***Official 2018 FIFA World Cup thread***

Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by phins_4_ever, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    [​IMG]
    Tournament details
    Host country Russia
    Dates 14 June – 15 July
    Teams
    32 (from 5 confederations)
    Venue(s) 12 (in 11 host cities)

    We are a little more than one week away from the drawing for the group stage (Dec 1, 2017). All teams have been assigned in drawing pots.
    The change this year: all pot assignments are based on FIFA rankings.



    Pot 1 Pot2Pot 3Pot 4
    Russia (65) (hosts)
    Germany (1)
    Brazil (2)
    Portugal (3)
    Argentina (4)
    Belgium (5)
    Poland (6)
    France (7)
    Spain (8)
    Peru (10)
    Switzerland (11)
    England (12)
    Colombia (13)
    Mexico (16)
    Uruguay (17)
    Croatia (18)
    Denmark (19)
    Iceland (21)
    Costa Rica (22)
    Sweden (25)
    Tunisia (28)
    Egypt (30)
    Senegal (32)
    Iran (34)
    Serbia (38)
    Nigeria (41)
    Australia (43)
    Japan (44)
    Morocco (48)
    Panama (49)
    South Korea (62)
    Saudi Arabia (63)
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  2. Kdawg954

    Kdawg954 My f*ck ups be the perfect mistakes Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Interesting change from FIFA with the rankings pot assignments. Limited Group of death potential but there will be an upstart or 2 out of Pot 3.

    No Chile, Italy, Dutch, U.S. or even Ghana this year.
     
  3. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Argentina did not look good either. They barely made the WC. I could see Argentina going back to the time before 1978. It may be Messi's last WC and there is very little talent expected to follow. If they are getting into a group with Sweden, Denmark or even Iceland from Pot 3 they may not even make it out of the group stage.
    I was surprised about Ghana as well. They changed their format for the 2018 Qualification. In the past the final round was with the top 10 teams playing a playoff (home and away) to determine the 5 African participants. This time they eliminated a preliminary round and the final round was 5 groups with a total of 20 teams and only the group winners qualified. Ghana did not win one single home game in that final round.
     
  4. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Today was the World Cup draw. No groups of death per say. Quite a good mix up. It should be noted that not surprisingly Russia as host has gotten the easiest group. That is properly more fodder for the assumptions that World Cup draws are fixed.


    Group AGroup B Group CGroup D
    Russia (H) (65)Portugal (3)France (7)Argentina (4)
    Saudia Arabia (63)Spain (8) Australia (43)Iceland (21)
    Egypt (30)Marocco (48)Peru (10)Croatia (18)
    Uruguay (17)Iran (34) Denmark (19)Nigeria (41)

    Group E Group FGroup GGroup H
    Brazil (2)Germany (1)Belgium (5) Poland (6)
    Switzerland (11)Mexico (16)Panama (49)Senegal (32)
    Costa Rica (22)Sweden (25)Tunesia (28)Colombia (13)
    Serbia (38)South Korea (62)England (12)Japan (44)
     
  5. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    It is kind of ironic that while living in a country where soccer/football is a side sport that I have all the access to soccer any soccer can wish for:
    Germany, Italy, England, France, Spain, South American Leagues, National Cups, Copa America, European qualifiers, Euro, Champions League, Europa League, South American qualifiers...oh yes MLS as well. I live in soccer paradise.
    Between all the Fox Sports Soccer channels (4), FoxGo app, Gol TV, Univison, Bein (3) and ESPN I pretty much live in soccer la-la land. :laugh

    I’ll begin with the very obvious – the FIFA corruption platform. If you are still one of those people who say that there was no corruption in awarding Russia and Qatar the next two WCs the draw should have removed all doubts.

    What are the odds that one of the worst hosts gets a group where literally the worst or one of the worst teams from every pot is drawn to. I won’t even predict that group because it pisses me off that because of corruption there will be two teams left out who probably deserve to advance much more than any of these teams (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay): Peru/Denmark; Switzerland/Costa Rica; Mexico/Sweden – are teams which will probably battle for 2nd and 3rd and one will be left out.


    Favorites
    #1 Germany
    For me the clear cut favorite is Germany. It is their WC to lose. The German squad is extremely deep at talent. Just looking at the Confed cup last year where Germany sent a backup team to Russia and won it despite facing teams who fielded almost their #1 teams. They filled the A Team with U21 players who played the U21 Euro at the same time. Not only won the ‘backup filled’ A Team the Confed Cup, their ‘backup filled’ U21 also won the Euro.

