Monthly archives: June, 2014

We Predict… The 2014 FIFA World Cup

It’s that time again. Who is going to win the World Cup? Who is going to score for fun? Will there be suprises and disappointments? Here are the Icons team’s expectations for the World Cup in Brazil.

Dan Jamieson, Managing Director

World Cup winners: Germany

Runner-ups: Argentina

Top goal scorer: Sergio Aguero

Early exiters: Spain, Portugal, Italy

Surprise packages: Teams – South-Korea, Japan, Colombia. Players – Raheem Sterling, Marouane Fellaini, Shinji Kagawa.

Random predictions: Rooney to be dropped by the England’s last game, Klose to level Ronaldo’s goalscoring record, Brazil to fall short due to lack of flair.


Margaret Plunkett, Head of Customer Service

World Cup winners: Argentina

Runner-ups: Brazil

Top goal scorer: Sergio Aguero or Karim Benzema

Early exiters: Portugal, Spain

Surprise packages: Teams – Ivory Coast, Belgium, Chile. Players – Paul Pogba.

Random predictions: England to finish at least 1 game with 10 men, Germany to be knocked out in quarter final’s, Ivory Coast to reach the semis.

Ben Soley, Marketing and Sales Manager

World Cup winners: Brazil

Runner-ups: Argentina

Top goal scorer: Lionel Messi or Fred

Early exiters: Netherlands, Uruguay

Surprise packages: Teams – Switzerland, Bosnia. Players – Aturo Vidal, James Rodriguez.

Random predictions: Messi to play against CR7 at some point, Oz to concede 10 or more in the group stages, England’s youth to beat Italy or Uruguay, Brazil and Spain out in the semis.


Scott Hutchinson, US Partner

World Cup winners: Argentina

Runner-ups: Germany

Top goal scorer: Sergio Aguero

Early exiters: Brazil, Spain

Surprise packages: USA to get revenge vs. Ghana, finish level with Portugal, get a respectable result vs. Germany, and advance into the knockout stage.

Random predictions: England beats Italy outright, the English nation turns from sour pessimists to unbridled joy and support.


Edward Freedman, Chairman

World Cup winners: Argentina

Runner-ups: Spain

Top goal scorer: Lionel Messi

Early exiters: England, Cameroon

Surprise packages: Teams – Japan, Colombia. Players – Wayne Rooney (because he will be dropped when it doesn’t matter).

Random predictions: During every press conference, Roy Hodgson will be defending the English performance by blaming the heat.

Harm Jan Deuring, represents Mainland Europe

World Cup winners: Brazil

Runner-ups: Uruguay

Top goal scorer: Karim Benzema or Robin van Persie

Early exiters: England, Spain

Surprise packages: Teams – Japan, Colombia. Players – Keisuke Honda.

Random predictions: During every press conference, Louis van Gaal will make clear (read: shout!) to English journalists he will not answer any questions about ManU-related transfer rumours. “That is a stupid question!”

Follow Icons on Twitter for all the latest football news, chat and competitions: @icons_football

The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Brazil 1982

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Brazil 1982.


Why were Brazil great in 1982?

If ‘Joga Bonito’ was established by the Brazilian World Cup-winning side of 1970, the team that manager Tele Santana assembled twelve years later cultivated it. The players loved the ball and the ball loved them back. Every touch was a caress. Every pass was played with such delicate precision.

The sublime samba skills of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao were stunning to behold. This was pure footballing nirvana: silky smooth passing and movement interspersed with fancy flicks, spectacular long range strikes, and perfectly executed, curling free-kicks.

1982 World Cup
Initially, Brazil looked unstoppable playing some heaven-sent football based around the beguiling ethos: you score two, we’ll score three. In the first group stage they toyed with the opposition and scored for fun, netting ten times in their games against the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand. The second phase saw them drawn in the ultimate ‘Group of Death’ alongside Argentina and Italy, only the winner progressing. After a sumptuous 3-1 demolition of the defending World Cup holders, it came down to an all or nothing match up with the Italians.

