As Hisense UK’s official Armchair Reporter, Ben Groom takes a look at England’s chances ahead of their upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup™ campaign. Throughout the tournament Ben will be on hand to offer regular analysis, insight and opinion on the beautiful game’s greatest event.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in Russia is finally upon us and the usual feelings of hope and anticipation are soon to be met with joy and despair for football fans around the globe. There’s just hours to go until the competition kicks off with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia, who will be the standout performers and who may fall short at this summer’s tournament? Only time will tell.
The likes of Belgium, France, Brazil and Germany make up the favourites for the trophy, and rightly so. The calibre of players these nations left behind is enough to show the strength in depth they possess, many of them would walk into the England XI, but it wouldn’t be a World Cup without a few unexpected results and moments of drama.
Brazil will feel they have a lot to prove after the infamous 7-1 defeat to world champions Germany four years ago, coupled with the extraordinary talent in their ranks, they are the ones to beat this summer. Belgium are another side that I’m backing to go far this summer, their current squad has strength in every position with many hailing it as a ‘golden generation’, but as England fans know all-too-well, that particular label can bring more pressure than success.
As it did four years ago, the narrative of Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi has reared its head in the build-up to the tournament. In what is likely to be their last appearances in the competition, it’s becoming ever-more-likely that one of these two greats of the modern game will not lift football’s most coveted prize. Despite unparalleled goal tallies with their clubs, the two are still yet to be considered in the company of Diego Maradona or Pele due to their sometimes-underwhelming international performances. But could Russia be the setting for one of them to finally clinch legend status and lift the FIFA World Cup™? I don’t think so. Both Portugal and Argentina rely far too heavily on their star men and, despite the former’s success at Euro 2016, I think they could disappoint a few sweepstake punters and go out earlier than expected.
Putting aside the big teams, I’m tipping Ricardo Gareca’s Peru to be the surprise package of this summer’s tournament. Peru’s fantastic form leading up to the tournament has gone unnoticed and, incredibly, you would have to look back to November 2016 to see the last time they tasted defeat. Since that 2-0 loss to Brazil almost two years ago, the South Americans have gone 15 games unbeaten and have seen off the likes of Uruguay and Croatia in the lead up to the tournament. The side will be boosted by the return of Paolo Guerrero and could cause an upset in Group C, where they will face France, Denmark and Australia.
Another side that have gone under the radar is Croatia, placed in Group D alongside Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria. Many will expect Lionel Messi’s Argentina to top the group but another spot in the knockout round is certainly up for grabs, and I predict the Blazers could well be the dark horses of the competition. The likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic fill their star-studded midfield, with Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic among an impressive roster of attacking talent. The Croatians could well face France in the round of 16 but I wouldn’t put it past Zlatko Dalić’s side to plough on into the last throws of the competition.
Whatever the outcome of the tournament, I think we can all agree that world-class football welcoming the nation home from work and school every day is a blessing that we’ve all waited patiently for.
The Armchair Reporter will be tuning into the tournament with the Official TV of the FIFA World Cup™, the Hisense U7A 4K ULED TV. Specifically designed to offer the greatest possible sporting experience, there’s no better way to experience every moment of the beautiful game’s showpiece event, short of travelling to Russia!
Hisense UK Armchair Reporter