Archive | June 2018

World Cup Round of 16 Predictions

By Zach Malamud

 

Uruguay vs Portugal, Saturday, 2:00 pm-
It was a rough group stage for Cristiano Ronaldo and company as they narrowly finished in second place with a win and two draws. They will have to step it up against a strong Uruguay side led by attackers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani and defenders Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin. Uruguay finished the group stage undefeated in three fairly easy matchups against Russia(3-0), Egypt(1-0), and Saudi Arabia(1-0). The attacking and defensive forces of Uruguay will be too strong for this Portugal side and they will be sent home early in possibly Ronaldo’s final World Cup.
                                            
France vs Argentina, Saturday, 10:00 am-
The world was shocked when Messi and Argentina were on the brink of going out of the World Cup in the group stage but they found a way with Marcos Rojo’s 86th minute goal against Nigeria. Now sadly for Argentina it doesn’t get any easier. They will take on a French side who has had their ups and downs but is still no doubt one of the top teams in the world. France finished in the group with two wins and a draw but the opposition which included Peru, Denmark and Australia was not very challenging. We have yet to see the best of Lionel Messi so it should be interesting to see if he can step it up in this really tough game. That said, I think Jorge Sampaoli’s men just got a kickstart from the group stage and will move on in a very close game.
                                     

Spain vs Russia, Sunday, 10:00 am-
Spain went through a tough group stage surprisingly finishing with a win and two draws. Iago Aspas scored a last minute goal against Morocco in their thrilling last day of the group stage to help secure first place over Portugal in Group B.This could end up being a tough matchup against a Russian side that finished with two wins in the group stage. Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin led the way for Russia and they have a slight chance of beating Spain. I don’t believe it will happen this time though even with the home field advantage. Spain will come out on top but not by much.
                                           
Croatia vs Denmark, Sunday, 2:00 pm-
What a start from Croatia! Luka Modric and company were unbelievable in the group stage. They beat Messi and Argentina 3-0 while also beating Nigeria and Iceland to go undefeated in the group. Croatia can really shock the world and go far into the knockout stages. They first have to beat a Denmark side led by world class midfielder Christian Eriksen. Denmark, who finished the group stage with one win and two draws are not gonna beat Croatia. The Croatians will move on to play Spain in the quarterfinals.
                                    
Brazil vs Mexico, Monday, 10:00 am-
This game should be an extremely exciting offensive affair. Both Brazil and Mexico have better attacks then defense. Hirving Lozano has been outstanding for the Mexico side on both offense and defense, putting his body on the line every time he has the chance. But, we saw Mexico’s struggles in their last game against Sweden when they lost 3–0, and their lack of a solid backend  will probably see them fall to Brazil. Brazil star left back Marcelo limped off 10 minutes into their final group stage matchup against Serbia with an apparent back injury. It doesn’t look to be that serious and he will most likely play. Brazil has done well so far finishing the group stage with two wins and a draw. They did have a close call in a very exciting matchup against Keylor Navas’ Costa Rica where Phillipe Coutinho scored in the 90th minute to get Brazil the win. Tite’s men should come out on top with Neymar having his best game of the tournament.
                               
Belgium vs Japan, Sunday, 2:00 pm-
This should be the most one sided game of the tournament. Belgium has been astounding so far going undefeated in the group stage scoring nine goals while only letting up two. Belgium was so dominating in their first two matches that they were able to rest most of their starting 11 for their final group stage victory over England. Japan had a shocking upset of Colombia in their opener when a Colombian red card left them with 10 men for most of the match. They finished the group stage with a draw and a loss. Belgium is undefeated in their last 22 games with 17 wins and five draws. I think they will add to that win column very easily. This matchup won’t be close, and Belgium should come out on top.
                                
Sweden vs Switzerland, Tuesday, 10:00 am-
This matchup could end up going into extra time or penalties. This is a very strong Sweden side that beat Mexico 3-0 and just couldn’t get a point from their second match because of a last second winner by Germany. They ended up finishing first in their group with two wins and a loss. Switzerland on the other hand, got a huge result with a tie against Brazil which really helped them secure a spot in the knockout stage. A last minute winner by Xherdan Shaqiri against Serbia also really helped this team to get to the knockout stage. Both teams are very strong but I believe Sweden will come out on top in a tight match that quite possibly needs extra time to determine the winner.

                                    

Colombia vs England, Tuesday, 2:00 pm-
Finally, the last round of 16 game will be Colombia taking on England. Colombia had an injury scare with James Rodriguez leaving their final group stage matchup after 30 minutes with an apparent calf injury. However, he should be able to play against a strong England side. England went through the group stage with two wins and a loss with their backups against Belgium. One of those wins was a staggering 6-1 win against Panama in their second group stage game. England will be a tough matchup for Colombia but I think James and his team will come out on top to play Sweden in the quarterfinals.

                                   

So that is it for the round of 16 predictions. Check back next weekend for the World Cup quarterfinals predictions. Here is what it could look like:

          

 

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World Cup Group Stage Predictions

By Zach Malamud

Group A

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Uruguay

3

0

0

9

Russia

2

0

1

6

Egypt

1

0

2

3

Saudi Arabia

0

0

3

0

The host of the 2018 World Cup, Russia is not the biggest name in group A. Uruguay with world-class strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez should come out on top pretty easily. Russia will put up a good fight winning against Egypt and Saudi Arabia but will lose to Uruguay to finish with six points. Egypt may be without Mohamed Salah for one or two games but if it ends up being two games he will miss both important games against Uruguay and Russia. Salah will most likely be there for the third and final game which will give Egypt their only win in the group against Saudi Arabia. Surprisingly, there will be no draws in the group as no teams are really even.

