With the World Cup a mere moments away from starting, it is time to reveal my bracket for the tournament. Here it is.
Screencapped from ESPN’s World Cup Bracket Predictor
After a quick glance at the bracket, the four countries I have going to the semifinals should not be too surprising. Spain, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina are undoubtedly the best teams in the world right now. However, deciding which teams would reach the final and which would win the World Cup was a very difficult decision. Germany is likely a better side technically. However, European teams always have trouble outside of Europe, and Brazil has a flourish in their play that can never be discounted. And with Brazil as the host this year, all eyes will be on them to make the final. Brazil has won every game they played for just over a year now, and they’ll be looking to extend that winning streak. For the other semifinal as well as the final match, I had to go with Spain. The Spanish team, while their talent has diminished a bit since their last World Cup win, still has the depth in their team needed to win. Even Argentina, with Lionel Messi entering his prime years as a player, should be unable to beat Spain this year. However, even if these predictions are wrong, the semifinals onward will provide a thrilling end to the tournament.
Pulling back to the rest of the tournament, I do think there will be some surprises in the earlier stages of the tournament. In the most ominous group of death, group D, it was difficult to choose between Uruguay, England, and Italy to be the one to bow out in the group stage. However, Italy has performed dismally in the friendly matches meant to prepare the teams for the tournament. Italy drew Ireland in a goalless game on May 31, and on June 4 the Azzurri drew Luxembourg 1-1. Anyone that draws a team like Luxembourg, including conceding a goal, so close to the World Cup is going to have a lot of doubt cast on their ability. Therefore, while many pundits like to malign England’s chances, I think Italy will be the one to go down in the group stage, as they did in South Africa four years ago.
Additionally, Bosnia and Belgium are likely to be potential dark horses during the tournament. Belgium has several talented young players in Thibault Courtois, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku, and they could throw a wrench into the ambitions of a lot of bigger countries. However, I can’t see them making it past Argentina in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Bosnia is somewhat a mystery as they are making their first appearance in the final tournament. With Edin Dzeko as the team’s star forward, Bosnia has the skill to get past the group stage. While I have Switzerland reaching the quarterfinals over Bosnia, a matchup between those two teams could be a close run thing, and Bosnia does have the potential to reach the quarterfinals in their first World Cup.