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The Slightly Eccentric WGP OSB World Cup Prediction

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About time I put my money where my mouth is and did some predicting

Group A
One of those groups that’s difficult to call, as all 4 teams could realistically go through. But I’ll stick with the “usual” 2 suspects, Mexico and France, with the Central Americans coming out on top when they edge the French in what will be a crucial game in that group. South Africa will have the fans and probably the referees on their side and I wouldn’t rule out them “South Koreaing” but I don’t think the draw has been kind enough. Uruguay have some talented players but they also had a talented bunch 8 years ago – I just don’t see them making it through

1. Mexico
2. France
3. South Africa
4. Uruguay

Group B
Argentina are hitting a bit of form in the friendlies and are reportedly playing quite well. I can’t look past them for this group, even with Maradona in charge. The second spot will be fiercely contested. Greece could feasibly make it but Euro 2008 perhaps ended the illusion that Euro 2004 wasn’t largely a fluke. And so it is between South Korea and Nigeria. Whilst you can expect the former to give it their all, and perhaps the latter to implode, I think it’ll be the Super Eagles going through for the first time since 1998

1. Argentina
2. Nigeria
3. South Korea
4. Greece

Group C
England are undoubtedly favourites in perhaps the weakest group of the first round, but the USA match will be tough. The Americans are also clear second favourites. Slovenia have probably reached their limit after their remarkable success over Russia, and the same goes for the Algerians, who conquered the African champions Egypt in the qualifiers in that play-off in Khartoum

1. England
2. USA
3. Algeria
4. Slovenia

Group D
My favourite first round group, with 4 very good teams. Germany are struggling with injuries but you can never count them – I’ll predict them to top the group but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they tripped up, because as 1998 and Euro 2000 showed, they don’t always come together at the right moment. The battle for 2nd is fascinating – 3 very different teams, each with good cases to be put forward. I am sceptical of the Serbians – they were said to have a great defence 4 years ago before they got hammered 6-0 by Argentina. So for me, it’s between Australia and Ghana, with the Africans coming out on top despite the loss of Essien, as I think there are too many ageing Australians that might not last the distance

1. Germany
2. Ghana
3. Australia
4. Serbia

Group E
The Dutch are again clear favourites but there’s another interesting scrap for 2nd. First, there’s Cameroon – Eto’o could potentially drag them through on his own but with the atmosphere surrounding him and the team at the moment, I can see them imploding. Japan aren’t the same team they were 4 years ago, having lost Nakata and others. And so that leaves the Danes – they have been struggling for goals, but the factor in their favour, which is the opposite to Cameroon, is that they always deliver on the big stage in the first round when it matters. So I think Tomasson, Bendtner and co will come up with the goods and Denmark will scrape through

1. Netherlands
2. Denmark
3. Cameroon
4. Japan

Group F
The Italians always start slowly but they are the best side in this group, no question. At the other end, we can pretty much rule New Zealand out, although they are still a potential banana skin. It’s between Paraguay and Slovakia for the second spot, and I think we should trust the known quantity. The Slovakians have a good side but I think their inexperience will hinder them enough to hand the place to the South Americans

1. Italy
2. Paraguay
3. Slovakia
4. New Zealand

Group G
The most talked-about group is often the group that ends up being the biggest anti-climax, so that is what I’m going for. I think part of the excitement around this group amongst the English is the potential for old adversaries Portugal to get knocked out in the first round, so Portugal getting through would disappoint them. And so Sod’s Law dictates that Portugal will beat the Ivory Coast, knocking out Africa’s best hope of winning the tournament – especially likely with Drogba possibly missing. Brazil, North Korea…do I even need to say?

