Who’s Going to Win FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil?
The current international break has brought my attention to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. So far the front runners are Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany. It is certainly a chance for the world to see some of the finest footballing talent that there has been for a long time with the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and the wonderful Spanish team that just keeps on giving. The problem is will these players perform on the biggest of all stages or will they find themselves with a touch of stage fright?
First of all we begin with the hosts, Brazil. They are always up there with the pre-tournament favourites and as the samba boys will be playing on home turf they can be counted as firm favourites to lift the Jules Rimet cup. There is no doubt that they have the attacking flair required of a winner and they have the home advantage but, as seen against England, their defensive frailties mean that they are vulnerable especially with the maverick tendencies of David Luiz at the heart of their defence. A lot is also expected of Neymar who is no doubt immensely talented, but lacks the ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and really inspire others around him. Flair oozes out of every pour in his body yet he lacks the guile that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo possess in order to win tightly contested semi-finals and finals. The Brazilians are sure to be in and amongst the final stages of the competition but whether they have the bottle to go on and win the cup remains to be seen.
Argentina have arguably the greatest player to have ever played the game but Messi alone cannot win the World Cup for them. The only complaint with Lionel Messi’s career to date is that he has failed to emulate his club form on the international stage and he will be hoping to prove all his doubters wrong come 2014. La Albiceleste have the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez amongst their ranks along with the defensive steel of Zabaleta and should be sniffing around the trophy; however the problem lies with fitting the attacking prowess that they have at their disposal into a fully functional and efficient team. There is a distinct lack of midfield when analysing Argentina with Fernando Gago and Javier Mascherano the only notable holding midfielders that could allow for a front 4 to go and get the goals.
The reigning world and European champions are hoping to well and truly establish their team as the best that has ever been, but could 2014 be a step too far for Vincente del Bosque and his men. The Spaniards have achieved immeasurable success with a golden generation of talent but will they be able to continue with their attractive Tiki-Taka brand of football that they are renowned for? It is all looking positive for La Furia Rojo at the minute with Jordi Alba firmly establishing himself as the left-back replacing Joan Capdevilla and the consummate ease at which the team has adapted to the False Number 9 formation.
Offering a completely different footballing approach are the Germans. Germany’s strengths lie not in the player’s ability to get bums off seats and attacking prowess but their capability to keep goals out at the other end. Typically the Germans are efficient, clever and productive. With Phillip Lahm and Manuel Neuer just part of a world class defence and the protective capabilities of Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the midfield, it is very rare that the Germans concede more than 1 goal. Combine this with the predatory instincts of Mario Gomez and creative influence of Mesut Ozil and the men in white are in with a shot of their 4th World title. Their weaknesses lie in not only the ageing Per Mertersacker who has underperformed for Arsenal and who is prone to mistakes, but also their ability to adapt to the climate and temperature change that playing in Brazil holds.
This article wouldn’t be complete without the bias inclusion of England as a team capable of winning the trophy. A win over Brazil is nothing to get carried away with but the impressive Jack Wilshere and progression of Theo Walcott it is pointing in the right direction for Roy Hodgson and his disciples.