    The 2016 Euro has still left a bitter taste. The team was superior to its opponents but struggled mightily scoring goals. They simply were too cute many times. The semifinal loss against host France was a typical example: completely dominating the game, failing to score a goal and then an ill-advised handball gave France a 1-0 lead just before half time. The goal scoring problem seemed to have been solved as Germany pretty much beat up on its qualifier opponents. That is really the one issue which could stop Germany: feeling to secure and not scoring.

    #2 Spain
    Spain is clearly my #2. Inesta, Ramos and Silva are the pillars of that squad. It probably will be their last WC and they definitely will try to repeat the 2010 magic. Though coach Argote was a goal keeper in his playing days he is a Jogi Loew type coach who believes in ball control, short passing game, patience and an enormous amount of movements without the ball. Just like Germany the team defends high. Argote assembled a nice mix between veteran players and new young talent.
    Unfortunately, if Germany and Spain win their respective groups they will meet in the semifinal with no chance of meeting in the final. Their friendly a couple of months ago was worth a WC final with Spain dominating early in the first half and Germany after. It was fast and entertaining. The game ended 1-1.


    #3 Brazil
    I am putting Brazil here because not having a South American team in the top 4 just seems wrong. I have seen quite a few Brazil games from the last Copa and the qualifiers and Brazil dominance of its South American opponents is more a result of South America dropping off in quality rather than Brazil strengths. Chile did not make it and its Golden Generation will end without ever having any significant WC success, Argentina struggled to make the WC (more to that later).
    Brazil is still the a-typical South American soccer nation relying on one super star and assembling a bunch of individualists. But that reliance on one super star is also what will doom Brazil.
    Personally I am pretty happy that Brazil pulled the cord on HC Dunga for the second time in 2016 rather quickly. If given time Dunga could have made the changes to make Brazil a perennial superpower on the world stage. But time is not something Brazilian coaches get. Tite’s inexperience on an international level and the reliance on Neymar will eventually doom Brazil.

    #4: a toss up right now

    I don’t see a second team from South America sniffing the top 4 this year. I have a few teams which I could see in the top 4: France, Belgium, Mexico could be one of those in the top 4.


    Possible surprises
    Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru just to name a few. But the road will be long and hard especially in the knockout round.


    Teams we will say good bye to after this WC.
    If you are an Argentine soccer/football fan and you bought your jersey because Argentina was semi successful the last 30 years it will be time to jump on a different bandwagon. Argentina will return to the place they were before 1978. An outsider, a punching back on the world stage and they have to get used to not making the WC on a regular basis anymore.
    Argentina is Messi and Messi will not be enough and there is nobody after Messi and Messi is no Maradona and no matter what – Messi will retire from the national team after this WC.
    Messi just like Neymar are players which rely on teams the best money can buy. They are not players you can rely on to be the leading players on a National team, players who can pull their teammates along and raise the level of play.

    Same goes with Portugal. Portugal despite their Euro win in 2016 played an absolute miserable Euro, squeezed into the knockout stage by pure luck and was on the brink of being eliminated by teams which on paper were inferior. I would put Portugal into the category as one of the worst Euro winners since Greece in 2004. And it is a toss-up who was worse. It probably will also be Ronaldo’s last WC. And just like Argentina I do not see another player taking his place. Unless Portugal starts looking at its neighbor Spain and how they do things it probably will be one of the last significant appearances in the WC for Portugal.


    The mystery
    England: why this team cannot be successful at the world cup (or even Euro) stage is a riddle I cannot solve. They always screw up against so called inferior opposition.


    The surprises
    There is quite a few teams who could surprise us this year: Iceland, Denmark, Colombia, Sweden or Mexico, Costa Rica or Switzerland


    I am waiting now until all teams have reduced their WC camp rosters and announced their final squads for group predictions.
     
  6. ChambersWI

    ChambersWI Owner of the Palace of Wisdom Finheaven VIP Donator

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    For Brazil to be a contender they need the D to not fail them. Their best defenders aren't spring chickens.

    I actually like Argentina a lot. Though they have questions at goalie
     
  7. nick1

    nick1 I am Groot Moderator Finheaven VIP Donator

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    Smart money looks to be on Germany
     
  8. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Argentina has more questions than just the goalie. They looked awful every game I saw them in the qualifier.

    Age is not necessarily a bad thing especially in tournaments like the WC where you are supposed to play your best towards the end and experience can do a big difference. I don't think they are very good in the transition game to combat the high defending of the top European teams (Spain, Germany, Belgium). The good news for Brazil is that they are playing in a bracket where they only will face one of those in the knockout round. They could not face Germany and Spain until the final.
     
