With the 2014 FIFA World Cup upon us, a few members of team of writers & editors at Outside of the Boot has made their predictions for the tournament and this has been compiled into a nice little aggregate overall prediction which this website will loyally stick by throughout the tournament and on our Social Media platforms (*winks*)
So here are the writers and editors who will be participating in this: Aakriti Mehrotra, Adam Gray, Arnab Ray, Jack Coles, Mark Ooi, Matthew Harrison, Nikhil Krishna, Phil Baki, Razim Refai, Sami Faizullah, Shivam Kumar, Tom Robinson, Vishal Patel.
2014 FIFA WORLD CUP WINNERS
Brazil: 5 | Argentina: 4 | Spain / Germany: 2
Aakriti: Spain have got the most stability within the team for me. They might have declining players but they’re a balanced side, the experience in pressure situations and the quality of the side boasts of winners. Plus Torres’s knack of turning up for his country.
Adam: Brazil. In front of home fans with an effective, settled squad and under a manager who knows how to win a World Cup in Luiz Felipe Scolari, they should be favourites to allay socio-political unrest by winning their 6th time.
Arnab: I’d have to go for Argentina. A relatively straight-forward group that they should top could pave the road to an exciting campaign. Their attacking personnel needs no introduction to even casual football fans.
Jack: Just under 50% of World Cup tournaments are won by their hosts, and with this in mind I expect Brazil to take the trophy. All the statistics-based predictions models are showing Brazil will win it, and I think it would be crazy to look at anybody else.
Mark: Argentina. Stunning attack with the best player in the world. Not the most impressive defence but Garay & Zabaleta should be strong enough to hold it together. They will also be playing the whole tournament without once playing in the northern heat.
Matthew: Argentina. I’ve already placed a small amount of money on Argentina winning the World Cup: on the supposed easier side of the draw, a wealth of attacking talent, a defence that I think will be better than many expect and, of course, that boy Leo.
Nikhil: Argentina. I’m definitely stirring up trouble here when I say this but I think that Argentina will go on to lift the trophy at the Maracanã on July 14th. Expect nothing short of outstanding from Leo Messi.
Phil: Germany. I know, I know, European teams in South America, blah blah. I can’t look past this Germany team which promises to score goals
Razim: Spain have the depth, the experience and talent to last through the whole tournament. Their weakness lies in the fact that they have no Plan B but considering how immensely effective their plan A has been, they look likely to make it all the way.
Sami: Being the host nation, disappointing in the previous World Cup and the huge drop in rankings, the stage is set for Brazil to take advantage and redeem themselves. Not convinced with the players, but the coach is, and home support is vital.
Shivam: This Brazilian team has that tactical prowess to break down any line-up at the moment. I personally feel that a winning team is built on a very good midfield and defence. Brazil has both. Add to that the attacking options.
Tom: Although I think any one of Spain, Brazil, Germany or Argentina could win it if they properly click, i’m going to plump for Brazil. As long as they successfully negotiate a tricky round of 16 fixture, i reckon momentum will carry them all the way.
Vishal: Either Brazil or Germany, Germany if pushed. Both have good defences, and get the ball forward to their attackers very quickly. Germany also has variety among it’s ranks. So Germany it is.
DARKHORSES OF THE TOURNAMENT
Croatia: 3 | Bosnia / France: 2 | Chile / Ghana / Italy / Russia / Switzerland / Uruguay: 1
Aakriti: I think Croatia have the quality of causing some serious upsets in the tournament. Not saying they’ll win the whole thing but Niko Kovac is a young, ambitious guy and can take his side to the further stages of the competition.
Adam: Ghana. 200/1 odds inflated by a tough group, but the Black Stars possess a robust spine to a powerful squad. Would have been semi-finalists in 2010 had it not been for the injustice of Luis Suarez’s handball, Appiah’s men will be seeking to avenge that.
Arnab: Bosnia. The debutants could do some real damage (except to Argentina). They’ve looked good and wouldn’t put it past them to spring a surprise or two in the knockout rounds. They have some good young players and a definite goal threat in Dzeko.
Jack: I’ll pick Croatia to go further than people expect in Brazil 2014, given Luka Modric, the best midfielder in the world right now, and Ivan Rakitic are at the top of their game. And nobody else seems to be talking about them.
Mark: Decent group gives Switzerland a good chance of progress. I wouldn’t put it past the Swiss to finish ahead of France, which would mean they’d avoid Argentina in the 2nd Round. A good well-drilled team, with intelligent players in the right areas.
