Barnes is backing Neymar & Co to win it
JOHN BARNES is tipping Brazil to be top nuts in Russia but insists England can enjoy their best World Cup for 52 years.
He is excited about the potential of Gareth Southgate’s talented young squad but fears they may fall at the semi-finals when the pressure is really on.
And the former Watford and Liverpool ace, capped 79 times, writes off Germany defending their crown.
He said: “You have to question whether Germany still have that hunger, determination and desire because they won it last time.
“After Spain won it in 2010, the next time in Brazil they did not have that same hunger to succeed again.
“So the same could happen to Germany although they are a great side and will be there or thereabouts.
“When you look at the Brazil squad, you see a lot of guys who will be desperate to make up for what happened four years ago on their home soil and put things right.
“I see that hunger and the incredible talent and potential match-winners they have.
“They only had Neymar to rely on in 2014 and when he didn’t do it, they had no other answer.
“This time they have danger and threats all over the place with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and so on. For me they are the favourites.
“I can certainly see Neymar having a special World Cup.
“Brazil also have a decent defence but it is the goal threats and ability to create so many chances which makes them so strong.
“There’s no reason why England should not get through their group.
“And if they get a favourable draw they could feasibly get as far as the semi-finals which would be a great achievement.”
But Barnes, 54, insists he would not pair Jamie Vardy with Harry Kane in attack.
He said: “I would not play two up front. When things are going well, it’s fine – but if things start to go wrong there can be problems.
“From a defensive point of view we are not good enough to compete with the very best teams at international level so we need to play that extra defensive player in midfield.
“If we don’t we will open ourselves up to being overrun in midfield by more technically skilled opponents.
“Having Eric Dier as the only holding midfielder would not be enough. If you play five at the back, you have to be strong in midfield too.”
■ HAVING A PARTY: Vardy lifts the Premier League trophy ■
RED ALERT: Vardy says England can go all the way ■
VIKING HELL: Shocker against Iceland in Euro 2016
BRAZIL NUT: John Barnes