World Cup 2018 is upon us and today we begin the big matches highlighted by the Spain v Portugal game. Papa has already provided his predictions and a group by group preview of teams and their potential progress. Don’t miss the World Cup 2018 Diary which will offer game recaps, commentary on events and news and a view on what is coming up.
Teams: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay.
Group winner will play second placed team of Group B, second team will play top team of Group B. Projection: 1—Uruguay, 2—Egypt.
Russia will win or tie the opening match against Saudi Arabia. A win will probably end up as a 2-0 a draw at 1-1. Uruguay and Egypt meet next knowing the winner will have the upper hand in the group and Suarez and company will play well enough to pull ahead, but if Salah is in form this will end up a 1-1 draw. Russia will fall to Egypt in their match as the Africans know this is their key game now and they will pull off their best performance of the cup and win 2-1 over the hosts. Uruguay will pad their win with multiple goals and achieve at least a 3-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. Egypt will follow suit and attempt the same but Saudi Arabia will save its best for this match and pull out a 1-1 draw. In the co-final match of the group Uruguay will have to play tough as Russia will see the match as their last hope to move on and the South Americans will know a loss would put them on a collision course with Spain. The Charruas will win 2-0 and meet Portugal instead.
Teams: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Iran.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group A, the second placed team will play the winner of Group A. Projection: 1—Spain, 2—Portugal.
Morocco v Iran will be a closely fought match with a draw written all over it precisely because neither team can afford to lose given their next two games. Portugal and Spain will go for the jugular knowing the winner here has the inside track to the top spot, but the teams know each other’s players and systems too well to surprise, Spain is the stronger side, and only Ronaldo is capable of rising above a match with top quality players at each position. So don’t be surprised if another draw ensues setting up a goal-fest rush when each European side pursues the African and Asian minnows. Portugal and Spain will draw. Portugal will beat Morocco but not by as many goals as they would want. Spain will beat Iran convincingly if not comfortably. Portugal will follow suit, and defeat Iran, but will have a harder time to score. Spain will seal their first place with a win over Morocco that surpasses what Portugal was able to achieve and thus snag the top spot.
Teams: France, Denmark, Peru, and Australia.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group D, the second placed team will play the winner of Group D. Projection: 1—France, 2—Denmark.
France will want to make a statement and get its first three points right off the bat and Australia will simply not be up to the task of competing so expect a lopsided French victory when they meet to open group play. Peru v Denmark is the match of the group as the winner will likely advance and Denmark looks the more solid side, so expect a draw or Danish win. Denmark will outplay Australia and France will do the same with Peru to set up the group’s deciding matches. France will only need a draw against Denmark and for the Danes that will be enough. Peru will win over Australia but with a loss and a draw in their previous matches they will fall short of moving on.
Teams: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, and Nigeria.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group C, the second placed team will play the winner of Group C. Projection: 1—Argentina, 2—Croatia, with caveats.
Argentina have to beat Iceland to move on and Iceland only need a draw to buoy they hopes. This will be a tough match with a 1-0 scent about it. That lone goal will be scored by a diminutive Argentine. Croatia and Nigeria will fight for the edge and this will be their all-out match of the group. A draw sounds about right but something about the clash of styles and the quality of the players suggest someone will rise above. Croatia win this match.
At this point in time, Argentina and Croatia, with three points apiece, will feel a draw suits them and neither will risk a loss so put this one down as a draw. Nigeria will need a victory but Iceland will feel this is their best chance so expect a tough match with a winner and this one is a push.
Nigeria will fancy their chances against Argentina and the South Americans will play too cautiously to risk a killer counter that could change the entire cup’s dynamics. This may be the best game of the group because of the timing and it could be the upset of the cup. But Messi deserves better and this will be the second game in which he lifts his team to a win. Iceland and Croatia will meet with the latter able to qualify with a draw and the former with a win. This will be an all-out war that the cagy Croats will pull out.
Teams: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group F, the second placed team will play the winner of Group F. Projection: 1—Brazil, 2—Anyone’s guess but probably Navas’ Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s cup depends upon beating Serbia in the first game and Navas will be stellar while the other Ticos will find a way to score and win. Brazil will set the tone for the batch of favorites with a splashy win over the Swiss. Serbia and Switzerland will play to a dull draw hoping against hope it means something it simply can’t. Brazil will dispatch Costa Rica but with some effort as Navas will again be at his best. Costa Rica, needing a draw against Switzerland will play a their one comprehensively tough and concentrated match and pull through in the number two slot with a win. Brazil will close the group stage of their tourney with another win, but will not need to use all their weapons and so will do just enough for the three points.
Teams: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group E, the second placed team will play the winner of Group E. Projection: 1—Germany, 2—Mexico.
Germany will want to upstage Brazil and get their chance to set the tone for pre-cup favorite wins as they play on the same day as their potential finals rivals, but three hours earlier. Germany will want to make a statement but Mexico, whose A team lost to Low’s B team at the Confederations Cup will not allow a blowout. Germany will win by one or two goals at most. Sweden will see beating their Asian opponents as their one chance to shine and they will make the best of it winning an ugly affair by just enough. Mexico will bounce back from their loss with a convincing win over South Korea and Germany will beat Sweden convincingly. Mexico will play their best group game against Sweden and get the win that pulls them through. Germany will pad their team and player scoring stats with a devastation of South Korea.
Teams: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group H, the second placed team will play the winner of Group H. Projection: 1—Belgium, 2—England, with caveats.
Belgium will make mincemeat out of Panama in the first game of the group. Then, Tunisia and England will play the group’s decider and England will find a way through. Belgium will then beat Tunisia convincingly putting together good back to back matches. England will gain its Group of 16 slot with a laugher win over Panama. Tunisia will team the Isthmus dwellers a thing about the growth of global soccer and walk away with a win. Belgium and England will only play to a draw preferring to save themselves for the next meaningful match.
Teams: Colombia, Poland, Senegal, Japan.
The Group winner will play second placed team of Group G, the second placed team will play the winner of Group G. Projection: 1—Colombia, 2—Senegal.
Colombia will set the tone for the group with an easy and goal-filled win over Japan. Poland will fall to a surprisingly hitting-on-all-cylinders Senegal with all of its stars playing as if they know this is their group’s key game. Senegal when then work a win over Japan while Colombia and Poland will slug out an eventual South American win. Poland will defeat Japan to make a statement—”we were here.” Senegal and Colombia will not feel the need to go after each other and if cooler heads prevail this will be a fun to watch but meaningless and uneventful draw.
Now you know what Papa thinks. What are your views? Let us know.