Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

World Cup predictions: Local sports icons and our top experts have their say

Battle to rule the World: Neymar and Lionel Messi are tipped by many to meet in the World Cup final next month
Battle to rule the World: Neymar and Lionel Messi are tipped by many to meet in the World Cup final next month

The World Cup kicks-off tonight and everyone has their opinions about the tournament. Here are the verdicts of some of Northern Ireland's top sports stars and the Belfast Telegraph sports desk staff on England's prospects, the star player and who will win the final next month in Rio.

STEPHEN FERRIS (Rugby hero)

How will England do? Semi-finals.

Star player: Messi (Argentina), Arjen Robben (Holland), Diego Costa (Spain).

Winners: A European country – either Spain or Germany.

JIM GRACEY (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? They'll capitalise on Italy's record as notoriously slow starters to make the first knockout game and go on to exit in the quarter-finals.

Star Player: Lionel Messi (Argentina). He's been saving himself for this.

Winners: Argentina.

DAME MARY PETERS (Olympic Gold medallist)

How will England do? I like Roy Hodgson and think England have an outside chance. If they get through the group stage, anything can happen.

Star Player: Ronaldo (Portugal).

Winners: Brazil.

Declan Bogue (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? Miracle if they emerge from group, will exit fairly sharpish after, with supporters throwing plastic chairs around in protest.

Star player: Eden Hazard (Belgium).

Winners: Argentina.

Kyle McCallan (Irish cricket great)

How will England do? England could surprise a few people and reach the semi-finals

Star Player: Luis Suarez (Uruguay)

Winners: Not sure if Spain can do it again, so I'll go for Argentina.

DAVID KELLY (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? Second in group, make quarters and then exit.

Star player: Lionel Messi (Argentina).

Winners: Argentina.

Stuart Elliott (NI football hero)

How will England do? Their young, energetic players will ensure they put in some good performances and make it out of the group stages.

Star Player: Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

Winners: I have a feeling Spain might do it again.

Stuart McKinley (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? Tough task getting out of the group. If they do that they'll make the quarter-finals.

Star Player: This is the time for Hulk (Brazil) to be incredible.

Winners: If any European team can cope with the conditions it's Spain, but I think they'll just miss out – losing to Brazil in the final.

Warren Feeney (Linfield boss)

How will England do? Tough group but with players like Wayne Rooney who can turn a game they should make the knockout stages.

Star Player: Hard to look past Suarez, Messi and Ronaldo.

Winners: Brazil will be hard to beat at home.

Ryan McMenamin (Three-time All-Ireland winner with Tyrone)

How will England do? If they get out of their group they might go as far as the semi-final, but no further.

Star player: Lionel Messi (Argentina).

Winners: Argentina.

Ashleigh Baxter (Irish Women's Rugby 2013 Grand Slam winner)

How will England do? Quarter-finals.

Star player? Lionel Messi.

Winners? Argentina.

Frank Brownlow (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? If they can nick a point off Italy on Saturday, might sneak through to next stage.

Star Player: Messi, though the 16-1 available for Aguero to be top scorer looks a value bet.

Winners: Argentina.

Mark Poland (Down player)

How will England do? Can see them getting out of the group, but the draw has not been kind. Potentially quarter-finals, but no further.

Star player: Luis Suarez (Uruguay).

Winners: Argentina.

Billy Weir (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? Are they there? Someone should have said. Either home on the first plane or winners.

Star Player: Karim Benzema.

Winners: France as I'm going there on holiday and they won when I was there during the World Cup in 1998!

Glenn Ferguson (Ballymena United boss)

How will England do? Quarter-final stages.

Star Player: Neymar (Brazil) and Messi and look out for the gifted Belgians.

Winners: Brazil or Argentina.

Niall Crozier (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? Quarter-finals.

Star Player: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Arturo Vidal (Chile), Toni Kroos (Germany) and Sergio Ramos (Spain).

Winners: Argentina.

Robby Sandrock (Belfast Giants)

How will England do? Last 16 at best.

Star Player: Lionel Messi didn't have a great tournament in 2010 and that will be eating away at him and motivate him to shine this time around.

Winners: At a recent wedding I attended, the favours were a £1 bet on the World Cup. I got Brazil and Spain in the final and I'm happy to go with that, with Brazil winning it.

Graham Luney (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? They'll get out of group, but will be knocked out in last 16.

Star Player: Sergio Aguero (Argentina) will score lots of goals.

Winners: Germany – best all round team.

Mal Donaghy (Northern Ireland football great)

How will England do? Difficult group and facing Italy in the first match is tough. Lose that and the pressure is on.

Star Player: If Sergio Aguero can stay fit he'll have a big part to play in the tournament.

Winners: Argentina – due to the quality of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in attack.

Steven Beacom (Belfast Telegraph)

How will England do? They will do pretty well, make the last eight and then lose to Spain.

Star Player: Apart from the obvious contenders... Thiago Silva (Brazil).

Winners: Argentina to beat Brazil in a classic final.

Tommy Breslin (Cliftonville boss)

How will England do? With a little bit of luck the young England stars could make the semi-finals.

Star Player: Neymar will do well on his home patch, plus look out for Eden Hazard.

Winners: Brazil. Or Colombia as a good each way bet to cause some shocks and upsets.

Paddy Barnes (Champion boxer)

How will England do? Won't make it out of the group stages.

Star Player: Wayne Rooney (England).

Winners: Not sure.

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