My World Cup Predictions 2018
Ever since that Mario Götze extra-time winner against Argentina in 2014, I speak on behalf of all football fans when I say that the days of counting down the till the next World Cup are finally over. With the host nation Russia set to kick things off tonight in Moscow against Group A opponents Saudi Arabia, here is my predictions and breakdown of how I believe this World Cup will unfold:
· Saudi Arabia
While I am not keen on the defensive capabilities of Uruguay, I believe their attacking prowess of both Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez who have a combined total of 72 goals between them, will led them to be worthy winners of Group A.
Many have tipped Egypt to be runners up of the group, however, the injury of Mohammad Salah have hindered their chances of being carried through the group stages. Russia’s defensive record is proving to be their edging factor over their Group A opponents having kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 games. Also being the host nation always aids the smaller teams in pushing themselves beyond their expectations.
Group B is one of the safest groups to predict, with both Spain and Portugal being the likely candidates to qualify into the knockout stages. With the sacking of Spain’s head coach, Julen Lopetgui, yesterday I believe that any chances the nation had of winning the tournament have been seriously reduced. However, Spain’s squad breeds much talent and experience which will drive them out of the group stages.
Portugal’s Euro 2016 campaign proved that are defensively sound without having any defensive household names having only won 1 game inside 90 minutes in the whole tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo is always going to produce goals at any stage especially with the likes of Bernando Silva and Gelson Martins creating the chances. I believe that Spain’s managerial crisis and Portugal’s experiences of Euro 2016 will lead the later to top Group B.
France’s talented individuals should wipe the floor with their Group C opponents. Their attacking options of 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe and then Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann shows the attacking options that Manager Didier Deschamps has at his disposal. Also with the likes of Paul Pogba and Nabil Fekir being protected by N’Golo Kante, I’m sure goals will surface from their midfield.
Denmark should overcome both Australia and Peru in their race for a destined 2ndplace finish. However, much will rely on the form of star man Christian Eriksen as during their qualification he proved to be key in providing goals and assists.
The dark horses of the competition will be Croatia who will overcome likely favourites Argentina to win Group C. With this likely to be Luka Modric’s and Mario Manzukic’s last tournament I believe they will be both be key players in Croatia’s campaign.
Many have tipped Nigeria to be likely candidates to qualify our of Group C due to their young generation of Premier League stars amongst their ranks. Despite this and having one of the nicest kits a World Cup has ever seen, I think their lack of experience will lead them to narrowly miss out.
Every World Cup one of the likely favourites has a disastrous campaign. This tournament I am tipping Argentina to be that team as I have not been convinced by their recent form as they lost to Nigeria in a friendly in November and had to rely on a Lionel Messi hat-trick to qualify for the tournament. However, having Messi, Sergio Agureo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín as attacking options will led them to qualify to the knockout stages.
· Costa Rica
Brazil’s reputation and talent should see them ease through Group E. The 5-time World Cup winners have too many match winners in their team, with star man Neymar being favourite to claim player of the tournament despite his injury lay-off in the latter half of the season. He will also be aided by Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Barcelona’s Phillipe Coutinho who have proved to be natural goal scorers.
Although Serbia’s manager and team have little tournament experience, the form of the core of the squad will see them beat an aging Switzerland team and Costa Rica to second place. With Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic and Crystal Palace’s set piece specialist, Luka Milovojevic dictating the middle of the park and inform Aleksandar Mitrovic, who played a pivotal role in Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League leading the front line, Serbia will be an outfit who will be hard to beat in Russia.
· South Korea
Like France and Brazil, Germany should have an easy process in qualifying for the knockout stages. With their squad consisting of a balance of experience and youthful talent such as Toni Kroos and Leon Goretezka in central midfield a prime example of that. I believe their star-man will be who I am tipping to get the Golden Boot, Timo Werner. The 22-year-old already has 47 Bundesliga goals for RB Leipzig, which has led him gain attention from Bayern Munich this summer.
Mexico will have a hard fight to finish second with both Sweden and South Korea proving to be worthy competitors. Their attacking flair will tip them into 2ndplace with Javier Hernandez and Carolos Vela leading the line.
Runner Up: England
While I believe that this England squad will not breed the same disappointment that has been seen in both 2010 and 2014, I think that Belguim’s squad oozes too much world class talent. The Red Devils have the likes of Kevin DeBruyne and Eden Hazard creating chances for star man Romelu Lukaku who will score goals.
England’s youthful side and experimental back-three will mean that Gareth Southgates side will be full of energy and attacking play. With Harry Kane leading the line and Marcus Rashford proving himself to be a revelation in an England shirt, I expect goals and clean sheets in their first two opening games. The last game of Group G is Belgium v England which will be the decider of who wins the group.
With the last tournaments, top goal scorer being Columbian attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, I believe that the South Americans will top the final group. Their team in 2014 managed to reach the quarter-finals and this tournament only seems them to be stronger. With striker Ramadel Falco rediscovering his form at Monaco in the last two seasons and their defence being led by Spurs centre back Davison Sanchez and Barcelona sensation Yerry Mina.
Second place will be taken up by a rejuvenated Senegal squad who will become the Ghana that was seen in 2010. Their team will trump Poland’s lack of creativity in midfield and Japan’s lack of goal scoring threat up top with the likes of Sadio Mane and Diafra Sakho in attack being balanced out by Idrissa Guaye and Cheikhou Kouyate in midfield.
· Uruguay vs. Spain
· Portugalvs. Russia
· Francevs. Argentina
· Croatiavs. Denmark
· Brazilvs. Mexico
· Germanyvs. Serbia
· Belgiumvs. Senegal
· Columbia vs England
Spain vs. France
Portugal vs Germany
France vs Germany
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