Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 World Cup Round of 16 Predictions & Analysis - Part 1

Here are my predictions for the first 4 games in the Round of 16. The group stages have been a wild time, with goals coming by the boatload. Hopefully this continues into the latter stages of the World Cup, with teams chasing the victory instead of sitting back soaking up pressure.

Brazil vs. Chile. - 9am PST - Belo Horizonte

Thus far, Brazil as a team have failed to impress. Neymar and Oscar have been amazing, but the rest of the team have been mediocre. They barely edged out an average Croatian side with help from a couple
erroneous decisions, notably the notorious Fred penalty and Neymar's intentional elbow on Modric, which should have been a red card. Against Mexico in their next game, Brazil came up against a Mexican brick wall named Guillermo Ochoa, who denied everything in a scoreless draw. Heading into their final match, the Brazilians defeated a weak Cameroon team in complete disarray who were missing their two best players (Samuel Eto'o due to injury and Alex Song due to suspension). Even though they won comfortably, the win was far from convincing. Brazil's defense struggled for most of the game, as the Indomitable Lions tied the match 1-1 through a Joel Matip tap-in, as David Luiz and Thiago Silva looked out of sorts. Unless they shore up the backlines and improve their midfield play, it will be difficult for Brazil to progress.

As for Chile, they have looked explosive, playing an exciting up-tempo attacking game. They defeated Australia and Spain handily in their group, before losing to an impressive Netherlands. Alexis Sanchez is in great form and will surely cause Marcelo fits as he powers down the right wing. Chile`s other standout player has been Edu Vargas, who will roam in a central forward position. David Luiz will have his hands full with this attacking Chilean side. I believe this will be a back and forth affair, with counter-attacking playing a huge part.

Prediction: Chile 2-1 Brazil
Brazil go out in the round of 16, much to the dismay of the Brazilian public. I just don't think that Brazil will slow down Chile's powerful attack.

Colombia vs. Uruguay - 1pm PST - Rio de Janeiro

After the Netherlands, Colombia have been the most impressive team in the World Cup. James Rodriguez has been the star of the tournament thus far, skipping past defenses, threading passes, and scoring magical goals. Everyone has forgotten about Radamel Falcao, who is still recovering from knee surgery.
The Colombians easily defeated Greece, Ivory Coast, and Japan in the group stage. I see them as the favourites on their side of the bracket to reach the finals. Most teams will find it difficult with the likes of Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Teo, Quintero, and the rejuvenated Jackson Martinez.

Uruguay seemed to be ready to pack their bags
back to Montevideo after their were stunned by Costa Rica 3-1. They kept their hopes alive against the English on the back of Luiz Suarez brace. However, his biting incident in their win over Italy overshadowed the fact that they became only the 5th team in World Cup history to lost their first match and still progress to the knockout stage. I think that the loss of their all-time scorer in Suarez and the cloud of controversy hanging over the team will prove to be too much for this Uruguayan side to overcome.

Prediction: Colombia 3-1 Uruguay
Colombia's all-around skill with overwhelm Uruguay's average defense. Uruguay will find it difficult to generate a response to the Colombian attack.

France vs. Nigeria - 9am PST - Brasilia

France found themselves in a fairly straightforward group, bowling over Honduras and Switzerland before
resting many of their starters in a dull 0-0 draw against Ecuador. Didier Deschamps has found the sweet spot with this team, playing a fast counter attacking 4-3-3. Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena have been the standout players in the squad, with the former bagging 3 goals thus far (could technically have had 6 goals) and the latter being the straw that stirs this French drink. Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi have been good support midfielders in what has been a excellent start for the French team. I think that Les Bleus will surprise a few quality sides with their lightning quick counter.

Nigeria have a fast, strong side with impact players such as Emmanuel Emenike, Mohammad Musa, and Peter Odemwingie. They looked quite impressive in their games against Bosnia and Herzegovina (Won 1-0) and Argentina (Lost 2-3). However, they lack the quality to go far in this tournament. Even though their goalkeeper Enyeama and their back line are in good form, France will likely be a handful.

Prediction: France 3-0 Nigeria

France's pacy attack will easily break down Nigeria. Stephen Keshi's team will bow out of the tournament with their heads held high.

Germany vs. Algeria - 1pm PST - Porto Alegre

Germany had no difficulties progressing to the round of 16, as they do every four years. Even though they were drawn into the second of the two "Group of Deaths", they handily defeated Portugal on the back of Thomas Muller's hat-trick (Who now has 9 career World Cup goals in 9 games). In their second game, Ghana caused the Germans some trouble on the counter in a wild affair, but the match ended 2-2. They went into their final game with a passage to the knockout stages all but guaranteed, as they played out a wet 1-0 win over the USA in Recife. Germany will see this game as an easy progression, expecting nothing less than a resounding victory.

