WORLD CUP PREDICTIONS
My original thoughts were Spain to win, Brazil 2nd. Ivory Coast and Holland in the Semis. Brazil hasn't lost a single competitive game under Dunga as far as I recall... Copa America, Confederations Cup and World Cup qualifying. Spain probably needed the wake up call of last year's defeat against the USA but it's hard betting against a team that has lost 1 match in 45 and that under Del Bosque has forgotten how to draw... that keeps winning with just 1 loss.
I figured that there would be an African team that would do well and Ivory Coast are by far the strongest with Drogba a battering ram. I also don't think most people realise how well Holland has been doing the last 2 years... only Brazil and Spain have performed better. A front 3 of Robben, Van Pierse with Sneijder behind them and Van Der Vaart, Kuyt, Huntelaar, Van Bommel among the players in the squad in support is scary... Robben and Sneijder were among Europe's 3-4 best players last season (along with Messi and maybe Rooney).At Euro 2008 they destroyed France and Germany only to get knocked out because of one bad match against Russia. But at the semis I just felt Spain and Brazil have too much firepower and defensive discipline for Holland and Ivory Coast.
Chile, Argentina, USA and England were my picks for the quarters. Chile play a wonderful, uptempo attacking game with pressure in the opponent's half. They finished a point behind Brazil in the qualifiers and have one of the world's best tacticians in Biesla. I feel USA's confederations cup performance last year was not a fluke... their speed, directness and aggression is tough to deal with unless you're very disciplined. Argentina and England are simply too good to not make the quarters but the defence does not convince me and I think both teams (despite Capello for England) have a self-destruct gene.
I also expected Italy,France,Germany to lose in the 16, and Portugal to be knocked out in Round 1.
But when you actually fill out the draw a very different picture emerges. If the teams perform the way I expect, the Ivory Coast meets Spain in round 2 and Holland meets Brazil in the quarters... so that's 2 of my semi picks eliminated already. England I can see beating Serbia and France to make the semis. I don't see USA beating Germany in Round 2... the big match temperament is just too strong. The toughest one to predict is the semis between Germany and Argentina. While Argentina is the better team, I feel that the brittle defence and Maradona will lose to Germany
So final 4:
Spain to beat Germany and Brazil to beat England.
And since the best team never wins the World Cup, I'm finally going with Brazil on penalties.