Who will win the World Cup? Argentina are my pick

After seeing Brazil struggle to beat Chile and noting how dominant Colombia are, I believe the hosts are in real danger of crashing out of the World Cup when they meet the high-flying James Rodriguez and Co. on Friday.

My dream final had always been Brazil v Argentina. Lionel Messi v Neymar, now that would be a fitting finale to what has been a wonderful World Cup.

But I just cannot see Brazil at the Maracana on July 13, based on current form.

My pick for champions is now clear. I think it will be Argentina.

To be sure, this view might be contrarian.

Brazil, after all, are still favourites for the World Cup, according to the odds.

Some are still giving the hosts a 12-5 chance of glory, just ahead of Argentina (7-2), Germany (9-2) and the Netherlands (15-2), while others have Brazil at 11-4, ahead of Argentina (4-1), Germany (4-1) and the Dutch (7-1).

However, I have to disagree.

With strikers Fred and Jo almost as useful as a heater in steamy Manaus, Brazil have been forced to rely too much on their star striker Neymar.

The 22-year-old cannot deliver the goals in every match, which was evident in the Chile game.

And against Colombia, they will face a first-class defence that has conceded just twice in four games.

But where Brazil will hurt most is in their defence.

David Luiz, Marcelo and Dani Alves have looked shaky throughout the whole tournament.

Faced with this Cup's leading scorer Rodriguez and the attacking threats of Jackson Martinez and the speedy Juan Cuadrado, I am not convinced Brazil can keep them quiet.

Despite doubts over striker Sergio Aguero's continued involvement at this World Cup following a muscle injury, I think Argentina have the squad to go all the way.

In Messi, they have a player who is in red-hot form.

So too is midfielder Angel di Maria, whose probing and passes will supply ammunition for his front men.

And although Gonzalo Higuain has yet to score in Brazil, he has been playing fairly well, suggesting that a goal is just around the corner.

Germany and the Netherlands may have been the most impressive teams so far, but I think the home advantage, climate and fan support will still make it South America's World Cup.


This article was first published on June 30, 2014.
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