Barnes is back­ing Ney­mar & Co to win it

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By GARY FITZGER­ALD

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

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