Now that all the 32 sides have been previewed, it is time for me to pick a winner for the tournament, an unenviable task. As with any world cup, there are the usual suspects, like Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany and now Spain, who are the favourites for the title. They are, as usual, joined by some roughies like Portugal, England, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands. To pick my winner, however, I shall run a simulation of the knockout stages using the group predictions I made. On those predictions, the round of 16 is as follows: Brazil vs Netherlands, Spain vs Croatia, Cote d’Ivoire vs England, Italy vs Colombia, France vs Nigeria, Argentina vs Switzerland, Germany vs Russia and Belgium vs Portugal.
Brazil should, on home soil, account for the Dutch, although let us not forget it was the Oranje who knocked Brazil out in the quarter-finals of the last tournament. Spain and Germany, the top two in the world, should not have any troubles either, and Italy will be able to beat the Colombians who are without Radamel Falcao to injury. One match I have predicted will occur is a match-up between the English, the perennial “underachievers” and the Ivorians, who have been the best in Africa for years now but have not been able to pass the group stage thanks to some horrendous luck in the draw. England should win, but with the English one must always have caution. Whether their defence can match the Ivorian’s attack is an interesting question, although they may well outshoot the Ivorians, whose defence is weaker than their own.
Argentina may struggle to overcome the incredible defence of the Swiss, but the Swiss themselves wouldn’t pose an awful threat in the goalscoring circles. France should beat Nigeria, although Les Bleus are not the most reliable side going around, and have been dealt a huge blow in the injury to Franck Ribery. This brings us to the match-up of my predicted second round, Belgium and Portugal. The Belgians, with their incredible arsenal of young talent, have enough to give any side a serious challenge, but Cristiano Ronaldo may be a huge challenge for Les Diables Rouges to face. Despite this, the defence is the most experienced part of the Belgian team and they should get the win through better depth. Brazil would be able to take either England or the Cote d’Ivoire, and should make the semis, as should the Germans, who shouldn’t find the knockouts too challenging unless Argentina were to be pushed to second in their group. Either way, the Argentinians would find a real challenge in Belgium, although while a very competitive game would ensue, Argentina should be able to exploit Belgium’s lack of world cup experience.
The final of my hypothetical quarter-finals is Italy vs Spain. The last time these to sides met La Furia Roja trumped the Italians 7-6 on penalties after the match finished 0-0. I feel that this would be the most likely place for the Spaniards to come a cropper, and I will predict that the Italians, with an incredibly solid and experienced side, will be the team to take out the reigning champions, who have changed a lot since their world cup triumph. The Italians should be able to win thanks to the solidity of their defence and their very strong midfield. The semi-finals would then see Brazil meet the Germans, and this would be very interesting. I believe, however, that the Germans will win out thanks to their experience at this level and their skill all over the park. The other semi would be Italy vs Argentina, and while I believe that Argentina have the stronger attack, the Italian defence could probably hold them out and snatch a couple of goals to progress to the final. That leaves my final: Germany vs Italy.
This match is one that would have many layers, and I would predict an extremely entertaining bout. Germany, however, seem to have the better team and should hold out the Italians. This is why I believe that it is Germany who will win the 2014 FIFA World Cup. My picks for the golden boot are Daniel Sturridge of England and Sergio Aguero of Argentina. These are, however, just my predictions, and when predicting the world cup it is impossible to take into account the underdog that will excel. Maybe Ghana, who nearly broke into the semi-finals last time, will be that team, or even Australia, Iran or Korea Republic, who look to have only the slightest of chances. Algeria or Honduras may be that team. One thing is for sure, however. You can just never tell with the world cup.
Quarter-finals: Belgium, England, France, Spain
Round of 16: Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland
Group Stage: Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Uruguay, USA
Golden Boot: Daniel Sturridge (England) and Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
Golden Ball: Philipp Lahm (Germany)
Best Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Best Young Player: Paul Pogba (France)
Please comment on my predictions and please do give some of your own through your comments. Thank you for reading and enjoying my world cup preview.