World Cup review & predictions

I admit I wasn’t really that excited about the World Cup until it got started. Now, with so many traditionally unexpected teams doing well, I’m enjoying it. Despite my predictions below, I stick by the four favourites I mentioned (not in here) before the tournament began – Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands and (Spain). Spain got brackets because although they have the talent it often doesn’t gel for them in the World Cup. Having watched a few games now I’d put more money on Argentina and Netherlands than the other two. Maradona’s a drug-addled git but they love him = passion plus a wealth of talent. Netherlands have now gone, what is it? 23 games unbeaten and look like they intend to add a few more. Spain can fall apart at the drop of a hat and Brazil, brilliant as they are, can sometimes lose the plot if it gets frustrating for them – I give as evidence Kaka’s stupid red card elbow.

I wonder what the odds were on both France and Italy not making it out of the group stages? Not forgetting the hosts South Africa as well, sad for them. I think the first time the hosts have not made the knock-out stages but then they were never expected to be a very strong team anyway. France failed in such a spectacularly mardy way (look it up) that Napoleon has demanded an enquiry and the Italians were just pretty crap. They were VERY nearly joined on the plane by European league colleagues England and Spain who had terrible starts but pulled something out of the bag. England celebrating the unspectacular 1-0 win that got them through over the mighty nation of Slovenia as if they’d won the final itself. There’s a school of thought, and not a bad one I feel, that suggests the European leagues are just too hard on the players so they all turn up at the world cup well and truly shagged out compared to other nations. I’d like to see some analysis of player performance in the World Cup against the domestic league they play in. I’ll bet English Premier League players are bottom of the rankings.

England have played horribly so far and show every sign of carrying on that way unless they wake up and start playing beyond their full potential. We’re a bit short of goal scorers and the midfield that should be frightening is just, well, not. The only “magic” player we’ve got is Rooney and he’s clearly knackered. Even when he’s on top form he’s still not got the same impact as some others in the tournament can have. The optimist will say that the slow start is a good sign and we’re just going to get better and better and win the cup. The realist will say that we’re crap and the minute we meet a decent team we’re going to get stuffed. I think the next game will give us all the answers we want! Let’s face it, even if we beat Germany we’ll most likely be playing Argentina next and anyone who thinks we can beat them both is smoking something much stronger than I am!

African hopes now rest with Ghana who put up a strong display this evening to send the Yanks home. It would be nice to see an African nation progress further but whilst Ghana are pretty solid they lack any real spark and have a couple of key players suspended from their match against Uruguay so I think they’ll get no further. Top marks to our American friends though, they get better every time and always put in that special “team USA” effort. If they can ever improve the quality of their domestic leagues we’ll have to get used to them at least making the semis every year.

Nice to see less European dominance this year and the re-emergence of old World Cup favourites such as Uruguay. In the knock-out stages we have a great mix of geography (with an obvious concentration on areas where football is traditionally strong):

EUROPE – 6 teams
SOUTH AMERICA – 5 teams
OTHER – 5 teams (2 Asia, 2 Americas, 1 Africa)

There are some superb “grudge” matches to look forward to in the knock-out stage, primarily: England v Germany, Spain v Portugal and Brazil v Chile. These are all bound to be very tense affairs and whilst predictions can be made they are probably the hardest to call. It takes a brave (or stupid) man to commit his predictions to print and leave himself open to hindsight analysis but, what the hell! ;)

Knock Out

KO 1 – Uruguay 2-1 South Korea
KO 2 – United States 1-2 Ghana
KO 3 – Germany v England (If Rooney wakes up it’s impossible to say but otherwise it’ll be Germany, like always)
KO 4 – Argentina v Mexico (Argentina in extra time, pity because I quite like the Mexicans)
KO 5 – Netherlands v Slovakia (Netherlands, easily. Slovakia are only here thanks to a Poland own goal in qualifying)
KO 6 – Brazil v Chile (Chile, the shock of the knock-outs)
KO 7 – Paraguay v Japan (Japan)
KO 8 – Spain v Portugal (The hardest one to call but I’ll say Spain on penalties)

If my predictions are right then the quarter finals are not as exciting on paper as the previous round. Perhaps the most anticipated will be QF3, Argentina v Germany.

Quarter-finals

QF 1 – Netherlands v Chile (Netherlands)
QF 2 – Uruguay v Ghana (African dreams end here)
QF 3 – Argentina v Germany (Bye bye Deutschland)
QF 4 – Japan v Spain (Say goodbye to Asia as well)

If those predictions work it will start to be clear what an easy route the Netherlands have had versus others, again pulling a relatively weak team in the semis. The fitness of Arjen Robben will now start to be a significant factor for the Dutch.

