World Cup Predictions: The Lazy Fan Sports editorial team have given us their predictions for the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. This is the first time our editors have sat down to compile the ultimate Lazy Fan footballing forecasts.
World Cup Predicitons
Question 1; Who will contest the final at the World Cup?
Jordan Lombard – For once the final isn’t so obvious, there are around 10 teams who could really make it all the way to the final this year. Although I’m going to say it’ll be Portugal vs Germany.
Matthew Cooper – I think France has the best, young squad overall with the vast majority playing in their first World Cup and with a genuine world-class goal scorer in Antoine Griezmann will be a real force to be reckoned with. Spain, on the other hand, has an incredibly solid defensive side and while they may be lacking world-class goal scorers, a fully firing Diego Costa will always be dangerous. France vs Spain
Rory Norris – France vs Germany. To put it simply, these are the two most talented and complete squads at the World Cup.
Ray Burton – A repeat of last time’s semi-final, and with the same result, although much much closer. Brazil vs Germany.
Kieran Harm – For me, it has to be France vs Germany. They’re probably the two best nations on the planet right now.
Sebastian Szlenkier – I think Brazil vs Germany will probably be the final. Germany always turns it on when it matters and Brazil look very dangerous going forward.
Question 2; who do you see winning it all in Russia?
Jordan Lombard – Out of my two finalists I can’t look beyond Germany to reclaim their crown. There’s something about German efficiency in International tournaments.
Matthew Cooper – Again, I think France simply have the best, most balanced squad at the tournament. Certainly, enough to overpower Spain in the final.
Rory Norris – Looking at this squad, I fail to see any weak spots. If this team works as a unit, expect big things from France.
Ray Burton – The organisation of the Germans will see them home again. While they are behind some teams in terms of creativity, Germany is a complete team, and always play for each other. They know how to win, and will repeat as Champions
Kieran Harm – I think Germany will win it. I know defending World Cup is rare but in my opinion, their squad is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else’s.
Sebastian Szlenkier – The strength in Brazil is unmatched and I think this is finally their time to come back to greatness
Question 3; who do think will finish tournament top scorer?
Jordan Lombard – Every team has an argument for this one, I’m going to take a stab at someone who in my opinion has quietly been becoming the best all-around Premier League striker, Romelu Lukaku.
Matthew Cooper – Antoine Griezmann is a world-class forward and highly rumoured to be leaving Atletico Madrid for Barcelona this year. The Frenchman is rated just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best players in the world but unlike Messi and Ronaldo, he has better players around him to set him up.
Rory Norris – Having been linked with a big money move ever since he flashed at Euro 2016, Antoine Griezmann will seal a summer transfer with a stellar scoring performance in this tournament.
Ray Burton – I see the French as solid contenders this year, and the big man with the big head will rack up a few goals, especially through the group phase and last 16. At least 6 goals coming Giroud’s way.
Kieran Harm – I’m confident in saying Griezmann. He’s just so good in front of goal, and if France do get all the way to the final, he’s going to be a big reason why.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Germany is Germany and for that reason, I’m going with the efficiency of Thomas Muller.
Question 4; who do think will end the World Cup with the most assists?
Jordan Lombard – If I’m arguing Lukaku for the top goal scorer, then surely the only logical decision for most assists will be for Kevin De Bruyne. However, I’m not a logical person so my guess is Coutinho.
Matthew Cooper – Paul Pogba is France’s most creative midfielder and while he has not hit the heights expected of him at Manchester United, if Les Bleus are to win this year’s World Cup he will have to play a major part in it.
Rory Norris – Kevin de Bruyne -The Belgian maestro showcased his passing skills in the Premier League this year. I see this resulting in an abundance of assists this tournament.
Ray Burton – With Tunisia, and Panama in the group stage, I see Belgium netting a few goals. Kevin de Bruyne is the heart of the creativity for this team and will notch up at least 5 assists
Kieran Harm – wow, so the way I see it is any of the Spanish midfield can claim this role. I’m going to say Andres Iniesta though because it’s his last WC and he’s going to want to go out in a high.
Sebastian Szlenkier – As with Thomas Muller the German’s are just really good at what they do. He’s not the flashiest name this summer but I’m going with the tried and tested Toni Kroos.
Question 5; Who will be the best player at the World Cup?
Jordan Lombard – I can either see it being an absolute star or one of the most unexpected players. On one hand, I think Jesse Lingard could be an outlier, he seems to thrive on big occasions and his relaxed persona will surely help out. However, my head says it’s far more likely to be Neymar.
Matthew Cooper – Leroy Sane has had an excellent time at Manchester City since joining Pep Guardiola at the Emirates, picking up this season’s Premier League Young Player of the Year award. Expect the German international’s good form to continue on the international stage.
