Which Gunners Could Go all the Way in the World Cup?
*removes cobwebs from blog*
So I’ve been out for a week and it has felt like an eternity but with work getting more challenging with each passing day, it’s not easy balancing it with the blog.
I had the weirdest of dreams last night and it was centered around the proceedings that the forthcoming World Cup. Everyone had tipped the host nation to win the tournament and even though they started on a high by romping of Croatia, they crashed out in the quarterfinals. Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal resumed his duties at Old Trafford sooner than expected and there were a few ouuu’s and aaaah’s (not the Coca Cola advert) here and there.
Which brings me back to reality. Club football is currently a distant memory and all eyes have been firmly focused on the soccer fiesta that is about to start in Brazil. With no more friendly internationals to serve as a distraction, football neutrals would be eagerly anticipating what’s gonna happen in the coming weeks.
Despite the fact that I really don’t give two hoots about the final outcome of the tournament, it’s only natural for me to have a preference to the Gunners playing in the competition. Arsenal is well represented in the competition with 12 of its ambassadors flying the club’s flag but as we all know, some of them may never have the chance to feel the solid gold come July.
In the last World Cup final in 2010, the club’s captain and vice-captain locked horns in Soccer City but Robin van Persie was gnashing his teeth while Cesc Fabregas celebrated with his triumphant comrades after Andres Iniesta scored the goal that made history.
Four years on, both Fabregas and RVP have become a distant memory and Arsenal fans are looking to the future which seems a bit brighter following the sweet FA Cup victory in Wembley last month. On the official site, there have been several interviews of some players sharing their thoughts on the tournament. Per Mertesacker believes that Germany’s team spirit can help them win the World Cup, Podolski admits that his nation’s group is tough and Aaron Ramsey the Octopus has predicted that Spain would win the tournament.
So the question remains – which Gunners could go all the way in the World Cup?
Johan Djourou’s future has been set with a return to the Bundesliga but he’s currently on Arsenal’s pay grade till when his move to Hamburg SV is sealed in July. However, he and his Switzerland team might make it to the Round of 16 in a group that contains France, Honduras and Ecuador but in my honest opinion, that would be the best he could reach in the tournament.
Joel Campbell is another player that could be playing for his future and after scoring eight league goals in 32 appearances for Olympiakos, he would be one to watch in the Costa Rican side that has been paired with England, Italy and Uruguay. Despite his efforts, I don’t see Costa Rica excelling beyond the group stages.
Jack Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain are vital cogs in the England engine but one must wonder if this is going to be the tournament the Three Lions finally come out of their lairs. After so many years of disappointment, one can only hope that things improve for Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson’s lot. With the quality in their ranks, I see England reaching the quarterfinal stages before bowing out in probably a penalty shootout. Maybe it would be Steven Gerrard that would miss the key spot kick this time, despite his imperious record in the league last season – it won’t be the first time he’s letting something valuable slip from his hands.
Thomas Vermaelen and his Belgian hordes have been touted by everyone to be the Dark Horses of the tournament and in fairness to the lads, they are oozing with quality but I feel that their inexperience at this level would be their demise so they’d have to make do with a quarterfinal exit – that’s me being generous.
There’s also the tale of my favorite national football team after my native Nigeria, a team that features Olivier Giroud, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny. The French team would be brimming in confidence following the drubbing of Jamaica but at the World Cup the stakes are different but I see the lads going all the way to the semis before crashing out to either Brazil, Spain or Germany. I can feel my Octopus tentacles tingling.
This brings me to my potential World Cup finalists, Spain and Germany. From an Arsenal perspective, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker would be my focus. Since Vincente del Bosque took over from Luis Aragones (God bless his soul), Spain has become a force to be reckoned with in international football and their recent trophy haul has shown their dominance in world football.
Winning Euro 2008 was a magnificent achievement no doubt but following it up with a third place finish in the 2009 Confederations Cup, a World Cup win and successfully defending their European title has seen them ride with the stars. They even went all the way to the 2013 Confederations Cup final but they were ousted by Brazil to record their first competitive loss in three years, which is also a great achievement.
However, if Spain manages to lock horns with Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, Santi Cazorla would go home with a silver medal.
The German Machines, as they are fondly called, have toiled hard for international silverware but they have had a plethora of near misses with each passing tournament. Since the Euro 96 triumph, Germany were embarrassed by Croatia in the quarterfinals of France 98′ and things went from bad to worse in Euro 2000 as they were knocked out from the group stages. In the 2002 World Cup, Oliver Kahn was a dominant force as the Germans went all the way to the final before suffering heart break against Brazil.
Germany messed up again in Euro 2004 but they played well in their own backyard in 2006, only to crash out to the eventual winners, Italy, in the semis. There was to be a classic case of deja vu in Euro 2012 with Mario Balotelli grabbing the headlines. Germany narrowly missed out to Spain in Euro 2008 and earned a creditable third placed finish in the 2010 World Cup.
Should Germany clash with Spain, it would be the third time in recent years they would play each other in an international tournament and I expect them to get the better of the Spaniards this time.
This ultimately means that Ozil, Podolski and Mertesacker could come back to London with gold come July.
Do you agree with my predictions? Feel free to share yours with your comments.
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