As a Scotland fan, this summer will be the same as it has been for years. Watching an international tournament with no involvement other than the occasional Scot who will travel thousands of miles to sit in with the opposition fans of the team that England play.
But this summer, the World Cup seems rather unpredictable. With numerous outsider Nations who could shock the system in Russia.
With that said, here is a Scotsman’s rundown on how Russia 2018 could pan out.
Group A: Salah Vs. Suarez
Other than the blockbuster opening game that is Russia vs Saudi Arabia. Egypt and Uruguay will be the focus of Group A. A Uruguay squad which, personally, is leaning towards being overrated, has an easy path to the Knockout Stages. But could struggle in their opener with Egypt, as long as Salah is fighting fit. With Salah suffering his dislocated shoulder, he is still in contention for Russia but could also miss the whole tournament. If he’s fit, then Mo’s magic should be more than enough to carry them through. If not, then the hosts Russia could snatch 2nd place off them. But on the flip side, Egypt won’t be entirely reliant on their star man. Only time will tell who advances here.
4th. Saudi Arabia
Group B: The One-sided One
On paper, Group B is a simple prediction, Spain and Portugal and go through, Iran and Morocco to go home. And it’s clear why.
Spain will walk the group, an easy 6 points against Morroco and Iran. And should have the firepower to dispose of Portugal aswell. The same should realistically be said about the reigning European Champions, but I have a slight feeling we could see them slip up.
We saw in 2014 that Iran can hold their own, if it wasn’t for Messi they could’ve shocked Argentina last World Cup, and if they play their game against Portugal, a place in the round of 16 could be theirs for the taking.
However being realistic, it shouldn’t happen. Portugal and Spain should be advancing here and I believe they will do so just fine.
Group C: The Unpredictable One
Group C could be the most entertaining of the bunch. France, one of the tournament favourites. Australia, a nation of seems to be improving every time they play. Denmark, a criminally underrated side. And lastly Peru, a Nation that haven’t lost since late 2016 (winning every game in 2018 so far).
France will win the group, and if they don’t then it will be a colossal upset. But second place is where it heats up. Denmark are the most likely from what it seems. They have a strong side and could cause a few upsets on their day. But Peru are the in-form side out of the three. The waltzed past Scotland without breaking a sweat. And when they turned up their game. They were lethal.
That being said, don’t count out Australia, they could easily pick up 6 points. But unfortunately, the same can be said for everyone.
My money is on Denmark. But at the end of the day. It’s almost impossible to predict for sure.
Group D: Iceland vs Croatia II
Argentina were lucky to even make it to Russia in the end, and they’ll be wishing they had a much easier group than this.
If this was 2014, it would be a no brainer who went through. But this time out, all 4 will be competitive.
Every tournament has a group that goes in a way nobody expected. Like Hungary and Iceland topping their Euro 2016 group, or England’s 2014 World Cup group. Group D is Russia’s equivalent.
Iceland are a nation to nothing to lose. And they will know that they can beat Croatia and Nigeria with ease on their day. And with that, for me the match which decides the groups fate is Argentina Vs Croatia. The winner of that will advance through with Iceland the the Knockout Rounds
Group E: The Group Of Underdogs
Straight to the point, if Brazil don’t win this group it will be a shock. But I feel as if the runner-up in this group could be a surprise package in the whole tournament.
Switzerland. A team which romped qualifying with 9 wins from 10, but ended up in the Play-Offs thanks to Portugal. However I feel they’ll continue this ruthlessness into Russia and will match up to anyone they play.
Anybody but Brazil and they’d win the group, if they play their best, they’ll waltz into the knockouts. Whether they meet Germany or not will be the deciding factor in how far they go. But they are a team who could easily reach the Quarter Finals at least if Group F goes their way.
3rd. Costa Rica
Group F: The Reigning Champions
Another Group which should be easy to predict. Germany and Mexico should be easily advancing from the group. If they play their game. South Korea and Sweden won’t be able to match them.
However, both teams have shown cracks before, and could easily show cracks again. Germany were rightful winners in 2014, but underperformed in Euro 2016. It’s a possibility that Mexico could win this group. But they themselves could just as easily bottle their matches. Either way, their in for a tough game in the next round regardless of where they finish.
4th. South Korea
Group G: England’s Revival?
Without trying to sound bias, England have been abysmal at tournaments since 2006, with 2012 the only possible exception. But this could be the year they rise again.
