World Cup 2018 Who CAN Win It?
The World Cup 2018 kicks off in Russia in a little over 72 hours. In all likelihood there is little probability of the hosts being there to lift the trophy when the final takes place on July 15th.
So who are the likely contenders the lift the Jules Rimet trophy? Will it be the usual suspects? Or will a new country surprise us all and come from the pack?
Unsurprisingly Brazil head the market. Currently available at best odds of 9/2 I think this very skinny for a country who have only ever won the trophy once outside of South America (Sweden 1958). Their team this time though is packed with players who do ply their trade in Europe.
Neymar (PSG), Coutinho (Barcelona), Gabriel Jesus (Man City) are all familiar names to UK viewers. Only 3 of the 23 players in the squad are home based so perhaps this is the year that Brazil put to rest the European hoodoo?
They qualified impressively under their coach Tite who replaced Dunga in 2016. The middle of the campaign saw an impressive run of 8 consecutive victories.
They are yet to concede a goal in 4 friendlies so far this year. This includes an impressive 1-0 win against Germany. They have an impressive goalkeeper in Alisson who plays for Roma and pushing him hard to keep up those performances is Manchester City’s Ederson.
Coupled with Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid) and the dual PSG defenders Thiago Silva & Marquinhos it is hard to see who can compete with this team. Especially when you then look at the craft and guile they then possess in the forward line and midfield.
Douglas Costa, Coutinhou, Willian, Firmino, Jesus, Neymar is enough to make any defence in the world have nightmares. They then have enough in the midfield to close it down with Paulinho, Casemiro, Fred & Fernandinho.
World Cup 2018 Likely Contenders
Likely challengers to Brazil for the World Cup 2018 I think are going to come from Europe. I believe these will be France, Spain and Germany.
France come into the tournament with a hugely impressive squad. Indeed many say they could name a team from 1-11 that would go deep into the tournament with players they have not named for various reasons.
Didier Deschamps appears to have the squad pulling in the same direction and there is none of the in-fighting that has blighted French squads in the past.
Their forward line of Greizmann, Lemar, Mbappe, Giroud and Dembele offers pace, guile, heading ability and class.
They appear to have been given a comfortable route out of the groups and if their confidence and momentum builds into this tournament I can see them going a long way.
Hugo Lloris is already rated amongst the best goalkeepers in the world and a good tournament here will only enhance his reputation.
N’Golo Kante is amongst the best in the world at breaking up play. I just think that if Paul Pogba gets 1 good game and his confidence soaring then he can grab this tournament by the scruff of the neck. He will want to show people why Manchester United paid all that money for him. If he does so then France could potentially be a match for Brazil.
Germany come into the tournament as 2nd favourite or in some cases joint favourites. This can only be because of their history in tournament football and not because of their recent form.
Their is still a heavy reliance on Bayern Munich in their squad with 7 of the 23 coming from that team. Much I think will depend on whether their talismanic goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is not only fit but match fit.
Their 4 fixtures this year have been a mixed bag. A 1-1 draw with Spain has been followed by consecutive defeats to Brazil (1-0) and surprisingly Austria (2-1). The final warm up fixture before World Cup 2018 in Russia saw them scrape past Saudi Arabia 2-1. But then again we all know that Germany will make the Semi-Finals at least don’t we?
World Cup 2018 England’s Hopes
Before I look at Spain’s chances lets look at England. This is probably the 1st time I can recall a team going in so under the radar. And I think it is with justification. There is nothing in midfield that screams out creativity. The centre of defence looks solid but cries out a lack of pace. Up front Harry Kane will definitely play but who else will be alongside him if anyone? I can see England getting out of the group comparatively easily but at the Quarter Final stage they are likely to encounter Brazil or Germany and I fear that is where their tournament will end.
Spain in my opinion have one of the hardest groups. This is because of the locality of Morocco and Portugal. Both countries will want to put one over their local rivals. Morocco did not concede a goal in 6 matches in their group and scored an impressive 11. Whilst this is obviously a step up in class a lot of their players do play in the major European leagues and are no longer novices on the major stages. They also have the advantage of playing Iran first so may be able to go out and play for a draw.
Spain should still in my opinion have too much class and know-how for both Morocco and Iran. The players from Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid are used to playing high pressure knockout football in major tournaments. I think the shock may be that Portugal may be over reliant on Ronaldo and may fall to Morocco.
World Cup 2018 Tip
MY WORLD CUP 2018 TIP IS FOR FRANCE TO WIN AT 13/2.
ALSO WORTH CONSIDERING IS NAME THE FINALISTS WITH FRANCE V SPAIN AT 20/1