Rory Norris – N’Golo Kante will be at the heart of the midfield for my projected winners. Expect him to be involved in every significant action for the French.
Ray Burton – Strong contender for top scorer, Neymar is the player this world cup should be all about. He was doing really well last time until he broke his back (!), look for even more this time
Kieran Harm – Leroy Sane. He’s just SO DAMN GOOD. Working under Pep has clearly turned this lad from potential to genuine world beater. He’s not at the level of Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar just yet but he’s certainly one of the most dangerous wide men in world football.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Neymar, feel this is finally the time for him to step up to being a player on the world stage.
Question 6; Which young player will light up the World Cup?
Jordan Lombard – Mexico has a phenomenal shout in 23-year-old Hirving Lozano, the forward nicknamed as Chunky is one of the most exciting young forwards in the world game right now. However, I think the burden of carrying such a poor Mexico team is the reason I can’t overlook Manchester City and Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus, for obvious reasons.
Matthew Cooper – Again, It’s Leroy Sane for me.
Rory Norris – Coming off an incredible season for Juventus and at only 23 years old, Pablo Dybala makes the perfect partner for Lionel Messi.
Ray Burton – The great hype that surrounds Mbappe makes this a little trickier because he has something to live up to already. Expect at least one stunning goal, and a load of attacking highlights as Mbappe joins the world stage.
Kieran Harm – Leroy Sane, please.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Mbappe, absolutely world class at his age. First chance to show himself on the international stage and I expect him to fully take advantage of it.
Question 7; Who will be the most underwhelming player at the World Cup?
Jordan Lombard – Looking at the dizzy expectations the Egyptian has set for himself over the course of the Premier League season I think Mo Salah will experience a huge drop off in form and return to the player we saw at Basil, Roma and Chelsea.
Matthew Cooper – Nicklas Bendtner is a walking joke at this point in his career. The former Arsenal forward was absolutely useless for the Gunners and has not exactly done any better elsewhere and with Denmark having the likes of Kasper Dolberg and Kenneth Zohore to call on up front, it seems ridiculous that he still makes the squad.
Rory Norris – How is this player on the plane? Danny Welbeck, who can’t get a game for Arsenal even when fully healthy, which is rare, is part of the final squad for England. If he doesn’t miss at least ten crucial 1-on-1 opportunities, it’ll be a success as far as he’s concerned. Rant over.
Ray Burton – Massively over-hyped and underperforming is the mainstay for Harry Kane in important games. In every big game he seems to disappear, and when you’re as hyped as he is the fall is even bigger.
Kieran Harm – Bit of an interesting selection here, Nicklas Bendtner. The Danish squad hasn’t been finalised as of yet (25/5/18) but he’s in the preliminary squad. If he goes then he’s my pick for that. Don’t think I really need to explain why.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Too difficult to pick one in all honesty.
Question 8; Who will be the most underwhelming team at the World Cup?
Jordan Lombard – Every year the media goes on a frenzy surrounding Leo Messi and how this is his year to cement himself as the GOAT. Unfortunately, it never happens and they always disappoint on the world stage for the talent they have. Argentina will be underwhelming.
Matthew Cooper – England are always disappointing at major tournaments, it’s a national tradition at this point. Expect to see them claw their way out of the group stage in second after getting battered by Belgium and then get knocked out by a footballing minnow in the next round.
Rory Norris – I’ve seen lots of hype for this team, however, I honestly don’t see the appeal. Plenty of creative options in the Spain midfield, however when one of the best attacking options available is Iago Aspas, creativity often runs amiss. Expect a repeat of 2014.
Ray Burton – Always the team to disappoint us, England have a lot of exciting young talent in the squad. However, expect to see much more of Cahill, Henderson, Dier and co. than the new young exciting players. Probably lose in the last 16 to Poland.
Kieran Harm – The literal opposite of Jordan’s opinion, I’m saying Portugal. I don’t think they’re going to do all that well again. They share a group with Spain so they’re more than likely going to end up in 2nd place. That makes for a very tough knock out rounds.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Portugal, I feel they overachieved in 2016 and won’t manage to match that level or even get anywhere close this year
Question 9; Who will be the 2018 World Cup dark horse?
Jordan Lombard – Perhaps some bias showing through here, but I think Gareth Southgate and company will provide a very similar scenario to that of Wales at the European Championships. No pressure, no expectations and a relatively easy route. England for me.
Matthew Cooper – Croatia have a wealth of options in midfield with the likes of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, along with forward options which include Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic as well as being in a group with the very attack-heavy Argentina I would not be surprised to see them top their group and go far in this tournament.