Semi-finals

SF 1 – Uruguay v Netherlands
SF 2 – Argentina v Spain

Which should all lead up to a thrilling final, with Maradona finally being expelled from the bench for abusing the ref.

Final

Netherlands v Argentina

I have no idea who’ll win that final. So much of it will depend on what has gone before in terms of injuries, suspensions and morale but as a European, I’ll be shouting for the Dutch.

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13 thoughts on “World Cup review & predictions

  1. The mix of geography is great, but the world cup is one of the worst ever IMO.

    The refs are bad, the stadium atmosphere is horrible and there are not many stars playing well. Maybe later in the tournament we will see some memorable scenes and some stars emerging, but so far the overall level is pretty average…

  2. Are the refs any worse than usual? Perhaps we’ve been watching different games.

    The stadium atmosphere is hard to judge from my lounge. I hate the trumpets though.

    Stars playing badly is part of what I like about it but again, apart from Rooney, most of them have had some great moments if not a total goal-fest. Like I said in the post though, I think many of them are just plain tired.

  3. Nice overview there Scatts. Like you, I think “guest” has been watching different matches to me. Generally, the referees have been good – there’s always going to be wrong decisions but they have been few and far between. The last ten minutes of the Spain v Chile match was probably the most boring I’ve ever seen, but generally the matches I’ve seen have been good.

    The only problem over here is that when shown on ITV as soon as there’s a hint of the match closing for half-time or full time, we get shown useless ads – always for things I don’t want, don’t need, and will never buy. The match reviews by the ITV team are poor compared to the BBC as well – Adrian Chiles really should not be doing that job.

    England v Germany. England seem to win by chance rather than contrivance. You’re right, their win over the “mighty nation of Slovenia” was treated like they’d won the tournament. Such a shame to celebrate mediocrity; but then, for the England team, that is all they’ve got to celebrate, so far.

    Some commentators have pointed out that players in the tournament perform differently in their home teams – especially the England players, and usually better.

    When I see some of these so-called “professionals” shooting at the goal I have to wonder if their guide dogs would actually have a better chance of scoring.

  4. I watched the first England game with some mates via ITV and there was an interruption at exactly the moment the goal was scored. I agree the BBC is better and thankfully I can get live BBC sports via the Sky box I have here. BBC World News, red button, sports multiscreen…etc. Can’t get normal BBC or ITV though.

    I suppose Adrian Chiles was predictable. Surprised it wasn’t Jonathan Ross although he was probably asked and required 5 million for the gig!

  5. Good review, Ian, very much on the lines of my elder Brother’s own predictions of resurgence in the Latin American style of football. Yes, ‘Small, Dark and Handsome’ gets right up my nose too but he just like most little men, dying for attention!

    I’ll post a link in here later to a pic. taken at M’.s local Church Summer fayre… (Themed on the World Cup ) of us two dressed in England shirts! ( not a pretty sight! :-) ) ( Haway the lads!)

    Your banner heading shows a young lady who I take it just has to be Zosia?

    Aged 10 ( or thereabouts and looking very much like a teenager!)

  6. Well, I’d say England is the same as Deutchland – to be honest, from both teams you could expect more. I don’t trust the German team as much as I don’t trust the English.
    Both have a big potential, but something is missing.

    And on your predictions: should we start to gamble? I don’t belive you did not start it already scatts ;) with your passion to gambling :)

  7. You must have been watching ITV’s HD service. That wasn’t the first time ITV has done that with their HD service: last time a pre-programmed ad-break was left on when a match when into penalties, so the ads were shown during penalty shootouts and by the time they’d finished it was all over.

  8. Bad call in first half denies England a goal in the World Cup match. 44 years ago a bad call gave England a goal they didn’t deserve. C’est la vie. But two wrongs don’t make a right. FIFA should catch up with the times: line technology is available and is used in rugby where they have video judges. The head of FIFA is in the stadium and watching the England-Germany match, I hope he is thoroughly embarrassed by his decision not to use line technology.

  9. Hi Eddie, looking forward to the pic link.

    Yes, it’s Zosia age 7, well 6 at the time that was taken on a water taxi in Venice last summer.

  10. No surprise here but we were utter kack! Sad, but this is EXACTLY what I predicted – rotten group performance finishing second, Germany win their group, we play each other and England get embarrassed.

    We really shouldn’t bother entering the qualifying rounds. We should just add up the many millions that are spent on an English World Cup campaign and send it to a charity.

    Capello? Just the next clueless idiot to make a fortune out the FA.

  11. Okay guest – having watched England not get a goal they should have had and Argentina get a goal they shouldn’t I have to say that, today at least, the refereeing (and linesmaning?) has been complete PANTS!!!

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