Here's my World Cup take...I'm picking Argentina
Sergio Aguero (Man City) will outshine his Argentinian teammate and world star, Lionel Messi, although Messi will certainly get off his WC snide and create the best 1-2 threat in the tournament. The winner usually comes from the continent that the competition takes place. Brasil has too much pressure and distractions and they aren’t the Brasil we’re use to…so there you go, addition by subtraction.
Of course, the usual stalwarts like Germany, Holland, Spain and Italy will likely be in the discussion deep into the tourney but they all have their issues. Germany has injuries, Holland is s schizophrenic and on the wrong continent, Spain will have a tough time repeating which is true in any sport especially so far from home. Italy has low expectations which could, however, serve them well and the Azzuri could be a real darkhorse.
Other teams to keep an eye on and admire will be Chile, Ivory Coast, Columbia, Japan, Uruguay, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England and Portugal and look for one of these teams to crack the semis.
Players to watch include Daniel Sturridge (England), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Paul Pogba (France) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal). Sturridge is a speedy, opportunistic striker and could be just what the Brits need to finally make a deep run. Balotelli has finally matured and could be a force for Italy as he has developed into one of the most frightening strikers in the world. Pogba is the premier midfielder in the entire world and he strikes fear with his size, speed and smarts and makes France a formidable foe. Ronaldo will either dazzle or disappoint. He is said to have some nagging dings but I don’t believe it for a minute. Portugal doesn’t have enough at the other positions to make a run but they will be the talk if Ronaldo shows.
Goal line technology will be used in this WC (thank you Frank Lampard) and I predict that there will be a major controversy regarding the new toy.
While I will be rooting hard for the United States to escape the ‘Group of Death’ with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, Jergen Klinsmann assured us that we won’t escape the opening round when he decided to not include the greatest player in U.S. history, Landon Donovan, to the squad. There’s one thing you need at the WC and that is experience. Landon may not have been at the pinnacle of his career but he certainly still has a nose for the goal and the object of the game is to put the ball in the back of the net. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey will show the world that we can produce world class talent but there are too many question marks on the back line and when your most valuable player ends of being your goalie (Tim Howard) then we’re in trouble.
Have fun! Thank you for ESPN3 on my desktop at work…and, of course, I will be wrong about all my predictions because it’s the World Cup.