With the countdown to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil almost over, we at Sports News Ireland decided try our hand at predicting the final four.
The host nation has a tricky group but will be expected to get results against Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon to top Group A. They have a talented squad featuring a host of stars including the flamboyant Neymar and sharpshooter Fred, who lit up the Confederations Cup last year. Although, they haven’t tasted World Cup glory since 2002, Brazil have a great chance of winning the most coveted trophy in world football on home soil. However, they may face a difficult second round, with either Spain or the Netherlands their likely opponents if they qualify for the round of 16.
The holders of the tournament are one of the favourites to be victorious in Brazil but face stiff competition early in the Netherlands and Chile. Spain are currently going through a golden generation with players and have made winning on the international stage a habit. While many pundits feel their style of football is beginning to give way to a faster brand brought back by the Germans, as made evident by Barcelona’s poor Champions League run this year, Spain are still expected to contest for the World Cup. They will be hoping to avoid Brazil in the second round, with the likelihood of facing the South Americans in the semis.
Could this be the year Argentina finally gives Lionel Messi the one trophy missing from his cabinet? It is ridiculous that one of the greatest to ever play the game has never won the World Cup. The Argentines have a great chance of going all the way this year, with one of the strongest squads in years. Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higauin and Sergio Aguero complete a frightening strikeforce that is sure to make mincemeat of Iran’s and Nigeria’s inferior defences in the group stage. They will be looking to avoid a strong French side in the second round.
Germany are perhaps unfairly branded as perpetual chokers at the World Cup. They have been considered favourites to win the tournament at the last couple of tournaments but finished third on both occasions. They were runners-up to a Brazil team inspired by the clinical finishing of Ronaldo in 2002. If history is to repeat itself, Germany are likely to at least reach the semi final stage. They were handed a tough group featuring a dangerous Portugal side but with no teams in group H likely to give them any hassle, they should reach the Quarter finals with relative ease. After that, Argentina are possible opposition in the semis.