Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers

Four early predictions for next year’s World Cup

As World Cup qualification is finally set in concrete, we now have our 32 teams that will be making the ominous trip to Russia next summer. Forget the conditions for a second, the 2018 World Cup is set to be the most hotly contested global tournament of all time, as several teams look like viable candidates for the throne. But the potential winners of the competition are not the only interesting aspect, there are several unique selling points of this tournament. This will be the first time the tournaments been hosted in Europe since 2006.

Here are four early predictions for the 2018 World Cup.

#4 Nigeria will reach the Quarter Finals

Nigeria - Iwobi

The Super Eagles will be making their return to the World Cups stage in 2018, as they were the first team from Africa to qualify this campaign. The Nigerians finished top of Group B, 6 points ahead of Zambia, they didn’t lose a single game during the campaign. The West African team are currently ranked no.41 in the FIFA world rankings and to set to rise in the next update.

Led by the exuberance of Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho & Wilfred Ndidi and steadied by the experience of John Obi Mikel, Nigeria have all the tools to excel in Russia. No African team has ever won the World Cup and Nigeria are not set to be the first, but in fairness, they do at least have the quality to be in the last 8 of the tournament.

#3 England will make it out of the group stage

England - southgate

Once again, England absolutely breezed through their qualifying campaign for the world cup. The Three Lions won 8 out of their 10 games, finishing 8 points clear of 2nd placed Slovakia. Those statistics may be impressive, but we’ve seen this all before from England, and they always seem to come up short in the major tournaments.

In 2014, they knocked out at the group stage, as they were defeated by Costa Rica and Italy in the group stage, the failure cost Roy Hodgson his job. Rewind back a few more years and the Three Lions were embarrassingly dumped out by some German’s youngsters in 2010.

Gareth Southgate’s England team will be determined to reverse that embarrassing run of failure. The Group F winners have looked a different proposition in recent months, as the 47-year-old has tactically drilled them in the right way. The national team now looks capable of taking all on comers, by using a variety of formations. At the World Cup, England will certainly get out of the group stage, how far they go outside of that depends on the personnel Southgate takes to Russia.

#2 Spain will make a comeback

Spain - Isco

In the mid-noughties, Spain were billed as the most dominant team in international history. The Spaniards won a hattrick of major tournaments from 2008 to 2012, claiming two Euros and the World Cup. However, that era of dominance shockingly came to an end in 2014, as they didn’t even make it out of the group stage. But you can’t keep a good team down for too long and the Spaniard’s squad is filled with too much talent for them to be denied for a second successive World Cup. They look set to be back to their best, as they won 9 out of 10 games in Group G, scoring 36 goals, only conceding 3 goals.

Julen Lopetegui has got the Spaniards playing total futbol again, they look tactically well-drilled and free-flowing in attack. In the summer, they’ll show the elites of football how to play the beautiful way, as the likes of Isco and David Silva pass their way to the pinnacle of the sport.

#1 Brazil will win

Brazil - Jesus - Neymar

Back in 2014, the World Cup was held in Brazil and the hosts humiliating went out in the semi-finals. The eventual winners Germany destroyed Brazil 7-1 in a match that left enhanced the reputations of the absent Thiago Silva and Neymar. Now both of those two are once again leading from the front and they’re arguably better than they were last campaign.

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is set to become the best player in the world in 2018. He’s been tittering on the verge of the award for several years now and 2018 will be his year. The wide forward will once again have to carry the weight of a nation on his back, but this time he’ll have support.

In recent years, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Douglas Costa, Roberto Firmino & Willian have all come into their own as sufficient supporting acts for the Paris Saint-Germain forward. Bottom line is, no other team will be able to match Brazil’s firepower and you may as well write their name on the trophy now.

 

About the Author Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with a soft spot for Pascal Cygan.

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