Friday, June 29, 2018

World Cup 2018 - Round of 16 Predictions

So the group stages are over, and the knockouts begin tomorrow. Before I give my Round-of-16 predictions, let's see how I did over all with my group stage predictions.

Group A (predicted): Uruguay, Egypt; (actual): Uruguay, Russia

To be honest, I made the Egypt prediction before Mo Salah got injured in the Champions League final, so he was a non-factor for Egypt's first game. He managed to score in the games he did play, so one wonders what would happen had he been 100% fit. Then again, Egypt lost to Saudi Arabia. How do you manage to do that? And what the heck happened to Russia?  Home advantage, wow.

Group B (predicted): Portugal, Spain; (actual): Spain, Portugal

I think no one imagined the resistance that Morocco or Iran would provide but in the end you have to score goals. That was their weak point - finishing.

Group C (predicted): France, Peru; (actual): France, Denmark

I had originally said Peru despite Denmark's great strikers, and in the end it would come down to that missed penalty for Peru. Had they scored that, they would have gone through.

Group D (predicted): Argentina, Croatia; (actual): Croatia, Argentina

Hard to believe, but Argentina was as bad in the league stages as they were in qualifying. They only managed to qualify for the knockouts with a last gasp victory. I thought Messi would be a factor, but their defense was practically no defense.

Group E (predicted): Brazil, Switzerland; (actual): Brazil, Switzerland

Group F (predicted): Germany, Mexico; (actual): Sweden, Mexico

Well, what can I say. I at least got the second position right!

Group G (predicted): Belgium, England; (actual): Belgium, England

Group H (predicted): Colombia, Senegal; (actual): Colombia, Japan

So, as you can see, overall I did pretty OK with my predictions. Now let's come down to the knockouts that begin with the Round of 16.

Argentina vs. France

Winner: Argentina.

Yes I am going against convention and form, but Argentina has got out of a pressure cooker situation and I believe they have enough in the tank to shock France, who has looked pedestrian even in their victories.

Uruguay vs. Portugal

Winner: Portugal

One man cannot win you the trophy, but if that one man is Christiano Ronaldo, he already has the Euro in his pocket. He is playing well, and his team is responding. Uruguay has not conceded any goal so far in so many matches, so this might come down to a magic moment. Or penalty kicks.

Brazil vs. Mexico

Winner: Brazil

Mexico's 32 year old curse of being knocked out in the first stage of the knock outs will continue. Brazil simply has too much class and talent to be pipped at the post by Mexico.

Belgium vs. Japan

Winner: Japan

I would like to say "Thank you Japan, for coming. Please go back to making Toyotas and Hondas".  But I think Japan has a ridiculous talent as a team for seeing the big picture and not panicking, and being ultra cool about it. I know Belgium is super talented, but sometimes you need luck and discipline. I think Japan might just, might just, pull off the upset here.

Spain vs. Russia

Winner: Spain

Russia's merry adventure will come to a screeching holt. They faced ONE quality team and were blown away. Now they will face Spain.

Croatia vs. Denmark

Winner: Croatia

This is pretty hard to call as both teams boast excellent talent, rigorous discipline and a similar style of play. Croatia just has the extra oomph in their mid field.

Sweden vs. Switzerland

Winner: Sweden

Boring game. Who cares. Probably 1-0 or 0-0 to penalty kicks.

Colombia vs. England

Winner: England

Haha. You gotta hand it to England. They lost so they could win. Be a Baazigar. Let's see if it works out for them. They tried the same thing last Euros and got knocked out by Iceland. This time though, England look to be good. Very good.

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