Who will lift the world cup 2014? The four contenders.


By Ram Gurung

The group stages has been finished in Brazil. 16 teams have progressed to the Round of 16 while other 16 have returned home. There has been heroes and villains, successes and shocks in this edition of FIFA World Cup 2014.

World Cup is full of surprises. World Cup 98 saw France winning the World Cup and Croatia finishing the third. It was Zinedine Zidane's World Cup. Four years later, Both Turkey and South Koreans reached the Semis.
This World Cup has been no different, including the World Champions Spain, four times World Cup winners Italy and one time World Cup Champions England are out early from the Group stage.
But it was no surprise that all Asians have left the World Cup from the group stage. We will focus on four contenders rather than all sixteen teams in the Round of 16.

Why only four teams?
The top four teams are selected on the basis of Odds to Win the World Cup provided from nine Bookmakers. Netherlands are one of the favourite to win the World Cup without a title on their names alongside hosts Brazil, three times champions Germany and two times champions Argentina.
The List of Bookmakers are Paddypower, WilliamHill, Ladbrokes, Betfred, Bet365, betfair, BetVictor, winner and SkyBET. The odds are used in mode i.e. frequency of odds.


World Cup Appearances: 19
Highest Finishing: 5 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 3
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/3
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari

The hosts Brazil are the only team which has appeared in every edition of FIFA World Cup since it started in 1930. Brazil are record world champions with 5 titles. Their recent championship was 2002 World Cup when Ronaldo scored twice to win the title against Germany.
Brazil are favourite for this World Cup not only as hosts but also of free scoring team. After slow start against group challengers Croatia, Brazil has scored seven goals where only one goal has came from penalty kick. Although the penalty was controversial on the first match and Croatia blamed their exit on Japanese referee, Neymar Jr. has been phenomenal for next two games scoring four goals in 3 matches.
Brazilians are more dangerous on open plays rather than set pieces. The matches are unpredictable on this World Cup however, Brazil seems to have an easier route to Semi Finals as it will meet its South American counterparts in their Round of 16 as well as Quarter Final (if they beat Chile).

Player to Watch: Neymar Jr.
Club: FCBarcelona(Spain)
Position: Forward
Goals: 4


World Cup Appearances: 17
Highest Finishing: 3 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 2
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/4
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Joachim Low

Three time World Champions have easily defeated the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal 4-0. Germans took the lead 2-0 easily but were gifted with two more goals by Mueller after Pepe was sent off for head-butting him. He completed the first hat trick of the tournament.
The progress to the Round of 16 should have been smooth but Germans had to come back from 2-1 down to level the game against Ghana. Miroslav Klose scored his Joint record goal with Ronaldo (of Brazil) for 15th World Cup goal to salvage a team. Germany finished top of the table after dominating and beating United States 1-0. Mueller being the lone scorer of the match. Portugal did a great favour for USA after beating Ghana 2-1. Germans are bound to meet France at quarters and then meet hosts Brazil at the Semis.

Player to Watch: Thomas Mueller
Club: Bayern Muenchen FC (Germany)
Position: Forward
Goals: 4


Highest Finishing: 2 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 5
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/4
Preferred Formation: 4-1-2-1-2
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Alejandro Sabella

Argentina are one of the few teams that have collected maximum of 9 points from their group stages. This World Cup has been so far the pinnacle of Three times FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi who scored winning goals against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iran. He played pivotal role in win against Nigeria in final group match scoring twice to give the lead.
Argentina being one of the favourite struggled to win their first two matches. Sergio Romero made the crucial matches for the advance into the Round of 16. Di Maria has been playing well but the strikers Higuain and Aguero has been ineffective so far.
English World Cup winner Gary Lineker has regarded Lionel Messi as the best of this Generation.

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi
Club: FCBarcelona (Spain)
Position: Forward
Goals: 4


netherlands Vs Chile
World Cup Appearances: 9
Highest Finishing: 3 Runner-ups
FIFA Ranking: 15
Odds of winning the World Cup: 2/15
Preferred Formation: 3-4-1-2
Preferred Strategy: Long Balls
Coach: Louis Van Gaal

Netherlands have reached World Cup final match in previous three occasions but had to settle only with silverware. They have lost their three finals against Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and Spain (2010).
Netherlands have already showed their competence this year by avenging the defending Champions 5-1 for South Africa 2010 Final. Robin Van Persie started the scoring with one of the best goals of the tournament while Robben scored twice to beat the Champions. The second match did not match the performance of the first as Australians rose their game. Robben scored again and Netherlands were lucky to pick up all three points. Netherlands then comfortably collected maximum points by beating high flying Chile.
Their road to semis look smooth on books. But this World Cup is not short of surprises. They are expected to meet Argentina at the Semis.
Player to Watch: Arjen Robben
Club: Bayern Muenchen FC (Germany)
Position: Forward
Goals: 3


Odds of other teams
The rest of the teams cannot be ignored out of the equation. The other 12 teams in the Round of 16 have following odds for winning the World Cup 2014.
France 1/8
Colombia 1/20
Belgium 1/20
Mexico 1/33
Chile 1/25
Uruguay 1/33
Costa Rica 1/50
USA 1/100
Greece 1/100
Switzerland 1/80
Nigeria 1/200
Algeria 1/300

The way the Round of 16 is pitted, it seems like Brazil vs Germany and Netherlands vs Argentina semi finals. But football world is unexpected thus surprises can be inevitable.

Highlights so far
1. Hat tricks by Thomas Mueller and Xherdan Shaqiri
2. Luiz Suarez banned four months internationally for biting Giorgio Chiellini.
3. All four Asian teams failed to progress into the Round of 16.
4. Cameroon, Honduras and Australia leave World Cup without a single point.
5. Netherlands are highest scoring team with 10 goals so far.
6. France are best attacking team with 62 attempts and 7 goals so far.
7. Germany are best passers with 1792 completed passed with 85% accuracy so far.
8. Iran were best defending team after defending 92 attempts.