The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the world, and despite the “importance” of American sports, it shatters records world wide every four years. To the members of the United States, I understand your thought process. Soccer isn’t for everyone and that’s alright, mainly because I know half of you (me included) just started watching the NHL, finally realized the NBA isn’t just “Cavs vrs. Warriors” anymore, and now know the NFL is really all about being in the perfect place at the perfect time.
I will give the benefit of the doubt this year to humans and establishments who refuse to participate in viewing the tournament since the U.S.A. didn’t qualify (which is another article all together). I did, however, want to highlight some match ups that you should play in the background at any social event just in the off chance magic happens and you can say you witnessed it.
Group A – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay.
So normally, this group would be pretty boring despite the fact that Mohamed Salah could continue his hot streak and win a World Cup for Egypt. The World Cup is about hot streaks, and no one in the world is higher on the star list at this moment than Salah. Russia is the host nation, so a decent outing is expected, but this group should be owned by Suarez and Uruguay when it’s all said in done.
Winner – Uruguay 1, Egypt 2.
Group B – Portugal, Spain, Morocco, IR Iran
If you only watch a few games in the world cup, Spain versus Portugal should make that list. The teams will play early on, meaning that tired legs won’t be a factor. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo for any of you who didn’t know, and arguably that’s all you need to win a Cup. Spain has, well, almost everyone else. Jordi Alba, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Andres Iniesta, Lucas Vazquez…they basically have the entire Barcelona and Real Madrid rosters. This is one of the games to watch early on.
Winner – Spain 1, Portugal 2
Group C – France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
France, in my opinion, has the most talented overall roster for this World Cup. Hugo Lloris is a top 5 goalkeeper at the moment, Paul Pogba is a world talent, Kylian Mbappe has been hot, Anthony Martial can shine, N’Golo Kante will not be out worked, Laurent Koscielny is a leader amongst men…and I could keep going. Denmark and Australia are sneaky talented teams, but France should have no issues here.
Winner – France 1, Denmark 2
Group D – Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
For the casual soccer fan this group seems to be a wash with Argentina coming out of Group D with no scratches of loses. Croatia will come into the cup with one of the best midfields with Modric and Rakitic, and Iceland shocked the world last big tournament with an amazing run. Argentina should be fine, but don’t expect an easy group.
Winner – Argentina 1, Croatia 2
Group E – Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Any team can turn hot at the right moment, as Costa Rica found out last world cup. Brazil can walk through this group fairly easy due to the large amount fo world talent on their roster, but don’t be surprised to see a fight from all three teams in this group. The Swiss have Shaqiri, an electric talent who never quite panned out on the league side of soccer but can be an instant impact player. Serbia has Matic and Kolarov, two talented and seasoned veterans who know what it takes to win. This should be a fun group to watch.
Winner – Brazil 1, Serbia 2
Group F – Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea Republic
Every year there is a “group of death”, and I don’t really see a true one in 2018. Group F might be the closest we have with Germany, Mexico and Sweden all expecting to get out of the group. Mexico doesn’t have many household names, but they do have unbelievable talent. Two huge names are Chicharito and Jonathan Dos Santos, both who have played at the top level and can will young talent to rally at the right moment. Sweden is in the same ballpark, running out a team of talented players who are scattered through a few leagues…that is, unless The God Zlatan decides to grace us with his presence. If Sweden wants to sell tickets and have a legit shot at jaw dropping moments, you can’t leave Ibra at home. Germany will have one of the most purely talented teams the World Cup has ever seen. Some notable names: Jerome Boatang, Mats Hummels, Julian Draxler, Illkay Gundogan, Tonir Kroos, Sami Khedira, Leroy Sane, Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller…my god this team should win everything all the time ever.
Winner – Germany 1, Sweden 2
Group G – Belguim, Panama, Tunisia, England
Belguim and England should see a large amount of victory in this group, and both teams are coming into the 2018 tournament with young and hot teams. Belguim are lead by Thiabaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany,Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku and Hazard, just to name a few. Belguim should feel that this is their year based on the way their players played in the BPL for the various teams. England has been poor on the international stage recently, and the young core will lead the way. Harry Kane is one of the worlds top strikers, and he has an insane amount of talent around im. Dele Alli will be the heart and sole of that midfield, and Marcus Rashford will be looking to break out from his “young talent” stigma.
Winner – England 1, Belgium 2
Group H – Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Watch one game in this group, because I don’t see too much going on past Colombia vrs. Poland. Poland has the world’s top strikers in Robert Lewandowski who can score at any moment. Colombia will go with Falcao and James Rodriguez, two top talent names who haven’t had the best spells recently. I don’t see too much magic coming from this group, but hey, it is the World Cup.
Winner – Colombia 1, Poland 2