Who I’d like to see win the World Cup and who I think will win are two completely different things.
I’d like to see Argentina win it. For Leo Messi. To take his rightful place on the “best ever” shortlist, Messi, who, in my opinion, is the best player of his generation, needs to be a member of a team that wins a major international competition.
I don’t think Argentina will win, though. I say that because Argentina—well, this Argentina anyway—tend to find a way to get it undone.
I’m backing Brazil to win. As I write, there are still a few concerns, most importantly, the fitness and form of Neymar who is coming back from his injury. As critical as I am of Neymar, his antics and seeming lack of responsibility in the blue of PSG, that is in total contrast to the Neymar I see in the yellow of Brazil.
And I have to say that I never thought I would ever see such panic as I am currently seeing surrounding the (un)availability of a 35-year-old right-back. If Brazil can patch that Dani Alves-sized hole, I think they’ll be okay.
I think they think they’ll be okay too, which is more important.
The greatest hurdle to Brazil’s lifting the World Cup is Germany. Why? It’s very simple. From a manager, in Joachim Low, who commands the respect of everyone on the team and off it and who has the authority that Low does, to a team that always seems to add up to something greater than the sum of its parts, the Germans always bring their A-game.
And that makes them always the greatest threat to any pretender’s claim to the crown. I would only delete the word ‘always’ from what Gary Lineker said after England went down to the Germans in the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup.
“Football is a simple sport: you have 22 players chasing a ball for 90 minutes with Germany always winning in the end.”