James’ World Cup insight/predicitions

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…So the world cup lies so close now that you’re allowed to count in hours (just over  74 as I post this), and having begun a comprehensive look at each team and group, I decided that perhaps a more concise effort would be more appropriate this close to the World Cup; so here goes!

 

First – my predictions for each match, the tables and the knockout rounds


 

Group A

Brazil 2-1 Croatia

Mexico 1-1 Cameroon

Brazil 2-0 Mexico

Cameroon 1-1 Croatia

Cameroon 0-3 Brazil

Croatia 1-0 Mexico

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Brazil                     9              +6

Croatia                  4              0

Cameroon           2              -3

Mexico                 1              -3

 


 

Group B

Spain 1-0 Holland

Chile 3-0 Australia

Australia 1-4 Holland

Spain 1-1 Chile

Australia 0-2 Spain

Holland 1-3 Chile

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Chile                      7              +5

Spain                     7              +3

Holland                3              0

Australia              0              -8

 


 

Group C

Colombia 2-1Greece

Ivory Coast 2-2 Japan

Colombia 3-2 Ivory Coast

Japan 0-0 Greece

Greece 1-3 Ivory Coast

Japan 1-1 Colombia

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Colombia             7              +2

Ivory Coast         4              +1

Japan                    3              0

Greece                 1              -3

 


 

Group D

Uruguay 2-0 Costa Rica

England 1-1 Italy

Uruguay 2-1 England

Italy 1-1 Costa Rica

Costa Rica 2-1 England

Italy 3-3 Uruguay

Pts          Goal diff

Uruguay               7              +3

Costa Rica            4              -1

Italy                       3              0

England                                1              -2

 


 

Group E

Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador

France 1-0 Honduras

Switzerland 1-1 France

Honduras 1-3 Ecuador

Ecuador 0-4 France

Honduras 0-2 Switzerland

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

France                  7              +5

Switzerland        7              +3

Ecuador                3              -3

Honduras            0              -5

 


 

Group F

Argentina 2-1 Bosnia Herzegovina

Iran 0-1 Nigeria

Argentina 3-0 Iran

Nigeria 0-0 Bosnia Herzegovina

Bosnia Herzegovina 2-2 Iran

Nigeria 1-3 Argentina

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Argentina            9              +6

Nigeria                  4              -1

Bosnia/Herz       2              -1

Iran                        1              -4

 


 

Group G

Germany 0-0 Portugal

Ghana 2-1 USA

Germany 2-1 Ghana

USA 1-0 Portugal

Portugal 2-0 Ghana

USA 1-4 Germany

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Germany             7              +4

Portugal               4              +1

Ghana                   3              -2

USA                       3              -3

 


 

Group H

Belgium 2-0 Algeria

Russia 1-1 South Korea

Belgium 3-2 Russia

South Korea 3-1 Algeria

Algeria 0-4 Russia

South Korea 0-1 Belgium

Table:

Pts          Goal diff

Belgium                9              +4

Russia                   4              +3

South Korea       4              +1

Algeria                  0              -8

 


 

So according to my predictions the last 16 looks like:

Brazil, Croatia, Chile, Spain, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Uruguay, Costa Rica, France, Switzerland, Argentina, Nigeria, Germany, Portugal, Belgium and Russia.

 

Last 16:

Brazil 31 Spain (AET)

Colombia 2-0 Costa Rica

Croatia 1-3 Chile

Uruguay 1-1 Ivory Coast (Penalties)

France 3-1 Nigeria

Germany 1-1 Russia (Penalties)

Argentina 2-0 Switzerland

Belgium 1-2 Portugal (AET)

 


 

Quarter finals:

France 1-2 Germany

Brazil 1-0 Colombia

Argentina 2-1 Portugal

Chile 2-2 Uruguay (Penalties)

 


 

Semi finals:

Germany 1-1 Brazil (Penalties)

Argentina 2-1 Uruguay (AET)

 


 

Final:

Germany 1-2 ARGENTINA


 

 


 

I firmly believe that the quarter finals I’ve predicted reflect the best 8 teams that will be present in the tournament. My three tips to win are Germany, Argentina and also an outside bet on France. France have some unbelievable youth coming through in the key positions and should have a ridiculously solid spin to the team for many years to come with the likes of Lloris, Zouma, Varane, Matuidi and Digne – all of whom should be able to hold considerable lengths as the first choice in their positions. Aside from their chances this year, they’re also my shout to triumph at Euro 2016 on home soil. South American international football is incredibly strong, despite the European powerhouses still being strong I can see the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia all going to the knockout phases; with several staying on deep in to the tournament in conditions they will be accustomed to – and I think the strength of Argentina may well see them winning the tournament. And my other call, Germany. A solid team as ever, although the defence may be seen as a minor weakness; Mertesacker is definitely a player to be exploited in South American conditions.


