Custodian ThinkTank: Who will win the World Cup?

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Oluwamayowa Idowu: Spain.

Those tiki taka obituaries were overstated.

Spain could do something no side in world football has done. Win the European and World tourneys in a 6 year cycle. For that alone, they should be everyone’s tip. They also have by far the strongest side in world football. They won Euro 2012 handicapped by the poor form and absolute uselessness of their strikers and clapped back with the tactical innovation that is the false 9. What would happen when they have one of the standout goal scorers of world football over the past 18 months leading their attack? His Brazilian heritage, an interesting footnote.

Remember Zizou’s 2001 quote that’s become cliché?

“The day Spain begin winning, they won’t stop.”

This is a team blessed with genuine world class players (serial members of world XI’s) in every position. That’s not to even speak of the quality in depth.

In midfield, they have three of the finest of three generations; Xavi’s legs losing their power? Well, Barcelona see Koke as the man to replace him. Xabi Alonso’s suspended for the next game? Javi Martinez is lying in the wings. Victor Valdes can get injured and they don’t even flinch. De Gea, Casillas and Reina must surely be one of the strongest goalkeeping threes in living history.

The multi functionality of the vast majority of their squad renders them the most likely proponents of Total Football.

What better way for the likes of Busquets, Pedro, Iniesta, Alba, Pique and Fabregas to honour the memory of Tito Vilanova? What better swan song for Xavi Hernandez and David Villa?

I also don’t buy into the “No European team has won in South America” chants and would laugh heartily in everyone’s face when this call is proved right. (If it doesn’t, behave yourself. No one likes a smug piece of work)

If I’m right, Spain in winning the 2010 World Cup were the lowest scoring winners ever. That’s a clue as to how things should go: Teams would try and cede possession in the hope of countering them forgetting that possession football in the searing conditions is only bound to kill for the ball does the running for its possessors. The recent FA Cup and Champions League finals being proof.

Folarin Gbenro: Honestly I think it’s a bit of a toss up. Spain is a bit of a known quantity nowadays and for all the talk of heat, humidity and altitude affecting players, it’s very hard to judge until I see the European sides play there. If those factors should affect them then they would definitely be in with a big shout as their style of possession football would tire out players so much that spaces would eventually start to open up and Costa ( if fit) or Pedro, Negredo or the host of other top tier players they have would finish most sides off.

Brazil they have the crowd, the wherewithal and seemingly the squad but their squad isn’t necessarily stronger than most and trusting Fred or Jo to lead the line is laughable for a side that wants to win the World Cup. I think the farthest they’d get is the semis.

Argentina: If Messi can rekindle the spark that seemed to have taken a holiday in the latter half of the most recent season coupled with di Maria’s bursts from his central midfield field role and the movement and hold up play of Aguero and Higuain, they can definitely win it.

Of the three they are probably my number one pick.

My dark horses are the Netherlands. I’m slightly biased but rationally they got to the finals last time out and they have one of the most balanced squads in the World Cup.

Somto Mbah: I’m tipping Brazil to win the World Cup. They are the hosts and the most successful side in World Cup history. With at least two very good players in every position and two ‘head coaches’ in Scolari and Parreira, they are destined for success. Neymar is going to run things, and Brazil will blow your mind with their style.

Tomi Idowu: Germany have got to be my favorites. They’ve got a young bunch of extremely talented players with the likes of Mario Gotze, Matthias Ginter, Julian Draxler and Mats Hummels amongst others. This is complemented by the core of experienced players with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker and Phillip Lahm. They’ve got the adequate balance to emerge victorious.

