Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 - Some Bold Predictions!

Team to go all the way: Germany

A bold prediction again!
Let's go through what it all looks like this time round.

First, a brief background:
The FIFA World Cup 2018 will be hosted by Russia and some top teams have been eliminated during the qualifiers to the World Cup - namely Italy, Netherlands, USA & Chile.

Last World Cup winners: Germany - 2014
Last Euro Cup winners: Portugal - 2016

So who all are in the race this time round?
Familiar names, but this time round many of them look fearsome.

The 8 teams that can make it to the Quarter Finals are:

1. Germany
Stregth: Bench as good as 1st team of many minnows!
Weakness: Young team
Watch out for: Werner, Muller, Kroos, Ozil, Hummels, Neuer (and nearly everyone!)

a. Extremely astute coach who can bring the best out of players, even the youth!
b. Strength in depth

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

2. England
Strength: Young team - no psychological barriers of the past
a. Lack of depth & defence, and
b. Defensive mid-field not as great as the top teams
Watch out for: Kane, Alli, Sterling, Rashford

Creative attack complemented with the lethal Harry Kane

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation,
 Note: England usually prefer to play with 3 defenders under Southgate, the current coach):

3. Brazil
Strength: Strong attack
Weakness: Weak links left in defence with the absence of Dani Alves and David Luiz (both through injury)
Watch out for: Neymar, Coutinho, Jesus, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Firmino

The brazilian flair in attack, led by Neymar

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

4. Belgium
Strength: Amazing midfield & attack
Weakness: Pressure handling on the big stages - Lack of manager's experience at the top stage (Martinez has won only the FA Cup as a mojor trophy in his coaching career)
Watch out for: Eden Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Courtois

This Belgium side is labelled the Golden Generation, and rightly so! An attack that would be envied by the topmost teams

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

5. Portugal
Strength: Freshly crowned the European Champions in 2016 - a psychological advantage
Weakness: Rely on their defensive game and closing out teams to progress.
Watch out for: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Pepe

a. Santos, their manager has the tactical nous to make the best of the existing talent & turn the group into a strong team.
b. Cristiano Ronaldo has been phenominal in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring 15 Goals in 9 games and further assisting 3 goals. Such a form, on the back of helping his club claim a successive 3rd Champions League, could be decisive.

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

6. France
Strength: Enviable lineup with a strong bench too for attack
Weakness: High expectations on young shoulders
Watch out for: Mbappe, Pogba, Griezmann, Lemar, Dembele, Lloris

If Deschamps can harness the individual potential into the team, then this team can go far with its Exceptional talent

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

7. Argentina
Strength: Lethal attack - So good that they could afford to leave out the joint top scorer of Serie A (Italy's top league)!
Weakness: Mediocre midfield and defence
Watch out for: Messi, Dybala, Higuain, Aguero, D'Maria, Mascherano

a. If this Argentine team wants to go far, they will have to ensure they do not ship in many goals
b. The lethal attack needs to bind together, which has most often underperformed and failed to get the best of their star Messi

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

Strength: Creative and Sharp attack - Strong defence
Weakness: As always, binding of the team, mainly coming from the top two teams of La Liga who play in pretty different ways
Watch out for: Iniesta, David Silva, Diego Costa, Isco, Ramos, Pique, De Gea

Creative attacking talent & a solid defense. If the team can band well together making the most of their talents, then they sure can go far

Predicted starting line-up (not necessarily the same formation):

Wih all the top teams boasting of super star attacks, the battles will mainly be won in the midfield.

So taking a closer look at the midfield, the 4 teams that can make it to the Semi Finals are:
Germany, Brazil, Belgium & France

From here, it gets close and the teams that can make it to the Finals are: Brazil and Germany, indeed the ones with the strength in depth to reach the last mile.

And eventually, this time too, do not be surprised if Germany lift the World Cup!

Golden Boot Winner: Timo Werner

Image Source:

a. Smart in one-on-one situations and in front of Goal (including tight angles)
b. Comfortable when man marked
c. Looping headers
d. Pace and movement - whizzes past defenders and splits open defenses
e. Deft first touch
f. Assists - Splitting & selfless, both!