World Cup wait

Published Monday, 09 June 2014
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The waiting is almost over, the team news updates, who's injured, the spats over team bonuses and come Thursday the greatest show in football gets underway - the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Hosts Brazil kick-off in Sao Paulo at 2100 BST against Croatia.

No team has more World Cups to its name than the Samba Boys - five in total - the last coming in 2002.

But there are strong challengers - Spain go in as the holders, regarded as one of the greatest teams ever in world football after winning Euro 2008, and 2012, with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa sandwiched in-between - they will be a huge threat again.

They've been magnificent to watch, but the fascinating question for commentators now is, have they peaked?

It's one of the most fascinating scenarios I feel waiting to unfold in Brazil; how will Spain do this time around, particularly as European teams historically do not do that well in terms of winning World Cups outside of their own continent.

It is not just player-for-player that will determine the winners this time around - the temperature will be very hot, surely something that will benefit South American, and indeed the African teams more than Europeans.

Virtually everyone has Brazil as their favourites, but that brings with it it's own pressures - can they deliver when it gets to the business end of the tournament in front of an expectant, indeed demanding, home support?

Another closely-tipped team is Argentina - winners in 1986, and finalists in 1990 - but they could be accused of choking on the big stage in more recent times, even though anyone with Lionel Messi in the side will prove a huge threat.

They have not been past the quarter-finals since they lost to West Germany in 1990, and indeed in 2002, they even failed to get out of the groups.

England's is a fascinating group.

If Uruguay can get Luis Suarez fully fit, he and Edinson Cavani are a danger to anyone and cannot be dismissed.

And of course Italy, who have such pedigree, world champions in 2006, will be extremely tough to beat, with the effervescent Andrea Pirlo still a joy to watch at 35.

England themselves go into this World Cup with Roy Hodgson's side not considered much of a threat, even by the English media - this is something that is unusual, but with the pressure off could Hodgson's side throw the shackles off - I don't think even the most optimistic England fan expects them to bring the trophy back to London, but could they move beyond what latterly seems their eternal stumbling block, the quarter-finals.

Germany are an exciting prospect, although I'd have my reservations over the fact they've picked only two strikers, 35-year old Miroslav Klose and Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski.

Whatever transpires, one thing's for sure, it will be dramatic.

© UTV News
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Chris Brennan
Chris Brennan

Chris Brennan is a cross-platform sports journalist with UTV.

As well as featuring on UTV Live and contributing to, Chris can be heard regularly on U105, fronting the station's sports coverage.

Chris started his career part-time, whilst still at school, with the Down Recorder newspaper in Downpatrick and then began freelancing when at college and university.

It was at this stage that he moved into broadcasting and began freelancing for UTV in 2004.

Chris is a graduate of Queen's University Belfast, where he graduated in Modern History and Politics.

Apart from his huge appetite for all sport - but especially football - his other interests include history and travel.

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