A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking.
2018 World Cup Preview and PREDICTION
With the World Cup starting a week from today, we thought it was appropriate to give you our full World Cup preview in the form of a prediction.
The World Cup hosts are undefeated in the last 17 World Cups dating back to 1950 with a record of 12 wins and 5 draws. This stellar record will continue and an opening day victory will be the catalyst Russia needs to make it out of the group stages for the first time since 1986 when they were still known as the Soviet Union. Uruguay make it out of a relatively easy group with a perfect record. Egypt finish with two points as Mohamed Salah isn't enough to bring the Egyptians to the second round.
Group B is a sneaky one to predict, Iran are coming off just 4 losses in the last 41 games, Morocco have earned some impressive results coming into the world cup, and Spain and Portugal are well . . . Spain and Portugal. While Spain cruise through, this group is ripe for an upset and I see Iran riding their momentum and finishing right above Portugal after handing the European Champions a shocking loss in the last match day. Cristiano Ronaldo will do his part but it will not be enough.
Australia are clearly the worst team in the group and finish with zero points. France seal qualification by the end of the second match day, which leaves Peru and Denmark to battle for second. Peru has an outstanding record against European opposition in the last few years while Denmark is relatively inexperienced against South American opposition. Peru defeat Denmark and finish second in the group.
Group D, probably the most evenly matched group in the entire tournament. Iceland's defensive style fails against highly technical and athletic sides which sees them suffer two losses to Nigeria and Argentina. Croatia played in the same qualification group as Iceland and split the results with each earning a win at home, Croatia and Iceland split the difference here and draw the game. Argentina has historically dominated Nigeria in their previous world cup matchups and this edition proves to be no different. Argentina leads the way in the group while Croatia barely misses out despite not losing a game.
Brazil have looked absolutely unbeatable over the last two years and that momentum continues in the group stages. Costa Rica surprised the world in the last World Cup but have looked like a shell of that team since and their struggles continue as they finish with zero points in the group. Serbia and Switzerland are two very evenly matched teams and that is emphasized as their game ends in a draw. However, with Brazil sealing qualification after the second group game they field a weaker team for the third game and that gives Serbia the opportunity needed to earn a draw and move on to the Round of 16.
South Korea have one win in their last six games against European opposition with the win coming against Moldova. South Korea earn their sole point against Mexico and with Germany sweeping the group, that leaves the Mexico versus Sweden game as the deciding game for second place. Mexico do what Italy could not and defeat Sweden to move on to the second round.
By far the easiest group to predict as England and Belgium will cruise through to the round of 16. While England and Belgium both finish with 7 points, Belgium finish in first place of the group with a slight edge in goal difference.
Colombia and Poland do what is expected but Senegal are right on their heels the whole time. All four teams go into the third group game with a chance of qualifying in what is one of the more competitive groups of the World Cup. Colombia defeating Japan in a rematch of the 2014 World Cup helps the South American Side finish first in the group.
Round of 16
Uruguay vs. Iran
No upset here, the Cinderella story of Iran ends here as Uruguay moves on to the quarterfinal.
France vs. Nigeria
Rematch of the 2014 World Cup and the results are the same with France moving on.
Brazil vs. Mexico
Yet another rematch of the 2014 World Cup that sees Brazil continue their efforts to put behind their awful exit from four years ago.
Belgium vs. Poland
Belgium struggle here but ultimately overcome Poland and move on to the quarterfinals.
Spain vs. Russia
Spain knock out the host and move on to the quarterfinals, however Russia should still consider their performance a success.
Argentina vs. Peru
Both teams met twice during the qualification process, both games resulted in a draw but Argentina gets the edge in this one.
Germany vs. Serbia
The defending champions defeat Serbia in what will be a tough game.
Colombia vs. England
Some consider it an upset but in reality Colombia should be favored for the matchup as they sneak a win over England.
France vs. Uruguay
Uruguay have one of the more underrated rosters at the world cup but France should still win the game comfortably.
Brazil vs. Belgium
Belgium shock Brazil here, while Brazil features the likes of Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus, their defense has a lot of room for improvement and Belgium ultimately takes advantage.
Spain vs. Argentina
Spain will open the world cup against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal and will end it against Lionel Messi and Argentina. Spain has the better team but with no proven goal scorer on the team, the cutting edge of Messi, Aguero and Higuain will ultimately prove to be too much.
Germany vs. Colombia
Germany take care of business here to set up a rematch of the 2014 World Cup Final.
France vs. Belgium
Both teams are very similar on paper with both rosters packed with plenty of athletic and technical quality. However, France gets a slight edge due to the depth of their roster and ultimately win the game in extra time.
Germany vs. Argentina
No comeback story here as Argentina loses to a superior Germany squad.
Third Place Game
Argentina vs. Belgium
Argentina finish in third place here with a decisive victory over Belgium. Might not be the finish either team craved but still a tournament both teams can be proud of, especially Belgium finally living up to expectations and advancing deep into an international tournament.
World Cup Final
Germany vs. France
A world cup final for the ages fielding plenty of international superstars on both teams. However, Germany will finally run into a team with a midfield that matches up with their own and with the failures of the European Championships still lingering in their minds, France pulls out the victory. Final score 2-1, goals from Griezmann and Giroud for France and Toni Kroos for Germany.
Who do you have winning the World Cup? Leave a comment below!
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