The 2018 World Cup is less than 48 hours away and just as we have favourites like Brazil, Germany, Argentina and most recently Spain and France to slug it out for the crown of the best footballing nation on the planet, we also have those that would crash out in the preliminary stage of the tournament which is the essence of this post. I had posted what my take was as regards who could win the World Cup and you would also be surprised that one of the teams I would be rooting for will not make it past the group stage.
Find below predictions on those that will make it through to the second round of the World Cup:
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay
Verdict: Egypt and Uruguay will make it through to the next round. I cannot vouch for the host nation Russia, that has aging goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev as its star player. Saudi Arabia have been playing some good football but I doubt if they will have much in their arsenal to put up a challenge.
Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran
Verdict: My money is on Spain and Portugal to go through. Though it seems the Portuguese team would not be able to replicate the success of Euro 2016 and are usually slow starters, they however will stave off opposition from Morocco and Iran even if they lose the opening match to Spain. Spain are favourites for the trophy and will surely go through. Though Morocco did not concede a goal during the qualifiers, we know the World Cup is a different ball game. Iran can be tricky but I don’t see the guile in them that can cause an upset of seeing them progress to the next round.
France, Australia, Denmark and Peru
Verdict: France will nick this group with maximum points and Denmark would be second. France arguably has the best squad in the tournament on paper, though denied the opportunity to win the Euros on home soil in 2016 they look nothing short of at least making it to semi-final in Russia. Denmark has what it takes to see off Peru and Australia.
Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland
Verdict: As tricky as it gets for me. Argentina and Croatia will take the two second round spots in this Group. Like I said above one of the teams I would be rooting for would not make it through. That team is Nigeria. Yes they beat Argentina in a friendly but Argentina always delivered when it mattered most beating them in all the 4 games they have played at this same stage of the World Cup. Iceland is also a pretender and will probably just struggle like Nigeria.
Brazil, Costa Rica, Switzerland and Serbia
Verdict: Brazil is definitely going through. Was torn between Switzerland and Serbia but to remain consistent let me pick the runner up for this group. I see Serbia nicking this. Switzerland would put up a fight but they won’t do enough. Costa Rica will at best get a point from this group and that surely won’t take them through.
Germany, Sweden, Mexico and South Korea
Verdict: This is by far the most difficult one for me. Germany is a sure bet for the next round but I had to go the eenie meenie minie mo (hope I got the spellings right) on who the second placed team would be. I see you doing same already, lol. Mexico was the lucky pick. Excluding Germany, the other 3 teams seem like they can cancel each other out. South Korea with the energy and with the most consecutive appearance (8 tourneys in a row) and Sweden also seem worthy of a second round slot.
Belgium, England, Panama and Tunisia
Verdict: Belgium and England would sail through in this group. Tunisia will put up a fight but will at most end up with 4 points with those points coming in against England (draw) and debutants Panama (win). Panama will hand the other members of the group maximum 3 points. The clash of the group would be England versus Belgium and that should also end in a draw.
Poland, Senegal, Columbia, Japan
Verdict: Another tough one. Not even going to say much. With my guns blazing, I tip Poland and Colombia to go through.
Thanks for your time guys. Bless !!!