My crystal ball cracked a bit yesterday with that blistering performance by the Dutch. No one, probably not even fans of the Oranje, could have expected them to beat Spain by 4 goals after going down 1 in the first half. I was close with the Mexico game, but not close enough, so the only point I got was from Chile’s win over Australia. Even that was much closer than the scoreline suggests, though, making me wonder if I’ll get a single prediction right for any of the 64 games.
Brian’s Prediction Points Tally = 2
Three more games, but only one more point. That’s no good. Luckily there are four—FOUR!—games Saturday and three on Sunday, so I’ve got a chance to win back some respect.
The early game Saturday is Colombia v. Greece. Even without Radamel Falcao, Colombia are expected to do very well at this tournament. Greece, on the other hand, are a shell of the team they once were, the team that won Euro 2004. (Seriously, how did Greece fall that far in 10 years? Oh right, complete economic collapse, got it.) I have to give Greece a bit of credit, because they are still ranked top 20 in the world, but Colombia are ranked top 10. My prediction:
Colombia 3 : 1 Greece
The noon game (at least here on the West Coast) is between Uruguay and Costa Rica. Uruguay has a very strong team, but I’m pretty sure that star striker Luis Suarez has been ruled out of the opener with an injury, and they’re not likely to be as prolific without him. They still should take care of Costa Rica fairly handily, though. My prediction:
Uruguay 2 : 0 Costa Rica
The third match of the day is the big one, one of the most exciting of the early tournament: England v. Italy. Assuming Uruguay take the top spot in the group (you don’t have to assume it, but I am), there’s going to be a tight battle for second place, a battle that may well be won or lost with this match. I’m tempted to call this one a high-scoring draw, but England’s young attacking force have all come off of incredible seasons, so I’m giving them the edge. Hopefully Jack Wilshere doesn’t break every bone in his body in the attempt, per usual. My prediction:
England 3 : 2 Italy
The final match on Saturday is between the Ivory Coast and Japan. Every tournament, I pick at least one team at random to go to the quarterfinals regardless of match ups, and this year that team is the Ivory Coast. I’m not picking them first out of their group over Colombia—I’m not insane—but I do think they’ll take second, and a great way to do that would be to beat Japan in their opener. My prediction:
Ivory Coast 3 : 1
If Japan give Yaya Touré three free kicks, the Ivory Coast could easily score that high. Their defense is a bit weak, though, so I think Japan will get at least one through.
The action continues early on Sunday with Switzerland v. Ecuador. I have a feeling Switzerland are going to take second from this group, but only after a slow start. I don’t know why. None of these predictions have any true basis in reality. My prediction:
Switzerland 1 – 1 Ecuador
Speaking of no basis in reality, I’m expecting a HUGE turnout from the France team this year. Even without Ribéry, France have an insanely deep squad, and Paul Pogba has the potential to be the next Patrick Vieira (even if sometimes he looks more like Zinedine Zidane). I think they’re gonna step up big. My prediction:
France 4 : 0 Honduras
The final game of the weekend is probably the toughest for me to call: Argentina v. Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnians have been looking really solid lately, especially in their tune-up match against Mexico on Tuesday, but Argentina is Argentina. They could win this thing with or without Messi, and with the rest of the group being relative pushovers (sorry Iran and Nigeria, but it’s true), a win against the Bosnians essentially guarantees them the top spot. I don’t think they’ll underestimate Edin Dzeko and co., though, so I don’t expect the scoring to get wildly out of hand. They’re going to give themselves cover against the counter. My prediction:
Argentina 2 : 0 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Seriously, though, Paul Pogba.