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Friday, June 11, 2010
ESPNsoccernet: June 10, 11:57 PM UK
World Cup predictions: Winners

Soccernet staff

Here we break down the predictions from all of Soccernet's finest, starting with the winners. • Martin Tyler's five things to watch
• Soccernet Predictions: The players • Soccernet staff's predictions • Harry Harris: England. Yes, I know, I should be going for Spain, Brazil, or maybe even Diego Maradona's Argentina - let's hope he goes on a crash diet before he celebrates naked - but I don't think Diego will need to lose that rolly polly look. I'm going for England. And knighthoods to all the boys of 2010, not just a handful from '66. • Richard Jolly: Brazil. English optimism could come from Fabio Capello's stellar record or Wayne Rooney's brilliant season but the greatest cause should lie with the draw: a comparatively weak group and the consequence that, if England win it, they could elude Brazil until the semi-final and Spain the final. To lift the trophy, though, it is hard to see past the Brazilians. • Phil Ball: Brazil. Barring any shocks from North Korea, Spain are good, sure, but the scary thing about Brazil is their defensive strength, their goalkeeper and just about everything else. What sort of team is it that can keep Dani Alves on the bench? Kaka will probably come good after resting all year in Madrid. Even if he doesn't, I still think they'll win. • Uli Hesse: Argentina. Four years ago, I saw Argentina dismantle Serbia & Montenegro and was convinced this team would win the World Cup. Then Klinsmann, so reviled in the build-up to the tournament, found a way to stop them. I have a hunch it's payback time. Not despite all those Maradona jokes, but because of them. • Roberto Gotta: Brazil. History has taught us this about the group phase: you do not need to be brilliant, you just need to go through. Then, it's sometimes up to the great players to win knock-out games. And I believe Brazil has more of them than other side. • Eduardo Alvarez: Brazil. They have the right stuff to win a World Cup (great goalkeeper, physical strength, set pieces), even if they bore us all to death in the process. • Ernst Bouwes: Spain. With the extremely creative midfield players Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Afellay feeding lightfooted and lethal strikers Robben and Van Persie, the Dutch team should be fascinating to watch, although they may not go all the way. The probable quarter-final against Brazil will be crucial. I guess Spain will meet one of these teams in the final. My second team to cheer: Honduras. • Paul Marshall: Spain. If Spain and Brazil can both win their groups, a wonderful final would be in prospect where the Selešao would be just out-Brazilled by the Spanish. Two nations hamstrung by poor coaches - Argentina and France - should not be discounted given the quality of their squads. • Andy Brassell: Brazil. Critics of Dunga's tactics have hardly been in short supply, but his team are organised and effective. Despite accusations of being 'un-Brazilian,' they even have a goal threat from full back in the shape of Maicon and Michel Bastos and one of the competition's best strikers in Luis Fabiano. • Sam Kelly: Brazil. They're very difficult to score against and, whilst they might lack a spark in midfield, they're rapid and lethal on the counter-attack. They've got a squad and a manager who know exactly what it takes to win. It's a long time since watching them was 'just like watching Brazil', but that doesn't mean they're not the team to beat. • Matthias Krug: Spain. The unmatched strength in depth of this squad, banking on their brilliant core of Barcelona players (now including David Villa, one of the top candidates for the World Cup Golden Boot) with a sprinkling of Real Madrid, make this side both a delight to watch and a risk to bet against. The main challengers to Spain's first World Cup triumph for me come from South America: Dunga's efficient Brazil, and Maradona's unpredictably brilliant Argentina. • James Martin: Brazil. Pele bemoans the lack of free-flowing football, a style that he and Garrincha so eloquently articulated with their dribbles, passes, feints and goals. It's a sentiment shared by more than a few Brazilian fans. But will anyone be complaining when Dunga, a disciple of discipline, defence, and counter-attacks, leads his efficient side to another World Cup? • Jeff Carlisle: Brazil.My heart says Spain because of the way they play. You always want to see beautiful football be rewarded. But my head says Brazil. Dunga has his team playing a very effective - if not always appealing - style. And they'll dazzle the eye enough to be worthy winners. • Andrew Hush: Spain. I'm picking Spain, who will beat Brazil in Johannesburg on June 11. There are others with a legitimate chance but all have more uncertainties surrounding them than my selections as finalists. Of the African nations, my tip for success is Cameroon, who can finish second in Group E before surprising Italy in the Second Round. Michael Da Silva: Brazil. Predictable, perhaps, but Brazil know how to win World Cups and so does their coach, Dunga. Under Dunga, Brazil are not only capable of scoring a hatful of goals but, with the likes of Maicon and Lucio at the back, are stronger defensively than they've ever been. Their strength in-depth is matched only by Spain, but I expect Luis Fabiano to be a real threat in attack, with Kaka and Robinho sure to rise to the occasion. • Jayaditya Gupta: Holland. Qualification was a doddle and though Group E will be tricky, their midfield and attack will get them through. Several of their key players have had outstanding domestic seasons and Robin van Persie seems to be back to his confident best. They have quality, experience and discipline - and they are hungry.
  • Soccernet staff's predictions • John Brewin: England. Go on then, I'll be silly. The truth is I don't think the rest of the teams are particularly outstanding, so England have as good a chance as they have had since Wayne Rooney's metatarsal popped in Portugal in 2004. The lack of a fresh impact player like Owen in '98 and Rooney in '04 concerns me a little but I agree with Fabio Capello when he says if his team plays as well as they do in the Premier League then they can win. Why not? • Jon Carter: Holland. They will have to beat Brazil on the way (if they get through of course), but the Dutch are long overdue some success in a major competition. They gave notice of their talent at Euro 2008 and, despite not having the strongest defence, their desire to attack could see them do well. A Holland v Spain final would perhaps provide a better end to the tournament than if Brazil made it. • Dale Johnson: Spain. Boring as it may seem as a prediction, but it's difficult to see past Spain. With the best possible group draw, a place in the knockout rounds seems assured. And with a side bursting with attacking talent they will be hard to stop. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa and Fernando Torres are testament to that. • Tom Adams: Spain. Any team that cannot guarantee a starting place to Cesc Fabregas or Xabi Alonso, and boasts La Liga's finest 'keeper as a third choice, will stand a very good chance. Spain have lost once in two years, have quality in every area and ended their curse of underachievement at Euro 2008. • Brett Taylor: Brazil. A European nation has never won a World Cup hosted outside that continent, and Dunga has his undeniably talented side playing a functional, effective style of modern football. Their Confederations Cup success proves they can play in South Africa so they just edge Spain for me. • Dom Raynor: Spain. Having shed their tag as "chokers" with victory at Euro 2008, Spain have the mental fortitude, the players, an array of skills and a coach in Vicente Del Bosque to go all the way at the World Cup. They are favourites for a reason. • Mark Lomas: Brazil. Brazil coach Dunga has put a squad together that is more than capable of challenging for a sixth World Cup trophy. An embodiment of their coach's qualities as a player, Brazil's 2010 vintage are more about a good team ethic and less about individual party tricks; with a straightforward looking path to the semis and talisman Kaka determined to prove himself after a disappointing season with Real Madrid.

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