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World Cup 2014 views from Tokyo and Yokohama: Belgium, Chile and Argentina

by Mark Buckton

Special To The Japan Times

Melanie Godart
University researcher, 30
(Belgian)

Who is Belgium’s man to watch?

OK, so there is more than one. I would watch Thibaut Courtois, who is our goalkeeper, and also Vincent Kompany, because they are among the best players in the world, and together they are making a really good defensive line, and I would be surprised if we take more than one or two goals in the group phase. And then also our coach, Marc Wilmots, because he is the main reason why Belgium is in the World Cup, after missing the last two.

How far do you expect Belgium and Japan to get?

So, Belgium has a really young team, and quite experimental, so I think that Belgium has the talent to get out of the group phase, and then anything can happen. It is not going to be easy, especially because we might have to play Germany in the second phase.

As for Japan, they have a really good chance to win against Ivory Coast and Greece, and then it’s going to be another story with Colombia. I think Japan has a really good chance to be second in the group phase, and I think also that Japan beat Belgium a few months ago in a friendly game, so for Belgium that makes them a good team.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

The first match, which is Brazil against Croatia, because it’s the first one, and the first match for Belgium, because it’s going to give us the first idea of how the team manages pressure.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I think that Brazil is going to win because they are really good, of course, and because they are playing at home, and I’ve heard that Brazil hasn’t lost an official game at home since, like, 1975, like 40 years ago.

As for the dark horses, I was thinking the usual ones, like Germany, Spain, the Netherlands — these teams. But also South American teams. I would pay attention to Colombia because they are playing really, really well.


Rolly Arros
Chef/Spanish teacher, 33
(Chilean)

Who is Chile’s man to watch?

Alexis Sanchez. He is playing for Barcelona, and this year he played very well, so I hope he also plays well for the Chilean team.

How far do you expect Chile and Japan to get?

I think Japan and Chile, if we are lucky, we can go to the next stage, probably.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

I would love to watch Argentina against Brazil — a South American classic game.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

I think Brazil, they are local, so they are the favorites now. Also, they have a really strong team, so I think they will win. The team that can maybe beat Brazil could be Germany, Argentina or maybe Uruguay.


Mariana Varela
Graphic designer, 30
(Argentine)

Who is Argentina’s man to watch?

Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing Lionel Messi this time, as usual. He is the best player in the world. I am very proud he is from Argentina.

How far do you expect Argentina and Japan to get?

Of course, I’m looking forward to Argentina going very far — at least, you know, to be in the semi-finals — but I know that there are many other teams that are really, really strong, especially Brazil. So, I’m not sure if we’re going to make it, but I hope so.

And in the case of Japan, hmm, well, I hope it is going to be a surprise, because I don’t have high hopes for them, really. If it was the girls’ team, it would be another story, but I don’t think the guys are so strong.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

Well, I’m hoping to see all the first games and then, you know, draw some new conclusions, but at first I would just like to see the first round — no special game in particular.

Who do you expect to win, and which dark horses could upset their plans?

Well, I hope Argentina wins the World Cup. If it is not Argentina, maybe Brazil will be fine. I wouldn’t like any other team to win, actually. Any dark horses? I don’t know. Probably South Korea. Yeah, I think it may be.

Download a FIFA World Cup group-stage wall chart in PDF form, packed with opinions culled from these interviews and facts about the tournament.