Rory Norris – Poland often is overlooked among the giants of Europe, however, the quality of the squad has increased largely over the last few years. Robert Lewandowski remains one of the most dangerous attacking threats in the world, and so I would be shocked not to find Poland raising eyebrows this summer.
Ray Burton – Strong core, and a genuine team. Sweden doesn’t have the toughest group, and once you get to the knockout stages anything can happen. They will pull together and fight for each other and make a run to the quarters, and maybe even the semis.
Kieran Harm – I know they’re usually in the reckoning for this kind of thing but I think it’ll be Poland. They have a relatively easy group, and their most likely opponents in the first knockout round are England…need I say more.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Belgium, a team which is always expected to be good but fails to live up to expectation. This year they can finally show they can do it in big tournaments.
Question 10; Which goalkeeper will have the best tournament?
Jordan Lombard – Is this really a question? I can only see one Goalkeeper lighting it up and that’s David De Gea. For years now he’s been the best in the world by a country mile.
Matthew Cooper – Hugo Lloris is the French captain and one of the best stoppers in the world. As a leader, he will play an important role for France and with a solid defence in front of him, I can see him keeping many a clean sheet.
Rory Norris – Ultimately, David De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world, and should be one of the only bright spots in the aforementioned disappointing Spain squad.
Ray Burton – When you have a solid team around you, the base is usually the Goalie. Expect Olsen to get a chance to shine and take it.
Kieran Harm – I would say Neuer but he’s spent the whole season out injured nearly, so I’m going to say David De Gea. He’s so pivotal to any team he plays in. Take him out that Manchester United squad and they might have just scraped top 4.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Manuel Neuer, the things he can do cannot be matched whatsoever. I fully expect him to be a standout at the World Cup like he is in every match he plays.
Question 11; Which Defender will have the best tournament?
Jordan Lombard – Singling out a defender is difficult. Is there really anyone out there that will dominate? The footballing world seems to be short on real, world-class central defenders. So, with that in mind, I’m going to take a chance with Marquinhos of Brazil.
Matthew Cooper – Jerome Boateng has been a stalwart for Bayern Munich and Germany over the years and, alongside fellow Bayern star Mats Hummels will be key players for the Germans as they aim to retain their World Cup title.
Rory Norris – Jan Vertonghen has been consistently one of the best centre backs in the Premier League (this year aside, where he’s been woeful without his Belgian partner). This will be emphasised by his brilliant supporting cast in the Belgium squad.
Ray Burton – As Belgium make their run to the latter stages Vertonghen will be the glue that holds their back line together.
Kieran Harm – This is a hard one. I could just have easily gone with Boateng, but I’m going to say Mats Hummels. In my opinion, he has been consistently one of the best centre-backs in the world for years now, and I expect that to continue as he leads his side to glory.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Mats Hummels, a great defender. Fully expect him to keep his solid performance levels at this tournament and come out as one of the defensive players of the tournament.
Question 12; Which Midfielder will have the best tournament?
Jordan Lombard – Easy answer, In my scenario, he’s the leading creator of goals and possibly the best player at the tournament overall, Coutinho.
Matthew Cooper – Kevin de Bruyne has had an outstanding season for Manchester City as they romped towards the Premier League title and de Bruyne ended the season as the league’s leading assister. His ability to pick a pass is second to none and if he plays well, Belgium will do well.
Rory Norris – My projected assists leader should comfortably be seen as the best midfielder this tournament. Kevin De Bruyne.
Ray Burton – Typical German efficiency and a nice flourish of creativity make Toni Kroos a wonderful player to watch. It’s not easy to shine in such a well-oiled machine, but if you watch carefully you’ll see him pulling the Germans strings.
Kieran Harm – I’m leaning towards the German Pirlo. Toni Kroos – the way he spreads the ball about and dictates games from deep midfield make him so influential. He’s a key part of Zidane’s Real Madrid team as well as being the tempo setting king for Germany.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Paul Pogba, a solid midfielder in a very talented France squad. He can show his true ability which we haven’t seen enough at Manchester United in front of the world on the biggest stage.
Question 13; Which Forward will have the best tournament?
Jordan Lombard – I’ll go with the top scorer I’ve set out for myself. Although I think the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jamie Vardy & Thomas Muller will do well, I think Romelu Lukaku will take centre stage.
Rory Norris – With players such as N’Golo Kante and Ousmane Dembele to feed him, expect goals galore for Antoine Griezmann.
Ray Burton – Classy, silky, smooth. Neymar has it all. He’s quick as well and his goals will take Brazil all the way to the final
Kieran Harm – Antoine Griezmann. He’s my pick for top scorer and as I said earlier, he’s the one who will France will depend on.
Sebastian Szlenkier – Neymar, I expect him to show exactly why he is the most expensive player on the planet.
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