I can’t say I deviated too much from conventional thought with my predictions. The only real surprise is probably Greece topping their group, and that was based more on their reputation as stubborn bastards who usually do well under pressure than any knowledge or insight.
As far as potential winners go, it’s hard to bet against Spain. Argentina and Germany can’t or simply won’t defend, Brazil have relatively poor forward options, while Italy, Portugal and France don’t have enough the requisite quality equally spread throughout their squads to inspire confidence in their respective pushes.
Spain’s group stage draw is tough and their route to the final even tougher, but the squad is still by a distance the best around. The defence is as good as ever, reports of Xavi Hernández’s demise are greatly exaggerated and with Diego Costa up front instead of Fernando Torres, Álvaro Negredo or Roberto Soldado, goals should not be hard to come by.
Their pummelling at the hands of Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final did have an epochal feel about it, but the champions have all the experience required to put such trauma behind them and retain their crown.
One other prediction: Messi will deliver.