Thirty two nations and one World Cup winner
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is upon us. Russia will welcome the world and its fans for an amazing 5 weeks of action starting on June 14 with Russia – Saudi Arabia until the Final on July 15th. The capital Moscow host 12 games out of the 64 to be played, divided into two stadium (Luzhniki and Spartak stadium). Only two teams will remain on July 15 for one to become World Champion. There are four to six nations that can pretend winning the Jules Rimet Trophy. According to most of the bookmakers and World Cup predictions the absolute title favorite is Brazil. However there are more title candidates in this thrilling World Cup edition.
4-time World Cup champion, the Maanschaft arrives in Russia full of confidence having dominated its World Cup qualifier group with 10 wins in 10 matches. They are the clear favorites to win it again after 2014 against Argentina 1-0. Germany ended up in a difficult group along side Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
Their first game against Mexico is set to be the most difficult for the Germans. They will look to have a good start in the tournament right from the beginning. The team is solid at every level mixing up experience with Müller, Kedhira and Kroos for examples and young talents such as Sane and Kimmich. It will be interesting to see how the German National team will play, a talented squad that likes to control possession of the ball.
The 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro champion went through difficult times after their triumph when they got eliminated at the group stage in Brazil. They bounce back the last couple years and got the best of Italy in the World Cup qualifiers. Iniesta and Ramos bring the experience and are the leaders on this new look Spanish team while players such as Isco and Asensio are also key for coach Lopetegui.
Looking at Spain national team, you mostly see a combination of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid players, two of the best club teams in the world. La Roja is armed and poised to go far in the tournament where they could possibly meet with Germany in the semifinals. They will face neighbors Portugal for the first game of the group and one of the highlights of the first round.
The 5-time World Cup champions took two years to recover from the apocalyptic result in 2014 with a blatant defeat 7-1 to Germany in the semifinals. For months Brazilian football was mourning the most humiliating loss ever for the Seleção. However the Brazilian national team bounced back with a strong qualifying campaign in South America and can count on a very-well oiled team going to Russia.
Pressure will be high on the Brazilians as the team is targeting World victory for a record 6th time. Any elimination before the Final will be another failure for Brazilian football that has been looking for glory since 2002 World Cup. Neymar & Co. will be one of the fun teams to watch during the World Cup.
France have great talents and a very competitive squad. The French come as outsiders behind Germany, Spain and Brazil and coach Deschamps is betting on youth for the World Cup with young rising stars like Mbappé, Dembélé, Mendy and others. Atlético Madrid striker, Antoine Griezmann will lead the team during the tournament.
Real Madrid star Benzema was snubbed by the coach and did not make the cut to Russia. In previous tournaments, France lost to Portugal in Euro 2016 Final and to the 2014 World Champions Germany in the quarterfinal stage in Brazil. They target at least the quarterfinals again but could look further if the talented players come together with great collective performances.
Argentina almost missed the 2018 World Cup and they had to win away from home their last qualifier match to secure a trip to Russia. Argentina lost 6-1 to Spain in friendly match a couple months and do not seem very threatening for Russia. However Messi and his squad reached the Final in 2014 and lost another two finals after that in 2015 Copa America and in 2016 the Copa America Centenario.
Is it the time for Argentina to renew with its glorious past? They come as out as outsiders but it would not be surprising to see Argentina lose early or on the opposite go very far in the tournament. Argentina are the most unpredictable team in this tournament with many questions unanswered.
Belgium have a strong squad maturating for the World Cup with players in all but the biggest European clubs. In an attractive group with England, it will be interesting to see how the team responds to the challenges. Belgium have a squad armed to reach the last four of the tournaments.
They will likely face strong oppositions from South American nations at the quarterfinal stage, should they reach that stage. With players like Hazard and De Bruyne, Belgium are equipped to make some noise in Russia.
About the author:
William King, is a journalist working for FootballPredictions.com – a website that offers free predictions in of different football leagues. Next to writing articles about the World Cup William likes to spend time in the pub and watch every football game globally.