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Predictions


Rovermatt
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I'm surprised this topic hasn't been started yet.

Without it getting too tribal (i.e. myself and the few other celts on here getting a bit 'non-English' ;) ) what are your honest views of those teams with a realistic chance of taking the trophy home?

Argentina

World ranking: 8

Star player: Juan Roman Riquelme (Villareal)-A player of bewitching skill and verve. Apart from Ronaldinho, Riquelme is the most electrifying midfielder in the world.

Assessment: The only team really capable of beating the Brazilians when the 'Seleção' are in top gear, Argentina are always strong in defence, endlessly talented in midfield and lethal up front. It's surprising therefore that the Argies have only ever won the tournament twice. They certainly have a terrific chance of going all the way. However, Pekerman is almost spoiled with talent. Players like Sorin, Crespo, Zanetti, Aimar, Ayala, Tevez and of course Riquelme are amongst the best in the world, but will they gel? They could have the break-out star of the tournament though. Forget Theo Walcott, 18 year old Lionel Messi is the most gifted teenager in the game. One third of the attacking juggernaut at Barcelona, this guy could easily explode onto the tournament and relieve Riquelme of at least some of the country's expectations.

Diving barstewards though.

My prediction: Finalists.

Brazil

World ranking: 1

Star player: Ronaldinho (Barcelona)-Above all of Brazil's uber-stars Ronaldinho is the main man, the go-to guy, the top dog. Blessed with an awesome array of tricks, feints, dummies and with the ability to perform consistently at a level approaching God-like, it is his form that will dictate Brazil's fate.

Assessment: If the Brazilians get going, it will be hard to stop them. With a good mix of experience and youth, and in spite of the obligatory defensive failings, they are overwhelming favourites. Winners of five World Cups, finalists on the last three occassions and possessed of the most talented set of attacking players in the world, Brazil could steamroller their way to the final. To attack their ageing (yet still top drawer) full backs and exposed defence, it is necessary to get the ball first. If somehow the opposition is able to shut down Ronaldinho, then they must contend with Milan superstar Kaka', Inter's powerful and brilliant Adriano, the lardy yet prodigiously gifted Ronaldo and Lyon's talismanic playmaker Juninho. Emerson and Gilberto dominate the middle, winning the ball for their more gifted compatriots.

Ergo

Prediction: Winners.

Czech republic

World ranking: 2

Star player: Pavel Nedved (Juventus)-One of the most dominant midfield players in European football over the last decade, Nedved has it all; skill, speed, passing, and terrific shooting ability. An inspirational figure, the Czechs could go a long way if he sticks around for the World Cup (a competition he has never played in).

Assessment: Brilliant but erratic, the Czech Republic were the best team at the European Championships somehow conspiring to lose in the semis to Greece. An equally humiliating defeat in Germany is certainly possible. However if they click and their top players are up for it, Milan Baros in particular, then the Czechs (the highest scoring team in European qualifying) could blow the opposition away. In Peter Cech they have the world's best goal keeper and playmaker Tomas Rosicky is a true crowd-puller. An old style running midfielder, he has quick feet, sharp skills and an even sharper brain. If you watch no other team at this tournament, watch these guys.

Prediction: Dark horses. Semi-final (at best) exit though.

England

World ranking: 10

Star player: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)-Without doubt the most naturally gifted English player around, Rooney is a dominant footballer of skill, power and goal-scoring prowess. His gifts carry with them the hopes of both the nation and team mates. He is likely to miss the party though. His metatarsal injury rules him out of any action for at least six weeks.

Assessment: This is the best England squad to go into a World Cup for some time. At least that's what was thought this time last week. Eriksson's bizarre selection of the gifted yet uncapped, unwatched, unplayed Theo Walcott (17) is a huge gamble. He and Peter Crouch are the only fit strikers in the squad. It is in midfield and defence that the English are most impressive. Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, David Beckham, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Michael Carrick are all top quality footballers but it is Steven Gerrard who is the stand-out performer. The Liverpool captain is the complete midfielder. Awesome stamina, power and passing ability, along with some pretty inspirational leadership qualities, took Liverpool to Champions League glory last season. He could have a similar effect if he is freed from defensive restraints. The main weakness for England is and always has been their inability to dictate play for sustained periods. Against quality European or South American opposition, England are very easy to contain. The exciting bluster of the Premiership is often undermined by patience, skill and movement.

Prediction: Quarter-final exit.

France

World ranking: 7

Star player: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)-The second best player on the planet, Henry is strong, skilful, brimming with self-confidence and has quicksilver in his boots. He has led Arsenal all season long. Now the French will look to his abilities for glory.

