Road to Russia – 2018 World Cup Preview

Neymar

Neymar’s form will be key if Brazil are to lift the trophy. Image: Getty.

What a time to be Russian!

World Cup fever is well and truly upon us as the world unites for the biggest sporting event on the globe starting on Thursday. There are a few unique things about 2018 – the absence of the Italians and the very ‘different’ setting of Russia amongst them. However, there are some constants that we can rely on: Germany will perform, England will not and we will always get a cringeworthy, unrelated promotional music video, this time featuring Will Smith.

Let’s take a look at my predictions for the latest installment of sport’s greatest product:

Winner: Brazil

By no means does this come out of the blue. Many have touted Brazil as favourites for the competition. It is a bold call, however, to say that a country beaten 7-1 by Germany in their last World Cup match are going to steal the trophy off them. Nevertheless, I believe that Neymar is ready to lead his country to World Cup glory, and will be well supported by their endless array of talent. Of course, Germany and Spain will be in the mix and both Argentina and Portugal cannot be discounted as Messi and Ronaldo play in their last World Cup – but I think the might of Brazil will be too much and can see them lifting the trophy.

Shock performer: Australia

I am not exactly developing a reputation for being unbiased and logical, but I’m going to do it anyway. I think Australia will navigate their way through the French juggernauts, the Christian Eriksen-inspired Danes and the Peruvian dark horses, to make it out of their group. There is nothing particularly magical about this generation of Aussies, but I do like the fact that many of them are playing regular football in top leagues and have looked cohesive in friendlies. Oh, and Jose Mourinho has tipped us to finish 2nd in our group, so…

Ones to watch: Belgium

I’ll admit it, I’m in love with Kevin De Bruyne. He is, in my opinion, the best midfielder in the world and is surrounded by some decent attacking power in the form of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and the ever-clinal (kinda) Romelu Lukaku. The defence looks okay too, but let’s face it, KDB is key. At their worst, they lose to Panama. But at their best, the sky’s the limit.

Buckle up and enjoy the theatre that is international football.

Go the Aussies.

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