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Author Topic: FIFA World Cup 2014  (Read 12677 times)

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Offline consortium11Topic starter

FIFA World Cup 2014
« on: May 12, 2014, 10:28:18 AM »
Yes, we're a month away from it actually kicking off... but when has that ever stopped fevered speculation about something as vitally important to life as football (soccer for some of you amongst us...)?



On paper this should be the pinnacle of football... the most prestigious event, the World Cup, being hosted by its spiritual home, Brazil, the land of Pelé, Sócrates (the footballer, not the philosopher), Ronaldo (the fat one) and samba. Unfortunately it's also the home of unfinished stadiums, workers dying in the rush to finish those stadiums and social unrest at the cost of finishing such stadiums which manifested itself in riots during the “warm up event”, the Confederations Cup last year.

But, much like FIFA itself, let's brush those actually serious matters under the carpet for the moment to focus on the far less serious one... the football itself.

With most domestic league seasons over and only a short time before the tournament, we're currently being subjected to the slow agony of the overhyped squad announcements where ever inclusion or omission is picked apart in exhausting detail an armchair experts (myself included) proclaim from on high that there's been a catastrophic error and if only Player A had been included by Country B they'd be odds on to win the whole thing. Of course when the tournament is done and dusted those opinions will do a complete spin but feverishly speculating about football is not an art given to honesty, integrity or reliability.




So who are the favourites? On paper, these teams look to be the ones to watch.

Spain.

Why?


The defending World Champions, current European Champions and pretty much without dispute the best international team since 2008, Spain's rise and dominance matched the rise of Barcelona. Utilising many of the same players and a similar “tiki taki” possession based system Spain tend to pass opponents to death with exquisite skills, timing and having 75%+ of the ball. The depth of their squad is such that a players as talented as David Silva, Isco and Juan Mata can't be guarenteed a starting spot. They've done it before, will be looking to do it again and have a style that suits the conditions; while the opposition will be running in circles desperately trying to get the ball back the Spanish players will be coolly retaining possession.

Why not?


Much like Barcelona there's a feeling we may be getting towards the end of an era with this Spanish team. Six years is a long time in football and age is really starting to show. The Barcelona continquent, notably Xavi, Inesta, Fabregas, Busquets and Pique, have had a poor season by their high standards and as talented as their replacements are there's a feeling that they don't quite fit the system as well as those who came before. An attempt at a more direct approach resulted in a loss in the Confederations Cup final and in general I think this may just be a step too far for a genuinely golden generation. That said, they're rightfully considered right up there by the bookies and it certainly wouldn't be a shock to see them emerge victorious.

Player to watch:

Diego Costa has had an exceptional season for Athletico Madrid and will be looking to cap it off in the coming weeks by winning both the Spanish and Champions League. No-one expected Athletico to come close to either title and yet here they are right up there... and Costa has been an integral part of that. A powerful and athletic player Costa lacks some of the silky skills commonly associated with Spanish football but has a keen eye for the goal, is excellent at holding up play and should offer a more direct option to a Spanish team that at times can be guilty of simply holding the ball without offering much of a threat.

What makes it even more interesting is that he's not actually Spanish. He's actually Brazilian and has even represented Brazil as a full international (albeit in friendly games). However having qualified for Spain due to residence and being disapponted at the lack of appearences he had been granted for his native country he now plays for Spain... just at the moment Brazil arguably really need him. Expect the crowd to boo his every touch... especially if Spain and Brazil were to find themselves facing each other.



Brazil.

Why?

It's the World Cup and its Brazil; they'll always be considered contenders. It's also the World Cup in Brazil; I doubt there are many teams in history that can match the support and passion Brazil will receive despite the off-the-field issues. Their squad features star players from some of the biggest clubs in the world, has real steel to go with the traditional Brazilian flair and in Scolari they have a veteran international manager who has won it all before. They dominated the Confederations Cup a year ago, beating Spain in the final and generally looking like World Champions in waiting.

Why not?

It's a World Cup in Brazil. The pressure the players will be under to succeed will be immense and if they struggle there's a chance the crowd will start to turn on them, Moreover, for all the talk of traditional Brazilian flair this team looks to be a victory of the pragmatic over the idealistic and there's a lack of creativity in there. Willian, Ramires, Paulinho, Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo by all be hard working and defensively sound players (whether in midfield or played wider) but they're also not exactly the most creative. A lot of responsibility will fall on Neymar, Oscar, Bernard and Hernanes to provide the creative spark... and all four are young and have had somewhat underwhelming seasons. Moreover, for a nation with the history of Brazil the lack of striking options is pretty shocking; the human battering ram known as Hulk may be the best of them and that says a lot. Defence may also be somewhat of an issue; arguably the two best players, Valencia's goalkeeper Diego Alves hasn't even been picked with a past his best Júlio César seemingly getting the first choice nod while Athletico's Miranda is likewise excluded in favour of somewhat flakey talents like Dante, Maxwell and Luis.

