World Cup 2018

Here’s a thread to discuss the upcoming World Cup in Russia.

Has there ever been a worse match to begin a World Cup than Russia vs Saudi Arabia? Two countries with horrible football teams and deplorable political systems. I’m going to be forced to hold my nose and root for Saudi Arabia as I still don’t think that Russia deserves this World Cup.

I am anticipating a fairly boring group stage. One part of me likes the change in the selection, away from grouping regions together in different pots, which avoids the typical one or two groups of death. Another part of me will miss those groups of death in the group round, which usually made for compelling games. On paper, probably the best group round match will be Portugal vs. Spain, but realistically they are playing to see who finishes first and second in their group. I expect a boring defensive match ending in a draw.

I do think that there will still be a handful of surprises during group play, so not all is lost. I also expect strange goings on with the Russian team, up to and including phantom penalties and red cards in their favor.

Yeah, I’m thinking we’re doing South Korea all over again. Somehow, Russia will get out of the group stage at least.

Wouldn’t surprise me. It’s such a weak group though, that they could possibly get out on merit too.

My money’s on Germany to repeat. Brazil, France, and Spain also with good teams, in that order. Belgium as a dark horse.

Neymar as player of the tournament (can never remember if that’s the golden ball or boot).

Here we go again!

I was in Vegas last week and put $700 on Brazil at 4:1 and $300 on France at 6:1. So you know who I want to win.

South American teams almost never win in Euro WCs. Say goodbye to the $700. France, on the other hand, is a good dark horse bet.

And Europeans never won in South America… until they did.

And Brazil is no powerhouse as was Germany.

Without the USA to root for, I need some narrative through-line to follow. What teams should I root for or against? What ongoing stories would I be aware of if I followed men’s football more than once every four years?

(I have relatives from Australia and Costa Rica, and I always root for England, so that’s my starting default…)

Go Tunisia! (with Morocco a second choice).

Belgium have one of the most talented if not the most talented squads in world football, but that’s been the case for a while now and they’ve failed to convince in the last two tournaments (getting shelled out by Wales in Euro 16). Be an absolute travesty if this group of players doesn’t win something but thus far they’re missing something.

Putting Roberto Martinez in charge is hardly the solution as he is an infamous flim-flam man, but I actually think might work out in a tournament (up to a point). He’s a very amicable, positive personality who won’t try to lay down the law or fall out with anyone, and this concilatory approach could be effective as the leaders on the pitch (Kompany if fit, Hazard etc) will run the team anyhow.
It’s just when they hit that inevitable tight game that always needs to be negotiated if you want to win, then that’s were a proper coach can be a difference maker, and up to now they’ve always fallen short.

I’ll be pulling for them in any case - some beautiful footballers to watch, plus Feli causing chaos is a fine sight to behold.

Huh? You do know they are co-favorites with Germany, right? And at least based on the individuals on the team, they are the most talented team in the tournament. That said, Argentina has has very talented teams that can’t win shit, so no guarantees. But Tite seems to have clicked. Losing Dani Alves is big and actually made me reduce my bet. Before he got hurt, my plan was to put all $1,000 on Brazil.

Check that. Brazil are the favorites with Germany second.

Well, Russia likely paid bribes to win the rights to host the WC and to get an easy group. Be on the lookout for questionably decisions going their way in the group stage.

Messi and Ronaldo are two of the best players of all time and this is almost certainly the last WC for both of them. Neither Argentina nor Portugal are favored to make it past the quarterfinals so make sure to watch them in the group stage.

Brazil was humiliated at home in the last WC, so I imagine media will play up that redemption story, especially since their best player, Neymar, was injured for their loss last time around.

Nothing made me happier than watching Germany embarrass Brazil in 2014! I’m not quite ready to make a prediction for this year, I’ll be rooting for England, but I know they’re not going far. I’ll make a prediction in a couple of days.

Who will the referees be?

I mean, will they be exclusively Russians, or drawn from some pool from the various national leagues, or ??

(I don’t know anything about this stuff)

I was going to take a flyer on them at 11:1 but have been watching the team for a while and just haven’t seen them click. Plus I agree that Martinez isn’t a good fit. I love all the players, but they’re looking like the Argentina of Europe. That said, if Brazil or France don’t win, I’d love to see either of Argentina or Belgium to take the cup. Also Uruguay.

The latter. And the refs won’t be the same nationality as any games they are a part of.

Thanks - do you think that means they will not be vulnerable to tampering (as a couple of the above posters seem to suggest?)