PST writers make World Cup picks and predictions

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With the start of the World Cup fast approaching, we’ve been having some fun here at PST.

Our wonderful staff have pit their wits against each other and were asked to come up with their predictions for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

RELATED: World Cup homepage, the latest news from Brazil

Needless to say, banter has been flying around: “Seriously… the U.S. is going to the quarterfinals?” “Umm… I think you made a mistake with England, guys.”

As they say, making these picks is all part of the fun.

Below we have full selections from the PST crew, and why not have a go yourself in the comments section below.

Have fun and enjoy studying the field before watching your picks disintegrate in the first week  following the first wave of upsets. Come on… it always happens!

Joe Prince-Wright

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon. Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia. Group C: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece. Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica. Group E: France, Ecuador, Switzerland, Honduras. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, Portugal, USA, Ghana. Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria

 

source:
JPW has hosts Brazil winning their sixth World Cup.

Round of 16
Brazil over Netherlands
Spain over Croatia
England over Colombia
Ivory Coast over Uruguay
Bosnia over France
Argentina over Ecuador
Germany over Russia
Belgium over Portugal

Quarterfinals
Brazil over England
Germany over Bosnia
Argentina over Belgium
Spain over Ivory Coast

Semifinals
Brazil over Germany
Argentina over Spain

Third place
Spain over Germany

Final
Brazil over Argentina

Richard Farley

Group A: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon. Group B: Spain, Chile, Netherlands, Australia. Group C: Colombia, Japan, Ivory Coast, Greece. Group D: Uruguay, Italy, England, Costa Rica. Group E: Switzerland, France, Ecuador, Honduras. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, Portugal, United States, Ghana. Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria

Round of 16
Chile over Brazil
Italy over Colombia
Switzerland over Bosnia and Herzegovina
Germany over Russia
Spain over Mexico
Uruguay over Japan
Argentina over France
Portugal over Belgium

source:
Farley has gone for Spain to win back-to-back titles.

Quarterfinals
Chile over Italy
Germany over Switzerland
Spain over Uruguay
Argentina over Portugal

Semifinals
Germany over Chile
Spain over Argentina

Third place
Chile over Argentina

Final
Spain over Germany

Mike Prindiville

Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, Mexico. Group B: Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Australia. Group C: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece. Group D: Italy, Uruguay, England, Costa Rica. Group E: France, Ecuador, Switzerland, Honduras. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, USA, Portugal, Ghana. Group H: Russia, Belgium, Korea, Algeria

Round of 16
Brazil over Spain
Chile over Cameroon
Uruguay over Colombia
Ivory Coast over Italy
France over Bosnia
Argentina over Ecuador
Germany over Belgium
USA over Russia

source:
Les Elephants are Prindi’s surprise pick to reach the final four.

Quarterfinals
Brazil over Uruguay
France over Germany
Argentina over USA
Ivory Coast over Chile

Semifinals
Brazil over France
Argentina over Ivory Coast

Third place
Ivory Coast over France

Final
Brazil over Argentina

 

Kyle Bonn

Group stages

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico. Cameroon. Group B: Spain ,Netherlands, Chile, Australia. Group C: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece. Group D: Italy, Uruguay. England, Costa Rica. Group E: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States. Group H: Russia, Belgium, South Korea, Algeria.

source:
According to Kyle, Bosnia is heading to the semifinals.

Round of 16
Brazil over Netherlands
Spain over Croatia
Uruguay over Colombia
Italy over Ivory Coast
Bosnia over France
Argentina over Switzerland
Germany over Belgium
Portugal over Russia

Quarterfinals
Brazil over Uruguay
Spain over Italy
Bosnia over Germany
Argentina over Portugal

Semifinals
Brazil over Bosnia
Argentina over Spain

Third place
Spain over Bosnia

Final
Brazil over Argentina

Kirsten Schlewitz

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon. Group B: Spain, Chile, Netherlands, Australia. Group C: Colombia, Japan, Greece, Ivory Coast. Group D: Italy, Uruguay, England, Costa Rica. Group E: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA. Group H: Belgium, South Korea, Russia, Algeria.

source:
Kirsten is going with Brazil. If in doubt… pick the host nation.

