By Dai Yuliang [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
World Cup begins today and soccer enthusiasts around the world are already making their FIFA World Cup 2018 predictions. Read on to learn about the top contenders and who is favored to win.
With five World Cup wins under their belts, Brazil is always a factor, but after a historic embarrassment in 2014 on home soil, insecurity plagues the team. However, with a squad absolutely loaded with world class talent, Brazil may be putting forward its best team since the 2002 World Cup champions. It should come as no surprise that Brazil is highly favored to win in most FIFA World Cup 2018 predictions.
The 2014 team faced a crushing defeat after losing key players Neymar and Thiago Silva to injury and suspension, respectively. However, this side has much more depth than the infamous 2014 team. Neymar is currently recovering from an injury, raising some fears and PTSD flashbacks for Brazilians, but has been playing well, scoring two beautiful goals in 120 minutes of pre-World Cup friendlies.
Under the direction of Tite’s intellectual coaching style, Brazil has turned around from their former humiliation; they have only lost one game since Tite took over in 2016. After giving up seven goals to Germany in the 2014 semis, Tite has reorganized Brazil’s defense, relying heavily on Destroyer Casemiro.
After Thiago Silva’s accumulated yellow cards led to his suspension in 2014, there may be some concerns that temperament could get in the way, especially considering the longing for revenge against Germany. However, Tite has the Samba Boys playing a clean and refined game. Poor coaching has also been a concern for Brazil in the past, but Tite’s pragmatic and patient coaching has put these fears to rest.
Brazil is a country that notoriously lives and dies by their soccer team. Even homeless men can be seen sporting Brazil soccer regalia on game days. Brazil views itself as the mavens of soccer and their dedication to the game is an important part of national identity. The 2014 loss on home soil was a crushing blow to the entire nation. Although the national team won 2016 Olympic Gold in men’s soccer, they need a World Cup victory this year to leave the scars of 2014 behind. And with economic and political turmoil spiraling out of control in Brazil, they badly need the win.
Defending champions Germany are the second favorite, but after losing key players to retirement they may be between golden generations. Nonetheless, their team is still loaded with talent. Unlike more erratic Brazil, Germany is always well coached, organized, and disciplined, true to their Teutonic roots. Unsurprisingly, Germany has reached the semis every time in the past four World Cups.
However, after losing Philipp Lahm and other more experienced players to retirement, they’re going to need younger players to step up in leadership positions. But many consider Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger irreplaceable players and team leaders.
Coach Jogi Low is a World Cup veteran, having led the 2014 team to victory. As such, no one expects the German team to be rattled or unprepared for victory. Under Low, this team will be disciplined, well prepared, and calculating.
While Brazil is the leading champion for most World Cup victories, Germany is catching up with four wins under their belt. A German win would mean a tie with Brazil, a further blow to Brazilian identity.
Although the German national team is not as stellar as they have been in the past, they are definitely going to be a factor. Most FIFA World Cup 2018 predictions have German sitting in the first or second position. Brazil is going to need to be prepared to combat Germany’s European playing style in order to cinch the much needed victory.
Image Source: FIFA.com (screenshot)
Spain who were considered by many to be perennial underachievers finally proved themselves, taking home the trophy in 2010. After coming up short again in 2014, Spain was looked to be one of the favorites in many FIFA World Cup 2018 Predictions. After firing their coach, Julen Lopetegui, on the eve of the World Cup, soccer experts are now questioning Spain’s chances. The firing of Coach Lopetegui has raised some questions. Spain claims they did so because he negotiated a new contract to coach Real Madrid without consulting the federation.
France probably has the most talented roster this side of Brazil. They’re loaded from front to back with stars such as Griezmann, Mbappe, and Pogba. Didier Deschamps’ side certainly has to be considered one of the favorites. However, the 1998 Cup winners, also have a reputation for underachievement. Coming into this World Cup, they look as well prepared and organized as ever.
Belgium hasn’t been getting a lot of hype, but like France, they present an extremely talented roster, suggesting there might be an upset in the making. Although talented, having never one the Cup, this European team is often overlooked. Stars Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku have led to this team being termed the “Golden Generation.” Led by Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, the Battleground of Europe has to be considered as a team that could eliminate one of the favorites.
Belgium faces England, Tunisia, and Panama in their group, so they should have no trouble advancing to the knockout round. However, they would need to get past Brazil and Germany to reach the finals.
Argentina hasn’t won the World Cup in decades and Brazilians will tell you they cheated in ‘78 and ‘86. Led by international superstar Lionel Messi, Brazil’s arch nemesis shouldn’t be completely forgotten. Argentina’s roster is definitely not as talented as Brazil, relying far to heavily on Messi and showing defensive weak spots.
Argentina was meant to play Israel last Saturday, when threats were lodged against Messi, forcing a cancellation of the friendly match and reminding Argentinians how much of their hopes are pegged on one player. The team was eventually flown out of Israel on the Rolling Stone’s private jet.
FIFA World Cup 2018 Predictions: Finals
Brazil will face Germany again in the semis, stirring up old resentments and insecurities. Brazil is easily the better team, assuming follow Tite’s exceptional leadership and maintain their composure, they should have no problem advancing to the finals and eventually taking home the Cup. Because of the chaos surrounding Spain, Spain shouldn’t be expected to advance to the finals. A dream final for South Americans would be to see Argentina and Brazil facing off in the championship game. As far as who would win, it’s a no brainer.