Well, we are only a few days away from what is *USUALLY* one of the most exciting times for me….The FIFA World Cup! Although I am still excited, it’s just not the same when your team isn’t included. For those that don’t know, I am a HUGE KNVB/Dutch National team supporter. In fact, in 2014 I went to Brazil with my father for the World Cup and lived out a lifelong dream of watching 5 Dutch games! You can read all about our trip HERE.
Since the Dutch failed to qualify for this tournament, I should be able to make my predictions with my head instead of my heart this time. Below are my group & knockout predictions, my player(s) to watch in each group, and my prediction for the golden boot!
Jordan’s Group Stage Predictions & Notes
Group A: Uruguay & Egypt Advance
Assuming all is equal and fair, I think Egypt comes out on top of Russia for 2nd spot, however this IS Fifa, and this IS Russia, so I won’t be surprised if Russia finishes 2nd in the group.
Players to watch: Assuming Mohamed Salah is healthy, he is the best player in this group – and maybe the tournament. He is coming off one hell of a year for Liverpool, and I honestly think if he wasn’t injured in the Champions league final, Liverpool would have won that game. Causal fans of the game who only watch during the World Cup are going to love this guy!
Other players to watch in this group have to be Cavani & Suarez for Uruguay. Suarez is good, but he’s a douche – you probably remember him as the guy who bit MULTIPLE players.
I’d also keep a close eye on the refereeing during every game Russia is involved in.
Group B: Spain & Portugal Advance
I think Spain is going to rediscover some of it’s previous magic. They still have a ton of talent and besides Portugal, a fairly easy group. Although Portugal may have the top player in the group Spain is deeper, and has a MUCH stronger back end & midfield.
Players to watch: Christiano Ronaldo is the best player in this group (even though it pains me to say that). The most exciting player to watch in this group will be David Silva from Spain.
**Fun Drinking game Idea for the Spain vs Portugal game: Take a drink anytime Ronaldo or Costa Dive or whine. Bonus points if you are still alive after the first 15 minutes 🙂
Group C: France & Denmark Advance
France should have no problem winning this group, as they are clearly the best team in the group. Denmark should be able to secure second spot, although Australia & Peru are no pushovers. This group should have a lot of fun & competitive games. Casual fans will probably develop a love for the Aussies, as they play a hard nose, direct game and their fans are great!
Players to watch: Almost the entire France team is made up of superstars, but keep an extra close eye on Paul Pogba (he will be the guy controlling the entire midfield), Antoine Griezmann (should score a lot of goals), and I am personally most excited to watch Kylian Mbbappe (He is only 19, but is going to be a star). Denmark’s Christian Eriksen is far and away the best player on Denmark. He is super creative, and has one of the best crosses/passes you will see in the entire world. 38 year old Tim Cahill from Australia is worth noting as well. He scored a wonder goal last world Cup (I was at the game), and even though he is almost 40, he led Australia in goals in qualifying.
Group D: Argentina & Iceland Advance
Okay, I may be picking slightly with my heart on this one. Argentina should win this group no problem, but in all honesty, I think this is the group of death, and any of the remaining other teams could easily finish second. I chose Iceland, mainly because it’s what I hope happens, especially after their magical run at the last Euro Cup (and so I can see more of their fans):
Players to watch: Even the most casual of fans has probably heard of Messi. He is, and has been the best player in the World for the last decade. He does it all, and he does it at lightning speed. Even as a hardcore supporter of another team, you can’t help but be in awe of him every time he touches the ball. Sergio Aguero is another player to watch, he usually has no problem finding the back of the net, but with Messi feeding him passes, I expect a lot of goals from him. Iceland is led by Gylfi Sigurdsson, and although he didn’t have a great season this year, and then he blew out his knee, which he is still recovering from…but when he is on his game, he is unbelievable – he should drive the majority of Iceland’s offence. Croatia could just as easily finish 2nd in this group, and if they do it will be in large part to their creative midfield pair of Luka Modric & Ivan Rakitic.
Group E: Brazil & Switzerland Advance
It basically goes without saying that Brazil will advance into the knockout round at the World Cup. They are currently ranked 2nd in the world, and boast an incredibly deep team that has players who can score at will on most opponents. As usual, Brazil’s fate will depend on if they can keep the ball out of their own net. Switzerland should finish 2nd in the group, although Costa Rica could surprise them.
