World Cup Draw: Predictions

The draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place on Friday

The draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place on Friday

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN! As the samba beat grows louder, football fever is beginning to grip the world once again. That one glorious month of football is now only six months and half a world away: the World Cup is almost upon us. On Friday we get our first taste of the action when the draw for the group stages takes place in Bahia, Brazil. The fates of 32 nations rest unknown in four pots, whilst football fans around the world can only watch on and dream of future glory.

But who will win? Who will surprise everyone by reaching the latter stages? Which players will light up the competition? And will England avoid Sweden (we know they’re not going but England can find a way)? Read on for ASM’s best predictions.

The Favourites

Eight teams will go into the competition as seeded teams, but this includes relative underdogs in Belgium, Columbia and Switzerland. Whilst past footballing powerhouses such as Portugal, France, Italy and the most recent runners up the Netherlands.

Brazil will enter the competition as hot favourites. Last champions in 2002 under the leadership of current coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and with the shadow of Christ the Redeemer falling over the Maracana, expectations will be extremely high for the home side. Brazilian fans have notoriously high expectations of their national team, which is understandable given their prestigious history. They have lifted the Jules Rimet trophy five times making them the most successful side in the world, but with the youthful vibrancy of players such as Neymar, Bernard and Lucas 2014 could be their year.

However, it would be impossible to write off the current world and European champions, Spain, who have talented players to burn in the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and David Silva. However, it should be remembered that Brazil were victorious over the Spaniards only last year in the Confederations Cup final, running out 3-0 winners at the Maracana.

Other front runners for the title include the ever-efficient Germans who can never be ruled out in major competitions. With four key players in the running for the Ballon d’Or they have real quality throughout the squad. Whilst Argentina, inconsistent at times over the past decade, boast arguably the best player in the world in Lionel Messi and were extremely impressive in qualifying for the competition.

Players to Watch

There will be a multitude of the world’s best players on show next summer in Brazil even if Ibrahimovic doesn’t think the competition is worth watching. 2014 could signal Neymar’s arrival alongside Brazilian greats such as Ronaldo and Pele. Just as Italia 90 is viewed as Maradona’s competition, Brazil 2014 could be remembered as Neymar’s triumph.

Neymar aside, if Portugal are at all successful next summer then they will have Cristiano Ronaldo to thank. Having single-handedly dragged them through qualification, including a tough play off against Sweden, the Ballon d’Or favourite will be amongst the goals in Brazil. Whilst considered an outsider to make an impact at the competition, Japan’s Keisuke Honda possesses the talent to make the East Asian nation a tough customer for any opposition.

Surprise Packages

The unpredictability of the World Cup ensures real drama when relative minnows battle their way to the latter stages of the competition. Ghana were the surprise package in 2010 when they were robbed of a place in the semi-finals by Uruguay and Luis Suarez and they possess the quality for a repeat performance this time around. African counterparts, the Ivory Coast are also due tournament success after disappointing in their last two outings. 2014 could be the year that multiple African teams progress from the group stages.

Although seeded, Belgium are still viewed as outsiders by most, due to their lack of tournament pedigree. Proven big game players such as Thibaut Courtois, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Premier League winner Vincent Kompany could see them progress to the semi-finals and beyond.

British Hopes

With only one Home Nation travelling to Brazil, the inevitable pressure and expectation will be on England’s shoulders. Whilst possessing world class quality in the squad with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney alongside exciting youth products such as Andros Townsend and Jack Wilshere, the Three Lions stand half a chance of impressing next summer.

The rules of the draw dictate that a team from pot 4, containing England, will be moved to pot 2 prior to the main draw. This means that England could end up in the dreaded group of death and face nations such as Brazil, Uruguay, France and Portugal. On the other hand the draw could be relatively kind and throw up nations such as Columbia, Switzerland, Iran and Algeria.

The hopes of each nation will be determined on Friday when the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place. Fans across the world will be watching with baited breath, but one thing is for sure, it will be a tournament to remember.