2018 World Cup: Analysis & Predictions
The 2018 World Cup groups were drawn today and I AM HYPE. Like so many other US Soccer fans out there, I’m also pretty bummed that we aren’t going to be participating, but it’s still the World Cup. Don’t give me the “Well, we’re not in it, so I’m just not going to watch it.” You sound like a child and honestly you can get over yourself. Italy, who has been a soccer powerhouse forever, didn’t make it. Netherlands, who made some noise in the last World Cup and is downright scary to face, didn’t make it. So, like I said, get over yourself…we aren’t the only one left out. Yes, I’m going to miss going crazy at bars on match days wearing Red, White, & Blue too, but it’s going to be okay. This is a beautiful event. Root for your favorite league team’s players or pick a dark horse. Just watch the event, okay? Okay.
Now, let’s get down to it. I’m sure if you’re a true soccer fan, then you’ve been watching TV all day and listening to those bozo analyst’s picks and breakdowns, but they’re predictable. Here’s my knee-jerk picks and analysis.
Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Is anyone going to say it or am I going to have to? COLLUSION. The average FIFA Ranking in this group is 45, and that’s with Russia’s own 65. In the US, we know a little something about Russia colluding in the things, but seriously? I don’t think that they’ll make it out of the group anyways, but they definitely have a shot. All it takes is one slip up by Uruguay or Egypt and they could squeak by into the Round of 16.
1. Egypt – I think that the top two or even three in this group is a bit of a toss-up, but I’m going with Egypt to win the group for one simple reason; Mohamed Salah. If you haven’t had the chance to tune into a Liverpool game this season, check this cat out. He can play anywhere up front and chances are, he’s putting one in the back of the net EVERY SINGLE GAME.
2. Uruguay – They’ve been here before and I just don’t think they let an opportunity like this slip by. They are favorites to win this group, but I think they finish 2nd.
3. Russia – I want to pick them to advance so badly, but I just can’t do it. I’m absolutely certain that something crazy is going to happen in one of their matches though.
4. Saudi Arabia – They’re lucky to be here.
Mohamed Salah is the leading goal scorer of all groups at the conclusion of group play.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco
We have a neighbor battle! I love when things like this happen, because this tournament is more about countries going at it than individual players. That game is going to be crazy to watch.
1. Portugal – Portugal was unfortunately drawn into the “Group of Death” last world cup and didn’t make it to the Round of 16. I think that Ronaldo realizes that this is his last chance to make a World Cup run and handles his business.
2. Spain – Don’t get me wrong, Spain is still a powerhouse, but they’re days of dominance are numbered. If I were them, I would give younger players a shot in this World Cup.
3. Iran – I don’t see Iran moving to the Round of 16, but I also don’t think they’ll go down without a fight.
4. Morocco – They’ll be lucky to scrape out a point in group play.
Cristiano Ronaldo nets a late winner against Spain to secure the group.
Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia
If France doesn’t win this group then it’s going to be an all-time low for that country, and they have had some lows. Besides them obliterating everyone, I think this is going to be a very entertaining group to watch.
1. France – Like I said, France should win this group…easily. They have some firepower up front with Pogba, Martial, Lacazette, and even more. I foresee them winning the group with a solid 9 points.
2. Peru – It’s going to be tight between Peru and Denmark, but I see Peru scrapping by on goal differential. Peru has been held out of this tournament for a long time so I think the country will rally behind the squad and push them through.
3. Denmark – They’ll score 4 points in the group and lose on goal differential.
4. Australia – The game against France is going to be a BLOODBATH.
France finishes the group with 9 points and a +9 goal differential.
Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
You have to root for a country that has the same population as Corpus Christi, TX, right? I’m all in…LET’S GO ICELAND.
1. Argentina – This one is easy. They have the best player in the world as their captain. They’re winning this group.
2. Iceland – Can I get a Viking Clap? Listen, I know that this is a dark horse pick, but Iceland has heart. They’ll get by the stringiest hair in their Viking beard.
3. Croatia – I think they’re a better team than Iceland, but I’m all in on the Viking train. They barely miss out on the Round of 16.
4. Nigeria – A lot of times in group play, it counts just as much on how you play against the fourth place finishers. Nigeria is a fiery squad and I think they’ll take a point away from either Iceland or Croatia.
Iceland makes it to the Round of 16.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Switzerland is a very consistent team, but I think their FIFA Rank of 8 is a little too high. Look for them to get upset.
1. Brazil – With Neymar Jr., Coutinho, and Firmino this Brazil team is as talented as any up front. They’ll be fun to watch going forward.
2. Costa Rica – This Costa Rican team is solid on defense, which will be very important when goal differential comes into play. It’s all about how they hold up against Brazil.
3. Switzerland – Switzerland will miss out on the Round of 16 because they’ll lose worse to Brazil than Costa Rica.
4. Serbia – I don’t see them getting any points in this group.
2nd place comes down to goal differential with Costa Rica squeaking by.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
If I was Mexico, I would be PISSED right now. I don’t think that this qualifies as a “Group of Death,” because of South Korea’s presence, but it’s certainly top heavy.
1. Germany – The defending champs get the job done and win the group.
2. Sweden – This all comes down to Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing. If he plays they’ll ride him to the Round of 16, and I think he’ll play. Why? Because “Lions don’t compare themselves to humans.”
3. Mexico – Mexico lets the unfavorable group get to their head and don’t make it through.
4. South Korea – Poor South Korea.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays and is the leading goal scorer in Group F.
Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
This is the draw that England needed. They missed out on the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup, but with this draw, they’ll make it easily this time around.
1. Belgium – Belgium may be the best-rounded team in the whole tournament. They’ll get a tough match from England but ultimately win the group.
2. England – England will focus on getting through rather than trying to win the group. With their fans, they NEED to get through more than anything.
3. Tunisia – I admittedly don’t know much about this Tunisian squad, but I’m always excited to see African teams play.
4. Panama – They’re overmatched in this group, especially at the top.
The top spot comes down to goal differential between Belgium and England.
Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
Sadio Mane and Senegal are going to ruin someone’s first place finish.
1. Colombia – James Rodriguez and Colombia get right back on track and win the group
2. Poland – Plays solid against all three teams, but ultimately finishes second.
3. Senegal – Sadio Mane shows out against Poland and steals a point, but the African team won’t finish higher than third.
4. Japan – No points for Japan
Sadio Mane edges James Rodriguez as top goal scorer of the group.
Round of 16
After many years of trying to get back to winning way, 2018 will be the one that brings it all together for this talented French squad. It’s a bold pick, I know. Usually the smart move is to go with the solid team, such as Germany, but I believe this is the year that the youngsters prevail. Any which way this tournament shakes out, I’m sure it’ll be packed with entertainment.