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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

Danny McLardy (left), Anthony Venneri and Al Craig discuss their picks for the 2014 World Cp that begins today in Brazil.

Beautiful game takes centre stage

Home team favoured as World Cup play begins today in Brazil

By Mark Newman, News Staff

Get ready for a month of noisy bars, honking horns and street celebrations.

The 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil today (Thursday) featuring 32 teams and most of the best soccer players from around the planet.

“This is a fantastic World Cup,” said veteran Hamilton sports broadcaster and soccer enthusiast Al Craig, who thinks Germany will upset the favoured home squad in the semifinal and beat Argentina in the final on July 13.

“I’m going to pick Germany to be the first European team to ever win the World Cup inSouth America,” Craig said. “They’ve got a solid team.”

Anthony Venneri, grass roots coach with the Mount Hamilton Youth Soccer Club, is picking Argentina to win it all.

“It’s Messi’s year,” said Venneri, referring to Argentine star forward and captain Lionel Messi.

Venneri said the Argentineans will ride their offensive power to the championship.

“The path they have in the first group stage, it’s going to be rather easy for them (to advance),” he said.

Former professional soccer player Danny McLardy is picking Brazil to beat Argentina in the final.

“I want Brazil to win because I want to see them dance,” said McLardy who thinks the home side could be in tough in their first game of the tournament today.

“My biggest upset opening day, I’ve got Croatia to tie Brazil,” McLardy said. “There are two native-born Brazilians playing for Croatia.”

Craig said he expects Brazilian star forward Neymar (da Silvia Santos) to have a golden foot in the tournament.

“I think he’s going to score a lot of goals,” he said.

But Craig noted the biggest unanswered question is how Brazil will perform in front of their soccer-crazed fans.

“Can they handle the pressure,” he wondered. “I think there’s immense pressure on them.”

Craig and Venneri are picking Chile to pull off some upsets, while McLardy likes Belgium as his dark horse team.

Global investment banker Goldman Sachs has crunched a variety of numbers pertaining to the World Cup teams and is predicting Brazil will beat Argentina 3-1 in the final.

Las Vegas had previously rated Brazil a 3-1 favourite to win the World Cup followed by Argentina  9-2, Germany11-2 and Spain 6-1.

Belgium is 18-1, England 20-1, Italy 22-1, Chile 40-1 and Honduras and Iran are 1,500-1.

 

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