Thursday, June 12, 2014

World Cup 2014 Predictions

Lots of teams can be dismissed from contention straight away, which is not to say they won't be enteraining (I loved Ghana's run to the quarter-finals last time round, even though they were never going to win it).

The rest of them I shall organise into categories.

Chile, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Bosnia. At least 2 of them will make the quarters, one might make the semis.

Netherlands and Mexico are going through very poor phases right now. Round of 16 at best.

Belgium - talented, but inexperience will tell. Try again in 2018.
France - will get out of a weak group but won't get much further.
Italy, England, Uruguay - one of them ain't getting out of the group, and all three seem like "almost" teams to me at best.

Spain - Number one in the world, but their golden generation is getting old. Will do well but not that well.
Portugal - good overall squad but I can't believe they still don't have a decent striker. This means that opponents can focus on stopping Ronaldo, who will have to play like Hercules to drag them to the finish line. A possibility.
Germany - An amazing squad but lacking in a top-class proper centre forward due to the injury to Mario Gomez. Top-notch coaching will be required to get everything to click enough to overcome that.
Brazil - Don't look a patch on the Selecao squads of old, they lack a true superstar, and will need to make the most of their home country advantage. I don't see it happening.

This leaves:

Argentina - Outrageously gifted group of attacking players means that they don't need Messi to do it all. They are used to playing in South America. Their defence is a slight concern, as well as how to get the right balance in a squad that is stacked with riches going forward. But I think they can do it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

World: meet our great prime minister

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver turns its gaze this week to Australia's esteemed PM Tony Abbott. He's not the most popular man in the country, but with a nicely edited highlights reel such as this one, it reminds you how odd it is that he ever rose to his current station.

Of course, Abbott's rise to power has a lot to do with the rise and fall of the previous Labor government. After Kevin Rudd shot to the top office in 2007, he was so popular that the defeated Liberal-National Coalition descended into dysfunction, deposing its two leaders in relatively quick succession. Both men, Dr Brendan Nelson and particularly Malcolm Turnbull, were generally seen as more credible leaders than Abbott, who filled their spot almost by default. Abbott was seen as un-electable in some quarters, but as the Labor government's popularity began to erode due to infighting and a growing perception of incompetence, all Abbott had to do was not muck it up too badly. Its a rather damning indictment of Labor's recent performances that he is now in charge, and a reminder that sometimes timing is everything in politics.