Who will lift the World Cup at the Maracana Stadium next month?
After four years of waiting, the day has finally come. Brazil 2014 kicks off tonight with the hosts taking on Croatia in Sao Paulo, which makes today the perfect time for Fred Stanley Sport to offer our predictions for the upcoming tournament. To keep things as simple as possible we’ll list the teams in order of finishing position in each group, with a one sentence recap of their chances in the competition. We’ll also predict the semi-finalists and finalists, plus offer a one sentence take on who will take home the much coveted Golden Boot. After reading what we have to say make sure you’re opinion is heard by commenting, tweeting (@fredjstanley) and voting in our poll. Happy World Cup day!
Confederations Cup winners to shine on home soil, led by wonder-kid Neymar.
Familiarity with conditions and good showing four years ago should be enough to help Central American’s edge through.
Modric aside, a team on the decline following brief ‘golden era’ under Slavan Bilic.
Not much going on here besides an aging Eto’o and forgotten man Alex Song.
Not the force of four years ago but still stocked with an envious array of world class midfielders.
Tournament dark horses led by Sanchez and Vidal could prosper on home continent.
Handed difficult group Van Gaal’s men will struggle to replicate final appearance from South Africa.
After a strong cricketing winter could be on the receiving end of a 5-0 scoreline in this group from hell.
Even without Falcao the South American’s could top a relatively easy group.
Stocked with flamboyant play-makers, should be able to retain possession better than people think in the Brazilian heat.
Missed their chance four years ago with Drogba, Kolo Toure and Eboue very much past their peak.
No repeat of 2004 for this disciplined yet toothless band of aging troops.
If Suarez is fit then they could be potential finalists should the back four hold up its end of the bargain.
Low expectations for a change but still a solid squad with plenty of exciting attacking options.
Poor form in the build up and a lack of strike options beyond Balotelli could spell doom for 2006 winners.
Handed a tough draw, little to no chance of picking up a point let alone progressing.
Minus RIbery, Benzema and Pogba to star for a very dangerous side.
Solid side with talented Shaqiri keen to put himself in shop window for big money move from Bayern.
Will battle it out with the Swiss but lack the same defensive resilience and solidarity.
Even if Wilson Palacios had 10 brothers capable of playing football they’d struggle to make it out of the Group E cellar.
Messi, Aguero, Higuain and Franco Di Santo make for a fearsome quartet of strikers (in ascending order).
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Premier League stars Begovic and Dzeko could help Bosnia burst onto international scene in their first World Cup.
If John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are your best two players, you’re in trouble.
It’s unlikely that any Iranians will be snapped up by needy Premier League clubs after the tournament.
If Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t get you, Helder Postiga will!
Efficient (and typically German) unit could struggle to score goals with Miroslav Klose nearing his 70th birthday (or something like that).
Powerful African unit would qualify from a number of other groups.
Not so powerful American unit would qualify from (maybe) a couple of other groups.
Envious collection of talent has everything it needs on paper to seriously contend for the World Cup.
Like he did with England four years ago, Fabio Capello should be able to steer this squad to a dismal exit in the last 16.
With Park Ji Sung now retired from international football PSY is probably the most famous South Korean – unfortunately he doesn’t look like much of a footballer.
They couldn’t score against England in 2010 with Matthew Upson at centre back, which doesn’t bode well for any team.
Brazil over Portugal
Spain over Argentina
Spain over Brazil
After taking advantage of an easy group, Messi could have the Golden Boot wrapped up before the knockout stages have even begun.