I know it’s the home nation and the easy pick, but it is difficult not to look at this World Cup and envision Brazil lifting the trophy at the end. I just think with the elements of the tournament with the travel, the heat, I think it’s going to be a South American team that’s going to win it.
I think the crowd is going to be behind Brazil. I think Argentina will do very well. Although I think they’re very good going forward, they’re not as strong defensively. I think Spain will be decent. I think Belgium should have a decent run. I’m interested to see how Switzerland does, to be honest with you. No one’s talking about them.
The other team no one is talking about other than the Samir Nasri incident is France. They’ve had some good results recently. Really quiet for them, but they have had some decent results. I probably don’t see them winning or being able to.
The obvious other contender from Europe would be Germany, but I just have a feeling the South American teams are going to do it, so I’m going to put my money on Brazil.
Belgium, I don’t think they’ll be a surprise. I think a lot of people know how good their individual players are and this is probably one tournament too soon for them to really do something with the inexperience factor. I do see them as playing some entertaining games. Maybe not a surprise package, but maybe one that hasn’t done so well on the world stage recently. I think Switzerland really could be a surprise package. I think they’re a little bit underrated in the world’s eyes. I’m also looking forward to seeing Colombia play. I think they have some outstanding players.
I’m talking about all of these games, I think one of the most intriguing groups is going to be our group: the U.S., Portugal, Germany and Ghana. They always say one is going to be a group of death and I think this year, two teams that are close to myself are in difficult groups with England and the U.S.. I don’t know if the U.S. can be a surprise package, but if they do get out of the group I think it will be a surprise to many. However, I know that we can be competitive against anybody. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I think in this World Cup, I don’t foresee it being somebody that we have not heard of before. I do think it’s going to be the names that we all know. If Portugal does well, you’re going to see Ronaldo on the score sheet. If Argentina does well, I think you’re going to see Messi on the score sheet. I think we’re going to see a World Cup like that. I don’t think we’re going to see an Oleg Salenko emerge from obscurity like we did in 1994. I don’t foresee it being something like that, but you never know. That’s what’s so great about the World Cup or any world sporting event. Sometimes there are some surprises. I think this World Cup, I just see one of the big names.
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
I don’t know if Neymar has it in him just yet to do that, but he’s one of the exciting ones for Brazil. I know he hasn’t had a season that he probably would have hoped for at Barcelona so far, but he does possess a heck of a lot of talent.
For me, the best player in the world right now is Ronaldo. The best players in the world are the ones I’d like to see shine on the world stage, and I think it would be outstanding for him if he did.
There are two players that not many people are talking about outside of England, but I’m really interested to see how Roy Hodgson sets out with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. They were outstanding for Liverpool, and I know they have that bonus of playing alongside Suarez and having an engine behind them in Henderson and the service of Gerrard, but I’m very interested to see how he utilizes those two because those two have the potential to unlock any defense and if Roy just lets them go and play free flowing, you never know what can happen with those types of players as well.
I think the two best for me are Thibault Courtois, who will be playing for Belgium obviously, and Manuel Neuer, who will be playing for Germany. Those are the two best in the world right now, but this is one thing that does happen every World Cup.
There is a goalkeeper that sometimes the world doesn’t know as much and they really shine. Sometimes they get on a little bit of lucky form for five or six games but I think we might be seeing a new goalkeeper come to light in this one. But the two for me that are the best in the world at in the moment I would probably put down as Courtois and Neuer. Remarkably, both of them are very young and they both have such long and prosperous careers ahead of them.