Matthew: Okay, so I know Italy are regularly cited as favourites, but there is a sense that nobody is really backing them this time. I have faith that their young, exciting team will come to the fore in the tournament when it really matters. Semis at least for me.
Nikhil: France are truly the Jekyll and Hyde of the World Cup. A record which reads 94 (didn’t qualify) 98( Winners) 02 (group stage) 06 (final) and 10 (group stage). As a staunch believer in nature’s love for symmetry, I believe they’ll continue the trend.
Phil: Bosnia and Herzegovina. With Argentina the only true powerhouse in their group and Nigeria looking poor in warm-up friendlies, Bosnia has a chance to make it out of the group. Then who knows.
Razim: I’d pick Croatia but its likely that they’ll face Spain as soon as they are out of the group stages and will lose to them. The Swiss have quite a good chance of causing upsets in this tournament as well.
Sami: Tough one to pick, but given the lack of expectations, poor form and complete ignorance from experts, I believe France will spring a surprise of two. An easy group to navigate, they can go on to win the group and possibly reach the semis in my opinion.
Shivam: My money is on Uruguay to top their group. They have a great advantage in form of the Latin American conditions which they are used to and I can see them defeating both England and Italy. They should easily reach the quarters.
Tom: Chile have the capability of throwing a cat amongst the pigeons in Group C and, should they qualify, could reach at least the quarters. I also believe France and Portugal could upset a favourite along the way and maybe make the semis.
Vishal: Russia. No one’s really paid attention to this team, but they’ve got a tight defence, an experienced coach and a fairly easy group. They just have to try not to run into Germany in the second round.
DISAPPOINTING TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT
Netherlands: 6 | Germany: 2 | England / France / Portugal / Spain / Italy: 1
Aakriti: France generally again but I think Germany will be more disappointing if they choke again.
Adam: Spain. Underneath a few ageing first-team regulars the squad begins to look slightly thin and the defence is a potential weak-point as they seek to defend their trophy. Will have no problem keeping the ball but the climate may limit them.
Arnab: It has to be the Dutch. To be fair, I don’t think there are great expectations from the squad but they still are European powerhouses. They do have the enigmatic Van Gaal but this World Cup might well have caught them in transition.
Jack: I think Germany have the potential to disappoint, given their kick-off times and the conditions they will be playing in. Germany are one of the best sides in terms of physically and mental preparation however, so I could be very wrong!
Mark: Placed in one of the Groups of Death, Portugal go into the tournament with Cristiano Ronaldo coming off an injury. Though they have rather impressive players, Portugal lack that cutting edge up front that they haven’t truly had since Pauleta.
Matthew: Germany. Despite having a wealth of talent in the squad, I still feel that Germany’s tough draw mixed with the gruelling locations that they have to travel to and play their games at will lead to their downfall.
Nikhil: As a great admirer of the Italian national team, it pains me to say this but Italy might just end up not progressing to the knockout rounds being ousted by England and Uruguay. Prandelli seems terribly confused with his system and personnel.
Phil: Netherlands. A young, potential packed squad with stars the wrong side of 30. Cannot afford to slip up in a group containing Spain and Chile.
Razim: The Dutch are usually backed to go far. The current Dutch squad seems to have bounced into the World Cup at more of a transitional time. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Oranje bow out of the tournament sooner rather than later.
Sami: Netherlands for me. They aren’t exactly touted as favourties, but you’d put them in that bracket of World football. Placed in a rather difficult group, you’d expect Spain to get through, more so Chile. The Dutch will bow out at the first hurdle for me.
Shivam: The English have a strong squad on paper but I can’t see them putting an equally strong performance on the pitch. They will have a tough time adapting to the conditions. This is where Uruguay has an upper hand and they most likely will capitalise.
Tom: Tricky, but perhaps the Netherlands. They will need to be at their best right from the get-go and even then could face Brazil in the round of 16. Top the group and it’s a completely different picture but I have a feeling it might not work out this time around.
Vishal: Netherlands. They have a tough group, but most people expect them to progress, and I dont see that happening. Regardless of the group, I think a group stage exit is disappointing for a team of that stature.
GOLDEN BALL WINNER
Messi / Neymar / Thiago Silva / Di Maria: 2 | Busquets / Iniesta / Muller / Schweinsteiger / Suarez: 1
Aakriti: Luis Suarez- if he gets fit. Eden Hazard maybe?
Adam: Neymar. After a tumultuous first season in Europe, the winger has the chance, in a team catered to his own vibrant brilliance, to properly lay claim to company among the world’s elite. It’s set up to be his tournament.