  9. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Germany, followed by Spain. They are really close though. I give Germany the nod right now because they have quality throughout the team and substitutions won't affect the game at all.

    I have to add though that repeating as Champ has become near impossible which will be the biggest obstacle to overcome for Germany. The last repeat was Brazil in 1958/1962. Before that only Italy repeated (1934/1938). These tournaments also had only 16 teams. After increasing the number to 24 for a while the WC is played with 32 teams since 1998.
    The big plus:
    Germany has finished in the top 4 thirteen times (record), finished in the top 3 twelve times (record), finished in the top 2 eight times (record) and won it 4 times (second to Brazil).
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  10. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    In 4 days it is time again – World Cup Time. With the opening game (Russia vs Saudi Arabia) a World Cup begins which was riddles with accusations of bribery and corruption during its selection process. But now it is time to talk soccer/football.
    Let’s do a little quick review of all the groups. I disregard all the pre World Cup friendlies because most teams were in camp, some games were done prior to the selection process and teams had different goals and meanings for their training camp games. Needless to say that some opponents were not qualified for the Cup and some were.

    Starting with Group A

    Uruguay
    Egypt
    Russia
    Saudi Arabia
    prediction to advance in bold
    This group is a travesty of World Cup groups. While the change in drawing groups based on rankings avoided the so-called groups of death (as @Kdawg954 already mentioned) it left the door open to favor weak host countries like Russia. What are the odds that Russia draws all the opponents which are on the bottom of their respective drawing pots? Don’t we love corruption? :laugh
    Anyhow, I won’t waste much time on this group because whoever comes out of it alive will leave the WC in the “Round of 16” anyway.

    Uruguay will come out on top of this one. Though I think that Uruguay may not play a role in the World Cup this group is just too weak for Uruguay not to go unbeaten. Under normal circumstances I would have given Egypt the nod over Russia for 2nd place but Ramos did a number against Salah and Liverpool and I think Egypt’s fate will be determined if Salah can play or not. If I am Egypt’s coach I rest him against Uruguay and put all my eggs into game 2 against Russia.
    Saudi Arabia had some decent pre WC friendly results but like I said I don’t put too much weight into these games. Right now I will put my bets on Uruguay and Egypt coming out of this group alive.

    In Group B it is pretty clear that Spain and Portugal will advance and their game 1 meeting will basically determine who will be the group winner. Portugal comes into the tournament as the “lucky” Euro 2016 champion while Spain is the more solid and simply better team. Portugal’s only chance is to catch Spain by surprise in the first game. Iran and Morocco will determine the goal differential tie breaker in case Portugal and Spain tie in the first game.

    Spain
    Portugal
    Iran
    Morroco
    prediction to advance in bold
    In Group C most people probably would hand the group to France. I am not too sure if I make them an outright favor. France is a very streaky team. One loss and they could go into a tail spin or one win could propel them into a streak to the Quarterfinals. Their Euro final appearance was more a combination of dumb luck and Germany’s inability to score while totally dominating France rather than France’s superb performance. Their final’s loss against a bad Portugal team was just a confirmation of that. This group will be a three-way fight to the last game between Denmark, Peru and France. Australia should not be underestimated though. I don’t think they are a serious thread yet but they could be good for a surprise here and there and if any team is overlooking the Socceroos – watch out, a surprise could be in the making. Australia’s move from the OFC to the AFC in 2006/2007 is slowly paying off. It is their 4th consecutive appearance at a WC (after a 32-year absence).
    Right now I would give France and Denmark the advantage but like I said it is an open 3-way race.

    France
    Denmark
    Peru
    Australia
    prediction to advance in bold
    Up next: Group D, E and F.
     
  11. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Group D is in my opinion the most balanced group for the simple reason that I don’t see Argentina to go very far this time. Argentina is looking at a cliff with a steep drop right now. Messi already quit once on the team and he will definitely retire from the national team after this WC. Argentina barely made the qualification and might end up where they were prior to 1978 – in the LaLa Land of soccer. This is their last shot for a while and I don’t think they are strong enough. They will struggle mightily to survive this group.
    The US soccer fans will be introduced to Iceland who became soccer’s new darling team during the 2016 Euro. It will be hard for them to recapture that moment of glory from 2016 especially since the soccer world is now forewarned. I still give them a fair chance in the group stage.
    Croatia feels like they have a new “golden generation” on hand who can recapture the glory of their previous golden generation which made it to the Quarters in the 1996 Euro and 3rd place in the 1998 WC which included a win over heavily favorite Germany. A neat little tid bid: Iceland and Croatia emerged from the same qualifying group which Iceland won and sent Croatia to the playoffs.
    Since 1994 Nigeria has become a consistent participant on the World Cup stage. They sure have the most exciting outfits.

