Football is one of the most sought after sports on the planet, half of which will be glued to their television screens, starting today, to stay tuned to the spectacle that is this World Cup. The FIFA World Cup 2018 begins today with 32 countries yearning to lift the trophy on July 15th in Moscow. Some of them will get taken down by the obstacles half-way through their journey, while the others will keep on fighting till the very end, in hopes of making it to the final stages of the Cup. Looking at the groups that have been drawn out, the chances of some extremely riveting clashes seem very high.
This World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, an international football tournament that takes place every four years, contended in by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The Cup is to be held from today, i.e. 14th of June 2018 till the 15th of July 2018. This will be the first World Cup to be taking place in Europe since the 2006 Championship that happened in Germany.
An aggregate of 64 matches will be played in 12 distinct venues, in 11 different cities. The ultimate game will take place on the 15th of July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the winners of the World Cup will be eligible to advance to the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Now that the dates are set, the field is ready, and the groups have been revealed, it’s time for the most exciting part: studying and scrutinising each group and their teams individually and determining their route to the trophy. Who will get through to the end from each group? Who’s got more shots at taking the fans by surprise- for the better or for worse?
The draw for the World Cup took place on the 1st of December 2017, in Moscow, leaving the fans with enough time to dissect and examine each and every group closely, and make their predictions as to which team would qualify for the round of 16. The wave of excitement, and suspense that this event has created is at a massive crescendo. Some highly intriguing ties are anticipated in this round of 16.
The FIFA World rankings work in the favour of tremendously talented and powerful teams like Germany and Brazil. However, the other nations too possess some extraordinary players who’ve been in the headlines in some top domestic leagues around the world.
Now, before we move on to the predictions, let us first have a look at the groups that have been formed:
Russia stood in the 4th position in the 1960 FIFA World Cup. Uruguay won the 1930 and 1950 World Cup titles. Egypt and Uruguay may have dominance in this group considering the FIFA World standings of the other two. This draw has definitely made it easier for Egypt and Uruguay to make it to the round of 16. The legend, Mo Salah is seemingly going to stand out to be the lead of the show for Egypt after enjoying a marvellous Premier League Season.
Russians may be the ones hosting the most exciting event in world football, but they’ll most likely have a dicey time as part of this group. Russia stand 66th in the FIFA World rankings, that is, 20 spots below their fellow contenders in Egypt. Their team doesn’t possess such astounding players to match up to the standards of Uruguay and Egypt.
Albeit, Portugal and Spain stand 3rd and 6th in the FIFA World rankings respectively, there is a high possibility of Spain overpowering Portugal. Essentially, there will be a fight between Cristiano Ronaldo and his fellow Real Madrid accomplices. Nevertheless, it seems fairly evident what teams will come through with flying colours in Group B, which also implies that Morocco and Iran will be fighting it out to dodge finishing bottom.
In all likelihood, Portugal will be adjudged runners up to Spain, to play Uruguay in the following round. While Uruguay are expected to get through to the quarterfinals, Portugal fall out at the last 16 stage. Spain, on the other hand, are foreseen to successfully prevail in Group B and then to see of a clash with either Egypt or Russia in the round of 16 which would mean that they’ll most probably be playing Argentina, who are just as spectacular as Spain.
Due to the absence of a lead coach, Australia has close to zero shots at being victorious. Peru, on the other hand, stand on the 11th spot in the FIFA World rankings. There is no doubt that France are going to emerge victorious in all the three games and there is nothing that could possibly stop that from happening.
They’re most likely to play either Nigeria, Croatia or Iceland in the round of 16 and will most probably be able to get through without much trouble. Followed by this, they might have a close battle with Uruguay, which again, they are very likely to succeed at. However, in the semi-finals they might play Germany, and this is where their World Cup journey is expected to come to a halt. For the rest, it’s a fight for not finishing bottom.
With brilliantly skilled players like Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, Croatia are expected to save themselves a spot in the round of 16. Argentina, regardless of all hurdles, are anticipated to and are most likely to win. Nevertheless, Iceland possesses some real good attackers and the way they performed at the Euro may actually act as a stepping stone for them towards victory in this group stage.
Even though Nigeria may be able to get past their clash against Iceland, their chances of winning aren’t too great. Iceland could possibly stick to their Euro 2016 reputation and manage to gain ground and advance from Group D. They might be able to beat Croatia and fight France in the round of 16, which is when they say goodbye to the World Cup for this year.
Brazil may find it effortless to make it to the knockout stage. Costa Rica is also expected to surprise the fans by progressing from this stage. With an excellent centre midfield like Sergei, chances are that Serbia might end up turning the tables. They might be able to push past Switzerland but yet, they might not get a spot in the round of 16 and could finish third, above Costa Rica.
Costa Rica may have to play Brazil and Switzerland for a qualification spot, along with Serbia also fighting for the top two. Many are expecting Brazil to play Germany in the World Cup final where Germany will once again emerge as the winners.
The team that stands at the topmost spot in the FIFA World rankings and and the present World Champions, Germany are foreseen to come through successfully in all 3 games and reach the round of 16. Mexico’s games will most likely be very thrilling to watch as they’re an amazing team, with star players like Hernandez and Herrera as striker and midfielder respectively.
Sweden will most probably play to be in the 2nd spot if they continue to perform like they did in the playoffs. For South Korea, unfortunately, this draw might turn out to be unlucky as their chances of winning against teams like Germany and Mexico seem to be very less. Germany won their title in 2014, and they’ll now be fighting to keep it in 2018, until next time.
The only crucial teams in this group are Belgium and England. With these two being the strongest teams, Tunisia and Panama might find it troublesome to get past the group stage. Belgium are expected to finish in the top of there group which will be decided by their triumph against England in their final match. They are then predicted to play Poland in the round of 16 and win against them to play Brazil in the quarterfinals.
England are likely to encounter some tough competitors at the quarterfinals stage, whom they might struggle to get past. They may be runners up to Belgium and play their toughest opponents, Germany, and as predicted, Germany will triumph over England. Panama’s odds of finishing in the last spot seem very high.
Although, Poland happens to be one of the teams at higher positions on the FIFA World rankings, their victory over Columbia seems highly doubtful. Nevertheless, the battle between the two Real Madrid players, Rodriquez and Lewandowski would be extremely entertaining to watch. Japan may not be as tough as the other two, but they still stand a chance, Though, they’ll possibly finish bottom. The clash between Japan and Senegal will be the decider.
So, looking at the current and past performances of these teams and players in the qualifiers, these are the predictions that are being made and discussed by football fanatics around the world. But who’s to say, the teams we think are most and/or least capable of winning or losing might turn the tables around and surprise their fans. Football is, after all, a beautiful yet complex and unpredictable sport. Who do you think will win the FIFA World Cup 2018?