Despite having already previewed every side at the World Cup there are still many questions left unanswered. Fortunately, our five main writers George Bellshaw, Sam Lee, Tk Spiff, and double act Henry Bellshaw and Sam Stone are on hand to help. We put six simple questions to our writers here at Original Footy to get their take on how this World Cup will unfold.
Who will win the World Cup?
GB: I think one of four teams can win it: Spain, Germany, Argentina or Brazil. I fancy one of the South American sides though and will go for Brazil. It would certainly make a nice change from Spain winning a major competition as we’ve seen with the past 3 big ones. Brazil winning the competition could also remove the threat of demonstrations and protests getting too out of hand so I will hope they do manage to win it (assuming England can’t of course!!!).
SL: I personally think the World Cup will be staying in South America, and I really fancy either Brazil or Argentina to lift the trophy. With possibly the easiest group in the tournament, Argentina could quickly build momentum by clocking up some comprehensive victories, and with a fearsome attack featuring the talismanic Lionel Messi, I fancy them to go all the way in style.
TS: I think that one out of Argentina, Spain, Brazil or Germany will win it. Argentina arguably has the best forward line in this summer’s competition and I feel like they will score goals for fun in the group stages. I’d expect them to be challenging at the latter stages of the competition but I’m concerned about their defence. I’m going to go for Brazil. After watching them decimate Spain in last year’s confederations cup final, I have confidence that they can emulate this performance and win the trophy on home soil.
HB/SS: We’re backing Argentina to win it, considering their simple group and their likely favourable second round opponents from group E, which should allow Messi to get over the ‘burden’ of the criticism that he is yet to fulfil his potential on the international stage. Obviously the location of the tournament will suit them massively, which could be a deciding factor should they face Spain in the semi-finals, and their devastating plethora of attacking options (Messi, Aguero and Di Maria to name a few) is more than enough to instil fear into any opposition.
Verdict: The World Cup is staying in South America and our writers can’t see past Brazil and Argentina.
Who will be the surprise package?
GB: I don’t really see there being that many surprises in this tournament in terms of the teams who will go really deep in the competition but with Portugal having Cristiano Ronaldo in the form he’s in, they could always spring a shock.
SL: I may have egg on my face if they crash out of the group stage, however, I’m tipping Japan to be the suprise package of this tournament. They play with flair, and are very entertaining to watch – I fully believe Shinji Kagawa will show the world how much he has been wasted at Manchester United this season. Also, I generally get a surprise at some of the hairstyles and highlights on display in the Japanese ranks.
TS: The surprise package for me is the Ivory Coast. No African team has ever got past the quarter-final stage but I feel that this Ivory Coast side are well equipped to at least match their African predecessors. With Yaya Toure in midfield, the Ivorians have one of the best players in the tournament and their forward talents, consisting of Bony, Drogba, Kalou and Gervinho has more than enough firepower. I expect them to top their group.
HB/SS: England. If we can manage to escape one of the two toughest groups, we should manage to progress past the second round. From this point on, however, each round we are likely to be met by one of the four favourites but it’s about time we beat a big team in a big tournament. If we face either Spain or Brazil in the quarter-finals we would go into the game as massive underdogs, which could just work in our favour. Apart from us, France somehow find themselves written off by the press despite their relatively comfortable looking group, and could also be a surprise package.
Verdict: A lot more variation amongst our writers in this category as Portugal, France, England, Ivory Coast and Japan all get a mention.
Who will be crowned player of the tournament?
GB: Going along with my earlier prediction of Brazil to win the tournament, they will be relying on Neymar to really announce himself on the big stage. If they win, he will most likely be player of the tournament.
SL: Lionel Messi. If Argentina are going to win the tournament, we can fully expect Messi to play a large part in their success. He isn’t going into this world cup with as much of the media storm that usually surrounds arguably the world’s best player, after a season slightly overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo and injury problems. However, fear not; I seriously doubt the Little magician won’t disappoint, and could single-handedly decide the fate of his nation in the tournament.
TS: I was going to go for Ronaldo originally because he has had a magnificent season even by his standards, and his performances in a Portugal shirt have been excellent, particularly in the Playoff with Sweden. However, the lack of overall quality in the Portugal team may let Ronaldo down, and his impact may wane, just like it has in previous tournaments. I hope I’m wrong, because he’s a top player and has the ability to take the World Cup by storm. So I’m going to go for Ángel Di Maria. I hope he will carry on his excellent form from this season into the World Cup. His aggressive style of play running at defenders, and his great vision will be key for this Argentina team to reach the final.
HB/SS: With only one recognised striker in their squad, there’s a strong possibility that Germany manager Joachim Löw will experiment with a false 9 in the form of Mario Gotze. With no shortage of attacking options from midfield, this position will surely allow the young Bayern man to chip in with a few goals. Despite being injured for much of the qualifying campaign he found himself on the score-sheet an impressive 4 times in what was an admittedly easy group.
