By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on June 6, 2014
The FIFA World Cup is just a week away and it's time to make predictions. This year's World Cup features some very interesting group matchups, including a rematch of the 2010 Final, and it should be interesting from the start. Brazil is a favorite on its home turf, but there are a number of other teams that think otherwise. Here are 15 bold predictions for what will unfold this year.
Sanchez is coming off a career year for Barcelona and with Chile's National Team. He scored a career high 19 goals last season for Barcelona and added eight for Chile in 2013, and you can expect Sanchez to be the driving force for a dangerous Chile side. Advancing out of the group is quite possible with Sanchez up top.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is playing in the World Cup for the first time ever, and they have the talent to make their first trip a special one. If Bosnia can finish second in their group behind Argentina, a run to the final eight is very likely. They would be matched up with a team from Group E, likely France or Switzerland, and that would be a very winnable game for this team.
Should both Italy and Spain win their groups, both would be on track for a matchup in the round of eight. If that happened, Italy, led by the veteran Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli, could have a very good chance of eliminating the reigning world champs.
Luis Suarez recently underwent knee surgery, which has his World Cup status in limbo, and that is bad news for Uruguay. The South American side is in a group with England and Italy, and if they don't have a healthy Suarez, the EPL's Player of the Year, they could be going home early.
Wayne Rooney is coming off two disappointing World Cups, but that could change this year. Playing in a group that includes two teams, Costa Rica and Uruguay, who have issues defending, Rooney could find the back of the net early and post some solid numbers.
The story for Germany leading up to the World Cup has ben injuries, but despite that, Germany will make it deep into this tournament. Germany is in the Group of Death, and if they win it their path to the semifinals would be quite easy, assuming Belgium wins their group and Russia is Germany's second round matchup.
The runners up of the 2010 World Cup are in the same group as defending champs Spain, which is a tough task. Add in a dangerous Chile side and an aging Netherlands team could be in some trouble.
Belgium, led by their New Golden Generation, is a dangerous team that could make some noise in the World Cup. With some of the world's top young talent, the Red Devils should be capable of making a deep run coming out of an easy group. Should they finish second in their group, a second round match with Germany would be likely and a win there could be all that separates Belgium from the semifinals.
The USMNT has a very tough draw, as they are in the Group of Death, but the Americans have what it takes to advance. With Portugal struggling with injuries, the U.S. would likely need to beat Ghana and get a positive result against the Portuguese. With that they could be on their way to the second round.
Slowed by injuries at the moment and coming off a long club season, Ronaldo could struggle to maintain fitness in Brazil. That could lead to some poor performances by him, especially playing in the Group of Death.
With Ronaldo struggling and a very tough draw, the Portuguese could easily fail to win a game at the World Cup. It all rests on Ronaldo's shoulders.
Brazil expects a lot from their young star, and he will not disappoint. If his impressive Confederations Cup is any indication, Neymar will have a lot of success at the World Cup.
Like Neymar, Argentina expects a lot out of Messi, and he is poised for a breakout World Cup. Argentina has a very favorable draw, so look for Messi to get on a roll early and not look back.
Watch out for the South American teams playing on their home continent. Some of the world's best sides are in South America, and they could easily produce the winner. If both Brazil and Argentina win their group, look for both teams to ride their stars to the finals.
Messi is on the verge of being considered as the best Argentine player ever and a great World Cup would solidify that. Watch for Messi to put together a brilliant World Cup and lead the Argentinians to victory.
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