Of course teams can start too slow, the Italians are fairly infamous for that. If I had to predict right now I'd say if Brazil and Holland meet up in the Quarter Finals, as they are seeded to do so, then I would expect the winner of the World Cup to come from that match.
Originally when looking over the match ups my biggest concern for England was that they came second in their group and ended up playing the Germans in the round of 16. Now I'm not so sure. To win the World Cup, and I don't believe England will, but to do so the team will need at least one signature win against world class competition. It would be an intensely difficult game for England but such a victory is the kind of spring board that the team will need. And while the path would be difficult should England advance they would avoid Brazil until the final.
If you study the fixture bracket the potential ease of England's quarter (Group A and Group C) of the draw is striking. England should finish first in their group and get to the Semi Finals, anything less given the potential fixture list would be a complete failure. There is no one ranked higher than them that they should face. This all changes if England finish second in their group.
In the second quarter (Group B and Group D) are Argentina and Germany who are seeded to play each other in the Quarter Finals. The third quarter (Group F and H) seemed like Spain's for the taking prior to that first game hiccup. It's from this fixture grouping that I can see a "surprise" semi finalist emerging because the second place finisher from the group G is going to play on that side. Which leaves the final quarter (Group E and G) which contain 3 of the top 4 ranked countries in the world, Brazil, Portugal and Holland. As I mentioned Brazil and Holland are seeded to play each other in the quarter finals.
The struggles of Spain and Italy set up the possibility that both might finish second in their groups and match them up against Holland and Brazil leaving four of the top ranked sides in the world (1. Brazil, 2. Spain, 4. Holland, 5 Italy) playing each other in the second round!
Imagine if you will just that second round scenario plus Portugal or Ivory Coast finishing second in group G and England finishing second in Group C. All of which are reasonable and you would end up with the distinct possibility that the USA could get to the semi finals of the World Cup!
In such a scenario the US would play whomever emerged from Brazil et al while the Argentina/Germany winner could play the Group G second place team or one of the surprise South American teams such as Chile or Paraguay.
Certainly everything can change after the next round of matches but the first game play of England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ivory Coast, Brazil and Holland makes such a situation quite within the realms of possibility.
Such a projection is an Algeria upset of the US away from looking foolish I grant you nor is this in any way the best US team in recent memory regardless of last year's Confederations Cup. The scenario is there for an unexpected team, maybe even two time winner Uruguay, to end up in the semi finals.
My prediction? A Manchester City player will win the World Cup...