Friday, 11 June 2010

The 19th World Cup Finals

World Cup’s are open affairs, they always are.  No one really knows who the form teams are going to be until the competition starts.  Even then, it is sometimes difficult to pick a winner, the most recent example being the defending campions themselves (right).  For pundits to say that this will be the most open World Cup in years is just, well rubbish.  Most of the comentariat seem to have settled on either Brazil or Spain as potential winners of this tournament.

Brazil are more solid defensively than they have been for many years, and have firepower in the shape of Robinhio and Luis Fabiano.  Pulling the strings in midfield will be Kaka.  The problem with Brazil though is that they may not have enough attacking options.  For me Brazil will fall short of reaching the Final.  Spain by sharp contrast are the current European Champions, and have been playing a fantastic brand of possession football, with Iniesta and Xavi at the heart of it all, pulling the strings and making the bullets for David Villia and Fernando Torres.  The key game for Spain will be whoever they meet in the Last 16 (one of Brazil, Portugal or Cote d’Ivoire), should they come through that they could well win.

The World Champions, Italy, begin the defence of their crown against Paraguay on Monday.  Should they get through their group as leaders they are seeded to face either Denmark or Cameroon, with Spain as possible quarter final opponents, which is where that defence may well end.  Before then, our nearest and dearest begin their campaign.  Despite the media hype and hyperbole, there is a sense, coming from the general English public that perhaps England’s best chance was four years ago.  This is a squad that is similar to the squad that fell short four years ago.  Whether England win depends on three things.  Firstly whether their coach Capello can get the England defence to perform as a unit.  Secondly, how soon they can get Gareth Barry into the side.  Barry is the key because he acts as the anchor in the midfield.  The third thing England success depends on will be the shape Capello goes for, whether it’s the “traditional” 4-4-2, or maybe the 4-1-4-1.  There was a hint that Capello may go for three at the back, which wouldn’t work (most English defenders are used to being part of a back 4, and are unable to adapt).

There are three sides who I have a sneaking suspicion might do something at this World Cup.  I think the Cote d’Ivoire will finish ahead of Portugal, and might get to the last 8.  The Netherlands have a good looking squad, and maybe crucially have a good draw which will enable them to build up some momentum before a possible quarter Final against Brazil.  Interestingly, a few of the Netherland’s key players (the likes of Schneider, Van Persie and Robben) are 26 and already have 40-60 caps.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that Argentina might do something.  Ok, their coach is frankly barking, and has so far displayed very little skills in terms of team organisation and tactics.  But there is a semblance of a spine there.  The experienced Samuel at the back, Mascherano in midfield, with Veron acting as the midfield schemer.  Up front could see Tevez and Aguero with the world’s current favourite footballer Messi playing just off.

I think that the last 4 will be England, Netherlands, Argentina and Spain, with Argentina coming out on top.  Let the games commence.

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