FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 is already underway and the fans are buzzing with excitement as they support their favorite teams competing in the grandest sporting extravaganza on the planet.
A tournament of such magnitude and stature has always been a joy to watch and a royal treat to the eyes for those who live and breathe football in particular. Now, let’s take a look at the potential teams that could actually go onto lift the world cup and etch their names as immortals. With 32 teams taking part it can be difficult to predict a winner, but, there are always teams who are backed by everyone and anyone in sports.
Germany are considered one of the favorites to win the World Cup. Joachim Low’s side are rated 5/1 to emerge triumphant in Moscow on July 15.
Mario Gotze broke many Argentinean hearts when he volleyed in Andre Schurrle’s cross past Sergio Romero in extra time and won Germany the World Cup in 2014. Die Mannschaft became the first European country to win on American soil.
They have an exciting team that is a mixture of freshness and experience. Youngsters like Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner have already become household names in world football and much will be expected of them. Experienced players like Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer will need to take up responsibility for the national team if they desire to retain the trophy.
Brazil will be led by the world-class striker Neymar who can tear down opposition defences with ease.
Ever since the 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals of World Cup 2014, Brazil have come a long way. Much of the team has changed since then, with a lot of young players bagging a place in the 23-man squad that will represent the team.
The creativity in the midfield comes from Phillippe Coutinho and Fred, while Casemiro and Fernandinho are very dependable as defensive midfielders. Firmino and Jesus will join Neymar in the attack, along with Douglas Costa and Willian.
Even though the French lost the final of Euro 2016 to Portugal courtesy of a late-winner by Eder, they still have enough potential match-winners in their squad who could destroy the opposition on their day.
Les Blues have undergone a resurgence in the last three years, with many players coming into the limelight that have shone for their respective clubs.
The French cavalry will be led by Antoine Griezmann from the front alongside Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Nabil Fekir. The attacking midfield boasts of stars like Paul Pogba and Thomas Lemar, while Blaise Matuidi and N’Golo Kante function as the defensive midfielders. The defense has Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti who can give strikers nightmares.
Spanish football reached its heights in 2010, when they lifted the World Cup riding on some wonderful performances by the star-studded team. Their World Cup win was sandwiched between two Euro titles of 2008 and 2012.
However things went on the decline for La Furia Roja as they lost to Brazil in the Confederations Cup 2013, failed to qualify from the group stage in WC2014 and were knocked out by Italy in Euro 2016 in the round of 16.
However they have managed to build a really strong team that is again a mixture of young and experienced players. They have players like Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba who are experienced stalwarts in their own positions.
Youngsters such as the flamboyant Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez can make the difference whenever required. Koke, de Gea, Carvajal, Diego Costa and David Silva complete the team roster.
Argentina often dominate the tournaments they participate in and somehow fail to clear the hurdle in the final. That has been the case in World Cup 2014, Copa America 2015 and Copa America Centenario 2016.
The midfield consists of Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Cristian Pavon and Lanzini, whereas the defense has the solid Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Mercado, Federico Fazio and Marcos Rojo.
The attack line consists of lethal strikers like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, who are aided by Messi, Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria. Can their aptain, arguably the greatest player to ever kick a football, Leo Messi, finally lead his side to victory?
If there is one team which is on everyone’s books as a dark horse then it has to be Roberto Martinez and his men. Since the past three years, Belgium has assembled a side which looks formidable on paper but has failed to deliver on the ground. 2016 Euro Cup being a prime example of that.
From goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to the feared attacking combination of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Romelu Lukaku, this team is lethal when it comes to attacking. However, at times they do seem over-reliant on them. In 2014, Belgium reached the quarterfinals, hence, four years later they will aim at a higher finish.
Two-time world cup winners, Uruguay are in good form with an equally impressive qualifying campaign where they were placed second, only behind Brazil. Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, who will form one of the deadliest strike partnerships in the tournament, scored more than two dozen goals between themselves as Uruguay sailed through the previous stages.
However, coach Oscar Tabarez will know the past record of the Uruguayans’- group stage in 2002, fourth place in 2010 and the round of 16 in 2014. In 2018, the team does have some areas of concern with defenders Diego Godin, Martin Caceres, Maximiliano Pereira, all on the wrong side of 30. Midfield also lacks depth as Nahitan Nandez, Matias Vecino haven’t been in good form with their respective clubs. Can they mount a challenge against the best is the question that needs answering.
Oftentimes considered a weak team due to the lack of big names in the line-up, Portugal are on the list as they still have one of the best players in the history of football, Cristiano Ronaldo. The 33-year-old is older and may not have the pace he once set night after night, but his experience on the pitch will pay dividends for Portugal as they try to shock the world one game at a time.
One thing working to the team’s advantage is that they may not be star-studded, but the team have capable players and play to Ronaldo’s strengths. This was shown in their European Championship run where they ended up as champions. With that momentum, Portugal’s confidence should be riding high and that could spark a flame that they could use to topple opponents in the World Cup.
England made light work of a favourable draw in the UEFA qualifying section, emerging unbeaten at the top of a Group F that included Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta by a convincing eight-point margin. Scoring 18 goals and conceding three, the only points dropped by Southgate’s men came in draws away from home against Slovakia and Scotland.
England made light work of a favorable draw in the UEFA qualifying section, emerging unbeaten at the top of a Group F that included Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta by a convincing eight-point margin. Scoring 18 goals and conceding three, the only points dropped by Southgate’s men came in draws away from home against Slovakia and Scotland. Harry Kane has a compelling claim to be considered the world’s best striker and the deadliest finisher England have taken to a major tournament since Michael Owen in 2002. He is more than that, though: an all-round front-man with the intelligence to provide a reference point for an entire attack and make his teammates better. Can they break all the shackles and go all the way? Your guess is as good as ours.
Looking at all the 32 teams and how they stack up, it’s almost an impossible task to predict the outcome of what might happen. There are always ifs and buts in a tournament like this, but what makes World Cup the most watched sporting event in the world is the sheer number of surprises it offers every four years. There can be nothing better than watching every team putting in blood, sweat and tears to make their nation proud. We’ve given you our perspective, now it’s time for yours. Let us know !