Now that we’ve seen everyone play at least one game, I’m making some World Cup observations and predictions. As I told my son last week, I’m not a fookin’ fortune teller, so don’t come yapping at me if I am completely wrong. I will know that I was wrong, I won’t need you to point that out to me, and I really won’t be interested in how you knew all along who was going to make it to the finals.
Group A: Bra, Mex, Cro, Cam
Mexico and Brazil will advance, but neither team has been convincing. Mexico has bounced back from a terrible run of form over the past several months and seems to be firing on all cylinders again, but I do not see either of these teams beating their rivals in Group B.
Group B: Nth, Chile, Aus, Esp
Netherlands and Chile have both looked outstanding. I could see either team going to the final.
Group C: Col, Ivry Cst, Jap, Gre
Don’t be too impressed with Colombia – they have little competition in their group.
They will line up in the knockout stages against one of the top two teams in Group D. Potentially, I suppose, if Colombia face Italy they could advance out of the Round of 16, but I do not see Colombia beating Uruguay if that’s how it shakes out.
Group D: Costa Rica, Ita, Ugy, Eng
Costa Rica has been a surprise. I believe they are capable of beating either of the Group C teams they might face in the first round of the knockout stage.
With Suarez back it’s hard to see how Uruguay can be stopped from scoring, but whether or not Suarez has a complete enough team around him to keep from getting beat remains to be seen. England did not play a particularly good game against Uruguay and better opponents may expose weaknesses.
It’s possible that Costa Rica and Uruguay advance and leave two more European powerhouses not advancing out of group.
Group E: Fra, Swz, Ecuador, Hon
France looked very good in their first game (and as I write this just scored the opening goal in their second game against Switzerland). France could do something in this World Cup. I expect Switzerland will advance out of group with France, but I do not see Switzerland going beyond the Round of 16.
Group F: Arg, Ira, Nig, Bosnia Hrzg
Let’s see Argentina in the Round of 16, then we can figure out what they’re playing with. This group is a snooze fest. Anyway, Messi is always fun to watch.
Group G (The group of Death!): Ger, USA, Gha, Port
Yes. Germany. I can easily see Germany winning World Cup 2014. They are such a strong side.
The US has a big test on Sunday. If we beat Portugal and lose to Germany we probably play Belgium in the first game of the knockout stage. Having only seen Belgium play one game it’s tough to judge, but I think it’s certainly possible that the US could beat a very talented but young Belgium side.
It’s hard for me not to believe in the USMNT.
If we come out second in group, we probably play Belgium in the Round of 16. And if we advance there, it potentially is Argentina. Honestly, I think Belgium is tougher than Argentina and with some grit and determination, I think we can beat both teams.
Group H: Blgm, SKor, Russia, Alg
Belgium. Everyone else is uninteresting to me, but I love all my Russian followers on Twitter. Seriously. I do.
Prediction for the final:
I can see the US making it to the semifinals where we would likely face the Netherlands, and my expectation is that the Netherlands will go on to face Germany in the final.
Here’s my disclaimer: Anything can happen. That’s why we play the games.
With a couple of upsets, maybe Costa Rica faces Germany or maybe Chile faces Netherlands.
Maybe Brazil starts playing better and meets Germany in the semi finals, but I still don’t see how any teams beat either Germany or the Netherlands.
I expect the Netherlands, having been there and lost once, will fight pretty hard not to lose another final.
So while some of Europe’s top teams fall out of group stage, I do see two European teams in the final.
But, if the United States can topple the Netherlands in a massive upset, Germany can’t stop our momentum. Ultimately, it seems obvious that the USMNT should win.