Round of 16
Brazil over Chile
Colombia over Uruguay
France over Bosnia
Germany over South Korea
Spain over Croatia
Italy over Japan
Argentina over Switzerland
Belgium over Portugal

Quarterfinals
Brazil over Colombia
France over Germany
Spain over Italy
Argentina over Belgium

Semifinals
Brazil over France
Spain over Argentina

Third place
France over Argentina

Final
Brazil over Spain

Nick Mendola

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Cameroon, Mexico. Group B: Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Australia. Group C: Ivory Coast, Greece, Colombia, Japan. Group D: Italy, Uruguay, England, Costa Rica. Group E: France, Switzerland, Honduras, Ecuador. Group F: Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria, Iran. Group G: Germany, USA, Portugal, Ghana. Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria

Round of 16

Brazil over Spain
Uruguay over Ivory Coast
France over Bosnia
Germany over Russia
Chile over Croatia
Italy over Greece
Argentina over Switzerland
Belgium over USA

source:
Mendola thinks Germany will win its fourth World Cup.

Quarterfinals
Italy over Chile
Argentina over Belgium
Germany over France
Brazil over Uruguay

Semifinals
Germany over Brazil
Italy over Argentina

Third place
Brazil over Argentina

Final
Germany over Italy

UEFA Champions League wrap: Tables turned on wild day

AP Photo/Paul White
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One clean sheet in eight Tuesday matches certainly helped the entertainment value of the UEFA Champions League, and the group ramifications follow suit.

Borussia Dortmund whiffed on a chance to take advantage of Real Madrid’s home draw versus Spurs, while Sevilla was waxed in Russia, and Besiktas continues to strut in UCL play.

Real Madrid 1-1 Tottenham HotspurRECAP, VIDEO

Raphael Varane’s plans to mark Harry Kane were subverted by the French defender’s unwitting legs, but Serge Aurier chopped down Toni Kroos in the 42nd minute for a yellow card and penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo sent beyond the reach of Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris.

It was Lloris’ outstanding day, along with a couple timely Keylor Navas saves, that kept the score line 1-1 after 90 minutes. The backstops will likely match wits again come Nov. 1 at Wembley Stadium.

Manchester City 2-1 NapoliRECAP

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored in the ninth and 13th minutes as City has been an unwelcoming host for the Neapolitan side. Ederson stopped a Dries Mertens penalty, adding insult to Napoli’s twin concessions, but Napoli would get a second penalty kick and pulled back a goal courtesy of Amadou Diawara.

Monaco 1-2 Besiktas

Reported Newcastle United and Crystal Palace target Cenk Tosun scored a pair of goals as group-leading Besiktas came back to beat Monaco after Radamel Falcao made it 1-0 to the hosts.

Feyenoord 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Similar story in the Netherlands, where Ex-Watford man Steven Berghuis gave the Eredivisie hosts a lead only to see a Bernard brace lead Shakhtar at De Kuip.

Spartak Moscow 5-1 Sevilla

Liverpool’s score line was a bit surprising, but this one raised eyebrows even given Sevilla’s long road (or flight path) to Russia. Quincy Promes scored twice to make Sevilla consider its Europa roots (though plenty of time remains in the group stage).

Spartak’s Luiz Adriano scores past Sevilla’s Sergio Rico (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Maribor 0-7 LiverpoolRECAP

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds are sent their finishing demons off a cliff. It was 3-0 after 20 minutes, 4-0 at half, and when all was said and done there were braces for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to go with single markers from Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

APOEL Nicosia 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

A significant step backward for BVB, who would’ve done well to take advantage of Real and Spurs drawing at the Bernabeu. The Germans even trailed for five second-half minutes before Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided the equalizing goal.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Porto

Five first half goals felt like the start of something special, but the upstart Germans held on through a scoreless second half to claim their first UCL win.

“Amazing Game” – Pep’s Man City reinforces UCL, PL bid with Napoli win

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If it hasn’t already, Manchester City is one win away from making a Premier League-UEFA Champions League double a very real goal.

The hosts had to scrap to hold onto all three points against visiting and Serie A leading Napoli on Tuesday, giving away two penalty kicks after building a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium.

[ RECAP: Man City 2-1 Napoli ]

But Ederson stopped Dries Mertens effort, and opened the door to further dreaming for supporters of Pep Guardiola‘s dreamy deep squad.

It wasn’t 7-2, or even 4-0, but Guardiola was gushing after a mutually adventurous football match between two electric squads.

“It was an amazing game. Outstanding. Both wanted to play against high pressing. Napoli are one of the best teams I have faced in my career. If you are not aggressive without the ball you have no chance to survive.”

There’s still a very tricky match week in the fourth round at Napoli, and we wonder whether Guardiola will prioritize the Premier League visit from Arsenal later that week. And, even better, it may not be a necessity to prefer either: The Gunners will have one less day’s rest thanks to Europa League play, aren’t exactly inspiring this season, and playing stars twice in four days isn’t the end of the world with an international break following the Arsenal tilt.