Arnab: Di Maria would be my pick. The midfielder has flourished in his deeper role for Real Madrid in recent times and will be looking to replicate that success. If my first prediction does come off then I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one follow suit.
Jack: The winners are nearly always attackers too, which is disappointing. My prediction for Golden Ball is more wishful thinking than anything, but I hope it goes to Sergio Busquets who is an exceptional footballer.
Mark: Lionel Messi. Deserved winner after inspiring Argentina to the WC title.
Matthew: Messi. Having seemingly taken it slightly easier for Barca this year, I think Messi will be fighting fit and raring to go for the World Cup. He’ll be up for the challenge of entering the pantheons of World Cup greats and lead his team to glory this summer.
Nikhil: I fully expect Angel Di Maria to continue his fantastic season and contribute heavily to Argentina enjoying a good world cup
Phil: Thomas Müller. With an eye for goal and certain timeliness to his scoring, he will pop up for Germany when they need him most
Razim: Iniesta. With Spain winning the tournament for me, its got to be Iniesta who will decide how well Spain far. The Barca star has rarely failed to live up to the occasion and is capable of turning crucial games in Spain’s favour.
Sami: Don’t often see defensive players recognised in this award category but with my belief that Brazil will win the tournament, I believe it will be down to their solid defense rather than attack. So Thiago Silva, captain & leader, is my pick for the Golden Ball.
Shivam: Thiago Silva. Brazil’s tactics has two pressure points: Luis Gustavo’s role and Thiago Silva’s role. I think both of these players are going to put of wonderful performances and the centre back will win the Golden Ball.
Tom: This will probably go to the poster boy of whichever team wins it so, as i’ve said Brazil, then it would probably and maybe somewhat predictably go to Neymar. If he replicates his performances from the Confederations Cup then he’ll be the decisive man.
Vishal: Since I have Germany winning the tournament, I’ll go for Bastian Schweinsteiger. The midfielder is fresh, hungry, and experienced. He’ll follow in the footsteps of the likes of Beckenbauer and Matthaus, and carry this team to glory.
GOLDEN BOOT WINNER
Aguero / Neymar: 3 | Higuain / Messi: 2 | Bony / Muller / Suarez: 1
Aakriti: Suarez if he gets fit in time otherwise Romelu Lukaku or David Villa.
Adam: Sergio Aguero. Heads into the tournament rather fresh after an injury-hit season with City, he will provide the athletic ingenuity to Argentina who, through their vast array of attacking talent, will create enough chances for his ruthless finishing.
Arnab: Tempted to go for Benzema scoring a glut of goals in the group stages but I’ve decided to stand by my earlier predictions and will go for Higuain. With opposition defences focusing on Messi/Aguero, it might be time for the Napoli forward to shine.
Jack: I think Honduras, Iran and Costa Rica’s possibly porous defences make Messi, Suarez/Cavani or Benzema the favourites, but I think Messi will take the Golden Boot because Argentina will go furthest – and he is Lionel Messi!
Mark: Sergio Aguero. With Messi and Di Maria supplying the chances, not to mention Aguero’s telepathic understanding with Messi, Aguero should bank enough goals before the Semi-Finals to eventually win the Golden Boot.
Matthew: Slightly biased as a Swansea fan, but I’m going to go stick with the idea I wrote in a recent article and back an outsider in Wilfried Bony.
Nihkil: Leo Messi had one of his worst seasons ever. And even that would be a good one for the average footballer.The biggest mistake you can make is to write him off.
Phil: Neymar Jr. Every time he pulls on a Brazil shirt, he scores.
Razim: If Aguero can reconstruct the massive threat he was last season and surviving an injury free campaign combined with Messi’s ability to dribble and assist, the Man City striker can help Argentina make it far.
Sami: Tempted to go with an Argentine or Frenchman because I believe they’ll scored loads of group stage goals, but i’ll stick with by Brazil themed prediction and go for Neymar. Fred too can be among the goals, but form-wise he is a concern.
Shivam: Neymar. If Brazil is going to win the Cup, which I think they will, this man needs to get his scoring boots on and I think he will.
Tom: In a star studded attack i’ve just got an inkling that Gonzalo Higuain might flourish. There is plenty of opportunity to fill his boots in a kind group stage for Argentina and then add one or two more in the knockout stages. Benzema also in with a shout.
Vishal: Thomas Muller (again). The man with the worst celebrations just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
GOLDEN GLOVE WINNER
Casillas: 5 | Courtois: 4 | Buffon / Julio Cesar / Lloris / Neuer: 1
Aakriti: Iker Casillas. He needs to prove some people wrong.
