World Cup 2018: Predicting the winners: Group E and F

To see who I saw winning Groups C and D, as well as Groups A and B, click the link to the previous post at the bottom of the page.

World Cup fever: the quadrennial illness we all hope to get struck down with. For English fans like myself, it’s starting to become the regular showcase of hilarity and mediocrity that only England can provide. Russia 2018, however, does promise to be a true spectacle: from group stage matches like Spain vs Portugal and Belgium vs England to having one of the most unpredictable lists of potential winners of the 21st century so far. Therefore, I’m going to list my prediction for how the entire month-long Tournament will pan out, using a merely a neutral’s opinion and random guesswork; the most credible source of predictions and knowledge known to man. This post is dedicated to Groups E and F in the Tournament.

Group E: Brazil (2), Switzerland (6), Costa Rica (23), Serbia (34)

Who’s who?

We’re on to another group that features favourites for the whole Tournament: Brazil. Seeking to overturn their humiliation in 2014’s Semi-Final and third place Play-Off (the historic 7-1 loss to Germany and a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands), they return to the World Cup with a Squad mixed with youth and experience. From debutants like goalkeeper Alisson, as well as Premier League strikers Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, to experienced Brazilians like Thiago Silva, Marcelo, and Neymar. The latter of which has high expectations to surpass Messi and as the most talked about player at the Tournament, and to finally win the World Cup that many Brazilians feel was robbed from them after the then-Barcelona star’s injury in the quarter-final victory against Colombia.  They face a group of similar quality and experience to their group last Tournament: Switzerland provides World Cup experience and is always a tricky and stubborn team that also provides attack and creativity mainly through Xherdan Shaqiri. In 2014, Costa Rica managed to escape a certain group of death by defeating Italy and Uruguay before falling to Louis Van Gaal’s the Netherlands and Tim Krul’s (miss you) penalty saving heroics. Whilst they may lack the fun and energy that players Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz produced in Brazil last time out (though both players still find themselves a part of the 23 man squad), they may prove to be an unpredictable team once again. Serbia is another nation that attracts the support of football purists and neutrals with the promise of physical midfield dominance, merged with attacking lethality. Say what you will about the quality of play that Nemanja Matic, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Newcastle cult hero Mitrovic bring to the table, they provide an impressive side that has dubbed them as a potential cause for upsets…

Prediction?

This is Brazil’s group to lose. Their starting 11 is valued at nearly £1 billion, to begin with, so another national embarrassment would be needed to knock out this side so early on. For who will join them in the Round of 16, I’m going with Serbia. We’ve seen the players shine as both individuals on a club level, and appear to be in a strong recent form as a team. Switzerland is usually a safe bet to grind out a 1-0 win or to even avoid defeat in the group at all, albeit they may not get the points needed to reach such heights. And while I would love to see Costa Rica repeat their past heroics, their Squad is simply not cut out to survive this.

  1. Brazil: 9 Points (3-0-0): To defeat all teams in their group
  2. Serbia: 6 Points (2-0-1): To defeat Costa Rica and Switzerland, lose to Brazil
  3. Switzerland: 3 Points (1-0-2): To defeat Costa Rica, but lose to Serbia and Brazil
  4. Costa Rica: 0 Points (0-0-3): Fail to record a win or draw in the group.

Group F: Germany (1), Mexico (15), Sweden (24), South Korea (57)

Who’s who?

As is proving to be the case for most groups, there appears to be an overwhelming favourite to win the group and win it convincingly. Germany is no exception to this trend. As reigning and defending Champions, Die Mannschaft will be looking to become the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to win consecutive world cups, also joining Italy as the 2nd European team to do so (Fun Fact: Mussolini told the Italians to win or die. No pressure). Whilst key players in the 2014 triumph like Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, and Mario Gotze have since retired (or in the case of Gotze, been deselected), Germany’s squad depth is enough to rival the French. Goalkeepers? Sorted. Central midfield? Stacked. Attackers? Sublime. Call it cliche to refer to Germany as a Machine, but the ability to mass produce such world-class talent is almost unparalleled and simply unbelievable. Only a fool would bet against Germany progressing. Their competition surely knows this. I like to think of Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea as being your average world cup team with one marquee player, but Sweden ultimately fails to even meet that in my eyes. With Ibrahimovic refused a place in the Squad (much to the ire of the Swedes and any 14 year old’s Football Twitter account of [Insert Adverb] Zlatan/Ibra), the side lacks a true game changer like Mexico’s Hirving Lozano or Korea’s Heung Min Son, both of which are the bain of any FIFA Player. Can Mexico rely on someone to rise up like Ochoa this year? Or may Korea scratch and claw that runners-up spot?

Prediction?

Feel like I’m repeating myself here, but this is Germany’s group to lose. You have to go back to 1938 for the last time Germany failed to reach the quarter-finals, so the round of 16 should be a piece of Kuchen. I also believe South Korea will narrowly escape the group despite close games and maybe even a defeat at the hands of one of Sweden or Mexico. But we’re likely looking at only a single loss to Germany for the Asian side. Mexico will be unlucky to miss out, but failure to capitalise on missed opportunities is the story of Javier Hernandez this past season, and given how important he is to the attacking play of Mexico, this will not bode well for them.

  1. Germany: 9 Points(3-0-0): To defeat all teams in the group
  2. Korea: 4 Points (1-1-1): Defeat Sweden, draw with Mexico, lose to Germany
  3. Mexico: 4 Points (1-1-1): Defeat Sweden, draw with Korea, lose to Germany
  4. Sweden: 0 Points (0-0-3): Fail to win a point in the group

So, that looks to be all the Bookies’ favourites places in the Tournament predicted. Now onto the fun part…how will England and my Dark Horse team fare?

 

 

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