 

My 6 outside shouts for Golden Boot:

–          Miroslav Klose (Germany). Yes. Klose of longevity and consistency. He surpassed Gerd Muller’s national goalscoring record; but because his international career has spanned well over 12 years, and he’ll be sure to bag a couple of goals with the creativity that Germany boast with the likes of Götze. He’s been there and done it before and I wouldn’t put it past him again given how far Germany can go in the tournament. People seem to have forgotten this, favouring the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar to seal the deal.

–          Sergio Agüero (Argentina). Kun Agüero’s had some issues with injury this season, but will be part of a three pronged forward line boasting Messi and Higuain also. It just oozes goals. And Agüero is my favourite of these goalscoring machines to succeed in this tournament. The pressure on Messi will also benfit him as there’s less pressure on his own shoulders. A certainty to be up there in my view.

–          Luis Suarez (Uruguay). Love him or hate him (as I do), he’s likely to be there or there abouts too. Uruguay could work magic in a group featuring an out of form Italy, Costa Rica and England… He could run rings past his Liverpool teammate Glen Johnson who’s defensive work leaves a lot to be desried, and is by his nature a goalscorer. Should Uruguay go far in the tournament, his name should be up there.

–          Alexis Sanchez (Chile). Yes, another South American talisman. Chile’s best goalscoring talent. He displayed this amply against England at Wembley, and is more than a handful for any defence the World Cup will throw up at him.

–          Carlos Bacca (Colombia). You guessed it. A dramatic rise has seen him go from Colombian fisherman to Europa League winner, and his exploits in Belgium in between, combined with his ability to get on the end of most things Rakitic produces at club level stand him in good stead to succeed at the World Cup. Falcao’s injury may well just be a blessing in disguise for Bacca, as this will surely mean he gets ample game time. I can see Colombia doing well so this should see him notching of quite a few goals throughout the tournament.

–          Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast). I adore Swansea, and Bony is arguably the greatest striker since Lee Trundle for the Swans! He’s notched up goals consistently for the South Wales side this season and could play a crucial role in a very underrated Ivorian attack, and could bag a few this summer.


 

My top 5 Unlikely heroes:

–          Keylor Navas (Costa Rica). Not every will even have heard of him, but the Levante goalkeeper will be absolutely instrumental for Costa Rica to throw up some of the upsets I predict they will. He really poses more of a threat than the more well-known players to English fans’ ears such as Bryan Ruiz and Bryan Oviedo. Navas managed to get in whoscored.com’s team of the year with best average rating of all goalkeepers in La Liga. He’s La Liga’s David Marshall and can snuff out any attack on his day. Expect some stubborn defence from this guy, and possibly some calls of a big move.

–          Joe Hart (England). I am a big England sceptic and by no means a ‘fan’, but Joe may just be a Saint for England come the World Cup finals. He’s regained form in the second half of the season, having lost his first team berth to Costel Pantillimon, but is once again a mainstay in between the sticks. Jagielka, likely to be a first choice centre back is out of match fitness and Jones and Smalling are prone to the odd error, so England’s last line of defence may well just prove crucial in avoiding defeats. With much talk around the likes of Rooney, Sturridge and Gerrard, as well as discussion over the youngsters like Shaw, ‘The Ox’, Barkley and Sterling, England fans can actually be fairly relaxed over the number 1 jersey, for the first time since Seaman. Make sure he’s got his Head and Shoulders, mind you!

–          Fred (Brazil). With much of the Brazilian hype over Neymar, Fred can still have a pivotal role. He’s sure to get a handful of games and may well crop up with the important goals. He’s Brazil’s most experienced forward, too, at 30 years of age, and had huge influence on games in the Confederations Cup ‘dress rehearsal’ triumph for Brazil.

–          David Villa (Spain). You’d think he wasn’t ever going to the World Cup. Yes, he’s agreed a contract with New York City, and also to go on loan in the Hyundai A-League later this year, but this man may still become a first team starter for Spain rather than a squad member as he appears to be treated as at the moment. He’s Spain’s record goalscorer, but Diego Costa seems to have usurped his placed in the national team, despite having played just 1 game for Spain; and with recent injury problems, Villa will be needed to chip in for the team which he’s more than able of doing… Unless Spain line up with a 4-6-0 again…

–          Ron Vlaar (Holland). An Aston Villa player could be an unlikely hero at a World Cup? Well potentially, yes. Vlaar is the only defender (as well as Goalkeeper) with proper international experience behind him – and he’s only achieved 23 caps! A defensive overhaul from LVG means that aside from Paul Verhaegh at 30, 29 year old Vlaar represents a wealth of experience in the defence. With 33 caps between the other 6 defenders in the squad, and again excluding Paul Verhaegh at 30 years old, the defence shows three 22 year olds, a 24 year old and even a 20 year old. Vlaar is crucial to holding together the nation’s defence. Mind you this is all a welcome change – rather inexperience than Stekelenburg in goal and Heitinga at centre half!

 


 

~ James (Twitter: @jammyjamiejames)


 

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