Adam: Courtois. Belgium are in a favourable group and possess arguably the best goalkeeper in the world after a superb couple of seasons with Atletico. Also, in Kompany, Vertonghen, Witsel and Fellaini, he has a tenaciously protective shield in front of him.
Arnab: Thibaut Courtois. It’s not easy being a young keeper in the unforgiving world of football at the highest level but the Belgian has made it look very simple, hasn’t he? It’s time for him to showcase his talent on the world stage.
Jack: Given the group Belgium are in, I think it will go to Thibaut Courtois. None of the strikers in the group stage have much to test Courtois with, but I think he’ll make a lot of saves.
Mark: 3 clean sheets in the group stage and at least 1 more on the way to the semi-finals or final should see Julio Cesar just about clinch the Golden Glove with 4 or 5 clean sheets in total.
Matthew: Gianluigi Buffon: Still for me one of the best keepers in the world and I’d argue maybe even the best I’ve seen in my 26 years of existence. As mentioned earlier, I think Italy will go far and I believe their captain will have a large part to play.
Nikhil: This was a really difficult choice considering the outstanding quality of keepers that are to star in this year’s world cup. In the end i think the safe bets on casilas, simply because he’s got a fantastic defence ahead of him.
Phil: Thibaut Courtois. If Belgium make the run that many expect them to this year, you can bet the on-loan Chelsea keeper will play a large part.
Razim: Casillas would definitely be one of the favourites to bag this award. Considering Spain’s oppositions are without the ball most of the time, the chances that are threatening are minimized.
Sami: I want to say Courtois but I think Belgium as a team might just disappoint so I’m going with Hugo Lloris instead. Although this award isn’t about the most clean-sheets, I think he wont’ concede any in the group stage which will have a part to play.
Shivam: Casillas. Spain, like in the past, will consider the least number of goals. So, Golden Gloves will go to Iker Cassillas.
Tom: I’m going to go for Manuel Neuer as i think Germany are more than capable of making it to the final. What’s more, I could see Neuer being a hero in at least one penalty shoot out and with not the best defence in front of him he might often be called upon.
Vishal: Spain wont concede too many goals, so Iker Casillas. Spain’s defensive tiki taka wont win the title, but they wont allow the opposition to score either.
YOUNG PLAYER AWARD | TALENT RADAR AWARD
Gotze: 6 | Pogba: 2 | Neymar / Sterling: 2 | Lukaku: 1
Aakriti: Romelu Lukaku.
Adam: Raheem Sterling. Part of England’s bright young generation along with Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Liverpool winger will be Roy Hodgson’s most potent weapon on the squad’s fringes.
Arnab: Paul Pogba. The powerful midfielder has settled into a well balanced midfield alongside Matuidi and Cabaye and should prove to be a match to any opposition player with his technical qualities and powerful athleticism.
Jack: Given this award has gone to a German two years running, I think it will go to Mario Gotze! He’s young, should start, and he is a very, very capable player, whose game suits World Cup pace.
Mark: Brazil’s talisman at such a young age. I reckon Neymar will inspire Brazil to at least the semi-finals (if not the final), but Messi & Argentina will pip them to the trophy. Best Young Player award to cap off a good 1st World Cup for Neymar.
Matthew: Sterling: The most exciting player for me in the PL over the past few months leading up to the tournament. For me, he has to be a starter for England as he’s the sort of player that could frighten any player in the world with his pace and trickery.
Nikhil: Paul Pogba. This boy’s impressed almost everybody after this last season with Juventus. He can defend, he can pass and he can sure as hell strike a football. He’s got the whole world at his feet.
Phil: Mario Götze. I think this Germany team is built for a knockout tournament and he can be at the center of it all.
Razim: Gotze would likely take this one home. Although Germany will not win according to my earlier predictions, the Germans are known for their attacking football and with this current side, its Gotze who is bound to show up and prove his worth.
Sami: Given that I am going for Neymar as the Golden Boot winner, it only makes sense for him to pick-up the young player award too. Though I have hopes of the likes of Thibaout Courtois, James Rodriguez, Paul Pogba & Ricardo Rodriguez.
Shivam: Gotze. He has an influential role to play in Germany’s attack and my money is on him to deliver to the best of his capacity.
Tom: I think Mario Gotze has the ability to really take the tournament by storm. As Germany haven’t brought many traditional strikers the onus will be on the likes of Gotze to really step up and make a telling contribution.
Vishal: This too is dictated by my choice of winner, but Mario Gotze should be in the running even if Germany don’t win. It wont really be a shocker to see this happening.