World Cup 2014: Group B – Chile

For many Group B has claimed the title of “the Group of Death.

It certainly looks like that for the Ozzies.

Group B

Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Image

At first look it seems it will be a straight fight for the top spot for the two 2010 finalists : Spain and Holland but that is to severely underestimate Chile.

Chile had a very impressive qualifying campaign. Despite starting poorly they rallied to claim some impressive away wins which contributed to a 3rd place finish in the CONMEBOL table, ahead of both Ecuador and Uruguay.

In recent years they have garnered a lot of respect for their style of play, thanks mainly to a high pressing game (favoured by successful ex-coach Marco “Loco” Bielsa) that was introduced by Jorge Sampaoli. Although “La Roja” do not have the strength in depth of bigger South American nations they can count upon two fantastic forwards in Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) and and Eduardo Vargas (Valencia). Added to this they have various layers dotted around Seria A and the EPL but their real strength comes from home based players which regularly compete with Universidad Catolica, Colo Colo and O’Higgins in latter stages of the Libertadores and Sudamerica. 

For many Chile are this tournament’s dark horses if not for triumph but to reach at least the quarter finals. They will certainly need to be on form to beat either the Dutch or Spanish but it is not beyond them to take 1st spot in the group.

World Cup 2014: Group A: Cameroon

Image

Cameroon’s progression to Brazil was straight forward enough.After topping a group consisting of Libya, Congo and Togo they moved into a pay-off spot with Tunisia. A 4-1 home win was enough to secure their attendance this summer.

A poor showing in South Africa together with bad showings in recent African Nations Cup’s leave Cameroon as an unknown entity. They certainly have class in captain Samuel Eto’o and Barcelona’s Alex Song which added with a squad mainly from France’s Ligue Un means they are competitive.

Image

 

We having waiting for an African team to reach the latter stages of the World Cup for decades now. The Cameroon of Roger Milla were closest to making this a reality, eventually going out to a lucky England in 1990.

This time around will really depend on Eto’o and whether he can pull he recent Chelsea form into the World Cup. Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon are of similar levels but in this tournament I see the Africans going home early, along with Croatia.

Countdown to Brazil: …the South American bookies favourites

I hate the often used comment: “The bookies don’t usually get it wrong”.

Of course they don’t, they cover every eventuality with their odds.

 

So many people think their football knowledge is so great that they are willing to put down their hard earned cash against the odds of the various bookies. The trouble is the odds for normal and likely results are so poor that is not worth your while.

Why put a tenner on slim odds when you are only going to get pennies or cents back? Its not even worth the electricity and internet charge or the short walk down to the street to the shop. Nah, what we want is big bucks back in the hundreds and thousands but to get this you need a hugely,surprising result like a giant kill or unbelievable piece of good fortune.

The bookies have got it sown up.

Image

With that in mind I am still going to provide some odds for next year’s World Cup.  Why not?, the SPFL is done. Bayern Munich are going to romp the Champions League and Man City are shoe-ins for the EPL.

The favourites are Brazil (naturally) and Argentina. (If this was the final I would be happy with that).

Brazil are variably quoted at around 3-1 which is understandable as hosts but seems a bit kind considering they haven’t really impressed in the last few years:the last meaningful tournament they entered -2011 Copa America- ended in a humiliating quarter final exit against Paraguay. Although they claimed the Confederations Cup on home soil (against an exhausted Spain in the final) earlier this year and have clocked up some friendly against Portugal,Australia, South Korea and ummmmmm Zambia and Honduras they still have yet to hit full steam.

There’s no doubt they have a first 11 of quality player with the like of Ramires, Oscar, Paulinho, Luiz and Lucas plying their trade in the EPL and Alves, Marcelo,Adriano and Neymar in La Liga. Add to that Dante of Bayern Munich, Maxwell and Marquinos of PSG and a fair smattering of home based players then you have a strong batch of players. A fervent and partisan crowd should also provide an extra 10%, unless the pressure gets too much.

Argentina are 2nd favourites with odds of around 5-1.

With Sergio Arguero on fire this season and the best player in the world in Lionel Messi its hard to argue with this price.

In 2011 Argentina hosted the Copa America but that did little to stop them tumbling out of the competition at the hands of Uruguay in the quarter finals (5-4  penalties). It was a national disaster for La Abiceleste (the White and Sky blue) and provoked some national outrage.

Luckily under the guidance of Alejandro Sabella things have turned around.

Argentina were always going to qualify but that’s not to say they laboured at points with some poorish draws to Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru in heir campaign. But in the main qualification was straight forward.

On paper Argentina’s squad doesn’t have the same strength as Brazil.Together with Arguero and Messi they have Mascherano , Banega and Di Maria in La Liga, Higuain playing for Napoli and Lavezzi for PSG. The rest of squad is spread around Europe in the 2nd rate leagues.

Scotland are awarded World Cup 2014

It has been reported at length-but mainly in my head that the Brazil World Cup will be cancelled and awarded to Scotland. In light of the recent riots and demonstrations FIFA have declared Brazil to be no-football zone for the foreseeable future.  

In recognition of their consistent underachievement and at times disastrous performance at tournaments (yes, we were at one time perennial qualifiers) Scotland have been given a historical bye into the tournament together with the award of hosts.

Despite being a small country, and with only 4 viable 20,000+ stadiums (Ibrox, Celtic Park,Hampden and Murrayfield) the calamitous Scottish Football Association (SFA) are confident they can pull it of. Indeed in many ways the matching of FIFA and the SFA is perfect.

At present details are brief but it is believed that in order to encourage competition and avoid complete embarrassment the hosts will be awarded one player from each of the confederations. However in order not to appear totally farcical the chosen players will be given new “Scottishized” names eg.Neymar becomes Nae-mare, and will undergo an intensive period of re-education in the Caledonian lifestyle, play and methods.

The addition of “see you Jimmy” Ginger wigs and small kilts were mooted as additions to the playing kit but in reality will not pass Health and Safety regulations.

In addition as hosts Scotland will be awarded with a 5 goal start to each game and their 1st round group will consist of the weakest qualified teams.

 

Starting Eleven for Friday’s day versus Bolivia

It’s hard predict Reinalda Ruelda’s starting 11 but with help form my school’s security guard i have managed to whittle them down to the following.

DOMINGUEZ, (LIGA DE QUITO)
  AYOVI,  (MONTERREY, MÉXICO)                                            PAREDES,  (DEP QUITO)             
CAMPOS,  (BARCELONA)     ERAZO,  (BARCELONA)
MONTERO, (MORELIA , MÉXICO)
                                                                                     ANTONIO VALENCIA (MAN UTD)
         
CASTILLO,  (PACHUCA , MÉXICO)  
SARITAMA,  (DEPORTIVO QUITO)
                    
                  AYOVI,  (AL NASSR,SAUDI ARABI)
                            MINA, (BARCELONA)

Christain Benitiz and Christain Noboa are both suspended until the Uruguay game and Luis Saritama is a doubt after picking up an injury.

Typically Valencia and Montero should complement attack with bombing runs down the wings.