1. Brazil
2. Portugal
3. Ivory Coast
4. North Korea

Group H
Spain usually start well – last time they destroyed a handy Ukrainian side 4-0 in their first match. And so they are overwhelming favourites to win this group of mediocre teams. Any of the other 3 could join them – Honduras are a decent side but haven’t qualified since 1982, Chile also have a different set of players to when they last qualified, and Switzerland have the experience but always struggle to score goals (something not helped by the loss of Marco Streller to injury). I will go with Chile, as I think they may surprise a few people

1. Spain
2. Chile
3. Switzerland
4. Honduras

Round 2
This leaves us with the following ties:

Mexico vs Nigeria – I think the Nigerians will reach their limit here, whilst the Mexicans will continue to build momentum
Winner: Mexico

Argentina vs France – A very interesting match-up between 2 teams people expect to underachieve – the French defence isn’t what it used to be, but the Argentine attack still is
Winner: Argentina

England vs Ghana – English fans will expect England to win this one but I reckon we could see a shock here
Winner: Ghana (probably on penalties)

Germany vs USA – An old grudge match from the past – Germany usually win and probably will do so again, although they’ll be given a tough time
Winner: Germany

Netherlands vs Paraguay – The Paraguayans have been known to be tough opponents in the latter stages but I doubt the Dutch would slip up
Winner: Netherlands

Italy vs Denmark – An interesting tie after Euro 2004, but the teams have gone in different directions since then, so expect the Azzuri to continue to build momentum
Winner: Italy

Brazil vs Chile – A repeat of Chile’s last World Cup match, and this time they don’t have Salas and Zamorano to give them at least a small chance
Winner: Brazil

Spain vs Portugal – Tasty, to say the least, but I think the legendary Spanish midfield will do enough to make Cristiano Ronaldo cry again
Winner: Spain


Mexico vs Ghana – Ghana have the chance here to be the first Africans to make the semi-finals, but given the fact that it is controversial that I put them through anyway, it’s probably fairer to say Mexico will have their best showing ever
Winner: Mexico

Argentina vs Germany – Ooh, another grudge match, after the last one ended with a penalty shootout and brawl on the pitch, so no holding back on the pitch here. Maradona will probably punch someone but Argentina will probably do enough to edge past this weakened German side, although it could take extra time again
Winner: Argentina

Netherlands vs Brazil – Grudge matches all over the place: a repeat of the 1974 and 1998 semi-finals. The two best attacks in the tournament will go head-to-head either, so I’ll judge on the defences, which surprisingly works in favour of the Selecao
Winner: Brazil

Italy vs Spain – This is a repeat of a more recent encounter: the quarter-final at Euro 2008. That match ended in a penalty shootout won by Spain, but I think Italy are stronger and Spain are weaker than 2 years ago, and so the Italians may just edge it. Another good candidate for extra-time, as most matches are by this stage in the tournament these days
Winner: Italy


Mexico vs Brazil – It’s a shame, but Mexico’s great run will inevitably end one match short of a dream final. Brazil will be too strong here, and will reach yet another final. Maybe the Mexicans can squeeze extra time out of them but even then, as it showed in the Confederations Cup Final, the Brazilians have reserves deeper than most
Winner: Brazil

Argentina vs Italy – Well we’ve been here before as well. Maradona led his side past a talented Italian team via a shootout in 1990 and I think they might do it again. It is the unstoppable attack versus the unbreakable defence, so something has to give, but the difference is those ageing Italian legs have probably given all they’ve got to get this far. And if it goes to penalties, you know who to put your money on
Winner: Argentina

Third Place Play-Off

Mexico vs Italy – It’s all rather pointless but it’s often one of the games of the tournament, when everyone let’s their hair down and goes for it. This will probably work in favour of the Mexicans, as the pride at stake for them is probably greater than for the Italians, who would probably rest a number of key figures at this point
Winner: Mexico

The Final

Brazil vs Argentina – What a final this promises to be. One of the great rivalries in football, not only in the World Cup but the World Cup Final. They last met on the biggest stage in the second round in 1990, with Argentina winning 1-0 courtesy of an 80th minute Claudio Caniggia goal. This time, it’s Kaka vs Messi, Luis Fabiano vs Tevez, Walter Samuel vs Lucio. It should be a great match, with Argentina probably the more aggressive but with the weaker defence. Dunga’s men should just about be able to contain Messi for most of the game, and they will take any chance they get against what is a weak Argentinean defence. And so the winner, with a predicted scoreline of 2-1, will be…Brazil

Golden Boot Prediction
With these results, the top scorer is most likely to come from one of these 3 men:

Luis Fabiano (Brazil)
Carlos Tevez (Argentina)
Antonio Di Natale (Italy)

You can see my prediction in visual form (!) here using the BBC’s predictor


Written by James Bennett

June 4, 2010 at 13:23

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