Algeria surprised a few pundits with their attacking display against South Korea (Won 4-2). They finished behind Belgium but ahead of Russia, who were widly considered the second best team in Group H. Islam Slimani provided the tying goal in the crucial match against Russia to send the Algerians through to their first ever knockout stage appearance. Algeria will be happy just to have progressed to this stage and will surely bow out against the much better German side.

Prediction: Germany 4-1 Algeria

Algeria's historic World Cup ends here as the Germans win easily. Germany progress on their march to a 4th title.

Part 2 will be finished soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

UEFA Champions League

So this is my first post ever. Hope you like my analysis and predictions.

The UEFA Champions league round of 16 is halfway through and the matches to date are:

Shakhtar Donesk 6-2 AGG - Roma
The predicted underdog of this fixture proved the soccer world wrong with a somewhat stunning defeat of Italy's capital city. Taking nothing away from Shakhtar or whatever their name is, but Roma really shot themselves in the foot. They gave up bad goals, took silly fouls, and literally handed both games to the Ukrainians.

Barcelona 4-3 AGG - Arsenal
Two top teams, two exciting matches, but only one winner at the end. Barcelona were down 2-1 after the first game on a 2nd half comeback from the Gunners. Heading back to Camp Nou, the red and blue were facing adversity for probably the first time this season, having blazed though the group stages and crushing most of their La Liga opponents. The first half of the 2nd leg was uneventful until Lionel Messi slotted his 44th goal (amazing!!!) of the season 3 minutes into injury time. Arsenal equalized 7 minutes into the 2nd half off a Sergio Busquets own goal. The game looked promising for both teams, until the snobby Swiss referee decided to send Robin van Persie off his second yellow card for shooting the ball after the whistle. One could blame van Persie for getting his first yellow for a lack of composure, but in the end, the referee cannot decide an extremely fierce contest by carding a player for kicking the ball away. It is one thing to kick the ball away on a foul, but on an offside call? Maybe this ref wanted to make the papers or get his share of fame. Continuing on with the game, Barcelona capitalized on a man advantage with two goals and sealed the game. A harsh loss for Arsenal, as they had Barcelona right where they wanted them.

Tottenham 1-0 AGG - AC Milan
Italy's terrible Champions League continues. The defending champs Inter Milan are their only hope now in what has been an abysmal showing by AC Milan and Roma. AC Milan never really got anything going in any of their two games. Tottenham had outclassed them in the first game, both during the game and after the game (remember Gennaro Gattuso's headbutt on Joe Jordan?)and held on in the 2nd leg at Whitehart Lane.

Schalke 4-2 AGG - Valencia
I did not pay much attention to this one, but from I did see is Schalke came back from 1-0 with two goals on either side of half-time. Not much else to say in this boring match up.

Manchester United 0-0 Marseille
2nd Leg: 15 March 2011 at Old Trafford

The first game of this fixture was one of the most boring games I have ever watched! Even when no team opens the scoring, the game can sometimes be entertaining with chances and saves. The shots must have been 3 to 2 because all I saw were two teams just jabbing each with no intention of trying to move in. It was so boring in fact, that I fast forwarded though most of the second half. Let's just hope the 2nd leg will provide more excitement.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 Marseille
ManU go through 1-0 on aggregate

Bayern Munich 1-0 Inter Milan
2nd Leg: 15 March 2011 at Munich Football Arena

Contrary to the ManU-Mar affair, this game offered plenty of chances. Bayern were the only team to capitalize, Mario Gomez scoring off a big rebound by Julio Cesar in the 90th minute. Inter were quite unlucky not to have tallied, hitting the woodwork multiple times. I'm looking forward to a competitive 2nd leg between last year's finalists.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1-1 Inter Milan
Bayern go through 2-1 on aggregate

Chelsea 2-0 Copenhagen
2nd leg: 16 March 2011 at Stamford Bridge

Copenhagen did well to make it to the last 16, but Chelsea are just too good to give up 2 goals at home. Look for Chelsea to control the ball and play keep away for 90 minutes.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Copenhagen
Chelsea go through 3-0 on aggregate

Real Madrid 1-1 Lyon
2nd leg: 16 March 2011 at Santiago Bernabeu

The 1st leg was a good game for Lyon making sure they don't go into Madrid down one on an away goal. Gomis did well to tie it up in the 81th minute after Karim Benzema silenced his former team with a goal moments after coming on as a substitute. Madrid hope they don't get knocked out by Lyon for consecutive years. 2nd leg should be an exciting one as well.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-0 Lyon
Real go through 2-1 on aggregate

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hey hey hey

This is my FIFA Soccer Blog. Gonna try to talk about all things FIFA soccer and provide some opinions.

Hope you enjoy,