Brazil, you say? They know how to play football over there, don't they? But it's a long way for one so middle aged as I to travel.

So instead, I shall slouch into my leather armchair and view the tournament from this side of the Atlantic. I shall try and watch every game and will definitely make wildly inaccurate predictions too.

I do solemnly vow to give you a real sense of what it's like to not be at the World Cup. This is the blog where all the colour and atmosphere and passion of watching the world's greatest sporting tournament on a wall mounted widescreen really comes to life.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

They Won The World Cup: GERMANY

For a third time, the Germans met Argentina in football's biggest game. For a second time they won. For the fourth time they win the World Cup. And for the first time a European nation triumphs in South America

The best team won. A team without standout stars but with bite and guts in midfield. Schweinsteiger scarred. With a poacher upfront in Klose and the man destined to beat his goal scoring record Muller. With the number one keeper between the sticks and with youth all over

Here are Spain's successors. Here are the Euro 2016 winners 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

They Finished 2nd: ARGENTINA

For the second World Cup in a row, my tips to win the thing have ended as runners-up.

Messi shone in the early stages but looked too tired to take the final by the scruff of the neck. He is world class no question, just not world class on the world stage.

Aguero's injury didn't help. But Mascherano was massive, deserving of the golden boot or ball award if ever it was due to go to an Argentine.

Di Maria was missed in the final but enough of the excuses. The Argentines never put anyone to the sword like the Germans did in the semi. They never dished out a thrashing to teams that were there for the taking. As a result, they came up just short. 

The World Cup Final: Germany 1-0 Argentina (after extra time)

54. 74. Now 2014. The only blip 1994. Otherwise if the year ends in a four, the World Cup is yours Germany. And it's hard to say they didn't deserve it.

No classic, the final. But few finals are.  It could have gone either way though. Higuero will rue the chance he snatched at, one on one with Neuer. Messi's skied free kick at the end a low point. Goetze's winner was a gem. Schurrle crossed, the young German chested and volleyed. With seven minutes to go of extra time, the Argentines were preparing for pens. There was no way back.

This young German team has more tournament wins in it.  It's like Spain circa 2008. Expect a period of dominance from the side that has helped Europe win the trophy on South American soil for the first time. And we all know who will win in 2034.

They Finished 3rd: HOLLAND

I thought they'd flunk it. Should have known better with someone like Van Gaal  on the sideline and Robben on the pitch there's always hope. Nay, expectation. No win again for the Dutch but I'd take third place even though the medal looked a bit dodgy. But this is the side that thrashed Spain in their opener. Seeing off the champs with duch a swagger. You knew they'd go far. And but for the dreaded PKs it could have been further. Always entertaining to watch though. But will they ever lift that trophy? 

They Finished 4th: BRAZIL

Nothing else will this team be remembered for other than losing 7-1 in a semi final on their home turf. They will forever be tainted with that. And that's harsh on some great players some of whom will be instrumental in lifting their nation out of the footballing pits. It was never the greatest Brazilian team but home advantage and neymar dragged them this further. But a team without its talisman is not the same team. And after this display at home it's probable that what we've all suspected for a while is now true. Brazil no longer strike fear into other team. Shame. Bring it back. 

Third Place Match: Brazil 0-3 Holland

Misery heaped upon misery for the less than miserly hosts. No metallic medallions for brazil this time     Holland dutchspatched with one of the poorest squads to sport the yellow and blue with ease. An early van persie pen sending them on their way. Back to the drawing board for brazil. But are the Dutch destined to never win this thing?

Friday, 11 July 2014

What's It Like To Be In The World Cup Final?

Less than two days to go, and the citizens of two nations, thousands of miles apart are preparing for the biggest football match of their lives.

The butterflies must already be infecting their stomachs. Invitations to barbecues, pub get-togethers or official fanzones will have been handed out and considered.

Flags draped from windows, new shirts purchased from shops, cars decorated with colours.

What a build-up it will be. Tense anticipation. Nervous excitement. Get the beers in. Can't sleep for thinking about it. Could we win? Or will it be them?

Good luck fans of Germany and Argentina.

I envy you both the excitement you must be feeling right now.

But come Sunday night, I will envy only one of you.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

World Cup Semi-Final: Argentina 0-0 Holland (Argentina win 4-2 on pens)

Not a thriller nor a goal fest. A typical tight semi where each team neutralised the other's most dangerous threats. Messi got one touch in the Dutch area all game. Robben made just one pass in the first half. It didn't make for much of a spectacle, and the spectre of penalties hung over this until they were duly reached with neither net being ruffled.

