World Cup 2018: 4 bold predictions for the group stage
The FIFA World Cup is a mere few days away from commencing. Soon, the whole world will stop what they are doing and watch as 32 nations will do battle on the football pitch. Passion will take over from different directions and support will come like nothing else. The planet will unite in spirit for this month-long celebration of the beautiful game as they will choose sides. Some teams will do well, while others will not.
There will be expectations aplenty in Russia towards all sets of players. They will not want to disappoint their people, as they dream towards unrivalled joy and success. The first obstacle in everybody's way is the group stage. 32 teams are part of the tournament, but only 16 will remain when the dust settles. There will be many surprises throughout the tournament as we may see heavily fancied favourites getting knocked out by one killer blow, and uplifting success stories from underdogs you would never imagine seeing in the latter stages of the World Cup.
That is the beauty of the game. It is nearly impossible to predict what will happen in any game, but here I attempt to call the surprises we will see. These are four bold predictions for the group stage of the World Cup, the things that could very well surprise the world.
#1 Russia will be dumped out by Egypt
There has only been one occasion where the hosts of the World Cup have not qualified to the Round of 16, South Africa in 2010. So it is more than likely that Russia will utilise their home advantage to the fullest and go as far as they possibly can. However, they were dealt an escapable but tricky group with the likes of Uruguay and Egypt.
Uruguay, with the lethal strike-force of Suarez and Cavani, are heavy favourites to win the group. But it is not so straightforward for second place. Russia and Egypt are both evenly matched on the field, with home advantage playing a part for the Russians. However, they do lack a world-class game changer.
Mohamed Salah is no stranger to being a national icon and carrying a nation's hopes and dreams on his shoulders. He is expected to play a part in all of Egypt's group games and will look to make an impact. That impact could come at the hosts' expense, as his team-mates will rise to Salah's level. This could be the second time we see the hosts fail to make any sort of impact at the World Cup.