Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Starting XI: Ridiculously Specific Predictions!

The World Cup is about to start, and while we could easily review all kinds of facts, features and factoids from the last month worth of writing, let's look forward to exactly what we think will happen once the talk stops and the games start.

I. Group A: With all the hype and energy around the opening match, a potent Brazilian offense and intense crowd, Defender Dejan Lovren will make a badly timed tackle that gets an overly exuberant card and alters his playing style for the next match against Cameroon...the Indomitable Lions take advantage and use the win to knock out the Blazers and march on to the second round.

The unlucky goats of Holland
II. Group B: Strong though they are, a critical error in passing between Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan De Vrij opens the door for Chile to take a tie-breaking goal in the second half for Chile and send El Rojo through to the next round.

III. Group C: A late goal by unsung midfielder Abel Aguilar, makes no difference, as Colombia suffers a tough loss to Japan. But it does keep Colombia's goal differential positive and keeps Los Cafeteros moving on ahead of the Blue Samuri

IV. Group D: Uruguay's offense sputters in the face of a hobbled Luis Suarez, but worse still is the fact that keeper Fernando Muslera, develops a terrible habit of giving up equalizers shortly after La albiceleste grabs the lead. While he stymies Costa Rica after giving up an equalizer, the offense can't cut loose and grab the lead back. Last cup's dream team crashes out in a trio of draws.

Les Blus new favorites
V. Group E: Antoinne Griezman's fantastic play on the wing for France, leaves very few moaning about the absence of Franck Ribery, particularly as he helps Karim Benzema to a pair of braces in the first two matches, en route to a group topping performance.

VI. Group F: Carlos Quieroz has a magic touch at organizing defensive mischief, with complex alternating schemes that frustrate both Eden Dzeko and John Obi Mikel in a pair of stunning victories to put Team Melli through to the next round.

VII. Group G: US Media blows it's lid when the ageless Asamoah Gyan scores again to give Ghana ANOTHER win against the US, with Fox News even snidely suggesting that this is what happens when you hire a German to do an American's job--not that they care about soccer at all (until Fox has world cup broadcasting rights). The tune swings back when the Yanks stun Portugal with Jurgen being hailed as a genius and everything ends in a muted pfft when they drop the final match to Germany.

Lacen practices how to shake a spy
VIII. Group H: Medhi Lacen puts his name at the top of the KGB hit list, when he scores a 83rd minute equalizer to deny Russia an obvious win and boost South Korea in a quiet race for runner up.

IX. Round of 16: Pushed to Penalties by Colombia, a strong Italian side comes unglued when Andrea Pirlo pushes it over the bar, in echoes of Roberto Baggio 20 years before.

X. Quarter Finals: On the verge of a stunning upset, Belgium comes undone as the workload of Thibaut Courtois is unravelled in 5 minutes of sterling futbol from Lionel 89th minute bit of impossible creation and a gut punching through ball to Gonzalo Higuin in stoppage time ends the Red Devils run.

Ending where we thought...
But what a ride
XI. Final Four: Aching and hobbled after a strong challenge in the semi from Benedikt Howdes, Neymar pulls a Ronaldo-esque flu story line into the finals. Like Ronaldo he isn't much help, but a stunning feed from Paulinho to Fred sets up the Cup winner over Spain.

There's our overly specific, outrageous and easily foiled predictions...but hey, it's fun to think about how it will all play out--especially when it doesn't.

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