Player to watch:

Neymar is already the undoubted superstar of the World Cup, a national icon despite being 22 and the man Brazil will be looking for to both create and finish. Clearly exceptionally talented he was the player of the tournament at the Confederations Cup and a joy to watch. But his high profile move to Barcelona has been the subject of immense off the field controversy and on the field he's had a poor season where many use him as a scapegoat for Barcelona's failings. Will he throw that aside and react well to the pressure or will it crush him?



Germany

Why?

On paper its hard to pick against the Teutonic warriors. They have real quality in all areas of the pitch, a strong mix of experienced veterans and fresh talent (albeit fresh talent that is already used to playing at the highest level), an experienced coach and a style that mixes skill and power. Dortmond and Bayern Munich may not quite have repeated their successes of last season but they have both done well and with the majority of the squad coming from those two camps the players are not only highly talented but used to playing with each other. A midfield that can call upon Bender, Götze, Khedira, Kroos, Özil, Reus  and Schweinsteiger is a match for pretty much anyone... and a defence with options from Hummels, Lahm (assuming his defensive midfielder transtion/experiment doesn't continue), Mertesacker, Großkreutz, Höwedes and Schmelzer in front of Neuer isn't half-bad either.

Why not?

On paper the only real weakness appears to be up front. Mario Gomez is out entirely after an injury hit season, Volland has been in great form but is somewhat untested and while both Klose and Podolski tend to put aside such minor issues as having poor domestic seasons to both contend for the Golden Boot each World Cup surely they have to stop doing that at one point, especially when one considers Klose's age.

Moreover, fairly or unfairly Germany has a reputation for choking. Domestically Bayern have a reputation for not winning when it matters... last season's triple winning effort was an exception... and at international level they've likewise come close but failed. They should have beaten Italy in the semi-finals of Euro 2012; they lost. They should have beaten Spain at least once out of Euro 2008 and the World Cup in 2010; they lost. If Germany get to the semi-final and it's 0-0 after 60 minutes, are they able to hold their nerve? What if they're 1-0 down?

Player to watch:

Klose may not be the best player in the Germany team but he could well be the most effective. The veteran striker has scored 68 goals in 131 matches for Germany including 14 at his three previous world cups. One more goal ties him with fat Ronaldo for the top all time World Cup goalscorer mark... two more gives him the record outright. Despite a hit and miss season this year (24 appearences, seven goals) you wouldn't put it past him... in 2009/10 he only scored three goals in 25 appearances but managed four goals at the 2010 World Cup.



Argentina

Why?

In the above breakdowns I often lamented that while teams had strong midfields they lacked somewhat in strikers and/or creativity. That's not a problem for Argentina. They have Messi who despite a poor season is still one of, if not the, best players in the world (and to put it in perspective Messi's poor season still includes him scoring 28 goals so far). They have Sergio Aguero, arguably a top 3 out-and-out striker in the world and a man who despite an injury blighted season still has 17 goals. They have Gonzalo Higuaín, a fellow 17 goal season striker who has led Napoli's Copa Italia winning team. They have Ezequiel Lavezzi, a versitle and hardworking forward who despite operating lower down in PSG's pecking order than superstars like Zlatan and Cavani still managed eight goals. They have Ángel di María, who despite having to compete with the likes of Ronaldo (the thin one), Bale, Isco and Benzema for a spot at Real Madrid made 33 appearences, scored four goals and had 14 assists. Frankly, they have talent up the wazoo (enough that Carlos Tevez looks unlikely to even get a place) and for once a sane manager.

Why not?

For all that attacking talent defence and a strong midfield is still somewhat of an issue. You can't really look at any of the defensive options Argentina have avaliable to them and think that any would make it close to a World 11 and few would even be mentioned in passing. As such they're seemingly dependant on being able to outscore the opposition and blast them out of the game... but that's been the case for the last six years or so and they haven't ever quite managed it. Messi's never quite been able to make his club form reappear at international level even when playing well... will he be able to do it now? Will any of them?

Player to watch:

I'm not sure I really have to spell it out. Messi. Sumptously talented, depressingly skillful and on his day the best footballer in the world... possibly ever. If he does well Argentia will do well and we'll likely have a bunch of clips to make highlight videos out of. If he struggles Argentina will probably struggle despite their other skilled players... he's that good that everything almost has to come through him. The one real knock on his career so far is that he's made no real impact internationally despite Argentina having a strong team... this is probably his best chance to do so.



