The eyes of the world will be on Russia over the course of the next month as 32 countries vie to become champion of sports’ ultimate competition. I can still vividly describe Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner against Argentina in the last cup’s final game, but it does seem crazy to think that four years have already passed.
What is both odd and indeed disappointing for neutrals is that this coming tournament will have some notable absences. Footballing juggernauts Italy, Chile, and the Netherlands (as well as the United States) failed to qualify for the competition and their respective players will surely be crestfallen at the thought of having to wait until 2022 for their next chance at the Jules Rimet trophy. Many pundits (and yours truly) see Brazil and France (the latter of which I give the nod to) as early tournament favorites. The two countries both have the talent and depth to make it to the final, but as history has shown with this great competition; anything can happen.
In this WC preview, I will break down each group and give you a good idea as to which teams I believe will progress to the round of 16.