Assessment: On paper France are in with a chance. They are strong in defence, midfield and have the mercurial Henry as their spear-head. Zinedine Zidane, the greatest player of the last 15 years, has returned to weave his magic one more time. So too have the equally crucial Makelele and Thuram. However the latter three are ageing. This is Zidane's swansong, his powers-once so frightening-are fading. Henry can't be expected to do it all himself. There is a whiff of inxperience about the squad, the heroes (and later villains) of the 1998, 2000 and 2002 campaigns have been largely replaced by young, untried home-based players. Henry better be in the mood.

Prediction: Will lose out to real quality in the quarters.

For ease of reading, I'll split this.

Edited by Rovermatt
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Germany

World ranking: 19

Star player: Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich)-In the last two tournaments Ballack has carried the Germans on his broad shoulders. A world class player who can score, create and defend all with equal aplomb, he is the heart of the side and will need to haul his team mates to the success the home fans crave.

Assessment: Germany don't appear to have too much of a chance at this World Cup. Panned by major footballing figures, Klinsmann's side lack real quality and could struggle accordingly. However, they are traditionally a footballing super power. The old strengths were outlined by the 2002 squad's ascent to the final in spite of their own limitations. Home advantage and support could bolster and inspire the usually resilient Germans.

Prediction: Quarters and no more.

Holland

World ranking: 3

Star player: Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)-Arguably the most lethal finisher in Europe, Van Nistelrooy's job is to finish off the build-up play of his outrageously gifted mates. If he gets a chance, he usually gets a goal.

Assessment: As usual, the Dutch have talent coursing through the team. The squad is blessed with some seriously good young players. Van Der Vaart, Sneijder, Kuyt, Van Persie and the electric Arjen Robben have the sort of talent to light up a tournament. A midfield of Boateng, Cocu and Van Bommel has the right mix of experience and grit, while veteran captain Van Der Sar is a superb goal keeper. The freshness of the squad could be a blessing in disguise. The old internal bickering has dissipated. Many of the players are untried at international level yet the majority ensured qualification and replaced the more established stars of previous campaigns.

Prediction: A good bet for the semis.

Italy

World ranking: 14

Star player: Francesco Totti (Roma)-The Roman talisman should be fit in time for Germany. In spite of a good depth of players, the Azzuri will need their slick frontman to be in full working order. Capable of the audacious on the big stage Totti is a classic number 10, brilliant inside and outside the box.

Assessment: A squad oozing class, the Italians are serious contenders for this year's tournament. The defence is air tight, the goal keeper world class and in Andrea Pirlo, Italy have a deep-lying play maker who can destroy the opposition from his own half. An excellent forward line and gritty midfield could see them right. Yet the usually slow-starting Italians will need to get ahead early, the disaster of Euro 2004 should be a stinging reminder of what can go wrong.

Prediction: Potential finalists.

Spain

World ranking: 5

Star player: Raul (Real Madrid)-Team captain, Real legend and goal scorer extraordinaire, Raul could be set to make his eventual mark on the international stage. He should be fresh after a stunted season.

Assessment: Raul will be backed up by the usual plethora of ridiculously talented players-a brilliant goal keeper, tight defence and a midfield and attack overflowing with stars. They can mix and match in the middle. Xabi Alonso, Fabregas, Xavi, Albelda and Baraja are magnificent footballers. Yet for some reason the Spanish are invariably rubbish at major competitions and it will be a surprise to see them beyond the quarters.

Prediction: Amazingly they'll fade. Quarters at the most.

Portugal

World ranking: 8

Star player: Luis Figo (Inter Milan)-The captain is a fading force yet still a class act. The inspirational winger has yet to hit the international heights that blew England out of the water in Euro 2000 but when he is on the pitch the team will always lift itself that extra notch. A bona fide legend, this World Cup is his last chance of glory.

Assessment: The team is bursting with slick, skilful ball players and is capable of playing some truly breath taking stuff. Cristiano Ronaldo is a player of wonderful ability, his role as heir apparent to the great Luis Figo will phase him no more than the next hapless full back that he leaves in his wake. As always, the Portuguese will suffer for their lack of cutting edge. In order to accomodate the array of midfield talent, Scolari will plump for Pauleta as the lone striker. While statistically a decent striker, the PSG forward has yet to convince at the big tournaments (despite his hat-trick against Poland in 2002). As was highlighted in the European Championship final two years ago, a tight defence and a disciplined midfield can suffocate even the most gifted of opponents.

Prediction: Out at the quarter final stage.