Dark Horses:

Uruguay may not quite have the squad depth of certain other teams but they're used to Brazilian conditions, Luis Suarez is in the form of his life, Edinson Cavani's one of the better strikers in the world, Cristian Rodriguez is brilliant sitting just behind the two strikers and some good options in those positions (such as the talented but eratic Gaston Ramirez). Much like Argentina they're dependant on their strikers to get enough goals to make up for a more shakey midfield and defence... but those two are certainly good enough to do that,

Belgium are probably the hipsters choice with a squad filled with young, talented players. Thibaut Courtois  is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Vincent Kompany had a few mistakes but led Manchester City to the Premier League title, Jan Vertonghen may have looked disinterested in the last half of the season but is an excellent centre-back, Dembélé and Fellani (despite a poor season for Manchester United) provide drive and iron at the heart of midfield, Hazard, De Bruyne and Mirralles bring creativity and flair while Lukaku is probably the best young striker in the world. They're the sort of dream team one comes up with on a game of Footballer Manager. Unfortunately, like Football Manager, it doesn't work like that in real life and friendly results have been disappointing. Can the young squad keep it together to make a real run or are they a little too naive and inexperienced?

The Netherlands are the perenial underachievers at the World Cup, as likely to self-combust in an explosion of petty egos and inter-squad hatred as actually put it all together. That said, if they do put it together any team that can call upon Van Persie, Huntelaar, Robben, Sneijder and Strootman has a shot.

Chile arguably lack superstars outside of Barcelona's Alexis Sánchez but they are used to the conditions, in great form as a national team and are pretty much a definition of “more than a sum of its parts”. I'm not sure they quite have the firepower to make it all the way but they can certainly spring a few surprises.

The Ivory Coast remain Africa's best hope on paper and for once appear to have avoided either serious injuries or a group of death. This tournament may be four years too late for Drogba, Kolo Touré or Didier Zokora to be at their best but Yaya Touré and Bony are in exceptional form while Gervinho has recovered from a poor period at Arsenal to be a star for Roma.

If there's a team that can match the Dutch for self-destruction then it's France. Players going on strike, rebellions against the coach, arguments with the media... this French squad has done it all and paid the price for it. They're pretty much been an embaressment in the last international tournaments going out at the group stage at Euro 2008 without a win (and only one goal), repeating that feat at the World Cup in 2010 before struggling through the group before being outclassed by Spain at Euro 2012. That said there have been occasional promising signs through a difficult qualifying period and any squad with Benzema, Ribbery, Cabaye and Pogba stands a chance even if the aformentioned issues mean a talented player like Nasri looks unlikely to make the squad.




So, ladies and gentleman... thoughts, comments, opinions? Who'll win? Who'll fail miserably? Who'll get the Golden Boot? Who'll embaress themselves?

Offline Kythia

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2014, 03:56:42 PM »
You writing Italy off as a dark horse?  Buffon is an amazing keeper, Pirlo is getting old but still has skills and Balotelli has recovered now.

I watched the friendly against Spain a couple of months ago and, sure, they couldn't break Spanish possession but there's no shame in that.  They certainly didn't embarrass themselves and I think they're in with a better chance than the Ivory Coast.


Online Dashenka

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2014, 04:05:07 PM »
I think you should replace The Netherlands with England or Italy. Both have a much better, fitter, younger and tighter squad than the Netherlands. These players were at their top 4 years ago in South Africa when they finished 2nd, they've had it for now.

All in all, I think Spain will win though. Hopefully Russia will show the world that we can play football but frankly I doubt it.

Spain vs Brazil or Germany in the final for me.

Offline Kythia

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2014, 04:16:53 PM »
I dunno.  Our (England) team isn't as young as it looks at first glance.  Lampard is pushing 90, for example.  Lambert is a beautiful story and all but seriously?  A 30 odd year old with no real international experience? And the youth we do have - Shaw for example - are so inexperienced. 

We go out in the Quarters.

Online Dashenka

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2014, 04:25:45 PM »
But the England players all play on highest level. That counts for something. Sure Lampard is pushing 90, Chelsea's still a top team and that helps a team. Experience. But I think the quarters are max as well.

That said, I just realize I'll miss 3 weeks of the World Cup cause I'm going on holiday :D

Offline Remiel

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2014, 05:36:50 PM »
Well with you on Spain, consortium.  They're just amazing to watch, and their ball-handling skills are second to none.  Too bad David Villa retired;  the Xavi- Villa -Iniesta combination was brutal.     Watching them play someone like, oh, say, Japan or New Zealand was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals.

Brazil used to be the masters of the sport, but they've been in decline the last decade or so. 

Still, I'm going to go with Germany this time around.   Just a hunch.  Miroslav Klose is a forced to be reckoned with, although he' s getting old.

Glad to see Russia in the World Cup this time around, Dashenka.  It always has boggled my mind how the most populous nations--China, India, the U.S., Russia--do so poorly when it comes to football.


Offline consortium11Topic starter

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2014, 07:06:00 PM »
You writing Italy off as a dark horse?  Buffon is an amazing keeper, Pirlo is getting old but still has skills and Balotelli has recovered now.

