Here at TSF, we writers think we know at least a little bit about soccer. We watch a decent amount of it, we read even more about it, and we voluntarily spend our free time writing about it. We decided it would be a fun diversion from writing about transfer rumors based on which players followed Arsenal on Instagram to let you, our lovely readers, know what is going to happen over the next month in Russia.
I know Messi has failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed on him at the National Team level (because he hasn’t delivered a World Cup), but I think his “failings” are more on his teammates than they are on him. Argentina, who lost to Germany in the final in 2014, have another strong side, and I think they’ll get that little bit of magic from the greatest player I’ve ever seen play to get them over the hump. Of course, this might just be the delirious Washington Capitals fan in me subconsciously connecting Lionel Messi with Alex Ovechkin, but who cares?
Golden Boot: The Main Event, Mr. Olivier Giroud
Bonus Prediction: Gareth Southgate’s Nice Boys top Roberto Martinez and valiantly go out to Brazil in the quarter-finals. Who’s sniggering in the back? At least my country made it to the World Cup, thank you very much, and didn’t lose against Trinidad and Tobago.
Germany are deeper and more tactically flexible than they were four years ago, when they won the World Cup. They didn’t have a right back because they messed about with Lahm in midfield, and they didn’t have a left back because Jogi Löw is odd. Then last year they took their reserves to Russia for the Confederations Cup, and won the whole thing. After relative disappointment in Euro 2016, this might be the last go-around for the core of a really excellent national team. I think they’ll do well. But unlike 2016, they have that depth around them, and can play a variety of systems.
Golden Boot: Neymar
Bonus Prediction: A deep run by England. The side finally seems to have some unity under Gareth Southgate who, I think, like Aidan, will bow out gracefully in the quarters.
After an emphatic qualifying campaign, Brazil will be looking to atone for their semi-finals implosion against Germany four years ago. I feel Brazil finally have solidity—which goes a long way in elimination football—especially with the passionate Tite at the helm who has seemed to recapture that vintage Brazil swagger. Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Philippe Coutinho will excitingly lead the attack, but my favourite thing about this side is their abundance of experienced defensive options who will (hopefully) keep a lid on things.
Golden Boot: Cristiano Ronaldo
“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
- Gary Lineker, 1990
I have no reason to think this World Cup will be any different.
Golden Boot: Antoine Griezmann
I’m not too concerned about Spain’s drama, to me they’re the deepest, most talented, most experienced side in the world with a spine of De Gea/Ramos/Pique/Busquets that no side can match. They won’t score a ton but I just can’t see them falling behind anyone on the way to a second trophy.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus
Bonus Predictions: England to beat Germany in the quarter finals (not on penalties tho), Argentina fail to make it out of their group and some shady stuff happens for Russia to make the knock outs.
Predicting a knock out tournament with teams that don’t play together often is a crap shoot. I think that Brazil has the best and most balanced squad that is well suited for a tournament like this with two defensive minded midfielders to feed a very good attacking line.
I went with a crazy under dog in Croatia as my runner up because I think Spain might be a bit unsettled with the coaching drama going on and I think that England will beat Germany in the quarter finals.
Regardless of how wrong I will look I hope for a fun tournament.
Make sure to leave your predictions in the comments. Who do you think will win? Anything else you feel confident enough about to put into digital ink forever?