Edited by Rovermatt
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My prediction (1. winner, 2. runner up, 3+4. Losing semi finalists etc.)

1. Argentina

2. Brazil

3. England

4. Spain

5. United States

6. Netherlands

7. Sweden

8. Czech Republic.

But I don't really know what I am talking about to be honest as I haven't seen much of the other sides...

Ho hum.

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I've got to say that while Group C (Argentina, Holland, Ivory Coast, Serbia) looks tough, Group E (Czech Republic, Italy, U.S., Ghana) is really the group of death is this tournament. I'm not pretentious enough to say that the U.S. is better than either the Czechs or Italians, but each of them are certainly worthy of at least a quarterfinal appearance, and one will have to be the odd man out.

As rebelzero said, the U.S./Czech Republic opener on June 12th should be quite the encounter. I fancy the Italians to go through from the group (I think they're the only team other than Argentinians that can take down Brazil), so that opening match could go a long way toward shaping the tournament's direction.

Incidentally, I like the Italians to win... though I'll be hoping the U.S. can take them down on the 17th.

Edited by Philly Rover ®
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I think the U.S is a very overated squad, and i think the FIFA ratings dont reflect where they are in world football. I wouldn't be terribly suprised to see them not progress past the group stages.

Too many players not playing at the higest level overseas,, and there warm up games aren't terribly inspiring (all in the U.S) Morocco , Venzuela, Latvia and Angola.

Im pretty sure they will get found out....

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In a league probably Brazil. In a straight knockout situation any of the top nations can win this. Including England with or without that Man Utd thug.

407289[/snapback]

I think it's a bit unfair to call Rooney a thug.

He looked like he might be turning into one after the England V Spain game, but since then it looks like Ferguson has tamed him.

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I want to thank JBN and even RoverMatt (i'll even take the backhanded compliment) for their confidence in Los Gauchos--I don't see it this year. I see a pratfall in the groupstages. This is what brings me down:

1. No one can deny Pekerman's pedigree in the youth ranks & he's coached a preponderance of the current squad at those levels, but the elan and verve have disappeared as Pekerman favors a more pragmatic approach. Hey, it works for Italia, perhaps I should chill out, but I 'm nervous they haven't caught fire as a unit the way they did w/ the Crazy Bielsa.

2. The utterly shakey defence and dodgy goalkeeping situation. I could understand the England loss as all South American sides will sweat it out with the pedestrian Crouch, but coupled with the similar cockup of the Croatia friendly-- it doesn't bode well. A typical argentina defence is usually airtight, at least if you look at when they've had successful tournaments. Right now, I'd say this is as shakey as I've seen it since 1978...

3. Perhaps we could overlook the above points as the squad has players littering the best of European sides, but the injury list seems to grow as June approaches as opposed to sorting itself. Messi's pulling muscles at age 18 ?!?!?!? Tevez's ankle/knee miseries have hampered him all season. Aimar is a complete sicknote, poor kid, his luck is most miserable. Heinze has managed to come back from a hideous knee injury-- but can he be counted to cover the left back position that has no signs of support with virtually no matches under his belt ? Ayala 's also crocked, at 33 years old & never the fleetest afoot, can he still spring for the aerial ball that has been our major debility? If he can't .... I don't see anyone else doing it, maybe Coloccini ?? but his presence on the pitch scares me to the Be-Jeezus.

4. Riquelme has his good days but it only works for him if the entire side works for him... at his pace. I say his pace because if he were any slower, he'd be going backwards. The other thing i worry about is his mental 'strength', like Aimar, Roman is a great human being perhaps too sensitive and has tendencies to 'disappear' or pout --- even during the middle of matches. I am convinced that his lack of pace will kill any chance of succeeding this summer. It's easy to say it now, but we all saw Arsenal's athleticism and size completely nullify him.

so, my gloom in a nutshell, albeit a large nutshell. I hope i'm off and the squad have a nice run to the Semis-- but it seems a bridge too far. Suffice to say that i'm keeping a low profile with my Brazilian mates, the bright side is we get bumped out early, I'll actually enjoy the remainder of the competition !

Cheers

Edited by blue/white
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IMO the winner will come from Brazil, Argentina, Germany or England.

Germany are only in that due to their superb performance last WC and they are at home.

It is difficult to see any of the smaller teams coming through and doing a greece.