I watched the friendly against Spain a couple of months ago and, sure, they couldn't break Spanish possession but there's no shame in that.  They certainly didn't embarrass themselves and I think they're in with a better chance than the Ivory Coast.

I just can't see it. At all to be honest.

Balotelli isn't recovered... at least in the sense of being anything like his best. He's been pretty awful in a pretty awful Milan team (8th in the table) and has been utterly unreliable for them. While he's generally been better for the international side than his club side I can't see him suddenly finding form or any consistency. Elsewhere the entire squad is starting to creak... Buffon's been on the slide for years, Pirlo's past it (and it showed in Juventus' failed European adventures). Basically the whole team is aging and lacking in pace... not exactly a great thing in Brazilian conditions, with what star players they have generally being in erratic form. The fact their manager's been doing a lot of tinkering in recent friendlies also isn't a good sign.

Then throw in the fact they have a tough group which they may well struggle to get out of... and the fact that if they get out second they face an awkward tie with either France or a dangerous Switzerland (before most likely facing one of Brazil, Chile or the Netherlands). Even if they win the group it's not all roses... first a dangerous match against the second place team fro a fairly balanced Group C and then almost certainly the small matter of Spain.

I think you should replace The Netherlands with England or Italy. Both have a much better, fitter, younger and tighter squad than the Netherlands. These players were at their top 4 years ago in South Africa when they finished 2nd, they've had it for now.

And many of England's star players were at their peak in either 2006 or 2010 themselves... where we struggled to the quarter finals in one and embarrassed our way to just make it out of the group in the second. We're basically caught in an ugly middle-ground; half our team are past it and the other half are still developing. We're taking a selection of injured players, relatively untested guys and stars at least four years past their best. We were ripped apart by Chile not so long ago, struggle with ball retention at the best of times and tend to implement a "blood and guts" high energy-low precision style... the exact sort of thing that breaks teams in South American conditions.

Getting out of the group would be an achievement... albeit a manageable one. All three of the contenders in the group (England, Italy and Uruguay) should beat Costa Rica... although we should have beaten Algeria and the USA last time and look what happened there... which leaves it basically being a three-way tie for the two spots. And I can easily see us drawing with Italy in the traditionally cautious first match of a World Cup and losing to Uruguay... which leaves us in a pretty poor position. Likewise the same issues as mentioned above for Italy appear again if we do make it through the group.

I dunno.  Our (England) team isn't as young as it looks at first glance.  Lampard is pushing 90, for example.  Lambert is a beautiful story and all but seriously?  A 30 odd year old with no real international experience? And the youth we do have - Shaw for example - are so inexperienced.

I'm a Saints fan and so have a distinctly soft spot for the likes of Lambert and Shaw. But even with that in mind people said the same thing when they came to the Premier League; Lambert was a brutish journeyman who wouldn't be able to cut it while Shaw was a callow youth who would be too naive. Both proved the doubters wrong.

That said, it also has to be kept in mind where they stand in the squad. Lambert is at best third choice striker behind Sturridge and Rooney (and truthfully probably behind Welbeck outside of the fact Welbeck will likely get a spot on the wing). Likewise Shaw is behind Hodgson favourite Baines. Both are likely to be limited to impact sub appearences at best barring injury or a real collapse in form.

Offline consortium11Topic starter

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2014, 07:21:02 PM »
Glad to see Russia in the World Cup this time around, Dashenka.  It always has boggled my mind how the most populous nations--China, India, the U.S., Russia--do so poorly when it comes to football.

Russia's pretty much the outlier there... Football's very much a minor sport in China, India and the US and none have particularly strong domestic leagues or chances for a player to develop.

Russia's an odd one. The old USSR team was a strong contender in the 60's and early 70's, getting regular quarter final places at the World cup and making it to at least the semi-final (and winning one) four times in a row at the Euro's. Then they fell apart and they've never quite climbed back again despite a lot of money going into their domestic leagues and some talented players. On paper they should be well positioned to get out of the group this year... while Belgium are the favorites for the group Algeria and South Korea are both winnable games... but it's unlikely they get that much further; they'll almost certainly play one of Portugal or Germany and both of those would be deserved favourites.

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2014, 07:37:30 PM »
I just can't see it. At all to be honest.

Balotelli isn't recovered... at least in the sense of being anything like his best. He's been pretty awful in a pretty awful Milan team (8th in the table) and has been utterly unreliable for them. While he's generally been better for the international side than his club side I can't see him suddenly finding form or any consistency. Elsewhere the entire squad is starting to creak... Buffon's been on the slide for years, Pirlo's past it (and it showed in Juventus' failed European adventures). Basically the whole team is aging and lacking in pace... not exactly a great thing in Brazilian conditions, with what star players they have generally being in erratic form. The fact their manager's been doing a lot of tinkering in recent friendlies also isn't a good sign.