There was no rush of Dutch hands in the air when Van Gaal asked who wanted to take the first. It was left to Vlaar and he missed to the right, and from then on, the Argentines always had a foot in the final.  Despite not being impressive at all, they've made it and face the rampant Germans.  It's Europe vs South America. Who will triumph will be decided on Sunday. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

World Cup semi-final prediction: Argentina v Holland

It won't be 7-1. There, said it. I thought BravsGer would be close. It wasn't. Though I predicted the Germans would win. I predict this one will be close. Extra time close. Maybe even penalties. But Argentina will win, despite all of Brazil rooting for the Dutch, I suspect. 1-1 after 90. 3-1 after extra time, giving us a repeat of the 1990 World Cup Final, which was dire. Something to look forward to there then. 

World Cup Semi-Final: Brazil 1-7 Germany

I have resisted spelling out the German number of goals. Let's not rub it in. This was the biggest shock result in World Cup history. Brazil were appalling, not one of their starters deserving of a rating of over 3 out of 10. Germany were stunning, every attack looking likely to yield a goal. And in the first half that's pretty much what happened. Sickening for the host nation who love this game perhaps more than any other. But they were blown away by Germany in an unfamiliar red and black kit that we may see again after this rout. As for Brazil, there will be a few players who won't return to the international stage after this humiliation. But this football mad nation will be back. No question. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

World Cup Semi Final Prediction: Brazil v Germany

I predicted a Brazil v Argentina final back in May. And it's still on. Although I'm not as confident about the host's chances in this one without Neymar and Thiago Silva. Two crucial cogs in the machine (a word usually reserved for their opponents).

The Germans will be out to avenge the 2002 final defeat. And where better and more damaging to do it. And I think they will. In extra time. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

World Cup Semi Final Predictions

Here's who I predicted would contest the semis before the tournament started.



And here's the actual line up:



Yes, that hollering is the sound of my own trumpet being blown again.  75% right.  Admittedly Spain was a long way wrong, and predicting Holland to go out in the group,stage just morally reprehensible. But that aside, I can only conclude that I've done rather well!

They Finished 5th: COSTA RICA

Hands up who had the Costa Ricans getting to the quarter finals? Out in the group stage I thought. Klinsmann warned the world that here was a team to be reckoned with.  And they dealt with Group D with ease beating Italy and Uruguay and keeping eliminated England at bay. Greece in the round of 16 looked a friendly draw.  Could have been a lot tougher, but it was still a hurdle that needed overcoming.  Holland was always going to be a toughie, and so it proved.  But Costa Rica leave having enjoyed their best ever World Cup.  Their contribution to this great tournament will not be forgotten.  

Q-FINAL: Holland 0-0 Costa Rica (Holland win 4-3 on penalties)

They say you have to be Krul to be kind. And van Gaal wasn't shy in making a tough, seemingly cruel substitution, saying his starting keeper wasn't his man when it came to spot kicks.  Krul was the man, a little arrogant in his preamble face offs with the kick takers. But he backed up the arrogance with two saves stretching to his left, allowing Holland to reach their second consecutive World Cup semi.  This one could have gone either way, a hatful of chances for both, but it was the Dutch who prevailed. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

They Finished 6th: BELGIUM

Were we watching the Euro 2016 champions rehearsing for European glory in this tournament? Did they know it was two years too early for them. For a team with very little recent World Cup pedigree? Probably. Maybe. They will be disappointed to be going home, but the squad has announced itself on the world stage.

Q-FINAL: Argentina 1-0 Belgium

Didn't see much of this one, but saw the result coming. Tight, yes. But Argentina were always going to outclass the Belgians here. A squad of big names for sure, but maybe two years too early for the Europeans.  Messi and co march on, still yet to really dish out a footballing lesson to anyone, but they'll be building up for the final...

They Finished 7th: COLOMBIA

A new star emerges. James Rodriguez will forever be remembered as one of the names of this World Cup, banging in a few classic goals and spearheading the charge of one of the tournament's most exciting teams. Brazil were always going to be a big challenge, despite Colombia's great form.  Rodriguez scored again, but it was too little too late.  The team goes home, but the nation rejoices and deservedly so.

Q-FINAL: Brazil 2-1 Colombia

Neymar being out of the World Cup with a back injury is almost bigger news than the result of this one. A David Luiz cracker of a free kick gave them a two goal cushion, threatened late on by a Rodriguez penalty, but the Colmbians were unable to level and the hosts make the final fours, the very least their fans would have expected of them. But what now, sans Neymar? The teams saviour in the early games will watch from home as the Brazilians take on the Germans in a clash of titanic proportions.

