well, that is, it will be played in Brazil assuming the stadia are all completed as reports suggest they are far behind, plus there are ongoing protests about the expense of hosting the tournament that is being funded primarily with public money. And it is being contested in 2014, assuming the fringe group of “academics” who think that the years 600 C.E. – 900 C.E. did not actually happen are wrong and there wasn’t a moving forward of the calendar by 300 years to make certain empires appear to have had more longevity than they really enjoyed. Not that it actually matters whether next year is 2014 C.E. or 1714 C.E – the earth is more than 4.5 billion years old anyway – the main thing is the World Cup is going to be contested, somewhere, almost certainly in Brazil, next June. Before that, there is still more than half a season to go in the European leagues which could see crucial players get injured and others hit or lose form. Here are some quick initial thoughts on the draw, plus my early prediction for how the tournament will play out.
- Spain face Netherlands in their first match, a repeat of the 2010 World Cup Final which was ill-tempered and saw the Spanish win in extra-time thanks to a goal by Andreas Iniesta.
- The USA will face Germany, the nation for whom Jürgen Klinsmann, USA’s manager, played for in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups, scoring 11 goals in the process, then he coached the team in their home tournament in 2006. The United States also face Ghana, who knocked them out in the Round of 16 in 2010, plus Portugal, who have one of the two best players in the world in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.
- England also face a tough group: Uruguay – who have Luis Suarez, the top scorer in the Premiership despite having missed the first five games of the season; Italy and Costa Rica, who will be more comfortable with the suffocating heat of the Amazon region where Group D fixtures will be played and the Mayor of Manaus reacted badly to Roy Hodgson saying that he hoped England would not be drawn there, stating that they would not be welcome.
- France were on the brink of elimination during the playoffs, having lost 2-0 in the Ukraine, but their 3-0 victory in Paris has seen them rewarded with a weak-looking group: Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador.
- Brazil’s progress to the knockout stages should not be difficult (Croatia, Cameroon and the worst Mexico team of the last 20 years), but they would then face someone from the Spain/Chile/Netherlands/Australia group in the Round of 16, far from an easy task (unless the Aussies make it through).
- Always a couple of first round games that make you relieved that you do not feel bad skipping during the relentless first three weeks when all you seem to be doing is watching football: 2014 candidates to avoid – Japan vs Greece; Iran vs Bosnia Herzegovina; Algeria vs South Korea.
- N.B. I will probably watch and enjoy all three of those games I just listed…
My irrational, way too early prediction for how this tournament will play out
Group A: 1. Brazil; 2. Cameroon; 3. Mexico; 4. Croatia – If the tournament was being played in Europe, I might have given Croatia a chance, but I cannot see them besting both Mexico and Cameroon in South America.
Group B: 1. Chile; 2. Spain; 3. Netherlands; 4. Australia – Even if the Netherlands made it to the last World Cup final, I still do not trust them to get it together on the big stage and at Euro 2012, they lost all three of their group games. Plus side for Australia, they look like they are going to win back the Ashes this winter against England. I can see Spain being vulnerable in the opening round and may lose to Chile, whose main striker, Alexis Sanchez, players in La Liga for Barcelona and will know the opponents inside out having lined up with them for the last few seasons. Nevertheless, I still think the holders will progress ahead of the Netherlands and Australia.
Group C: 1. Colombia; 2. Côte d’Ivoire; 3. Japan; 4. Greece – Finally a good draw for Côte d’Ivoire, who had to face Brazil & Portugal in 2010 and Argentina & Netherlands in 2006, this time they should make it to the knockout stages. My prediction for Golden Boot (top scorer) for the 2014 World Cup will be on display in Group C: Colombia’s Radamel Falcao.
Group D: 1. Uruguay; 2. Costa Rica; 3. Itay; 4. England – Going with Costa Rica over Italy, mainly due to their familiarity with the rainforest climate. Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani up front should give Uruguay enough firepower to win this group and progress much further as well.
Group E: 1.Ecuador; 2. Switzerland; 3. France; 4. Honduras – I really would not be surprised if any two of these countries progressed; it could be an exciting group with all four still in contention heading into the final round of fixtures. I think home continent advantage will see Ecuador top the group and the Swiss are a better team unit that should just about pip the more talented French squad.
Group F: 1. Argentina; 2. Nigeria; 3. Bosnia-Herzegovina; 4. Iran – Nigeria might be favored to qualify ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina; but I think the fire power of Eden Dzeko could see the European side, along with Argentina who are the clear class of the group.
Group G: 1. Germany; 2. USA; 3. Ghana; 4. Portugal – Really bad luck with this draw, but this may not be as bad as it first appears: Portugal are very much a one-player team and if Ronaldo were to get injured, or not be on form, then they will not be too tough. Ghana are not as good as they were four years ago and to qualify, their toughest opponent was Zambia – the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions – but other than that, they faced Sudan, Lesotho and an Egyptian side who have been disarray over the last few years.
Group H: 1. Belgium; 2. South Korea; 3. Russia; 4. Algeria – Belgium are one of the big “dark horse” picks for the World Cup and that pressure could see them falter, but they got a kind draw here and they should be able to top their group without too much trouble. I do not see Russia – the hosts in 2018 – doing much in Brazil, especially with Fabio Capello in charge.
Round of 16
(My predicted winner in bold)
Brazil vs Spain
Colombia vs Costa Rica
Ecuador vs Bosnia-Herzegovina
Germany vs South Korea
Chile vs Cameroon
Uruguay vs Côte D’Ivoire
Argentina vs Switzerland
Belgium vs USA
Brazil vs Colombia
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Germany
Chile vs Uruguay
Argentina vs USA
Colombia vs Germany
Uruguay vs Argentina
Argentina vs Germany – Argentina to win. In Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel DiMaria, Gonzalo Higuain, they should have enough firepower to beat any other team in the world, plus they have the relative home-field advantage of playing in South America rather than Europe.
So now you know who is going to win the World Cup, not much point watching…of course, if I am wrong, you can have a full refund for this article (except for the time it took to read it, which is all mine now).