Then throw in the fact they have a tough group which they may well struggle to get out of... and the fact that if they get out second they face an awkward tie with either France or a dangerous Switzerland (before most likely facing one of Brazil, Chile or the Netherlands). Even if they win the group it's not all roses... first a dangerous match against the second place team fro a fairly balanced Group C and then almost certainly the small matter of Spain.

I dunno.  They have the same group as Uruguay (yanno, obviously) and I honestly think the top two Group D spots could be pretty random.  Noone really stands out.  If Italy get top then they have the same run as Uruguay would have, which you did include as a possibility.  I think you (one) wants to be looking at both routes - top of the group and second - for the three Group D teams that count.

They did alright in the Confederations Cup last year, they've shown they can play in Brazilian conditions when they're on form.  I don't particularly follow Serie A but I know there's a load of top Italian talent in there - Rossi has an auspicious name if nothing else.  Plus there's your boy, Osvaldo. 

I don't see them doing it, but I don't see any of your dark horse picks doing it.  All have the "small matter of Spain" to contend with and, yeah, my vote and my becoming-traditional £20 are on Spain.  But I think Italy have enough of a chance that they can't be ruled out.

Offline consortium11Topic starter

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2014, 08:43:38 PM »
I dunno.  They have the same group as Uruguay (yanno, obviously) and I honestly think the top two Group D spots could be pretty random.  Noone really stands out.  If Italy get top then they have the same run as Uruguay would have, which you did include as a possibility.  I think you (one) wants to be looking at both routes - top of the group and second - for the three Group D teams that count.

With Suarez, Cavani and Rodriguez Uruguay have the ability to outscore anyone and still win games regardless of what happens at the other end. It's largely the reason they're in my dark horse list forming as they do a sort of "Argentina-lite"; their defence and defensive midfield may be so-so but their attacking talent can make up for it. Italy don't have that and don't have any players in the sort of form Suarez is.

They did alright in the Confederations Cup last year, they've shown they can play in Brazilian conditions when they're on form.  I don't particularly follow Serie A but I know there's a load of top Italian talent in there - Rossi has an auspicious name if nothing else.  Plus there's your boy, Osvaldo.

You haven't missed anything by missing Serie A this year; the quality has been awful. Juventus are the best of a bad lot despite going backwards... the fact that they struggled in Europe but still only picked up two losses and three draws domestically shows that. It's a league where Adel Taarabt came in and became a star for AC Milan (albeit an awful AC Milan) when he was ran out of QPR and Fulham. People get too caught up in the nostalgia for Football Italia and the 2000's where Serie A was a top league... now it's officially ranked behind Portugal, full of owners corrupt enough to make other countries owners look like paragons of virtue, the football is slow, boring, unadventurous and played in crumbling stadiums with the Ultra's having ultimate power over the team; it was only recently that we were subjected to the sight of a man who has served a prison sentence for killing a policeman during football violence being consulted by the players before a match if he was willing to allow the match to continue.

As for Osvaldo... he was awful for us and equally awful for Juventus when we sent him there way after he made the mistake of picking a fight with Fonte. Let's also remember that Roma actually improved once he left...

I don't see them doing it, but I don't see any of your dark horse picks doing it.  All have the "small matter of Spain" to contend with and, yeah, my vote and my becoming-traditional £20 are on Spain.  But I think Italy have enough of a chance that they can't be ruled out.

Spain are probably my pick as well... but to get to a final Spain will most likely have to get through at least one of Argentina, the winner of the Italy/England/Uruguay threeway, Belgium and Portugal. That's a number of banana skins for them even though they'll be the favorites for each. Any team that is on the other side of the bracket will only face them if they get to the final... and that likely includes France, Ivory Coast, Chile and the Netherlands (although likely only one of those two considering they're in the group with Spain). Of course they have their own challenges to go through... but there's a reason they're dark horses.

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2014, 09:10:15 PM »
With Suarez, Cavani and Rodriguez Uruguay have the ability to outscore anyone and still win games regardless of what happens at the other end. It's largely the reason they're in my dark horse list forming as they do a sort of "Argentina-lite"; their defence and defensive midfield may be so-so but their attacking talent can make up for it. Italy don't have that and don't have any players in the sort of form Suarez is.

I think its possible to overestimate Uruguay's scoring.  By a quick count that I can't promise is accurate Uruguay sit at 27-17 since the start of 2013 if you ignore the rout against Tahiti, which I think is unrepresentative.  Leave out the games against the footballing powerhouse of Jordan as well and you get 22-17.  Roughly 1.3 goals per opposing goal as raw stats and much worse if you include their 2012 collapse (the reason they played Jordan in the first place). 

I dunno.  I agree that the chances of a Group D winner are basically non-existent, but - gun to my head - I'm not sure Uruguay would be the one I'd pick if I had to.  Suarez is a machine, sure, but one dive or handball too many and he's gone from the next match, and lets not kid ourselves that that's impossible.  And that just reads like Uruguay, really.  Too unpredictable, too likely to collapse.

