The World Cup stage is set for next summer! Here is our cheeky guide and picks for the tournament.
Group A – Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Kicking off with the group of political undertones – we see what you did there! Who would have thought that the teams with the lowest FIFA rankings (Saudi Arabia and Russia – who are also allies in many other ways, *awkward*) would be grouped together? Well, it’s possible – and as other experts have put it, Uruguay look like quite a shoo-in for this one. We’d also love to see a Salah-inspired Egypt go through, but based on traumatising memories of “World Cup host bias”, you can expect to see Russia sail through to the next stage. Our picks : Russia, Uruguay.
Group B – Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco
All our girls better be coming through for Group B, because this is where the eye candy is at! Jokes aside, Spain and Portugal are clear favourites to progress to the next stage – although you can probably expect some banter in the Real Madrid dressing room over who will DARE to nutmeg Ronaldo (bitch, please). We’d love to see Maroc and Iran going through, but they’d probably benefit more from the experience of playing high quality teams – like Euro 2016 and World Cup Champions – than fostering any serious hopes. Our picks : Spain, Portugal.
Group C – France, Peru, Denmark, Australia
Probably an ideal group for the French (uh, yeah, except for the fact that Peruvian cuisine is killing the game right now). However, Australia do not currently have a coach, while the Danes haven’t posed major problems in big tournaments over the last couple of years. However, our instincts are still screaming for the Aussies to go through, and we hope they defy everyone and make it! Our (safe) picks : France and Denmark.
Group D – Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
If there was a Group of Death, this would come as the closest. Group D will be the most competitive and interesting one to watch, because the potential of each team is undeniable. Remember that Argentina only managed to qualify at the last minute, the Croats’ have an abundance of individual talent, and Nigeria are traditionally not an easy team to play against (also the toughest fourth seed to draw!) Something tells us that Iceland – who made it against all odds – are dark horses up for a great fight. Our picks: Argentina, Croatia
Group E : Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Another interesting group, purely because Switzerland vs Serbia, will be almost like watching Albania vs Serbia (lands that have historically been laced with so much bad blood). The makeup of the Swiss national team is very much foreign with Bosnians and Croats, and up till recently, this debate has been heated among citizens and governments there. Brazil are clear favourites of this group to make it through (and they have to, after that disastrous last home outing), but we don’t expect a lot of goals from this group, unless Neymar chops his hair off and gets back with Bruna (por favor!) Our picks : Brazil, Switzerland.
Group F : Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Defending Champions Germany are probably thanking their lucky stars for another easy group, but their hardworking nature could probably be matched up by the Swedes. It would be great for Mexico to fly the flag high in some way (given the fact that the USA aren’t represented this time around), but we’re so used to see them going through to the second round – that it’d be unreal if they didn’t. Our picks : Germany, Mexico.
Group G : Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama
Another fascinating group, and we can see both England and Belgium gunning for top spot in the group. Belgium’s attacking quality is sublime, but let’s hope they actually gel better this time, because if you have Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne in the squad, there’s no excuse not to win games. With that said, The Three Lions could do well by incorporating some of the videos shown to the U-20, and U-17 winning teams at the recent FIFA youth World Cups. Brazenness always works, lads! Our picks : Belgium, England.
Group H : Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
Possibly the most evenly-spread group, along with Group A. Poland was among the weakest top seeds, and Colombia will definitely want to try and come out tops. Let’s not underestimate Japan and Senegal, though, because they will also see the Round of 16 as a real possibility. Our picks : Colombia, Senegal.