Taking a look into the crystal ball for 2014

SO the big man in the red suit has come and gone, and now is the time to look forward to what lies ahead in 2014.

With that in mind, I thought I would take a look at what might happen in the next year on planet football.

1: I will start with an easy one. Australia will not win the World Cup.

There I have said it.

And I think even the most diehard Socceroos fan will agree with my sentiment there.

Even before Australia was drawn in the so-called group of death along with reigning world champion Spain, the Netherlands, runners-up four years ago, and rising South American power Chile, I would have said the Socceroos would have struggled to get past the group stage.

But now the task for coach Ange Postecoglou and his charges has become a lot tougher.

I reckon Postecoglou would be happy with a win over the South Americans and I think that's what they can hope for at the most. I would love to see the Socceroos get through to the knockout stages but I predict that sadly they will be home before the postcards.

2: Now for the hard part. Which of the 32 sides that have qualified for the World Cup in June in Brazil will win it.

Being a Pom I obviously have a soft spot for England, but, realistically, I cannot see Roy Hodgson's men making it too far down the road in Rio.

My heart says England will end 48 years of hurt and take home the trophy, but my head says to expect more World Cup disappointment.

So who will win it?

The obvious choice would be Brazil as the home nation and a team packed with stars.

But I reckon Argentina, which has one of the easier groups, will win the World Cup - on the proviso that Lionel Messi stays fit for the whole tournament.

3: Predicting who will win the A-League crown is another tough choice as there are a number of teams which can take the title.

Western Sydney has shown it has the staying power to be there or thereabouts when the chocolates are handed out, as has Melbourne Victory.

But I will go with Brisbane Roar, providing the likes of Thomas Broich, Liam Miller and Besart Berisha remain injury-free towards the pointy end of the season.

4: Love him or hate him, you have to admire the goalscoring prowess of Luis Suarez.

With 20 goals already this season, it would be easy to predict the Liverpool striker will win the golden boot award.

But my prediction about the Uruguayan is that he will cause more controversy before the year is out on the field.

My only hope is that it doesn't happen when he leads the line against England in the World Cup in Brazil.

I still haven't got over the 'Hand of God' handball incident with Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and I would not like a repeat of that.

A Suarez dive in the penalty area resulting in a last-minute penalty is the stuff of nightmares for any England supporter.

5: My last prediction is also a tough one as the English Premier League title race is the most open I can remember.

Suffice to say I don't think that David Moyes will be celebrating a title success come May with Manchester United.

The noisy neighbours (Manchester City) could well be partying at the end of the season as too could Arsenal. But I don't think the Gunners will break their title drought, even though they top the league now.

My prediction for the crown is still Chelsea, which I tipped before the season started.

Manager Jose Mourhino is still unbeaten at home with the Blues in 70 games and if that continues then they will be hard to beat.



Where to expect changed traffic conditions this week

Where to expect changed traffic conditions this week

Works to take place on Pacific Hwy and other Northern Rivers roads

'Stunning': Artist shares how he made this 43m masterpiece

'Stunning': Artist shares how he made this 43m masterpiece

World-renowned mural artist to give exclusive insight at uni event

PHOTOS: Were you spotted at Casino Beef Week?

premium_icon PHOTOS: Were you spotted at Casino Beef Week?

Casino was packed with people for the Beef Week street parade

Local Partners