World Cup 2018 is edging closer and unless you have been living under a rock, you know the draws for the group stages are complete. Following disgraced ex-FIFA president, Sepp Blatter’s claim about possible rigging of draws using hot and cold balls, FIFA took care to ensure that there were no mishaps going forward.
In our first joint article, all the contributors of FootieFantasy will provide answers to questions regarding the tournament, beginning with an assessment of the groups and predictions on who will win it all. We invite you to take a peek into our minds, and also, to share your own picks, flops, and surprises about what is sure to be an exciting World Cup!!!
Here are your World Cup groups:
- Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
- Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
- Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
- Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
- Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
- Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
- Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
- Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Q1. Who will be the winners and runners-up in each group?
Group A: Uruguay, Russia; Group B: Spain, Portugal; Group C: France, Peru; Group D: Argentina, Nigeria; Group E: Brazil, Switzerland; Group F: Germany, Mexico; Group G: England, Belgium; Group H: Colombia, Poland
Group A: Russia, Egypt; Group B: Spain, Portugal; Group C: France, Peru; Group D: Argentina, Nigeria; Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica; Group F: Germany, South Korea; Group G: England, Belgium; Group H: Senegal, Japan
Group A: Russia and Uruguay; Group B: Spain and Portugal; Group C: France and Denmark; Group D: Nigeria and Argentina; Group E: Brazil and Switzerland; Group F: Germany and Mexico; Group G: Belgium and England; Group H: Poland and Senegal
Q2. Which group is the Group of Death?
Arindam: Group D by far.
Ola: I think in this case, ”group of death” is one in which there is no clear favorite to go through, with four teams all having a good chance of progressing. Group H for me.
EeJay: Without question, Group D: Argentina, Nigeria, Croatia, Iceland. A group of death would have more than 2 candidates that could leave the group. Add underdog Iceland that did some damage in Euro 2016 and you have a dilemma and the toughest group in the tournament
Q3. Which teams do you consider to be Dark Horses of the tournament and why?
Arindam: Belgium was tipped as dark horses last world cup, they have gelled now and have some great players. Portugal is the reigning Euro Champion and has a pretty balanced side, not to be overlooked. England is being ridiculed as an overhyped side. Not this time. They have a very good side.
Ola: I think one of the Asian teams might get as far as the quarter-finals. So watch out for Japan or South Korea. One of the African teams would also most likely make the last eight, and that is most likely to be Senegal. The Belgians are the biggest dark horses, a generation still not golden.
EeJay: England has largely been perennial underperformers and so no one will expect them to go too far, which they will. I think they have enough attacking quality to get to the quarters or better. Nigeria will go past the second round for the first time in their history.
Q4. Which team do you think will flop or not live up to expectations?
Arindam: Sweden. I tip Mexico to make it out of their group at their expense.
Ola: I think Portugal might not make it too far in this competition. They scraped their way to a European championship but I think they would scrape their way to a possible 2nd round exit in Russia via a penalty shoot-out.
EeJay: I think the Messi factor for Argentina will not be enough. We will see a second round exit from the Argentines
Q5. Who are your three picks to win the World Cup and why?
Arindam: Brazil is a well-balanced side with no shortage of talent and experience and in red-hot form. Spain is another side with a plethora of talent backed with great experience. France is perhaps the side with the most stacked squad talent wise, if they gel, they can conquer all.
Ola: France has a great squad of players. Very strong spine and key players approaching peak levels. Brazil has a solid first team, quality attacking players. Not too sure they have the depth that France can call upon, but a fit and firing Neymar can be so crucial. The Germans are the defending Champions with a reasonable chance of retaining it. They have a squad depth that can rival the French side and have a strong mentality.
EeJay: My favorites are France, Germany, and Belgium in this order. France has the most complete squad, and I think they’re the ultimate favorites. Germany plays the most textbook soccer and you can’t them count them out before the semis. Belgium is a distant third, but it’s impossible for me not to include them based on their personnel alone.
Q6. Who are your three tips for Golden Boot Winner?
Arindam: Neymar, Mbappe, Morata.
Ola: Neymar, Lukaku, Lacazette
EeJay: Olivier Giroud, Messi, Harry Kane
Q7. Who are your three picks to shine at this World Cup?
Arindam: Ousmane Dembele , Timo Werner , Gabriel Jesus.
Ola: Leroy Sane, Mbappe, Timo Werner
EeJay: Leroy Sane, Marcus Rahsford, Gabriel Jesus
Q8. Who are your three picks for the Golden Ball Winner?
Arindam: Neymar, Griezmann, Isco.
Ola: Isco, Hazard, Pogba
EeJay: Pogba, Neymar, Ozil
Q9. VAR. Will it be a blessing or a curse at this World Cup?
Arindam: Definitely a blessing. Finally, the offside goals or non-goals, “hand of God,” e.t.c., will not affect the outcome.
Ola: I think there would still be instances of confusion as witnessed at the Confed Cup. There has to be a clarification over when and how it would be used. It should be a blessing but if those clarifications are not in place, could easily be a curse.
EeJay: Neither. It is a necessity.
Q10. What are you looking forward to most at the 2018 World Cup?
Arindam: Watching Lionel Messi play in World Cup, for perhaps the last time.
Ola: Nigeria winning it! On a more serious note, I am looking forward to some top quality football, major upsets and the latest installment in the everlasting saga of Messi v Ronaldo.
EeJay: One month of football. The passion. The tears. The drama. The new talents. It never disappoints.
Do you agree with our predictions? Let us know in the comments section!