Over the past few weeks, we have whittled 32 of the best soccer teams in the world down to 16, meaning we have our second round bracket for World Cup 2014. Let’s take a look at the matchups on one side of the bracket.
Brazil vs. Chile
The host nation will have a challenge to start their second round, as Chile is one of the more popular sleepers in the bracket. However, they simply don’t have the talent to hang with a squad like Brazil, especially with the home crowd behind them. Brazil might not win World Cup 2014, but it won’t be because they lose here.
Colombia vs. Italy
This could be a great matchup if these two face off. On paper, Colombia is the better team, but the experience edge lies with Italy. The Italians have a reputation of playing well against teams that are close to them in talent, and I think they could pull off what many would consider an upset over this South American team. Italy moves on.
Switzerland vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina
This is one of the lighter matchups in the second round, as we have an upstart Switzerland squad facing off against Bosnia and Herzegovina, who is in their first World Cup. This game could come down to the end, and could quietly be one of the better games in the second round. I like the Swiss to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 here.
Germany vs. Russia
While the Russians are a solid team, they simply aren’t in the class of Germany, who I believe could be the best team in the World Cup. Simply put, they are stacked at every position, and while there are a few teams that could knock the Germans off, Russia is not one of them.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the bracket.
Spain vs. Croatia
Yeah, not going to waste much time here. Spain should cruise pretty easily here.
Uruguay vs. Ivory Coast
This could be a great matchup with a ton of goals, as the offense is the strength of both these sides. As is often the case, I think experience will be the biggest factor here, not to mention that Uruguay will have the best player on the field, Luis Suarez. Uruguay takes this one in what could be an instant classic.
Argentina vs. France
On paper, this looks like a great matchup of two of the most prestigious countries in soccer history. However, a simple gaze at the current rosters will show that Argentina should win this fairly easily, thanks in large part to the lethal combo of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero up front.
Portugal vs. Belgium
So far, I’ve gone pretty chalk with my second round picks, because this is the round where the elite teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Portugal is the third ranked team according to FIFA, but I’ve been open about my beliefs that this is for the most part a one man team. Meanwhile, Belgium has talent in all three aspects of the field, and from simply a pure scoring standpoint, Eden Hazard is just as good Ronaldo. I think Belgium pulls off the big upset of Round 2, and punches their ticket to the Quarterfinals.
Brazil over Italy
Germany over Switzerland
Spain over Uruguay
Argentina over Belgium
Germany over Brazil
Argentina over Spain
I didn’t want to spend too much breaking down matchups that might not happen, but when you get this deep, you have to say a few words. It wouldn’t shock me if Brazil wins the cup, because if for no other reason, the home crowd might intimidate the refs to be kind to the home team. However, Germany is overall a better team than Brazil, and I think they will show that.
You can also tell that I’m high on Argentina. I think this is the World Cup that Messi steps out and shows just how great he is on the biggest stage in the world. Not only that, but Spain has been on top for so long, and it’s nearly impossible to win four major tournaments in a row when everyone is gunning for you. I think they finally fall in the semi-finals, ending an insane run of domination over the last six years.
Germany over Argentina
Germany takes their spot back at the top, riding a team full of experienced players who not only have played on the biggest international stage, but also the club level as well. Manuel Neuer is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and I could see him asserting dominance like Iker Casillas did for Spain in 2010 when they won the World Cup by taking their last three games each 1-0. I think the Germans will be too much in the end, rise out of the group of death, and take home the World Cup!
What do you think of our predictions? Who do you think will win World Cup 2014? Let us know in the comments!