Verdict: Once again, not much coherence amongst our writers. Expect Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo, Di Maria and Gotze to all shine.
Who will win the golden boot?
GB: I fancy Messi to win the golden boot in the game against Iran alone. He should notch up a few goals in the group stages that could land him the award as other rivals to be top scorer have tougher matches earlier on. If it doesn’t go right for Messi, I always back Thomas Muller to bag a few goals as he has the brilliant knack of always being in the right place at the right time and is lethal in front of goal.
SL: I think Fred might edge it. Whilst much of the focus seems to be on the young Neymar for brazil – indeed our own George Bellshaw is tipping him to be the player of the tournament – I think Fred will be the host nation’s main source of goals. Failing that, any of Argentina’s forwards – they are playing Iran in the group stage after all.
TS: I think the Golden Boot winner is in the Argentinian team. Argentina’s group consists of Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia. I’d back Messi to score a fair few in those group games. I feel like they could reach the latter stages of the competition so I am going to go for Messi to win the Golden Boot. He looks like he has shaken off his niggling thigh and hamstring injuries and this may be the World Cup that he finally dispels all suggestions that without the Barcelona midfield feeding him, he struggles to impact games.
HB/SS: With so many exiting strikers on show, we reckon this is the toughest one to predict. Considering Argentina’s wealth of attacking talent and the fact that he has proven himself as a deadly goal scorer, Sergio Aguero is likely to find himself near or at the top of the goal-scoring chart. With an expected walkover against Iran and two other weaker opponents in Bosnia and Nigeria, we’re expecting him to be banging them in from the first game.
Verdict: Whilst there may not be much cohesion amongst our writers with who exactly will win the coveted golden boot, they do all seemingly agree that they will be either Argentinian or Brazilian.
How far can England go?
GB: England could easily reach the quarter-finals but could just as easily crash out in the group stages. If they come out their group then there is no reason for them not to reach the quarter-finals but I can’t see them going much further.
SL: I may potentially be blinded by naive patriotism (as are most of the nation when a World Cup comes around) but I believe England could reach the quarter-finals, and possibly even the semi’s. That does sound ludicrous, but if through some miracle Roy can get the young players working together, I believe the likes of Lallana and Sterling amongst others could be explosive for us. If I take off my red and White tinted specs for just a moment, we could just as easily crash out of the group in a dismal showing.
TS: England will get out of the group. I have confidence that the young talent in the squad will be too much for Uruguay, with or without Suarez. He is one of the greatest players in world football and that is a bonus for any team, but Uruguay’s aging back line will not be able to live with the movement of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Wilshere and Sturridge. The winners of the England-Italy game will top the group in my opinion. Whilst Italy are a top team, England do have what it takes to trouble them. England could easily reach the last 16 or the quarter finals but if we are to make it that far, teams like Argentina, Brazil, Spain and Germany will be too strong. We’d be lucky if a game against any of those teams even went to penalties.
HB/SS: Realistically, no further than the quarter-finals, and we’ll do well to make it out of our deadly group. That said, Daniel Sturridge is starting to look like the player we’ve been missing at recent tournaments, having had a blistering season for Liverpool, and that’s why we can see him flourishing on the big stage and grabbing us some important goals.
Verdict: England are more than capable of reaching the quarter-finals but none of us will be surprised if they fall at the first hurdle either.
Which side will get the biggest thrashing of the tournament and which team will deliver it?
GB: Having looked at the Iranian squad, their awful preparation for the tournament and the quality of this Argentinian frontline, I find it hard not to see there being a real mauling in Argentina’s favour. I remember Germany beating Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002 and can honestly envisage a similar result in this game.
Sl: Argentina vs Iran. I’m hoping that I’m wrong, but this could be an embarrassing scoreline. Expect Messi et al to fill their boots.
TK: I feel that the Argentina-Iran game is going to be comical. A forward line containing Messi, Aguero and Higuain will have no trouble against the Iranian defence. Spain beat Tahiti 10-0 in last year’s Confederations Cup and I believe that a similar gulf in class between Argentina and Iran will yield a similar result.
HB/SS: Despite the huge amount of pressure on this Brazil team, by the time they face their final group opponents in Cameroon, they would hope to already be qualified for the next round. With the pressure temporarily lifted, Neymar and co will be looking to boost their goal tally and pick off a not particularly convincing looking Cameroon side. While Argentina will hope to trounce Iran, we fancy the hosts to win by a greater margin.
Despite the huge amount of pressure on this Brazil team, by the time they face their final group opponents in Cameroon, they would hope to already be qualified for the next round. With the pressure temporarily lifted, Neymar and co will be looking to boost their goal tally and pick off a not particularly convincing looking Cameroon side. While Argentina will hope to trounce Iran, we fancy the hosts to win by a greater margin.
Verdict: An honourable mention for Brazil to thump Camperoon but the general consensus is that Argentina will give Iran an absolute walloping!