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My Predictions

Group A

Winners- Germany

Runners up- Poland

Group B

Winners- Sweden

Runners up- England

Group C

Winners- Argentina

Runners up- Holland

Group D

Winners- Mexico

Runners up- Portugal

Group E

Winners- Czech Rep

Runners up- Italy

Group F

Winners- Brazil

Runners up- Croatia

Group G

Winners- France

Runners up- South Korea

Group H

Winners- Ukraine

Runners up- Spain

2nd Round

Germany v England - England

Sweden v Poland - Sweden

Argentina v Portugal - Argentina

Holland v Mexico - Mexico

Czech Rep v Croatia - Czech Rep

Brazil v Italy - Brazil

France v Spain - France

Ukraine v South Korea - Ukraine

Quarter Finals

England v Argentina - Argentina

Sweden v Mexico - Mexico

Czech Rep v France - France

Brazil v Ukraine - Brazil

Semi Finals

Argentina v France - Argentina

Mexico v Brazil - Brazil

3rd Place Playoff

Mexico v France - Mexico

FINAL

Argentina v Brazil - Brazil

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All right, emerton... I'll rise to the bait. wink.gif

I think the U.S is a very overated squad, and i think the FIFA ratings dont reflect where they are in world football.

407169[/snapback]

Of course the rankings are skewed, but no one really cares about them anyway. I think you're going a little far calling the U.S. "very overrated"--they're a dangerous opponent and are more than capable of springing a few surprises on the more established national sides in the world.

I wouldn't be terribly suprised to see them not progress past the group stages.

407169[/snapback]

Nor would I, but had England wound up in a group with the Italians and Czechs, I think you could say the same thing.

Too many players not playing at the higest level overseas,, and there warm up games aren't terribly inspiring (all in the U.S) Morocco , Venzuela, Latvia and Angola.

Im pretty sure they will get found out....

407169[/snapback]

I do wish more U.S. players were playing overseas, but the advantage of it is that no one knows what to expect from the American team. Beasley and Donovan were virtual unknowns when they put in excellent tournaments in 2002, and I think you could see some real breakout players from the U.S. this time around--Dempsey in particular.

Perhaps the U.S. will win its group and Australia will come in second in theirs, then we can settle this on the pitch, hmm?

thumbs-up.gif

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I fail to see how the team ranked 2nd in the world are "dark horses". That was the buzz-word for the Czechs 10 years ago. Strange how peoples perceptions never change. They have no recent World Cup pedigree but they should be counted among the favourites.

The real dark horses are Mexico. Granted, they too have a high ranking, but far fewer expectations. They have a lot of technical ability and are a match for anybody on their day.

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I've got a feeling this will be Italy's year. They are apparently still fuming (even now) about the manner of their exit in 2002.

Quality players throughout the squad, Totti will be back after a long layoff and should be in prime form by the time the tournament comes around. They also have a tough group which can actually work well for sides as they have to raise their game early and that can be easier than coasting through an easy group then having suddenly to be faced with quality opposition.

Of course, I'm often wrong biggrin.gif and the safest option would be Brazil.

The Czech Republic can't be classed as dark horses anymore you are right bellamy11 but also I'm not sure Mexico can after their showing in the Confederates Cup last year, besides they are one of the eight seeded teams. They always seem to fall at the second round however.

For more of a long shot, I think Tunisia may do well.

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I can play the BBC Selector thingy too!

Group A

Winners- Ecuador on GD

Runners up- Germany (relying on the first game shock striking again)

Group B

Winners- Sweden on GD

Runners up- England

Group C

Winners- Argentina

Runners up- Holland

Group D

Winners- Portugal

Runners up- Mexico

Group E

Winners- Italy on GD

Runners up- Czech Republic

Group F

Winners- Brazil

Runners up- Australia (Croatia are woeful)

Group G

Winners- France

Runners up- South Korea

Group H

Winners- Ukraine on GD

Runners up- Spain

2nd Round

Ecuador v England - England

Argentina v Mexico - Mexico

Sweden v Germany - Sweden

Holland v Portugal - Portugal

Italy v Australia - Italy

France v Spain - France

Brasil v Czech Republic - Brasil

Ukraine v South Korea - Ukraine

Quarter Finals

England v Mexico - England

Italy v France - Italy

Sweden v Portugal - Sweden

Brazil v Ukraine - Brazil

Semi Finals

England v Italy - England

Sweden v Brazil - Brazil

3rd Place Playoff

Sweden v Italy - Italy

FINAL

England v Brazil - Brazil

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There will be at least one or two clubs in the semis who weren't expected to get out of their groups. I don't see too much dominance beyond Brazil this year, and even they can get caught off guard on the right day.

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There will be at least one or two clubs in the semis who weren't expected to get out of their groups. I don't see too much dominance beyond Brazil this year, and even they can get caught off guard on the right day.

407597[/snapback]

True, but USA won't be one of them. wink.gif

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