I take yet another momentary detour and look at the upcoming Asian Cup, due to start this Friday at 8pm.
Here are my tips for the Group Stage:
1. South Korea
Despite the hype, I think Australia will come second in this group - scraping past Oman. Home ground advantage being the difference and making up for Australia's recent poor form.
2. Saudi Arabia
4. North Korea
Though, in truth, I would like to see China escape this group, to get the whole of Asia incensed
A close battle for 2nd between the UAE and Qatar, with Qatar very recently triumphing in the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations despite 3 miserly draws in the Group Stage. This very recent tournament experience arguably triumphs over the UAE's higher FIFA ranking (and tournament pot seeding).
However there is the distinct possibility that the UAE didn't field their strongest team so as to not reveal their full hand for the Asian Cup; but this is rather unlikely as I am told that the Gulf Nations take the Gulf Cup of Nations quite seriously.
Another close battle for second.
Iraq recently came bottom of its group in its Qualification for the 2014 World Cup with Jordan coming 3rd. However Iraq are previous champions and it must be remembered that Jordan only play very well at home - and they are now away from home (and of course, Iraq is also playing away from home - but arguably I think they will cope better). Notwithstanding this, yet another qualification must be said against Iraq, and that is the fact that, from memory, they are rebuilding their squad with younger players.
Experience to triumph?
Quarter Final Predictions
I highlight all my predicted winners.
South Korea [Winner Group A] v Saudi Arabia [Runner-up Group B]
Iran [Winner Group C] v Iraq [Runner-up Group D]
Uzbekistan [Winner Group B] v Australia [Runner-up Group A]
Japan [Winner Group D] v Qatar [Runner-up Group C]
South Korea v Iran
Australia v Japan
(although Japan isn't as good against physical teams like Australia)
Iran v Japan
After watching the teams play, and when the actual teams go through to the knockout stages, I will re-do my predictions accordingly :)
I think Australia are a bit overhyped at the moment and, whilst I would very much like them to win, I think we will be caught out at the back conceding too many goals.