City’s status on the precipice of the UCL knockout rounds means it can focus on the Premier League, as well as a kind draw that should put them within three rounds of a League Cup title. While Burnley has been quite good this season, no one’s debating that City could pile up points for their table lead as 2017 nears its conclusion with an away Manchester Derby on Dec. 9:

Sunday – vs. Burnley (PL)
Oct. 24 – vs. Wolves (League Cup)
Oct. 28 – at West Brom (PL)
Nov. 1 – at Napoli (UCL)
Nov. 5 – vs. Arsenal (PL)
Nov. 18 – at Leicester City (PL)
Nov. 21 – vs. Feyenoord (UCL)
Nov. 26 – at Huddersfield Town (PL)
Nov. 29 – vs. Southampton (PL)
Dec. 2 – vs. West Ham (PL)
Dec. 6 – at Shakhtar Donetsk (UCL)
Dec. 9 – at Manchester United (PL)

Consider that United will be finishing an 8-day stretch which includes Dec. 2 at Arsenal, Dec. 5 vs. CSKA Moscow, and the derby. That makes Wednesday’s United trip to Benfica an even bigger affair. If both sides have already sewn up the knockout rounds, the derby will be especially better.

That’s neither to say City’s two-point lead atop the table and win at Chelsea weren’t impressive enough, nor that it couldn’t have overcome a slower start to both the PL and UCL campaigns. And City did start last season red-hot, too.

But it’s already foolhardy to bet against Pep’s men given the path ahead. Given Real Madrid’s relative struggles, and Barcelona’s uncertain status, it feels like City has as good a claim to UCL favorite status as anyone outside of Paris Saint-Germain.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

Spurs’ Kane: Draw at Real “shows how far we’ve come”

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After pressuring Raphael Varane into an own goal, Spurs striker Harry Kane saw Keylor Navas make an outstanding late stop to ensure a 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

“I thought I did everything right, I opened my body, I put the ball where I wanted to and he made a very good save,” Kane said.

[ RECAP: Real 1-1 Spurs ]

While the red-hot Kane sure would’ve liked to find the match-winner, he knows what Spurs just achieved in Spain against the back-to-back UEFA Champions League winners.

And that, he says, is pleasing. From the BBC:

“We are happy. Of course they are going to have chances but we played well and made it tough for them. A point at Bernabeu, you would take that every day of the week. It shows how far we have come as a team.”

Kane is right, this Spurs side looks far more self-assured than its predecessor. It shows the process of learning to compete in the UCL.

The return date at Wembley Stadium is Nov. 1, where a point would all but seal Spurs’ spot in the knockout rounds thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s stunning 1-1 draw at APOEL Nicosia.

Real Madrid 1-1 Spurs: Lovely Lloris!

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An error from each time in its own box and outstanding goalkeeping gave Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid a 1-1 draw in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday at the Bernabeu. (video)

Raphael Varane recorded a 28th minute own goal, but Serge Aurier gave away a penalty as Cristiano Ronaldo equalized for Real Madrid at home in the 43rd minute.

Hugo Lloris and Keylor Navas were the stars of the show, with Lloris making the lion’s share of saves.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Both teams are well-positioned to advance, with seven points. Spurs have the tiebreaker advantage, but both Tottenham and Real are six points clear of Borussia Dortmund and APOEL Nicosia after a surprising draw in Cyprus.

Early nerves were apparent for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men, but Tottenham grew into the game and took an early lead.

Concerned with the presence of Harry Kane, Real defender Raphael Varane saw a cross move off his pegs and behind Keylor Navas to put Spurs ahead.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The lead was short-lived, however, as Spurs back Serge Aurier cut short Toni Kroos’ rare foray into the 18, and Ronaldo buried the ensuing penalty kick.

Lloris made an outstanding save on a point-blank Karim Benzema header in the 54th minute.

A moment later, offside Ronaldo flashed a sitter over the goal before the whistle alerted viewers to his offense.

Ronaldo had another chance stymied by Lloris as Real really began to pile on pressure past the hour mark.

Kane had a 71st minute chance against the run of play off a gorgeous pass from Fernando Llorente, but Navas got low quickly to redirect Kane’s point-blank shot wide of the far post.

Navas made another save when Llorente cued up Christian Eriksen for a chance, and the Dane then sent in a corner that led to a Davinson Sanchez’s header wide of goal.

Llorente was quite good in the second half in this surprise two-striker move from Mauricio Pochettino, and the Spurs boss also deployed Danny Rose for a season debut off the bench.