Custodian ThinkTank: Big Team to disappoint?

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A disappointed French fan takes in the 2010 debacle.

Oluwamayowa Idowu: Are the Netherlands still a big team?

I don’t think Argentina would be any good. Messi has been on a bit of a downward spiral (His downward spirals> Most people at their best) and their defence is pretty poor. I would hedge a bet that as soon as they come against a strong team, they would crumble. Take your mind back to the way Germany blitzed them in 2010. (In fairness, that’s probably also due to the fact they were managed by a mad man)

Folarin Gbenro: The United fan in me is torn between hoping Holland disappoint so we can get a full preseason and get ready for next season and hoping they win it all but I don’t think they will do either to be honest. I have a suspicion Germany might. They’ve come 3rd in the last two World Cups and were 2nd the time before that. Their squad this time around has been beset by injuries and you feel that Portugal & Ghana can perform adequately well enough to take advantage.

Somto Mbah: Belgium. They certainly have massive potential but I do not think it will be manifested at this year’s showpiece. International experience plays a vital part at World Cups and this Belgian group would be taking a step too far. I expect them to struggle to provide the requisite level of performance and don’t see them passing the Round of 16.

England. I believe this World Cup will be a transitional phase for them. The veterans will be bowing out while the promising youngsters would be ushered in. They don’t have any world class game changer in their squad and when the going gets tough, they are bound to capitulate.

Tomi Idowu: Netherlands and Colombia. Netherlands have taken large steps backwards since 2010 as most of their players have just deteriorated so much from the levels they need to be at to challenge for the World Cup (RVP & Sneijder).

Colombia just don’t have what it takes. They’d get through their easy group but won’t make it past the Second Round. The fact that Falcao, unarguably their best player has been out since January doesn’t help and I just wonder how they’d cope without him being at peak form. I can’t even believe they’re ranked 5th in the world.

Emeka Nwani: Belgium

Before the start of every World Cup there is always a team that comes in with a lot of hype. On previous occasions it has been England or France and we all know what happened to them last time out. My tip for disappointment this year is Belgium. They are not a ‘big’ team per se but to call them underdogs will be stretching the truth with the quality they have. Some have tipped them as potential winners and with the likes of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois and their amazing supporting cast one can see why. They will likely top Group H with Algeria, Russia and South Korea as opponents but I tip them to fall at the next hurdle when they meet either of the top two teams from the group of death who I tip to be Germany and Portugal. Why you ask? This is a very young team where no regular starter is above the age of 30. Their lack of know-how will cost them as well as the incredible pressure being put on them. They have been labelled Belgium’s golden generation and the best Belgian team since Enzo Scifo’s team in the 1980s. I believe this will be too much for them to handle and expect them to disappoint.

Netherlands

With ageing stars, untested youngsters and radical formation changes, I fear the Dutch are on a hiding to nothing this summer. The Dutch squad chosen by Louis van Gaal screams ‘average’ in comparison to what we’ve been accustomed to with the Netherlands. The defence is the weakest part of the team and its consists of Chelsea reject Patrick van Aanholt, Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar and their key defender is the highly erratic Bruno Martins Indi of Feyenoord. To compensate for the weakness in his defence, van Gaal has gone against the Dutch school and changed from his traditional 4-3-3 formation to a 5-3-2 formation, which has meant Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben playing as his front two. Changing formation right before the World Cup can be disastrous and despite van Gaal’s undoubted class, I can see them struggling in Brazil. Also their ageing stars in Robben, van Persie and Sneijder are notoriously injury prone, which could leave them helplessly short if anything happened to them.

Michael Famoroti: Germany: One of the most foolish things to do in international football is write off the Germans. They are the ultimate tournament team. Yet 2014 may just be very different. The signs are there: Germans expect their team to redeem themselves for the heart-breaking recent tournament exits (especially the Euro 2012 semifinal loss against Italy) meanwhile the team is crippled with injuries to the point that the relatively unknown C Kramer could start in the first group game against Portugal. Meanwhile Joachim Loew still insists on a rather un-German “outscore the opposition” approach which has led to some shaky performances in friendlies (think the unbelievable 4-4 draw with Sweden for one). The defensive fragility of this German team, injury problems and the lack of a fit and in-form centre-forward could prove Loew’s undoing.

Demeyin Agbeyegbe: When you say disappoint, I’m guessing you mean flop like France did in 2002 and Italy did in 2010.

In all honesty I can’t really see any team disappointing on that level but there is a team I feel will struggle to live up to the hype and that is Uruguay. They are ranked 6th in the world and I do believe they’ll struggle to get out of their group. The game against England would be telling as to which of the two will advance. Also Belgium would not have it easy. If they advance from their group which they should, a round of 16 tie against one of Germany/USA/Portugal/Ghana awaits. Whoever does advance from the group will give the Belgians a really tough game and I can only see them beating two of those opponents.

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