The ‘spiritual home of football’, ‘where the beautiful game was born’, ‘samba style from the samba boys’, ‘playing the game as it should be played’… if there’s one thing I’m looking forward to at midnight (UAE time) on Thursday June 12 when Brazil kick things off against Croatia is that we won’t have to put up with the constant bombardment of footballing platitudes and predictions that have been trotted out relentlessly in the last year, or four.
Will it be a World Cup of surprises? I doubt it. The stadiums will be ready. There won’t be anarchy on the streets. Pele will pop up more than a couple of times endorsing a variety of brands. There will be a thong or two in the crowds. Sepp Blatter will at some point drop a cringe-worthy gaffe. And all the top seeds will progress to knockout stages – all a given.
It goes without saying that Brazil will have a good run given the class in their squad, their home advantage and a passion bordering on bloodlust from their fans. They are rightful favourites and will be pushed all the way by perennial tournament performers, oh and arch enemies, Argentina. Throw into the mix a couple of European heavyweights. Germany – three-time champions, four-time runners-up, four-time third place finishers, and the current World, European and Champions League champions Spain and it looks like it will be a South America v Europe battle come mid-July.
Then again it wouldn’t be a World Cup without the odd surprise, so that’s why my prediction features none of the above. I think Holland, The Netherlands, the boys in orange, whichever you fancy, are going to spring a few surprises under Louis van Gaal… and it always pays to have a back story such as his post-cup move to Manchester for the papers to play with.
But as for the winners, just look to the history books. Who won the last World Cup hosted by Brazil? It was Uruguay. Okay, they had a shocker in qualification, but guided by the inspirational Luis Suarez, a potent strike force and fuelled by the longest National anthem ever, it’s theirs for the taking.
Tom Urquhart is a television and radio presenter. He appears three times a week as a presenter on Dubai Eye 103.8’s sports show.