Players to watch: Much like France, half of the Brazil squad could be listed, however I’ll narrow it down to 3. Neymar, who is on pace to break Pele’s goal scoring record for Brazil, is the main goal scoring threat, and is right up there with Messi in talks of best player in the world. Also keep an eye on Roberto Firmino who had a great year at Liverpool and Phillipe Coutinho who can control the midfield beautifully. Switzerland won’t be a super exciting team to watch, and doesn’t have the flair that a lot of teams do – but they are strong all around, and should be able to hold 2nd place. The one player to keep an eye on for them is Xherdan Shaqiri, they call him the magic dwarf, but don’t let his size fool you – he is super shifty and can score regularly, having already scored 20 goals in 68 games for Switzerland.
Group F: Germany & Mexico Advance
As usual, Germany comes in with one of the strongest teams in the entire tournament, and should have no problem winning the group. A few of their veteran players that everyone has come to know over the last decade are now gone (Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Mertesacker) however the cupboards were full of young talent, and this is a DEEP German team that could win the whole thing. Mexico should grab 2nd spot in the group, especially now that Zlatan is definitely not playing for Sweden.
Players to watch: The German midfield is stacked with creative, skilled superstars. I couldn’t narrow it down to one, so keep an eye on Toni Kroos, Marco Reus & one of my favorite players Mesut Ozil. Germany also boasts 2 (yes TWO) of the tournaments top goaltenders in Manuel Neuer & Ter Stegen. South Korea’s Son is one of the best players in this group, and has the ability and speed to score a lot of goals, however unless he plays completely out of his mind (which he is capable of) I don’t think S.Korea will make it out to the group stage.
Group G: Belgium & England Advance
Belgium should easily win this group, and luckily for England the rest of the group is pretty weak so I think they should secure second spot. The Belgium club is currently ranked 3rd in the world, and when you look over their roster it’s easy to see why. The entire team is made up of players who play on the top clubs in the top leagues in the world. It’s hard to find a weakness on the Belgium squad which is why I am predicting a long, successful World Cup for them.
Players to watch: Belgium is led up front by 2 superstars: Eden Hazard & Romelu Lukaku. In the midfield Kevin De Bruyne would be the main man to watch, however Nancer Chadli is also really good. You will notice all of these guys because of how great they are…..you will probably also notice Marrouane Fellaini, because of his unbelievable hair (see below in this amazing photo that was capture of him getting hit in the face):
England also has a few players to watch, most notably Harry Kane, who seems to be able to score at will the last few years. England’s only hope of getting far at this tournament is if Harry Kane does Harry Kane like things and scores a LOT of goals. The rest of the team is good – but not good enough.
Group H: Poland & Japan Advance
This group is tough to pick. I feel like any of Poland, Japan or Columbia could win the group. I decided on Poland & Japan to make it through, but honestly I can’t provide a real strong reason on why…Much like group C all the games should be exciting and competitive.
Players to watch: Poland’s Robert Leweandowski is the best player in the group, he scored 16 goals in qualification which was a UEFA record. All of Poland’s offence should flow through the 29 year old captain. The other contender for best player in this group is Columbia’s James Rodriguez who had a coming out party at the last World Cup is another player who is hoping to rekindle some of that World Cup magic. Japan will be led by the 2 “Shinji’s”, Shinji Kagawa & Shinji Okazaki.
Stage 2: Knockout Round:
As mentioned earlier, I am expecting big things from Belgium and have predicted they make it all the way to the final, beating Japan, Brazil & France on the way.
I’m also predicting this is the year Messi finally wins something for Argentina. He is going to show the world, that even without the strongest team, he is SO GOD DAMN GOOD, he can take a pretty good team, put it on his shoulders and win that whole thing. It won’t be easy, but I have Argentina going all the way, and beating Denmark, Spain, Germany & Belgium to capture the Cup.
Golden Boot Winner: Lionel Messi
If Messi does’t win it, my money is on one of: Aguero, Lukaku, Griezzman, Neymar
I wrote this article for 3 reasons:
- As a Canadian, a lot of my friends aren’t huge soccer(Football) fans. I wanted to give them, and other casual fans a quick easy way to look at each group, and which players to keep an eye out for if they were watching
- I wanted to post my predictions, so I could see how well I did
- I wanted to hear everyone’s opinion on how bad my predictions were..and what everyone else would predict.
In the comments, let me know who you are rooting for & what you think of my predictions!