    In summary this group could be all tied at the end and the tiebreaker scenarios will determine the survivors. Right now I give the slight edge to Argentina followed by Croatia. But like I said it could be easily Nigeria and Iceland.


    Argentina
    Croatia
    Nigeria
    Iceland
    prediction to advance in bold

    Group E should be dominated by Brazil – on paper. I just have a huge problem gauging them outside Neymar. They took advantage from a floundering South America competition which I believe is in a little drop right now. How good can/will Brazil be? Personally I think they are lacking most top European teams but out of respect for South America I can see them going to the final four.
    Costa Rica will try to copy the magic from 2014 which carried them to the Quarter Finals by winning the group and disposing of England and Italy and only faltering to the Netherlands on PK in the Quarter Finals. But Italy is not here and Switzerland is not England.
    Switzerland is a team you always expect to do better but then they freeze up. 10 players who play in Germany and a tremendous qualifier and maybe, just maybe they can make that jump this time. They may not be strong enough yet to beat Brazil but I give them second place (sorry Costa Rica, not this time).


    Brazil
    Switzerland
    Costa Rica
    Serbia
    prediction to advance in bold
    Group F belongs to Germany. One of the reasons why it is so hard to repeat as WC Champion is that most winners are going through a transition in the next WC. Germany already completed that transition. Arriving with 8 players who were on the 2014 winning squad and all WC new bees already had action in the qualifier and last year’s Confed Cup in which Germany played with a B-Team and won. Next to Spain Germany has the deepest squad. The team’s slogan is “The Best Never Rest” and Coach Loew’s philosophy is “we are not going to defend our title. We are going to win it.”
    Loew’s contract is already extended through 2022 so he can continue to manifest Germany as the ultimate WC team. There are really only a couple of tight areas: scoring in tournaments which cost them the Euro 2016. Germany tends to fascinate itself with combination soccer that sometimes they forget to score or they want to carry the ball on a silver platter into the net. If the qualifiers are any indication they learned from their past mistakes.
    The other question is if the Erdogan affair will have any effect on the team’s psyche. Behind Germany I see Mexico and Sweden on an even footing. Both with completely different styles I would give the cool defensive Scandinavian style the notch over Mexican passion at this point. If Mexico can overcome Sweden I could see them go far, maybe even knocking on the door to the Semis.
    For South Korea the WC will end after 3 games.


    Germany
    Sweden
    Mexico
    South Korea
    prediction to advance in bold
    Next up: Group G and H and the projected "Round of 16" pairings.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  12. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    In Group G England will overcome its group stage nightmare from 2014. Not because they are so great (England is just England) but because of the horrendous competition outside Belgium. There is no way that after the 2014 disaster they will lose to Tunisia and/or Panama. Or is there?

    In my opinion Belgium is the 3rd best team in Europe and a top 4 team worldwide. This group should be a no-brainer with Belgium winning it and England coming in 2nd – but then there is always England. :laugh

    Belgium
    England
    Tunesia
    Panama
    prediction to advance in bold

    Group H is a very level group outside Japan. None of the teams are WC regulars. Colombia played an excellent 2014 WC and was kicked out with a little “help” by the refs in the Quarters. Colombia should take this group. FC Lewandowski (Polen) should be strong enough to hold of Senegal for at least 2nd place. The reason why I am picking Colombia over Poland is that Colombia is a more even team over Poland which is Lewandowski.

    Colombia
    Poland
    Senegal
    Japan
    prediction to advance in bold
    Based on all that crap I just wrote these would be the possible match-ups in the Round of 16:

    Uruguay vs Portugal
    France vs Croatia
    Brazil vs Sweden
    Belgium vs Poland
    --------------------------------
    Spain vs Egypt
    Argentina vs Denmark
    Germany vs Switzerland
    Colombia vs England
     
  13. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Major news. Spain just dumped their coach - 2 days before their first game. That could have some ill effects on the team. If they mess up against Portugal that could clear Germany's run through that bracket.
    https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/44467548
     
  14. Perfect23

    Perfect23 A True Fan

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    I actually still am excited about the World Cup even though no U.S. at least now I can root for my ethnic country without any guilt. ;)
     
    phins_4_ever likes this.
  15. phins_4_ever

    phins_4_ever E12 FH Tailgate Gang Moderator Finheaven VIP

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    Same here. Who are you rooting for?
     

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