Emeka Nwani: There are numerous deficiencies in the teams tipped to win the World Cup. We can see an Argentinean squad that is top heavy but low on quality at the back and the Brazilian/German squads lack a world class striker. Winning the World Cup twice in a row is an almost impossible feat but for me Spain still have the best team. Also the sunny climate in Brazil will not come as such a shock to them as it will for Northern European teams. They have Sergio Ramos who has proven he is the best defender in the world and a group of midfielders that no other country in the world can match. Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Mata, Silva, Koke, Busquets, Javi Martinez, the list goes on and on. But crucially they have added a world class striker to their ranks in Diego Costa. With David Villa and possibly Fernando Llorente as his supporting casts, Del Bosque has a range of options every manager would die for. Tiki-Taka is not dead and as we know, if you have the ball you can’t concede. Keeping possession can be doubly effective in the harsh climate in Brazil, as it will wear down their opponents even quicker. This Spanish team is very versatile and Del Bosque can inject pace with the introduction of Pedro or Jesus Navas when needed. If they need to go long, they have Costa and Llorente who are dominant in the air. This Spanish team are history makers and I tip them to be the first European team to win a World Cup in South America.

Michael Famoroti: Argentina: No European team has won the World Cup in South America. Ever. I don’t think this year will be any different. Argentina have the attacking talent to put any nation to shame. The effervescent Aguero, a buzzing Lavezzi, the potent Higuain and a much improved Di Maria (who has shown what a big game player he can be). And of course they have THE Lionel Messi. For all the talk of his terrible season, form and fitness worries, if Messi performs anywhere near 80% of his best, he has the supporting cast to lead his side to victory. Remember, winning the World Cup only requires playing seven games. All it needs is a few special moments from Messi and it becomes HIS world cup (people sometimes forget that Zidane missed two games in the ’98 world cup for lashing out at Saudi Arabia’s Fuad Anwar in the second group game). Most importantly though this Argentina team has something that they haven’t had for the last decade or so – balance. Alejandro Sabella has managed to implement a formation and strategy that gets the most out of his attack, utilizes the decent midfield talent at his disposal and protects the still limited defence. I think Argentina have the talent, cohesion and preparedness to take advantage of the familiar conditions in Brazil.

Demeyin Agbeyegbe: There are a few teams which I believe have a genuine chance of lifting the trophy come July and they are:

Brazil: Another strong contender who will grace the tournament on home soil for the first time since their memorable defeat in 1950. Brazil were not really contenders around 3 years ago but the team has been rebuilt bringing in youth and exuberance into the team of ageing stars. The New forward line has been formed around the nations’ golden boy: Neymar. Scolari who last won the competition for the Brazilians has been brought in to try and find the spark they need and a mesmerizing win in the Confederations Cup did just that. They are still truly a threat and can expect to go as far as anyone in the competition this year. Home advantage will obviously be an added boost but the real question is can this more direct team replicate the free flowing samba teams that have come before them. I do not see them winning this world cup but I can see them reaching the semi finals or the finals itself.

Germany: This German team is one that has proved itself too young on many occasions and also as bottlers on others. They let inexperience get the better of them when they clearly shouldn’t yet they are still one of my picks. They have everything and I would look at them as a complete team. Strong offensively and also defensively. They can sit back and hit you on the break or they can pass you around till they find the little gaps in defence. Midfield is obviously their strongest point with an array of talent which would grace the first 11 of most teams. They do however have this little habit of crumbling when the going gets really tough and that would not be helped by the fact that they only took one experienced out and out striker to the competition. It will help to mention however that the striker is Miroslav Klose, a World Cup veteran who looks to break the record for most world cup goals. If Germany reach the semi finals it’s hard to see anyone stopping them. This applies to even the teams mentioned above but with Germany you never know.

Argentina: What a story it would be if they were to win this competition. Win it on the grounds of their fiercest rivals. With Lionel Messi staking his claim for the best ever. It will not be easy however as they have not passed the quarter finals stage since they last won the trophy in 1986. This time however, I can say they boast the best forward line in the whole competition with the likes of Di Maria, Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Lavezzi, Palacio and many more fighting for places in the starting line up. They do not have a rock solid defence and an even more unreliable keeper. Their firepower in attack will save them from one or two scares but one wonders what happens when they meet a really balanced team and the defence can’t hold its own. A lot also depends on the form of Lionel Messi. He had a mixed season and now one wonders whether his game will be up to scratch come the tournament. He did not score in South Africa and will be looking to make up for it this. If Argentina do get past the quarter finals stage I see them going all the way to the finals.

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