World Cup kicks off with hosts Brazil as pundits’ favourites

Brazil

The Selecao, led by Neymar, start as favourites to win a sixth title on home soil on the back of their success in last year’s Fifa Confederations Cup.

However Luis Felipe Scolari’s side will be mindful that Brazil’s triumphs at the 2005 and 2009 Confederations Cup competitions did not translate to World Cup glory in Germany and South Africa.The country has likewise not forgotten arguably the most painful result in their national team’s history – the 2-1 reverse to Uruguay in the 1950 final played on Brazil soil.

Behind Brazil are holders Spain who are bidding to become the first side to defend the trophy since Brazil in 1962.

The powera of La Furia Roja, as the Spanish team are known, have somewhat waned over the last year with Carlos Puyol retiring and playmaker Xavi Hernandez slowed by age and injuries. But they do possess a wealth of talent that is the envy of other hopefuls.

As with any World Cup, you write off Germany – semi-finalists in 2006 and 2010 – at your perill.The world’s two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are meanwhile itching to win their first World Cups for their respective countries Argentina and Portugal.Both are at the peak of their powers and may not get a better chance to win the only elusive trophy in their illustrious collection of silverware.

No World Cup is complete without a dark horse. Belgium’s collection of stars is good for perhaps a last eight berth, precisely the level which appears the best bet for Africa’s five representatives.

Ghana though will be dreaming of a first semi-final appearance for an African side after coming within a whisker of the last four at South Africa 2010.They must however upset odds to emerge out of a group with Germany and Portugal.

essenono@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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