Thursday 12 June 2014

World Cup Predictions and Hopes

It's 7:00 and there's only 2 hours to go before Brazil kick off against Croatia to start the World Cup.

With that in mind it's about time I revealed my predictions and hopes for this year's tournament.

The highest level of football is now found in the Champions League and not international football. With 32 teams in a World Cup the quality is going to suffer. The standard in some of the group games isn't particularly great.

But in saying this, International football and the World Cup are both still special.

Unlike club football, it's not about who's spent the most money on the best players and managers. It's about each country making the most of its footballing resources, culture and organisation, then bringing it together to produce a national team.

So what am I expecting, what do I want to see?

Who's going to win it?

I'm expecting a Brazil/Argentina Final.

Brazil are obviously favourites and have a squad capable of winning the tournament but they're under huge pressure from the Brazilian public. Can they handle it?

I have this feeling that Argentina might cause an upset. It's a big World Cup for Argentina as well.

For all his brilliance for Barcelona, there's a question mark over Lionel Messi. He's never produced that form or had that impact at this level with Argentina. Will this be his moment?

Argentina have underachieved in recent years. I heard an amazing stat this week. Since reaching the final in 1990, Argentina have only beaten Mexico (2006 & 2010) in knock out World Cup matches!

That's unbelievable when you think of some of the talented players they've had over the years.

I want iconic moments

When I think about the World Cup, I think about iconic moments.

Brazil's 4th goal against Italy in the 1970 Final. Maradona's second goal against England in 1986. Marco Tardelli's goal and celebration against West Germany in 1982. There are so many to choose from.

I want some iconic moments from this World Cup, a goal, a performance a game that stays in my memory for years to come.

We haven't really had those iconic moments in recent World Cups and I'm hoping a World Cup in Brazil will inspire some stand out moments.

Star players to perform

If you want iconic moments then you need the biggest names to perform. This is becoming more and more difficult, it's hard to recreate the same player understanding you find at club level in international football. And players are normally so tired after a long gruelling season.

We all hope and want to see the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar really perform to the best of the abilities. Lets hope it happens.

Dark Horses

Dark Horses never win World Cups!

This World Cup is unlikely to be any different. People are looking at the likes of Belgium who have produced a real golden generation, and I enjoy watching Chile. However, one team that's gone under the radar slightly is France.

They always produce good players, they have a talented squad and they'll be desperate to make up for the debacle that was their 2010 campaign in South Africa.

I want to see a break out star

Being a World Cup purist, I want to see a player emerge who we don't really know much about.

In Italia 90 I remember Toto Schillaci becoming top scorer, there was also Roger Milla from Cameroon.

In our modern era of football, nothing is really unknown anymore. The top European Leagues are multi national, we can watch games from all over the world every week. We have social media particularly Youtube and by the time the World Cup comes around there are few surprises for us.

I hope there's a player out there who will seize the moment and announce themselves to the rest of the world.

Top goal scorer

This is always difficult to predict. In previous World Cup's the player who ended up as top goal scorer was never someone you would have thought of.

However, a good bet would be Argentina's Sergio Aguero. Argentina on paper have the best attacking line up and the draw is relatively kind for Argentina.

Young talents to look out for

There's one young player from Europe who I've been really impressed by whenever I've seen him and could have a real impact in this World Cup.

I'm talking about France's Paul Pogba. This is a guy who left Man Utd because he wasn't getting enough opportunities and took himself off to Juventus in Italy and has been a huge success. I think he could be a real star.

What about England

I'll tell you what I want from England, I want to be entertained.

I haven't enjoyed an England game in a World Cup since Japan and Korea in 2002. I know, that's a long time.

There's no expectation on this team, suddenly going out in the Quarter Finals would be considered a success. We've got a good crop of young players, which you couldn't see emerging two years ago.

I want to see England play without any inhibitions, it's a World Cup in Brazil, I want England players to enjoy the experience and see what happens.

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