Incidentally, it turns out I'm incapable of reading the name Christiano Ronaldo without singing that "The adventures...of Christiano Ronal...do" song from the Euro 2004 Fantasy Football.  Remember that?

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2014, 09:29:04 PM »
As a Brazilian, I am forced to vote Brazil. I will be rooting for them desperately, yelling at the TV and throwing popcorn at the tiny ref when I see him make a bad call. But realistically, without some immense support from FIFA itself (Which isn't all that unrealistic, FIFA being what it is), Brazil will be lucky to make it to the Semi-finals. Neymar is the point man, and he is injured (for now), with a strong defense, weak midfield and iffy attack... we shall see what we shall see.

Spain is also kinda coming into a rut, too much in love with their own legend to see that the rest of the world has grown and adapted around their style of football. Barca's recent disappointments show this. Although I am interested in seeing what Diego Costa can do.

Italy's team doesn't stand a chance. Too few changes were made since 2010, Buffon is too old, Pirlo is too old, and Balotelli isn't all that they make him to be. Argentina has simply had too much bad luck in World Cups for me to firmly believe in them.

Portugal has Christiano Ronaldo, and for that reason alone, they have a shot, but the rest of their team is, again, iffy. Not as reliable to back such a star as Real Madrid is.

I'd place Germany in the final, and I'd give even odds to Spain, Brazil or Portugal fighting them for it. 75% chance of Germany winning.

Offline Kythia

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2014, 09:33:38 PM »
As a Brazilian, I am forced to vote Brazil. I will be rooting for them desperately, yelling at the TV and throwing popcorn at the tiny ref when I see him make a bad call. But realistically, without some immense support from FIFA itself (Which isn't all that unrealistic, FIFA being what it is), Brazil will be lucky to make it to the Semi-finals. Neymar is the point man, and he is injured (for now), with a strong defense, weak midfield and iffy attack... we shall see what we shall see.

Spain is also kinda coming into a rut, too much in love with their own legend to see that the rest of the world has grown and adapted around their style of football. Barca's recent disappointments show this. Although I am interested in seeing what Diego Costa can do.

Italy's team doesn't stand a chance. Too few changes were made since 2010, Buffon is too old, Pirlo is too old, and Balotelli isn't all that they make him to be. Argentina has simply had too much bad luck in World Cups for me to firmly believe in them.

Portugal has Christiano Ronaldo, and for that reason alone, they have a shot, but the rest of their team is, again, iffy. Not as reliable to back such a star as Real Madrid is.

I'd place Germany in the final, and I'd give even odds to Spain, Brazil or Portugal fighting them for it. 75% chance of Germany winning.

Italy wandered through qualifying without breaking a sweat, though.  Sure, UEFA isn't the World Cup, but its that I'm basing on.  You only need to make changes if there's something that needs changing.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2014, 10:01:24 PM »
Well, Sweden got to the threshold and was honurably outpaced by Portugal in the play-offs, a double match that was essentially a duel between Zlatan and Ronaldo. It was clear from the setup of the qualifier games that Germany would win the group we were in, they always win their group, so the only option was going to be reaching the play-offs and pushing through there. Honestly I don't think Sweden would have got that far even if the team ahd booted out Portugal and made it to Brazil - apart from the iconic Zlatan we don't have that great a national team for now, and they never seem to have had the time to become a unified, real team in time for a big championship. Like England, Sweden is at a shift of generations when it comes to international major-title football.

Offline Nicholas

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2014, 11:58:57 PM »
~is happy about that thread~

Who will win?

a) I have no clue.
b) I don't care.

Because: It will be a great event. I love soccer and sports in general. Whoever will win, it will be fun to watch.

Offline Paladin of Lust

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2014, 12:37:46 AM »
I like England's younger World Cup squad, though I don't see them getting past the quarter finals at best. But it would be interesting to see how Hodgson picks his first XI. If they play as Liverpool do, like how some are advocating them to do, I see the lineup being: Sturridge, Rooney, Sterling, Barkley, Henderson, Gerrard, Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Johnson, Hart lining up in 4-4-2 diamond like Liverpool have done recently. Sterling at the tip of the diamond, with Barkley and Henderson behind, captain Steven Gerrard sitting at the bottom of the diamond and spraying forward passes as a quarter back.

Germany is one of my favorites to win, and though Gomez is out, Volland is good even if he is untested internationally, while while they may not strike fear into opposing defenses like Liverpool's SAS, Klose and Podolski are pretty good forwards for most teams. And Germany can also turn to Reus playing as a number nine or false nine if they have to. He's done it before, and is pretty good in any forward or attacking midfield position. I would place Germany in the finals as a near certainty. Brazil & Spain are my favorites for the other final spot.