Even as a Scot, you’ve got to look at their youth and applaud. And although the squad is young and inexperienced compared to those previous. They have a group which should be easy.
Assuming they don’t trip up with Panama and Tunisia, they should be able to improve as the tournament progresses. They will be settling for second in the group, but should be a hidden gem in the knockout rounds.
Belgium are too good for this group, and assuming they don’t play like a team of individuals like they used to. They’ll win this group easily.
Panama and Tunisia could surprise some, but it isn’t likely.
Group H: Cannon Fodder
Being blunt, but I can’t see any of these teams going further than the Round of 16. It’s a group that anybody could advance from. But realistically, none of them will beat England or Belgium.
Poland and Columbia should progress here, with Poland the more likely to come out on top. Both are a team that have a few star players, but probably won’t have enough to tackle what awaits in the knockouts.
Round Of Sixteen
Going of the above predictions, the ties are as followed:
Uruguay Vs. Portugal
Spain Vs Eqypt
France Vs Iceland
Argentina Vs Denmark
Brazil Vs Mexico
Germany Vs Switzerland
Belgium Vs Columbia
Poland Vs England
Tie 1: European champions Portugal should have more than enough to dispose of Uruguay. But it’ll be s close affair. PORTUGAL WIN
Tie 2: Mo Salah’s magic won’t be enough to overcome the 2010 winners, Spain are too good to lose this one. SPAIN WIN
Tie 3: Iceland’s fairytale will once again be cut short by the French. It won’t be as convincing as the 2016 meeting, but France should have enough here. FRANCE WIN
Tie 4: This all depends on what Argentina we get in Russia, if it’s anything like their qualifying performance. Denmark will take this one. And I’m going to be bold and say they will. DENMARK WIN
Tie 5: Brazil will be too much for Mexico. If Mexico can win the group like I hinted at before, then they could advance in a different tie. But they can’t match Brazil. BRAZIL WIN
Tie 6: A match that revolves around how Germany perform prior to the knockouts. If they show any cracks, Switzerland could capitalise on it and advance. But I’m going to play it safe and back the Germans. GERMANY WIN
Tie 7: Belgium are too good to lose this. Take nothing away from Columbia, they could win this on their day. But this could be Belgium’s crowning tournament, and Columbia won’t have enough to stop them. BELGIUM WIN
Tie 8: If England can develop and grow into the tournament, they should win this one. Poland will be a strong opponent. But I have England winning this one. ENGLAND WIN
So going off the prior predictions, these are the quarter final ties;
Portugal Vs France
Spain Vs Denmark
Brazil Vs Belgium
Germany Vs England
Tie 1: Two years ago we said France will beat Portugal in the Euro 2016 Final, but they didn’t. However this time Portugal won’t be as lucky. France are too good for them. FRANCE WIN
Tie 2: I was bold to put Denmark through, but this is where their journey ends. Spain will be looking to redeem themselves after 2014, and making the Semi-Finals will do just that. SPAIN WIN
Tie 3: Brazil and Belgium are two very good sides, and I can see this one going to penalties. And with saying that, there’s not many ways to predict who wins a shoot-out. So I’ll go with my heart, and say Belgium to take it on Penalties. BELGIUM WIN
Tie 4: Despite my criticism of Germany so far, they’re experience will be key in this match. England have more than what it takes to beat them. We’ve seen it in recent years. But Germany will just have that edge to carry them into the final four. GERMANY WIN
As a result of my predictions, these are the semi-final ties
France Vs Belgijm
Spain Vs Germany
Tie 1: A tough one to call, Belgium often have a reputation of being a team of individuals. But I feel like this year will be different. However France have a much greater Squad Depth. And I feel like they will have the better quality team here. FRANCE WIN
Tie 2: It is here where I feel Germany’s luck will run out. Spain will be firing on all cylinders this year and should be able to carry themselves through to the final. SPAIN WIN
World Cup Final
And so we reach the final, France vs Spain, and for me. This is where France will redeem their shortcomings at Euro 2016.
They should’ve won the Euro’s on home soil 2 years ago. And I feel like they also have luck of the draw this year in Russia. Combine those with an unbelievable squad. And I think they will be World Cup Winners in 2018.
Spain, although not as good as they were in 2008-2012, will be a team reborn in Russia, but I don’t think they have enough to overcome that last hurdle.
Prediction: France Win the 2018 FIFA World Cup
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments below!