The World Cup is just two months away as we start to take a look at who can actually win it all when the dust settles. There are two to three teams every tournament that are the favorites to win it all, but there are some dark horse teams that can shock the world if the pieces fall in place.
One of the favorites at number 10 is Colombia because of their number 10 James Rodriguez. Also, their other excellent midfielder Juan Cuadrado is no slouch. This team is not as talked about as other South American countries, but they need to be. Everyone forgets that they were one win away from a semifinal matchup with Germany in the last World Cup until Brazil eliminated them. They are in a group with Poland, Japan, and Senegal which makes them the favorite from this group with Japan being their toughest opponent. They should easily win their group and go on to the Round of 16. Then, if the chips fall in the right place, they could play in the final this year.
T-9/8. England and Belgium
This is a toss up between number eight and nine between England and Belgium and coincidentally they are in the same group. They are the heavy favorites to win the group against Panama and Tunisia. Belgium is a dark horse team with outstanding players like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and a solid goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois. For England, they have their main man Harry Kane with a multitude a flashy studs like Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Delle Alli, and Jesse Lingard. Both teams have their own big three of playmakers that will need to take it to another level when the Round of 16 comes around. Belgium and England have a chance to make some noise when they reach the knockout stage and, depending on who they play, can make it far.
Uruguay is a quiet team that no one is talking about, but should be the favorites to win their group with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Russia in it. Uruguay does not have former Golden Boot winner Diego Forlan anymore, but they do have veterans like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani at the forward position. They both can strike at anytime and keep a goalkeeper on his toes. They also have solid defenders in Diego Godin, Diego Lugano, and Maxi Pereira that will make it tough for opposing offenses. The only real threat in their group is Mohamed Salah and that is about it so they should easily take this group and move on to the knockout stage.
There is no question that Portugal, led by their leader and king Cristiano Ronaldo, has a huge chance in the World Cup. They are the defending champs of the Euro Cup, which is the toughest tournament to win after the World Cup. They were able to accomplish that feat without Ronaldo because this whole team has heart, which is a key factor for this beautiful game of soccer other than having talent. Other than having the second best player in the world in Ronaldo, they have exceptional forwards and midfielders in Nani and Eder, who made the game winning goal in the Euro final two years ago.
Voici Les Français which means “Here come the French!” France could have been the favorite to win it all, but they are still inexperienced. This team is loaded with outstanding talent with huge names like Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembele, as well as Dimitri Payet, but the problem with most talented teams is cohesion. If this team can build cohesion in a weak group with Peru, Denmark, and Australia, they will be a dangerous team to play later on as they make a charge towards the World Cup.
There is no way there is a list of favorites to win a soccer tournament with Lionel Messi‘s team not included. Not only do they have the best player in Messi, but have tremendous talent around him in Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero, and Angel Di Maria. Argentina landed in a group with Nigeria, Croatia, and Iceland so that means they will advance to the knockout stage with ease especially being the year that Messi will have a final chance at winning a World Cup. That is the only blemish on his resume.
The defending champs of this tournament definitely are in the top three to win it all especially with no major changes from the last tournament in terms of their roster. Germany won the Confederations Cup last year with their “B team” and although we might think whatever of a Confederations Cup it says a lot when you win any tournament with your “B team” while most of the competition is using their best players. Germany is stacked with talent ranging from their forwards, midfielders, and defenders not to mention the plethora of goalkeepers they have on roster. The midfielders include Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, and Julian Draxler. They also have strong defenders like Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.
With all this talent, one would think Germany should be the favorites, but a factor that came along with Germany’s World Cup title run is their goal keeper Manuel Neuer as well as younger players. Most of their talent have hit the age of 30 and will be tested on how long they can sustain themselves. Meanwhile, Neuer is still recovering from a foot injury that has kept him out of action for a while and the fact that he has not returned should make German fans worried. This is a critical injury and even if he returns, how healthy will he be at age 32?
Imagine a team combining the talents of Real Madrid and Barcelona. That is Spain and yeah its dangerous. Spain did not fare so well in the last World Cup, which is probably a hangover from winning the World Cup the previous time in 2010. This is a whole new team and they are hungrier. They have players like Isco, Marco Asensio, and Diego Costa in the attack. They have two elite defenders in Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos with two speedsters in the left and right back positions Dani Carvajal and Jordi Alba. This squad is loaded and looking like it can capture their second World Cup in eight years. Spain is ahead of Germany as favorites to win it all because they have a full and healthy squad with depth.
The Samba Kings are number on this list because they are just as dangerous as Spain, but something about the Brazilian culture puts them over the edge in a game of soccer. Brazil will look to carry out that embarrassment they endured in the last World Cup at the hands of Germany in a 7-1 defeat and put themselves back on top of the soccer world once again. There is a combination of veteran and young studs on this team that can make a huge run.
Gabriel Jesus and Neymar at the forward positions with midfielders like Philippe Coutinho, Willian, and Paulinho as well as veteran defenders in Dani Alves and Marcelo who will look to push forward, at times, to find their star studded players on counter plays. What makes Brazil more special than Spain is that Brazil has younger players and have more of a chip on their shoulder from an embarrassing exit in last World Cup. If this team can stay healthy throughout the tournament, there will be no stopping them and they will go on to raise that trophy to add it to the five other trophies in Rio de Janeiro.