The thing about Argentina, is they have a really strong offensive selection but lack the defensive players to round out the squad. Kinda like Liverpool, when you think about it. The same logic applies to Uruguay. Liverpool has Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling, Coutinho, Gerrard, Henderson, Skrtel, etc. Argentina has Messi, Higuaín, di María, Tevez, Lavezzi, Agüero, and Lamela, but have a midfield and defense that is decent at best. Zabaleta, Garay and Mascherano stand out, but the rest... Uruguay has the same problem, but to a larger extent, since they have a very strong attack (Suarez, Cavani, Ramirez, Rodriguez) but not much depth throughout the entire squad. Neither will win the World Cup but will most likely provide some entertaining football and maybe dish out a couple of thrashings before losing to Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc.

In a random aside, South Korea's World Cup team pretty much picked itself, but it was interesting to see Park Chuyoung (Arsenal loaned out to Watford), get selected despite his severe lack of game time. He did help lead South Korea to an Olympic bronze medal though, so it's most likely sentimentality or something. Algeria will get crushed, but South Korea does have a chance of knocking out one of the more-fancied Europeans teams and getting to the last sixteen. However, even if they do manage to do that, I think it's safe to say their journey would end there.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 02:59:17 AM by Paladin of Lust »

Online Dashenka

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2014, 02:39:50 AM »
~is happy about that thread~

Who will win?

a) I have no clue.
b) I don't care.

Because: It will be a great event. I love soccer and sports in general. Whoever will win, it will be fun to watch.

Are you really born in Birmingham and calling it soccer??? It's called football my dear :D Soccer is played in the colonies only. (Not my words but those of my half American gf.)

As for Russia, our national team is overrated. I think we made it to the WC with a healthy dose of luck. We missed out on the EC in 2012. Sure we're in an 'easy' group but if we have to play nations like Germany, Spain, Italy, England, or any team from South America, we're lost. I would really like to see a match USA - Russia, just for the hell of it :D

I know a lot of people will hate me for this but I really hope Argentina gets knocked out in the group stage. I'm just Messi tired. Yes he is probably the best player in the world but it's too hyped up. Same with Portugal and Ronaldo. Was gutted when Sweden lost out to Portugal and Zlatan is missing the WC. That's just wrong.

Also having high expectations of Belgium, they have are really promising young squad with a lot of players playing at high level leagues.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2014, 02:48:24 AM »
Are you really born in Birmingham and calling it soccer??? It's called football my dear :D Soccer is played in the colonies only. (Not my words but those of my half American gf.)



Guess he was doing it as a courtesy to the Americans on here. "Two peoples separated by a common language" as they say - sometimes it's deceptive to have the same word, in the same language, meaning (or referencing) quite different things within two nations ("liberals" is another of those spooky words).

Offline consortium11Topic starter

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2014, 04:37:25 AM »
I think its possible to overestimate Uruguay's scoring.  By a quick count that I can't promise is accurate Uruguay sit at 27-17 since the start of 2013 if you ignore the rout against Tahiti, which I think is unrepresentative.  Leave out the games against the footballing powerhouse of Jordan as well and you get 22-17.  Roughly 1.3 goals per opposing goal as raw stats and much worse if you include their 2012 collapse (the reason they played Jordan in the first place). 

I dunno.  I agree that the chances of a Group D winner are basically non-existent, but - gun to my head - I'm not sure Uruguay would be the one I'd pick if I had to.  Suarez is a machine, sure, but one dive or handball too many and he's gone from the next match, and lets not kid ourselves that that's impossible.  And that just reads like Uruguay, really.  Too unpredictable, too likely to collapse.

World Cups are traditionally low scoring affairs... teams are pretty much always more scared of losing then they are concerned with winning... and in that context any team that can reliably get goals stands a chance of making a run. Moreover, for all the disappointments of 2012, look at who Uruguay have managed to get results over with basically this squad: Argentina, France, Colombia and Japan are all decent to great teams. Italy haven't won in five matches and of their recent wins the best within 90 minutes is likely narrowly beating either Japan or the Czech Republic. Equally worrying for a team who tend to rely on having an exceptionally strong defence you have to go back seven matches for their last clean sheet... against Bulgaria.

As a Brazilian, I am forced to vote Brazil. I will be rooting for them desperately, yelling at the TV and throwing popcorn at the tiny ref when I see him make a bad call. But realistically, without some immense support from FIFA itself (Which isn't all that unrealistic, FIFA being what it is), Brazil will be lucky to make it to the Semi-finals. Neymar is the point man, and he is injured (for now), with a strong defense, weak midfield and iffy attack... we shall see what we shall see.

I'm not sure if we're using the terms in a different sense, but I'd class Brazil's midfield as anything but weak. Fernandinho and Luis Gustavo provide some real defensive iron, Paulinho is a powerful box-to-box player when near his best and at Chelsea both Willian and Ramirez are hard-working players who run all day and harry the opposition. For me the weakness isn't so much a lack of strength as a lack of creativity... as you say a huge amount of responsibility to fall on Neymar to be both creator and finisher.

