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.

World Cup 2014 semifinals predictions

I only missed one game in the quarterfinals. I saw Belgium beating Argentina. I still think Belgium should have won that game.

That kid from the Simpsons did a great job of coming in for the PKs in the Holland v. Costa Rica game (is it just me or does Tim Krul look just like Nelson Muntz?).

That kid from the Simpsons did a great job of coming in for the PKs in the Holland v. Costa Rica game (is it just me or does Tim Krul look just like Nelson Muntz?).

But I was correct about the Brazil v. Colombia game – don’t miss it! The ref has deservedly received a lot of criticism for not pulling cards in the first half and letting so many poor tackles go, but I really enjoyed watching this game. It was wide open and just a lot of fun. That’s tough on Neymar to have such a bad injury and miss the rest of the tournament, but the reports so far are that he will make a full recovery, and we should all be glad about that. Neymar is a young kid with amazing skill, and whether you’re a fan or not, it would be tragic to see all that promise come to an end because of a poor challenge.

So here are my semifinal predictions:

Germany v. Brazil (7/8 4 p.m. est)

Neymar is injured and Thiago Silva is suspended from the game based on two yellow cards. Brazil has found a way through so far, and maybe the momentum gained from playing the World Cup at home is all it takes to push Brazil through to the final.

I don’t think so.

In my initial bracket I had Brazil going out in the Round of 16. I didn’t see them getting past Chile because, I think, Brazil have played poorly. To get past Chile, Brazil had to take it to penalty kicks, and there, all bets are off. Anything can happen in a PK shootout, and what happened in that PK shootout was Julio Ceasar came off his line and blocked a shot.

I expected Brazil to beat Colombia because Colombia had not had a rough path to the quarterfinals.

Now Brazil will play the toughest opponent they’ve faced so far, and they’ll do it without their goal scorer Neymar and their captain Silva.

Even with Neymar and Silva, I would not expect Brazil to advance past Germany.

Germany have been good throughout the World Cup. They haven’t been great in most of their matches, but they have been steady and composed. They have done enough.

Expect Germany to have a stellar performance.

The Germans took third place in 2006 and 2010. Do not expect them to settle for playing for third place again. This is a very, very good team. They will score goals. They will defend like a solid wall.

It will be a good game (we’re talking about the semifinals of the World Cup). Brazil and Germany play very different styles of soccer, and it will be fun to watch the disciplined Germans against the creative Brazilians, but ultimately I see Germany going on to the final and Brazil playing Argentina for third place.

Holland vs. Argentina (7/9 4 p.m. est)

The other semifinal match is just like the first. The disciplined Dutch against the creative South Americans. But you saw this match up when the Netherlands played Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans never had anything in the game. Possession, shots – it all went to the Dutch.

Granted, Costa Rica defended well and played Holland to a draw and the game had to be decided by penalty kicks, but you’ve got to believe with three shots off the post and one curling off a defender the Dutch were unlucky not to finish that game in regulation time.

You also saw a preview of this match when Argentina played Belgium. Argentina bested Belgium by a goal, but Belgium was never out of the game.

The Netherlands must finish better than they have been. They won’t be able to waste opportunities, and a one-goal advantage will never be enough until the referee blows the final whistle because Messi is always a threat.

But I predicted a Germany-Netherlands final for World Cup 2014, and I have seen nothing to make me back off of that.

The Americas have been very good in this World Cup. Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, the United States – all underdog nations that performed better than expected and went father than expected.

Brazil and Argentina, though certainly not underdogs, went farther than I thought they would go. I never felt that Brazil was playing up to their level of talent, but they have managed to find a way through at each point, and that’s all that matters. Argentina must be grateful for Messi.

But I fully expect to see a European final again this year.

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.

Initial thoughts on World Cup 2014

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.

Clint Dempsey might carry the US all the way to the final ... even with a broken nose.

Clint Dempsey might carry the US all the way to the final … even with a broken nose.


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.