Every World Cup produces a surprise or two somewhere along the line. Who would have predicted that Mesut Ozil would become a world star in 2010 or that Italy would have won the tournament four years earlier? Few would have thought that champions France would do so badly in 2002. In short, there is a shock likely waiting round the corner in Brazil. What might the headlines be this summer?
Is it looking good for Brazil to win?
For a start, although they are probably the favorites to be crowned world champions, hosts Brazil could easily flop. Rarely do the red-hot favorites actually triumph and anything less than a World Cup will be considered a failure by the home crowd. In fact, it may well be that such pressure is the telling factor for Luis Felipe Scolari’s side. They look solid enough, with experienced heads such as David Luiz, Julio Cesar and Thiago Silva at the back. And of course, up front Neymar is expected to be the poster boy of the tournament. Will the expectation be too much for the youngster? In truth, beyond Neymar, there are few enthralling attacking options for Scolari.
Who likes surprises?
There are also some unfancied sides who may yet spring a surprise. Perhaps the most unfashionable side with the best chance of a lengthy run deep into the tournament is Belgium. Coach Marc Wilmots has assembled a squad full of young quality talent. From goalkeeper, where he can choose between Athletico Madrid’s Thibaut Cortois and Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet, to his attackers where Romelu Lukaku leads the line, Wilmots has an embarrassment of riches. Centre-back Vincent Kompany and attacking midfielder Eden Hazard are two other outstanding Belgian talents. All of which bodes well for Belgium’s first tournament since 2002.
Could it be beginners’ luck?
Another European team to keep an eye on is Bosnia Herzegovina. The fact that this is the young country’s first ever World Cup appearance will give them an undoubted boost. They sailed through qualifying somewhat unnoticed. However, with the likes of Manchester City striker Eden Dzeko, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the excellent Bayer Leverkusen defender Emir Spahic among their squad, the World Cup new boys could cause an upset.
The same can be said of Chile – ‘La Roja’ have often been overshadowed by South American powerhouses Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, but this could be their time to shine. They qualified with ease and although Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez is probably their best known player, keep an eye out too for Basel midfielder Marcelo Diaz. Chile showed their quality beating England at Wembley earlier this year.
If you are looking for some exciting World Cup betting now with William Hill or elsewhere, this should certainly give you some ideas. Besides team surprises, there are also some individual players to watch who may just be the next big thing. Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell is young, quick and impressed with Olympiakos last season.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s Juan Fernando Quintero has all the attacking attributes to unlock any defence. At the back, Nigeria’s young central defender Kenneth Omeruo has plenty of strength and pace to stand out against the world’s best attackers. All will be revealed shortly in Brazil.