Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The World Cup preview: predictions, graphic, how the groups unfold, first round results

Stuck at the intersection: Babb's hopeful graphic
What I love about this World Cup graphic is the simplicity of it. It takes us right back to 10-year-old mathematics and the intersection of groups.

And yes, it's accurate (even prophetic), based on the analysis and predictions of many football experts from around the world and compiled by a graphic artist called Babb somewhere in the heart of London at the Daily Telegraph (I think, judging by the twitter feed).

It shows quite clearly what I believe. That this World Cup, which kicks off on Thursday night with hosts Brazil v Croatia, will be dominated by the home continent, Latin America.

Still a hotbed for the beautiful game, Brazil will be sweating over the fitness of their iconic Neymar: his first season in Europe with Barcelona fell a little short of perfection but he remains the key figure... along with misfiring Fred, the striker with the world on his shoulders right now.

And there, in the "high hopes" area lie Argentina too, with a plethora of striking options which could see the little flea Lionel Messi using a cushion at times in the tournament, as the Argentine bench shuffles through the goal-scoring options.

Uruguay, with Luis Suarez struggling for fitness and Diego Forlan reaching pipe-and-slippers age, may also feature, though I'd look at Chile or Colombia as the third force at this world cup, the dark horses who could stretch in to a gallop if they survive the group stages.

Holders Spain, who have also won the last two European Championships, have to be among the contenders, along with 2010 beaten finalists the Netherlands and Germany, the best side in South Africa. But as I never tire of repeating: a European side has NEVER won the World Cup in the Americas.

England? They sit happily in the dead centre of our graphic. High hopes abound (as they have since 1966), but in truth, if they do well, they'll be considered dark horses in Brazil - and really they have to be considered no-hopers if the truth be told.

My assessment of the World Cup groups, showing the England/Italy/Uruguay/Costa Rica conflagration in Group D as the Group of Death and that Germany/Portugal/USA/Ghana showdown as second toughest in Group G (based ont he latest FIFA rankings) is HERE http://www.neal-collins.blogspot.com/2014/06/official-for-uruguay-italy-and-england.html.

Argentina have the easiest group. Brazil's is not as tricky as it might appear. A modest start is all that's required, plus the usual dose of good fortune, dodgy refereeing decisions and scorching goals in the knock-out stages.

We go in to every World Cup expecting shocks, but in truth, the big nations and the major names generally carry the day. I fear for Ghana, Africa's 2010 flag-bearers, only because the qualifying group is so irredeemably difficult. I pray for Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria but really the Ivory Coast are the dark continent's only hope of a place in the last four, something Africa has NEVER achieved.

We will discuss the injuries endlessly, even with two days to go, the actually physical state of Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar has been called in to question... but there are always replacements. For me, Brazil should hold sway with Argentina pushing them close.

If the Germans score as freely as they did four years ago, if Thomas Muller can show us his full range of skills, they could outshine the fading Spanish. But none of the European giants - nor the African and Asian hopefuls - will match the Latin Americans.

My group-by-group analysis of the qualifiers is HERE: http://www.neal-collins.blogspot.com/2014/06/there-can-be-no-better-way-to-resume.html.

Oh, and here are my first round World Cup predictions made on http://www.kickoffpredictor.com/


Thanks for making your predictions for Round 1 of KICK OFF Predictor.
These predictions were made on 6/4/2014 2:03:55 PM
Your predictions are: 
Brazil 2
Croatia 0
Mexico 1
Cameroon 1
Spain 0
Netherlands 0
Chile 3
Australia 0
Colombia 2
Greece 0
Uruguay 2
Costa Rica 1
England 0
Italy 0
Ivory Coast 1
Japan 0
Switzerland 2
Ecuador 2
France 1
Honduras 0
Argentina 4
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0
Germany 2
Portugal 1
Iran 0
Nigeria 1
Ghana 1

1 comment:

  1. I want to see Germany and Argentina face off!
    2014 FIFA World Cup Odds