Football

2014 World Cup Predictions: Favourites and Dark Horses

The 2014 World Cup is just around the corner and there are several teams which are already being considered as favourites to win it. However, there are also some contenders who may just surprise a few people.

Favourites

Brazil: There are several reasons why Brazil are amongst the favourites. 1. The tournament is being held in their country and so they are going to have immense backing from the whole nation. They also hosted the Confederations Cup in 2013 and they won that, beating Span in the final. 2. They have a very talented group of players. When one thinks of the Brazilian national team, one thinks of Neymar. The forward is seen as a future Ballon d’Or winner. His first season with Barcelona was decent at best but he showed in the Confederations Cup that he can be the real deal. Of course, Neymar isn’t the only world class player they have. The bright and hard-working Oscar, the rock at the back Thiago Silva and the pacey Ramires and Dani Alves could get into any team. It would not be a surprise to see them get to at least the semi-final.

Spain: Despite Brazil’s threat, a lot of people are backing Spain and it is easy to see why. Their tiki taka style of football can be mesmerising at times and often leaves opponents chasing shadows. Their football domination over the last six years has been extraordinary, winning Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and then Euro 2012. They have world class talent in nearly every position and with players like Andreas Iniesta and Xavi still pulling the strings in midfield, it is likely Spain will go far. However, the game with Brazil mentioned earlier must be taken into consideration. They lost that game 3-0 and that scoreline did not flatter the host nation. Neymar gave Alvaro Arbeloa nightmares and he was also the reason for Gerard Pique’s dismissal. So with the margin of defeat, some may just wonder whether Spain’s domination is coming to an end.

Germany: Germany are always strong in these competitions, reaching the final of Euro 2008, semi-final of Euro 2012 and 3rd in World Cup 2010. They have a lot of attacking quality, with the likes of the ever-probing Mesut Özil, the tricky and quick Marco Reus and the intelligent Thomas Müller. They have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world with Manuel Neuer, the leadership of Philip Lahm in defence and the all round quality of Bastian Schweinsteiger in the heart of midfield.  It certainly is a team to be reckoned with.

Argentina: Most believe that Argentina are not massive favourites but they certainly are not dark horses because of one man, Lionel Messi. Due to injury and form, last season was not one of this best. However, when a team has someone of his ability, someone who can win a game almost singlehandedly, there is always a chance of doing well. Also, all eyes will be on him and Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese man took the Ballon d’Or trophy. Messi will want to show that he is still the world’s best. Of course, Messi is not the only threat Argentina have. Sergio Agüero is seen as one of the best strikers in the Premier League. His pace, movement, skill and finishing make him a potential match winner even if Messi is off form. Players such as Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain can not be forgotten either. However, one may wonder whether they have the ability to go all the way due to the lack of truly world class players in midfield, defence and in goal. Di Maria would be in that bracket but apart from that, it is difficult to find anyone.

Dark Horses

Belgium: Belgium really could do well in this World Cup because of their incredibly talented group of young players. Eden Hazard has to be mentioned, Chelsea’s player of the last season and another potential Ballon d’Or winner. On his day, Hazard can be unplayable and Belgium will be hoping that he brings his club form to the national team. The same can be said for Adnan Januzaj. The 19 year old winger was the shining light in what was a hugely disappointing season for Manchester United. He was a surprise pick for the World Cup for some but you can not argue with his talent. There’s Vincent Kompany- the complete defender in many people’s eyes due to his leadership, intelligence and tackling. Also, Romelu Lukaku who is pace and power at its very best. The list goes on and on.

England: It is a strange situation for England. On one hand, there are a lot of people who think they will not even get out of their group but on the other, there are people who are really excited about the squad. Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge have all performed fantastically well for their respective clubs and offer something different to the England team of previous years. This team looks to have much more verve and imagination. However, they recently played against Peru and despite the 3-0 win, the lack of chances created will definitely be a concern. One just never knows with England and the young stars may surprise a few.

Portugal: Portugal may not have the greatest team in the world, but they have the greatest player. Cristiano Ronaldo was the reason why Portugal beat Sweden in qualification for this tournament and he will be more determined than ever when he steps out for the first match against Germany. Last season, it was all about him. He won the Ballon d’Or, the Pichichi for most league goals in Spain and shared the European Golden Shoe for most league goals in Europe. He also beat the record of the most Champions League goals in a season, with 17. One senses that Ronaldo will do everything in his power to get Portugal far in the competition.

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