Here are my 7 major World Cup predictions.
7. Brazil Win
Brazil have always had talent, but national team boss Tite has got the side playing tactically astute and highly-effective football which has made them one of the favourites in Russia. I’ve got them down to win their group before beating Mexico, Belgium and Uruguay to secure their place in the final.
6. Germany to Reach the Final
Fans wave German flags at the Fanmeile public viewing at Brandenburg Gate prior to the Germany vs. Italy UEFA Euro 2012 semi-finals match on June 28, 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
Defending World Cup champions Germany go into just about every major tournament as one of the three or four favourites, such is their exceptional tournament pedigree. They say a bad German side reaches the World Cup final and a good one wins it, so my wall chart is calling this a bad German side, as I’ve got them losing 2-1 to Brazil in the final. I think Germany will win their group, before potentially knocking out Serbia and England. That would set up a huge semi-final most likely against either Spain or Argentina. I think it’ll be a Spain vs Germany semi-final, and I’d just edge towards the Germans in that one.
5. Uruguay Dark Horses
Every World Cup there is a dark horse, and this summer's could be Uruguay, if you trust me at all that is, and there’s honestly no reason why you should. The bookies don’t give Uruguay much of a chance, but they’re certainly not a team I’d want to face. They shouldn’t have to break a sweat to win group A, where they’ll meet Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the hosts Russia. I’m backing them for three wins out of three before a last 16 tie with Portugal. That’s a considerably trickier task, but I’d still fancy Uruguay, who would most likely face France in the Quarter-Finals. That would be a difficult match to call, but I think Uruguay could even sneak past France, before being sent backing by Brazil.
The reasons for backing Uruguay? Well, they always have a dogged, determined and resolute defence, which is the case once again this summer, and it’s also one packed full of experience and with a good goalkeeper behind them. They have a really youthful and talented midfield where I think Lucas Torreira and Rodrigo Bentancur will star, and then of course, they have Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up top. All in all, they’re a dangerous outfit.
4. England Reach Quarters
A man sells football merchandise next to the beach on June 22, 2010 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. England play Slovenia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium tomorrow in the third and final...
This might not seem like that important of an inclusion, but since the majority of our views come from the UK, and England are the only UK team in the tournament, we thought we’d include it anyway. England really ought to get out of their group, and they’ll most likely face Colombia or Poland if they do so. I think they’ll win in the last 16, before a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful Quarter-Final exit against Germany. Penalties anyone?
3. Griezmann for Golden Boot
Who will be the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup? It’s a topic we could do a whole video on itself, but we’ll try to be brief. The bookies make Lionel Messi their favourite and he’s a decent shout, but the trick tends to be finding a player with an easier group and in a team likely to reach at least the Quarter-Finals. We’d look at Antoine Griezmann then, who ended the season well with Atletico Madrid, was the top scorer at Euro 2016, and is a dead certainty to start for France. With Denmark, Australia and Peru their opponents in the group stages, Griezmann has the potential to get among the goals early on.
2. Mbappe for Best Young Player
Kylian Mbappe of France runs with the ball during the international friendly match between France and Colombia at Stade de France on March 23, 2018 in Paris, France.
If you wanted an outside bet for top scorer, Kylian Mbappe is a good shout at 33/1. We’d edge towards Griezmann as there are no guarantees Mbappe will start, and if he does, he will most likely be pushed into a wider position. Despite that, we still think the 19-year-old will impress in Russia. His progress has been rapid over the last couple of years, and a starring role at a major tournament may just be the next step. His fellow countryman Ousmane Dembele, Brazil star Gabriel Jesus and Uruguay’s pivot Lucas Torreira could all be in contention as well.
1. Neymar for Golden Ball
The biggest accolade going at a World Cup award ceremony is the Golden Ball, awarded to the player who is deemed to have put in the most impressive performances. Lionel Messi took the title in 2014, with many feeling it should have gone to James Rodriguez. Nine times out of ten, the award is won by a player from a team who reaches the final, so immediately that narrows our lens. Since we think Brazil are highly likely to reach the final, we’re backing their star man Neymar to take the title. Neymar was Brazil’s best player in 2014, and they fell apart following his back injury. The country are no longer so reliant on the world’s most expensive footballer, but he is still their standout player, and has looked very sharp in the country’s warm up games.