We have a slight twist to our normal BTTS article here at Goals Galore as we are anticipating fewer goals during this World Cup and especially in these opening games. Therefore please check out our BTTS- NO treble where we are predicting three games where we will not see both teams scoring.
Spain v Holland – 8.00pm Friday
As with most opening games, we should expect this to be a fixture with few goals. Both sides will still be adjusting to the heat and will be banking on a win to nil in their favour. The rematch of the World Cup final is a tie most will be ensuring they tune in for but let’s not expect a thriller. We should be seeing a battle between Spain’s possession and the counter attacking style of the Dutch.
Spain will go into this tournament with the knowledge that they can perform in Brazil as they did so last year getting to the final of the Confederations Cup. The possession style of play will suit the conditions and they will be patient in their dismantling of the Oranje. A 1-0 victory certainly won’t surprise me. In their last six games BTTS has landed just once.
Holland will be more than wary about the quality Spain bring to the table and neither side are going to go all out for goals. The Dutch will be looking to take advantage when Spain lose possession but I cannot see them hurtling four or five players forward at a time. It should be a very conservative performance and one in which Van Gaal would snatch your hand off if you offered a draw pre game. Just one match in their last five has seen both team score.
England v Italy – 11.00pm Saturday
Group D kicks off this Saturday with Uruguay verses Costa Rica being followed at 11pm by a huge clash between Italy and England. Both sides qualified by topping their group, Italy progressed in front of Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia and Malta while England got past Ukraine, Montenegro, Poland, Moldova and San Marino. I am very much expecting this to be the sort of cagey affair which saw the two sides play out a 0-0 during 90 minutes when they met at Euro 2012 when Italy went on to win on penalties. Neither side are going to want to lose this and would rather take a draw than risk a victory.
The atmosphere is hardly optimistic in England, going into this World Cup. Expectations are low and Roy Hodgson would certainly take a draw going into arguably the toughest fixture in Group D. Many forget that this England side sailed through qualifying without defeat, winning six and drawing four, and conceded just four goals, which is a fantastic record. The six clean sheets show that a Hodgson side will be well organised and tough to break down which is how i expect them to set up against the dangerous Azzuri’s. Top goal scorer during the qualifiers was Wayne Rooney with seven goals, and with the Manchester United striker struggling for fitness, it is going to tricky for the three lions to find the net.
Italy go into the tie as favourites and will be looking to rely on experience to see them through against England. Cesare Prandelli will be relying on the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Daniel De Rossi in the spine of the team.
In recent friendlies Mario Balotelli has failed to deliver in a side that relies on him up front- against Luxembourg I have seen statues with more involvement. You have to go back six games to when Italy played Armenia to find the last time the former Manchester City striker scored. Never rule the eccentric striker out of a goal but I believe either side will be fortunate to find the net here. Prediction 0-0
Germany v Portugal – 5.00pm Monday
A huge tie kicks off Group G as Germany take on Portugal. This one is being played at 1pmlocal time and the heat and humidity are going to play a major factor in this tie. I can see both sides relying on slow build up and patient play which in turn should produce very few goals.
Germany start as group favourites having impressively won nine of their ten qualification games, in a league which included Sweden, Austria, Republic of Ireland, Kazakhstan and Faroe Islands. I believe Germany are going to struggle with the heat, they are a tall side and may find the weather tougher compared to other outfits.
Joachim Low and his side destroyed Armenia 6-1 in their last friendly but before that they failed to beat both Cameroon and Poland and with questions around the starting XI, I see Germany may be defending more than they are used to is some of their games. I think this is going to be a very tight match and one I am finding impossible to predict.
Portugal had to overcome Sweden in a Play Off to book their place on the flight to Brazil and they did with a 4-2 aggregate win. Now they’re here, optimism is high and so it should be with the best player in the world on your side. Cristiano Ronaldo scored all four goals in the two legs against Sweden and his influence is vital on how Paulo Bento’s side perform in this World Cup. Back from injury, Ronaldo was unable to find the net in a 5-1 demolition of Ireland on Tuesday evening and the Real Madrid man is clearly not 100%- so don’t expect a hatrick here or perhaps even a goal.