The main points in Gavin Grace’s World Cup are as follows – France miss out in the group stage, Mexico reach the Quarter Finals before losing to England, while Brazil are champions with a win over Argentina in the final.
A couple of points about it:
- Firstly... ya it’s not the most exciting of predictions. England/Argentina/Spain/Brazil in the semi-finals is far from a shock. However years of filling out similar brackets for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament have taught me that going chalk is the way to go!
- France’s early exit is only partly based on my dislike of the French football team. They are a team in decline, and are most people’s selections for a flop in the next two weeks. Reports of revolt in the camp don’t bode well, and I’m not inspired by anything I’ve seen from them in recent times, especially in last week’s loss to China. You’ll also notice that I’ve predicted that South Africa will emerge from Group A. They’re not the strongest team, but the Bafana Bafana are unbeaten in their last 11 matches, and no home team has ever failed to reach the second round of the World Cup. I think they’ll maintain that streak, albeit finishing behind Mexico, but it could be one of the tightest groups of them all.
- Some of the groups are pretty easy to pick the top two out of: Group C (England/USA), Group F (Italy/Paraguay) and Group H (Spain/Chile). Others weren’t so easy however, even if the winners are most obvious. Portugal should finish ahead of Ivory Coast in Group H, while I’ve picked Greece to beat Nigeria to second in Group B – I’m not too confident about that, to be frank. I like some of what I saw of Nigeria in the African Nations Cup, but the Greek’s defence is why I went for them. South Korea could cause an upset there too. Germany’s group is also a corker. I’ve gone for the Germans to top it ahead of Australia (in part because of the fact that I think the Aussies will go far-ish). Serbia’s loss to New Zealand was enough for me to write them off, while Michael Essien’s absence means I’m not backing Ghana to do much.
- In the knockout stages, there’s some games that I feel could go either way: I went for Brazil over Holland, but the Netherlands can attack, of that there’s no doubt. Germany v USA is a potential upset – the Americans are good, and the Germans are lacking experience. Meanwhile Mexico just might, maybe, perhaps be capable of knocking England out.
- How easy is Italy’s run to the Quarter-Finals? Paraguay/New Zealand/Slovakia should pose little threat, and provided Holland win their group then Cameroon/Japan/Denmark should provide fairly easy fodder.
- I worry about the impact that the long seasons for players in England and Spain could have, and in part that’s why I have both nations falling short of the final. Mind you, when I’m doing that then I readily admit that I should also perhaps degrade Argentina’s chances as well, given their dependence on Messi and Aguerro.
- I’m looking forward to seeing some teams playing, even some that I say won’t exit the group stage. I’ve had a grá for Honduras for several years, and their games against Spain and Chile in particular will be interesting. Nigera can play, and if Drogba can return to fitness then they could trouble anyone in Group H. And speaking of Group H, I honestly fancy North Korea to get a draw with Brazil.
- For top scorer, since i have them going to the final, I’m going to go with Luis Fabiano but my outside bet is Lucas Barrios of Paraguay, given their fairly easy group.
They’re no Olympics, but I do love the World Cup. Heroes and villains will be made in the next month, and no matter predicitions from both experts and people like me, things will happen over the next month that none of us can foresee. We will enjoy it, we will love it, and I hope that we also get some phenomenal moments that I’ve been revelling in while watching classic matches in recent weeks.
Let the games begin.