Sixteen days after the the first post in this series, I thought I should man up and revisit my predictions from then. First, though, a little recap of my experiences of the opening round.
The first set of 16 matches was filled with caution as team went at it with even more negative tactics than Italia ’90. Proper five-man defenses from lower-ranked sides, lone strikers everywhere else, and fear of making even the slightest error crippled proceedings. Things picked up for the second round of matches as managers realized that the stalemates the created earlier meant they had to do something. However, the tournament returned to type as both players and managers cracked under pressure and responded by going negative once again with only 4 of the matches generating any real tension, and just one late goal changing who advanced.
Now to those predictions.
Seven Reasons I’m Not A Football Pundit (Not That They Know Either)
- I have Brazil beating Spain in the final. Still Plausible after Spain’s win over Paraguay yesterday. In fact, I’m actually more certain this will happen with their respective paths to the final.
- No team from outside Europe or South America will advance. While I did have every South American team advancing, little did I realize just how poor a tournament the European sides would have. That said, Africa’s contribution of one team isn’t spectacular compared to North America and Asia contributing two teams to the knock out stage each.
- Luis Fabiano to win the Golden Boot. The Brazilian striker has two goals, though his second against the Côte d’Ivoire made Thierry Henry’s contribution to Ireland’s defeat look legitimate. Luis Fabiano, Gonzalo Higuaín, Diego Forlán and David Villa are looking like the 4 favorites for it now.
- England fail to make the quarterfinals. Germany to win on penalties (obvious statement).
- Andres Iniesta to win the Golden Ball. Has been a solid contributor in his 2 appearances, but is unlikely to be in contention for the Golden Ball unless he lights up the knockout rounds.
- Australia to be the only Asian (technically) nation to not finish bottom of their group. This was just a bit off. Australia didn’t finish bottom of their group. South Korea and Japan were able to take advantage of disappointing performances by their group rivals and finish second in their groups. This World Cup could also see both match their 2002 finishes.
- John Terry to (snip) with the (snip) of (snip) captain (snip). Will definitely have to wait for the autobiographies to come out months after England’s elimination.
So what to look for from here? I doubt there will be much in the way of Giant Killing as most of the other teams are generally on the same level. The only real surprises would come if Spain or Brazil were knocked out.