They finished 8th: FRANCE

a successful tournament for les bleus.  Certainly compared to 2010 when it all fell apart.  Deschamps keeps the squad together, and although they are not de champs of de 2014 tournament, there's lots to be confident about. Pogba tipped by some to be a future great. Benzema proving he's got what it takes to excel on the world stage.  Even further for this squad in Russia 2018? Probably. But first there's the small matter of Euro 2016...

Q-FINAL: France 0-1 Germany

Fools whoever thought France would win this.  Of course it was close, not much between the teams, but to bet against Germany at this stage of the tournament is foolhardy.

Talk in the run up was all about the 1982 World Cup semi-final, where Harald Schumacher scythed through Patrick Battiston. No repeat here of that assault of course, the Germans are way too cool and balanced and confident for that. They did what was needed. An early powerful header and now they head into their fourth straight World Cup semi-final.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Brazil v Colombia Prediction

Colombia's record against Brazil is poor although there have been a few nil nils between them recently. Not this time I don't think. It will be close but settled in the ninety in Brazil's favour.  2-1.

France v Germany Prediction

This one is going to extra time I reckon. 1-1 after 90 with the Germans stealing it late on in the second added period. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

World Cup Quarter Finals predictions

So here's how I predicted the quarter finals would look before the tournament started:





and here's the actual line up:


That roar is the sound of my own trumpet being blown.  Two ties dead right, one totally wrong, the other half right. Costa Rica the wildest of wild cards. Colombia a tad fortunate to face a Suarez-less Uruguay. Holland benefitting from Spain's demise.  5 out of 8 right now.  So much better than last time.  

They Finished 9th: USA

There's a serious danger of soccer becoming more than just a minority sport in the States.Look at the support they got everywhere they played. Big numbers of passionate and loud travelling fans replete with flags and face paint, chants cheers and songs. Banners and banter. And look at their players. Never say die. No play acting. Plenty of skill too, unlucky to fall when they did as they could have gone further.

I predicted the USA would make it through their tricky group, so wasn't as surprised as many when they progressed. They are a top 16 team who always perform in the tournaments. And in Klinsmann they have a manager who knows what it takes to win these things.

So how about the USA v RUSSIA in the 2018 final in Moscow? Don't bet against it....

Round of 16: Belgium 2-1 USA (After Extra Time)

The game of the tournament so far, probably of the tournament full stop. The USA deserve so much credit for keeping going until the end. Bradley imperious. Howard like a wall of steel, the ball a magnet to him. Making the most saves in World Cup history. None shall pass. Even when the Belgians got a couple past him in extra time the States refused to lay down or roll over. They pulled one back and came so so close to levelling and taking it to penalties but it was not to be. Belgium go through but the USA's contribution to this classic will live long in the memory.

They Finished 10th: SWITZERLAND

Hitzfeld takes his leave from management having guided the Swiss as far as he could have realistically expected, and further than  I expected. Their FIFA ranking of sixth seems about right on this evidence, the Argentinians finding them tough opposition, nearly good enough to take them to the dreaded penalties. The Swiss remain, for me, Europe's unfashionable yet always more successful than England team.

Round of 16: Argentina 1-0 Switzerland (After Extra Time)

This was a bit of a stinker of a game by all accounts. Dull, uninspiring, a bit like the journey home from work I was embroiled in while the game was on.

 The Swiss would have loved the stalemate, not the stale smell on the public transport I was riding. The Argies would have been panicking, expected to cruise through this. But once again they struggled to put lesser opposition away. They've yet to thrash anyone. But Messi shone a little here, setting up the Di Maria winner to avoid the embarrassing lottery of penalties.

They Finished 11th: ALGERIA

And so the best African nation in the 2014 World Cup is...  Algeria! They flew the flag the longest for the continent, playing exciting football along the way, and nearly causing a shock by dispatching of the Germans.  They played as a team, bereft of stars, but full of passion and heart, so lacking from some of the established giants of European football. They took Germany to extra time, pulling one back after going two down a little too late to add to it. But I enjoyed watching them. Shame they couldn't fully avenge the disgrace of 82.

Round of 16: Germany 2-1 Algeria (After Extra Time)

This one really came to life in extra time when all three goals were scored. The Germans progress again as they always do. Failure from them is not making the final. This has to be a successful tourney for Algeria.  All the talk of revenge for 1982 when Algeria were denied progression in that year's tournament by a disgraceful arranged result between Austria and West Germany which saw both sides progress at the African's expense added spice to the occasion. And Algeria showed they deserved their place in this stage with exciting football. But they will go no further.