France, Spain and Brazil have the strongest squads as we begin the 2018 World Cup in Russia while defending champions Germany know they have it in them to defend the title they won in 2014.
With names like Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba in their ranks, France have star power all through the park and look hot favourites to win the cup they’ve won before in 1998. Brazil had looked good during their home World Cup in 2014 only to crash out in spectacular fashion to eventual winners Germany. With Neymar – the world’s most expensive player – leading the line again, Brazil will look to win their sixth World Cup title.
With veterans like Iniesta and youngsters like Isco and Marco Asensio in their mix, Spain were looking good up until their manager Julen Lupetegui was sacked right before the World Cup for accepting the Real Madrid job. Fernando Hierro takes over from him and it will be his job to steady a team that on paper is good enough to bring the trophy home.
While these three teams lick their lips, Germany will hope to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend the World Cup title. Most of the players who romped to the trophy in 2014 are still in the fold and with some exciting youngsters joining the ranks, there’s no reason why Germany can’t do it.
The dark horses for the title are Portugal, Spain, England and Belgium. In Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi respectively, Portugal and Spain have two of the best players in the world. Portugal are defending European champions and Argentina were beaten finalists in the previous World Cup but if either of the teams are to go all the way in Russia, it depends a lot on these two superstars.
England have an all new batch of superstars flaunting talent all across the pitch but whether they are good enough to ride the hype and win a World Cup remains to be seen. Time is running out for Belgium’s golden generation to make a mark and if the likes of Kevin de Bryune and Eden Hazard are to win it, the time is now.
While these four teams might fall short when it comes to going all the way to World Cup glory, you can bet on them to cause a few upsets, especially in the knockout stages.
Among other teams, Uruguay will be exciting to watch as they have perhaps the most exciting strike partnership at the World Cup in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Expect a lot of support for Egypt thanks to Mo Salah’s swift recovery from the injury he endured in the Champions League final. Other African teams to watch out for are Senegal and Nigeria.
Among the teams from Asia, Iran probably have the best squad though they have been placed in a tough group. Japan and South Korea are stuck in a transition phase so don’t expect too much from them. Australia also are a team stuck in between generations at the moment.
Russia don’t have an impressive line-up on paper but they have home advantage so expect a few results to go their way. Luka Modric’s Croatia and James Rodriguez’s Colombia also have it in them to cause a few upsets.
But all in all, this is after all the World Cup and it’s anybody’s game. Expect a lot of goals, a lot of upsets and more than anything else expect a high-flying tournament. Who dares wins!