World Cup Part II: World Cup Analysis. Who’s in it to Win?
By Steve Mullaney
As of press time, we are left with just eight teams: Uruguay, Ghana, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Paraguay and Spain (editors note: uh, actually all the Round of 16 games aren’t yet complete so if we’ve blundered on making our predictions we apologize.)
Naturally, there have been a few surprises—notably the weakness of the traditional European powers and the lack of an African “home field advantage.”
Not making the cut to pass on to the second round were Italy, France and upstart Serbia. England, considered a favorite by some odds makers, performed poorly and was bounced by Germany 4-1 and with the exception of the Dutch, no European team has looked dominant.
Likewise, the home-continent advantage that some pundits predicted did not occur. Ghana’s path to the championship runs through a very tough looking Uruguay and Cameroon, Nigeria and Ivory Coast all faltered in difficult groups.
Conversely, the South Americans are looking dominant: all five qualified teams moved on to the round of 16, and only Chile (vs. a tough Brazil) failed to move on to the round of 8. Oddly enough, both Brazil and Argentina are doing well without dominant performances from Kaka or Leo Messi, neither of which have yet to score a goal. Instead, Elano and Gonzalo Higuain are emerging as the leaders who have carried the squads to victory.
So, who will win it all? Our money is on Argentina. One of only two teams (the other being Holland) to win all their games so far this tournament, and have done so convincingly. Evidently, the drugs they’re slipping into coach Diego Maradona’s coffee to get him to calm down are working. With opposing teams cracking down on Messi, other players are leading the way. There’s too much talent not to back Argentina.
The winner of the Netherlands vs. Brazil game looks like a shoo-in to gain the other slot in the final match. While both are strong teams, we’ll pick the Brazilians for their experience over the upstart Dutch. In what might certainly be Kaka’s only shot at making captain, his force of personality will carry the team.
Nobody cares about 3rd place, right? But we’ll make a prediction anyway. Netherlands 3, Spain 0 in a game for self-esteem.