Sunday, July 06, 2014

World Cup 2014 Semi Final Predictions

So at last, the cream has risen to the top, and we have our final 4 contenders still standing from a crowded field of 32. In a week, only one of them will have written their names into the annals of history.

Brazil vs. Germany
England superstar Gary Lineker once famously quipped, "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win." In hindsight, it was foolish to pick France to reverse a 30 year old history and beat Germany in their quarter final match. Reviewing that game, the Germans got an early goal and then never let France pick up their game. By making the semi final for the fourth time in a row (a record) the Germans have shown that they are a tournament team, they know how to last the distance. The question is, they have been here before. Can they go on to win?

Certainly Brazil are no shmucks. While many were in angst after their match with Chile, I wasn't perturbed. As I said, they dominated and could have had 4-1 on another day. Brazil simply blew away Columbia and only a period of sustained pressure at the end of the game whittled down the goal difference and made it a thrilling 2-1 game. However, and this is a big deal, they are without two of their best players. Neymar and Silva are out (with an injury and a suspension, respectively). With Brazil weakened when they meet in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, Germany will never have a better opportunity to end the Selecao's unbeaten run on home soil that extends back to August 2002. The 2002 World Cup final will also be on their minds, and what a better revenge than to send Brazil out of their own world cup.
Prediction: Germany

Argentina vs. Holland
Quite a few folks were fearful of a Belgian upset, but I had picked Argentina over Belgium as they have the better quality of players, and they have Messi. There's one more thing they had in the Belgium game, and that was defence. I was actually quite surprised to see Argentina comfortable with a 1-0 lead, and content to defend it. Sure, they looked dangerous on the break, but that was because Belgium was attacking them to equalize. The early goal ruined Belgium's game plan.

Holland. Wow! So nearly, oh so nearly, did Costa Rica have it! However, by substituting their goalie at the 120th minute and then winning the penalty kicks, Holland has sent out a big message. They are here to win, and even if you want to take it to tie breakers, they are ready and have a game plan. However, I really hate the way Robben dives. If for this, and no other reason, I want to see them defeated. Life is sometimes unjust in the way it rewards cheaters, and we all remember how Germany won in 1990 via a questionable penalty, but this has been a great world cup and it shouldn't really reward divers and cheaters.

Also, the Messi factor. With Christiano Ronaldo out, Zlatan Ibrahimovic not even here, Neymar out with injury, and Spain's constellation long out, it's Messi who remains and the stars are aligning for him to take Argentina to glory. He knows it, and this is his year.

Prediction: Argentina

Wow. In the case my predictions work out, we are going to see a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals!

1 comment:

Yawar Amin said...

> ... I really hate the way Robben dives. If for this, and no other reason, I want to see them defeated. Life is sometimes unjust in the way it rewards cheaters, ...

I've really come to believe that diving when you've actually been hit is completely justifiable. Players are simply too eager to hit, bite, pull, push, and obstruct in any way possible. Most of this behaviour goes unnoticed by the refs. And when it does get noticed, for intense injuries they get simple fouls.

Players like Robben, in my view, simply bring the balance back to a less physical, more pure form of the game. By all means they should dive if they've actually been hit. Maybe then players will tread more lightly around them and make the sport more about out-thinking your opponent and less about out-hitting them.