4 Semifinalists: Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Germany
The home advantage was clearly beneficial for Brazil in last summer’s Confederations Cup and I can’t see that changing. Their squad is full of quality players, and in Luiz Felipe Scolari they have a coach who knows how to motivate a team and has the experience of winning the World Cup with Brazil in 2002. While the pressure will be piled on the hosts, I don’t see that undermining their chances to win.
Player of the Tournament: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has proven himself to be a big-game player. He carried Portugal at Euro 2012 and continues to score big goals for Real Madrid. I see Portugal making it all the way to the final, and for that to be possible, Ronaldo will have to be on top form. This past year has probably been the best of Ronaldo’s career, as he reclaimed the Ballon D’or, broke the scoring record in the Champions League and scored to seal Madrid’s Champions League success.
4 Semifinalists: Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, Portugal
The hosts will just edge it over Uruguay in an all South American final after Uruguay overcome Portugal in the semifinals in a match of the tournaments two top performers (Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo). Spain will falter in a year where they have simply not been as dominant as they were four years ago, as shown by their crushing defeat to Brazil in last years’ Confederations Cup final. Brazil’s squad is as good as any, especially their back four, and the fact that they are the hosts, plays to their advantage.
Player of the Tournament: Luis Suarez
I’m tempted to put Ronaldo here, who will drag his team tied to his back to the semifinals, but I’m going to go with Suarez just because of how many goals I think he will score and the success I think his team will have in the semis over Portugal. Along with his passionate play for his country, Suarez will be the tournament’s top scorer, continuing the absolutely prolific form he had in the Barclays Premier League this year with Liverpool.
4 Semifinalists: Brazil, France, Italy, Spain
Exhibiting an uncompromising passing game, coupled with intense, high pressing, this years World Cup is set to be yet another piece of silverware to add to Spain’s already garnished trophy cabinet. Winner’s of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as the past two UEFA European Championships, Spain’s controlled “tiki-taka” possession game and impressive attacking displays will yet again culminate in the Spaniards lifting this year’s trophy come July 13.
Player of the Tournament: Neymar
Solidifying his footballing reputation among the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, Neymar continued in what can hardly be viewed as another breakout year for the Brazilian youngster, but more the enhancement of a burgeoning reputation and a desire to prove any critics wrong. Neymar has continued to seduce fans and coaches alike, with his mixture of hard work and unselfish play, while forming a lethal striking partnership alongside former World Player of the Year Lionel Messi. Amassing an impressive 9 goals and 8 assists in 25 league appearances for newly signed club Barcelona, Neymar’s implementation into the squad has been a successful one.
4 Semifinalists: Belgium, Germany, Spain, Brazil
Belgium is a team consisting of an extremely attractive group of youngsters who are eager to succeed in their first major competition. Having watched several enticing displays of the nations’ football myself, I see absolutely no reason as to why this talented batch of players can’t perform equally on the World Cup platform. There is no better way for this group of players to achieve a world-class status by performing in an elite competition such as the World Cup. Belgium will be relishing the opportunity to impress in Brazil.
Player of the Tournament: Eden Hazard
Having recently received the PFA Young Player of the Year award, Eden Hazard has continued to impress fans and critics alike. Into his second year of representing Chelsea, the Belgian youngster has evolved into a critical part of “The Blues” success. His pace and ability to rip apart defences will suit Belgium’s style of play. Having scored 16 goals for Chelsea this season, Hazard will be eager to impress during his first World Cup campaign.