2014 World Cup Finals predictions

From the start I’ve been predicting a final with Germany and the Netherlands, and I’ve got to say I was terribly disappointed by the Dutch performance in the semifinals game against Argentina.

Germany and Argentina make it to the final. Germany will win.

Germany and Argentina make it to the final. Germany will win.

Vlaar was so good in defending Messi, but in the attack Robben was ineffective and Robin van Persie was asleep offsides.

Both defenses played a strong game, resulting in no goals scored in 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time.

I was not surprised that Germany beat Brazil. I’ve felt all through the tournament that Brazil wasn’t playing that well. I never saw a 7-1 defeat, though. I thought maybe 3-0. Even with Neymar and Thiago Silva, I don’t think Brazil would have performed much better against the Germans.

So that gives us Germany and Argentina in the final and Brazil and the Netherlands playing for third place.

Brazil v. Netherlands

I’ve thought since the group stage that Brazil was not performing well in this World Cup. They’ve been lucky in some instances. Neymar carried them in others. For all the talent and passion Brazil had coming into each game, the passion seemed to carry them through while the talent let them down.

Oscar seems reluctant to take the lead on the field. Neymar is an individual threat, but without him a defense playing against Brazil is able to relax a little.

The Netherlands are the most successful country to never win a World Cup. Playing for third place means something to them. Meanwhile, for the Brazilians who have allowed emotion to overcome them, I think if they give up the first goal they will lose, possibly significantly. The Dutch may well win this thing 4-0 and send Brazil back to the drawing board.

Germany v. Argentina

I’ve been as disappointed in Argentina as I have Brazil. I have seen them possibly going out at any point in the knockout stages. But Argentina has proved me wrong each time. In every match, they’ve not been good but they’ve been good enough. Probably the best game they played was against the Netherlands.

Germany, meanwhile, have only a couple of times really played like you would expect them to, but after playing like you would expect them to against Brazil and winning 7-1, I have to think they will come into the final firing on all cylinders.

Expect a strong German team. Expect the same kind of Germany that played against Brazil.

I see Germany winning 2-0, maybe more. Because Messi is on the field, you might have to expect him to score or create a goal, so maybe it’s 3-1 to Germany. Anyway, I don’t believe Argentina will win this game.

2014 World Cup goes to Germany.

Quarterfinal predictions

Well, that Round of 16 shot holes all through my bracket!

I was wrong with Brazil, Colombia and Belgium. I should have just picked group winners to advance and I’d have been fine (for the first time ever, all 8 group winners advanced).

Here’s what I got wrong: Brazil v. Chile (I had Chile to win); Colombia v. Uruguay (I had Uruguay to win); and USA v. Belgium (I had the United States advancing).

I conceded up front that Brazil and Colombia could very well win their games. It was tough to know how Uruguay would react without Suarez (and I didn’t expect them to crumble). Chile took Brazil to PKs, so I was justified in thinking they might go, but Julio Ceasar was great (and got away with coming off his line during the PK shootout).

The other one I got wrong was the USA v. Belgium game, and let’s be honest, I couldn’t be an Alexi Lalas and go against my country. Besides, I really did think we would beat Belgium, even though I acknowledged that they are an outstandingly talented team.

Here are my predictions for the Quarter Finals:

France v. Germany (7/4 at noon est):

France have been great through the World Cup. They’ve scored a lot of goals and done really well. If you’re a French supporter, you have every reason to have belief and be excited.

Germany advance.

Brazil v. Colombia (7/4 at 4 p.m. est):

You don’t want to miss this game! This should be great. Colombia are riding a wave of confidence and storybook success. Can they do it? Can they make it to the final? Probably not. They’ve played Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan and Uruguay. If the USMNT had this path, we’d be in the quarter finals, too.

Brazil, meanwhile, should be the absolute favorites for this World Cup. They are unquestionably one of the top footballing nations in the world, consistently producing some of the greatest players every generation. And this team in particular has huge skill. But something about Brazil just doesn’t feel right to me. They don’t seem to be connecting the way they should be. Brazil will go out before the final, and Colombia may do it to them. It will be a good, close game. Ultimately, I think Brazil advances, but they have been so unconvincing in all their previous matches that it’s possible for a big upset.

Argentina v. Belgium (7/5 at noon):

Argentina have Messi, but the question I’ve been asking through this whole World Cup is whether or not Messi is enough. Sergio Aguero, who is a top goal scorer for Manchester City, has been suffering through injuries and hasn’t been there for Argentina.

As I said before the Ro16 game against the US, Belgium has immense talent. Barring unforeseen events over the next four years, I see Belgium winning the next World Cup in Russia. These guys are a young and hugely talented team. I thought their youth would be a disadvantage against the US and we could get through them, but the fact is the Belgians had great composure and saw that game through to the end. Late substitutions with fresh legs in extra time (Rom Lukaku) helped, but the few threats the US offered were dealt with. Can Kompany stop Messi? Maybe not. But can Messi score enough to compensate for Belgium’s offense that is sure to hit the back of the net?

This will be a good game. I give it to Belgium.

Netherlands v. Costa Rica (7/5 at 4 p.m.):

Costa Rica came out tops from the Group of Champions. They helped to send Italy and England home. Then they bested Greece in the Ro16. But let’s be honest about it. Italy weren’t all that great. England were awful. And Costa Rica beat Uruguay before Suarez returned. And Greece in the R016? I didn’t think Greece should have made it to the Round of 16 anyway.

Netherlands looked shaky against Mexico, and it came down to a controversial call at the end of the game for the Dutch to get a PK and win. Nevertheless, Holland came into this World Cup with something to prove after losing to Spain in the finals four years ago, and they are proving it. 5-1 v. Spain. 3-2 v. Australia. 2-0 v. Chile. 2-1 v. Mexico.

I like Costa Rica and have enjoyed watching them play, but I suspect the composure of the Dutch will overcome.

Look for Netherlands to advance.

While my bracket has been chipped away here and there, I have said all along this goes to Germany and the Netherlands in the final. I’ve picked the Netherlands to win it, but I’m starting to lean toward Germany. The Dutch were shaky against Mexico. They lacked pace and purpose for much of the game.

But through the World Cup, with a lot of games in a few days, top teams are going to have bad games. The best teams are the ones that win bad games in the knockout stages. The Netherlands did that.

I still see Germany and Holland at the end with an Oranje victory.