The pinnacle of the world’s most watched sports, the FIFA World Cup, is in full swing in Russia and we’ve already been treated to a lot of firsts.
For example, this is the first time Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been used in a football tournament of this stature, which has resulted in the most number of penalties being awarded at any World Cup (24 as of yet)!
Apart from top-notch refereeing, there have also been a lot of upsets in this year’s World Cup, with the likes of Germany, Nigeria, Serbia, and Poland, all failing to make it out of their respective groups!
This makes the 14.4-inch trophy fair game for all as relatively smaller footballing nations (such as Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden, etc.) can all aspire to beat the established footballing powerhouses of France, Argentina, and Brazil!
This has led many people to wonder who will book their place in the history books and take the trophy home as any team can beat a powerhouse on their day. Today we’ll be looking at a few candidates that boast the best credentials for the gargantuan task at hand.
The Usual Suspects:
Before the World Cup began, countless people had the usual suspects down as favorites for the tournament and it’s very easy to see why.
For example, France this year have a very balanced team with Hugo Lloris in goal, Raphael Varane marshaling the defense, N’golo Kante providing cover, Paul Pogba orchestrating play, and Antoine Griezmann adding flair up top.
A similar case can be made for Brazil who have the Roma’s #1, i.e. Alisson in goal; the likes of Thiago Silva and Marcelo in defense; Casemiro providing cover; Coutinho linking everything together, and one of the world’s best players in Neymar up top to round off a delightfully skillful team.
On the other hand, even though Spain were knocked out of the 2014 edition of the World Cup in the group stages (the winner’s curse) but have, somehow, still emerged as hot favorites for this year’s competition.
For starters, they have David De Gea (i.e. the best goalkeeper in the world) in goal, Sergio ‘the best defender of his generation’ Ramos commanding the defense, the magical trio of Andres Iniesta, David Silva, and Isco in midfield, and a goalscoring machine in the shape of Diego Costa up front.
No matter what you have to say about Pele and Maradona, the fact remains that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are in a league of their own. The two untouchables have 5 Ballon D’ors (each) to their name and have enough pedigree and power to turn any game on its head on their day.
So, don’t believe your friend who says that Portugal and Argentina aren’t strong enough to beat the likes of France and Brazil; it takes Ronaldo and Messi just a few seconds to make their mark on any opposition!
The Wining Machines:
There are numerous teams who have made it to the Round of 16 in remarkable style. Teams like Uruguay, Croatia, and Belgium have been in scintillating form this year and have progressed to the knock-out stages winning all their group stage games. But does that mean that they’ll continue their form and take the trophy home? Who knows!
All we know that is when superstars like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, and Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard are in fine form, anything is possible!
Is It Coming Home?
While England may be the most meme-d team of the World Cup, there’s no denying that they’ve got some serious firepower in their squad this year. With the skillful duo of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling, and the goal-scoring machine that is Harry Kane firing on all cylinders, who knows how far England will go in this year’s competition.
The Dark Horses:
There are many teams who have staked their claim to the trophy in the group stages. The hosts, Russia, recorded emphatic wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the group stage while Denmark and Switzerland remain undefeated in the competition. Similarly, Mexico, Colombia, Japan, and Sweden all have a great chance of impressing in this year’s tournament and progressing far into the knockout stages.
It’s safe to say that the World Cup this year is shaping up to be an emotional rollercoaster that promises many thrills and chills! Make sure you’re not one of the few who misses out on watching this un-missable tournament by subscribing to our top-quality IPTV streaming service.
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