Italy wandered through qualifying without breaking a sweat, though.  Sure, UEFA isn't the World Cup, but its that I'm basing on.  You only need to make changes if there's something that needs changing.

I think you have to take some account of who they were playing. The closest thing to challengers Italy had in their group were Denmark and the Czech Republic... not exactly killers... and while they may have remained unbeaten Italy still picked up four draws. To go with an infamous example, England qualified for the World Cup in 2010 with nine wins and one loss (in pretty much a dead rubber when we were already guaranteed qualification) including beating Croatia twice (by an aggregate of 9-2) and Ukraine once. And we remember how well that tournament turned out. To go back to the Uruguay comaprison, Uruguay's qualification group included Argentina, Colombia and Chile... which going by current FIFA rankings (and I fully know the issue with those, but they're a starting point) means they had to play the fifth, seventh and 13th ranked teams in the world. The lowest ranked team in their group? Bolivia at 68. Compare that to Italy's group... Denmark were the highest ranked at 23, Armenia at 33, Czech Republic come in at 36, Bulgaria at 73 and Malta at 128.

Well, Sweden got to the threshold and was honurably outpaced by Portugal in the play-offs, a double match that was essentially a duel between Zlatan and Ronaldo. It was clear from the setup of the qualifier games that Germany would win the group we were in, they always win their group, so the only option was going to be reaching the play-offs and pushing through there. Honestly I don't think Sweden would have got that far even if the team ahd booted out Portugal and made it to Brazil - apart from the iconic Zlatan we don't have that great a national team for now, and they never seem to have had the time to become a unified, real team in time for a big championship. Like England, Sweden is at a shift of generations when it comes to international major-title football.

On paper Portugal should be better than they are... even if we set aside Ronaldo there's still Pepe, Coentrão, Moutinho, Almeida, Alves and Nani who are all pretty good players (and I suspect the reason why they were able to beat Sweden rather than simply being a case of Ronaldo being better than Zlatan). But Portugal never quite seem to get it all together... much like how their own golden generation of the 90's probably never achieved what was expected of it.

Offline Nicholas

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2014, 09:05:15 AM »
Are you really born in Birmingham and calling it soccer??? It's called football my dear :D Soccer is played in the colonies only. (Not my words but those of my half American gf.)
I call it soccer to not confuse if with American Football. So, you see, it has nothing to do with my heritage, merely with not confusing things. :-)

Online Dashenka

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2014, 09:06:21 AM »
But my American won't get confused. She gets confused when Europeans call it soccer. :P

Offline Remiel

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2014, 09:08:02 AM »
I would really like to see a match USA - Russia, just for the hell of it :D

I, too, would like to see this.

Offline Phobetor

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2014, 10:28:37 PM »
~is happy about that thread~

Who will win?

a) I have no clue.
b) I don't care.

Because: It will be a great event. I love soccer and sports in general. Whoever will win, it will be fun to watch.

My feelings are 100% the same as Nic.

I am so READY for it!!!

*happy dances*

Offline consortium11Topic starter

Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2014, 08:27:14 AM »
Many of the preliminary squads are now in.

Some notable points:

Look On My Works Ye Mighty And Despair: Just look at the quality in the Spain squad... Isco, the breakout star of last year's Champions League and a man who's had a good season with Real Madrid (although dropping off the pace recently) can't even make the team while the likes of Silva and Mata may not make the starting 11.

As somewhat expected Nasri's been left out of the France squad, paying the price for his part in previous off-the-field issues and poor form for the national side despite his brilliant season for Manchester City. On the other hand Evra... who led a players revolt... is in.

Likewise it's not a particular shock that Tevez is out of the Argentinian team despite his good season in (an admittedly weak) Serie A. Argentina have so much striking talent that it was always likely one notable name missed out and Tevez has had a poor relationship with the coach. More surprising is Demichelis getting back in after a solid (but highlighted by high profile errors) season for Manchester City.

The England squad's been known for a bit longer. Notable omission is Ashley Cole with the young Luke Shaw replacing him, Lambert getting the nod over Carroll for the fourth striking spot, there's no place for Carrick and the fact that we're taking both Gerrard and Lampard again (although for the love of God lets hope they don't start together).

Belgium's squad is just as fresh, talented and full of potential as people would expect. Only naming two strikers may be somewhat of an issue but there's a lot of goals from the rest of the squad.

Offline kylie

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Re: FIFA World Cup 2014
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2014, 09:57:09 AM »
         For now, I'm with Nicholas and Grape and whoever else. 
 
         Assuming I can find a decent video feed here, I'll be happy just to start watching the games!   O:)

         Anyway, enjoying skimming the comments...  Maybe after I catch up a bit and see a few of the teams playing, I'll have more to babble about.  But I'm glad at least I'll be somewhat home that time this year, so there's a good chance.   :-)