What went wrong?

Because of the better goal difference, Brazil only needed a draw against Italy in the final group game. Even back then, most managers would have adjusted their game plan accordingly, particularly against a team like Italy that had a counterattacking philosophy to begin with. But manager Santana didn’t believe in that. Brazil did their thing. And while the romantic in you says it was right to do so, the fact is that it cost them the game. And with that the World Cup.

In perhaps the greatest World Cup match of all-time against Italy they went behind three times to strikes by Paolo Rossi. Despite scoring two stunning goals through Socrates and Falcao, and needing only a draw to reach the semi-finals, it was too high a mountain against a well-organised defence. Brazil went out, and the world wept.

What happened next?

Zico called that game against Italy “the day football died.” As far as his vision of football is concerned, he was correct.

Brazil began soul-searching again, divided between those who wanted a more European-style game and those who believed they should stick to Santana’s vision. They would oscillate between the two. Four years later Santana would return on the World Cup, together with much of the ’82 team. But by that stage they were a spent force.

At the 1986 World Cup a new South-American star was born, but he didn’t play for the Brazilian team. His name? Diego Maradona.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Portugal 1966
Holland 1974

The Greatest Sides Never To Win The World Cup: Holland 1974

Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Holland 1974.



Who cares about the also-rans? Nobody remembers the losers, right? Wrong. They do when they were as talented as… Holland 1974.

Why were Holland great in 1974?

In the early 70’s football had been revolutionized, essentially by the brilliant mind of one man: Johan Cruyff. He approached the game in a brand new way. Where the game had previously been played in strict formations, Cruyff introduced a new dynamic that would change soccer forever.

Total Football
Cruyff’s style of play was quickly named ‘Total Football‘, a reference to how the new style involved the entire team on offence and defense. Total football was an explosive evolution of the sport. Where players had previously played fairly statically in set positions, both Ajax and Holland would often have players seek space outside their normal areas. Important concepts in modern soccer such as the defensive backs overlapping along the sidelines or midfielders extending their runs into the oppositions penalty area were pioneered by the Dutch.

With players like Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Neeskens at the peak of their powers, Holland took the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ by storm, with a 4-0 victory over Argentina exemplifying their irresistible attacking verve.

Abandoning traditional attitudes to positioning, the Dutch were playing a more fluid brand of attacking football than had ever been seen before: players interchanging with each other all over the pitch, with forwards dropping deep and midfielders pushing forward at will. They even managed to out-flair the World Cup holding Brazilians in a 2-0 second-round victory.

So what went wrong?

After conquering the South American giants, the only thing standing between them and the World Cup was West Germany. And like Hungary before them in 1954, the celebrated Dutch attack foundered against teutonic German grit.

Germany looked insecure, Holland uber-confident. Holland were the bookies’ favorites and the neutrals’ too.

And they got the best possible start, with Cruyff winning a penalty inside a minute and Neeskens converting from the spot. But rather than capitalize on the lead, they seemed to go from relaxed to overly mellow. The pace slowed, the passing grew sloppy.

Paul Breitner equalized from the spot midway through the first half and, with Holland pushing forward, Muller scored on the counterattack to give Germany the lead just before the interval. The Dutch grew desperate and the second half, their forays more furious but less clinical. Sepp Maier, in the German goal, did the rest, with save after save. The FIFA World Cup™ had slipped through their fingers.

What happened next?

The Dutch team had dazzled the world with their skill and demanding style of play. The area of total football would carry the Dutch national team to a second World Cup final four years later, but this time without Johan Cruyff and Willem van Hanegem.

But the trauma of 1974 was exacerbated. In the FIFA World Cup™ final against host nation Argentina they lost another tightly fought and controversial game in extra time.

Other posts in this series:
Hungary 1954
Portugal 1966