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Group B

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Spain

3

0

0

9

Portugal

1

1

1

4

Morocco

1

1

1

4

Iran

0

0

3

0

With the Iberian rivals squaring off on the second day, this is a very exciting group with world class players on both sides. Ronaldo’s men are coming off a Euro final win against France two summers ago but have dropped some key names from that squad including Nani, Eder, Renato Sanches, Eliseu and Andre Gomes. On the other hand, Spain will take first in group B and go far into the World Cup winning all three group stage games. The sleeper in the group is Morocco in their fifth World Cup appearance. Captain Medhi Benatia who is the starting center back on Italian giants Juventus, along with highly-rated Real Madrid prospect Achraf Hakimi are looking to get passed the group stage for the second time. Morocco will draw against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal but will fall short on goal-difference. Iran just has no chance in this group and they will lose all three games.

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Group C

Country

W

D

L

Pts

France

2

1

0

7

Denmark

1

1

1

4

Peru

0

3

0

3

Australia

0

1

2

1

Next up is group C with title contenders France who have added some of the best youngsters in the world including Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Lemar. But, this fight for second is going to be really close so France can’t go easy one bit. They will take first but they’ll draw against Peru who are without captain Paolo Guerrero. Peru though drew against Argentina twice and beat Uruguay and Croatia, so a draw against France will be good for the Peruvians. Denmark will come in second for the fourth time ever with stars Christian Eriksen and Andreas Christensen leading the way. Last is Australia who don’t have as much quality as the others in their group.

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Group D

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Argentina

2

1

0

7

Croatia

2

1

0

7

Iceland

1

0

2

3

Nigeria

0

0

3

0

It was such a tough game to lose for Argentina at the World Cup final in Rio, but Messi’s men have added a world-class talent in Paulo Dybala to make sure they are on the winning side this time. The attacking force of Argentina is unbelievable with star players including Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero. They will have tough competition though in the group stage with the sleepers of the tournament, Croatia, coming to spoil some dreams. Croatia led by Luka Modrić , Ivan Rakitić and Mario Mandžukić, can shock the world when they draw Argentina and go into the round of 16 as a two seed because of goal differential. A World Cup debut for Iceland won’t be the best, but they’ll get their first win against Victor Moses’ Nigeria who will lose all three games they play and go home with nothing.

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Group E

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Brazil

3

0

0

9

Serbia

2

0

1

6

Costa Rica

0

1

2

1

Switzerland

0

1

2

1

In group E, Brazil is without a doubt the standout team led by Neymar and world-class talent around different leagues. They will prove they are the best by winning all three group stage games by a large margin. Next, Serbia will show off their strong team in their 12th ever world cup appearance. They are led by Nemanja Matić and youngster Sergej Milinković-Savić. They will lose to Brazil but beat Costa Rica and Switzerland to get to the round of 16 for the first time since their country was officially named Serbia. Costa RIca led by Bryan Ruiz and Keylor Navas will put up a good fight but will have to go home early with just a draw in the books for their team. Switzerland and Xherdan Shaqiri will do the same as Costa Rica with losses to Brazil and Serbia, while getting the draw vs Costa Rica in an exciting matchup on the final day of the group stages.

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Group F

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Germany

2

1

0

7

Mexico

1

2

0

5

Sweden

1

1

1

4

Korea Republic

0

0

3

0

The World Cup Champions are back again for another fight to become the third team ever to win back to back World Cups and the first since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. We will see if the dropping of Manchester City star winger Leroy Sane will hurt Germany after manager Joachim Low picked Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt instead. A game changer in Sane and a player in Brandt that as Joachim Low said,”…can play multiple positions…”. We will see who was the right choice. In second, Mexico will get a huge win against Korea Republic while drawing against leaders Germany and third place Sweden. In third, Sweden, led by Victor Lindelöf will get two huge results one being a draw against Mexico on the last group stage matchday. But, it won’t be enough to move on with Mexico ending one point ahead of them. Korea Republic led by Heung Min Son will go out in last losing all three group stage games. They won’t stand a chance in this group since they are really a one man team.

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Group G

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Belgium

3

0

0

9

England

2

0

1

6

Tunisia

0

1

2

1

Panama

0

1

2

1

Arguably the toughest group of the World Cup, Group G should see the Belgians looking to move on in first place. They will do that while winning all three group stage games. Right behind them in second is England with all of their premier league stars including Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling. They will lose to Belgium after they beat Panama and Tunisia in the group. Third place will be Tunisia with two losses

to Belgium and England and a draw against Panama on the final day of the group stage. They’ll come in third ahead of Panama on goal differential. In last is Panama in their World Cup debut led by Luis Tejada. They like Tunisia will lose to both Belgium and England but draw against Tunisia on the final day. Sadly, they will come in last based on goal differential however, they will feel happy to be at their first World Cup.

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Group H

Country

W

D

L

Pts

Poland

2

1

0

7

Colombia

2

1

0

7

Senegal

1

0

2

3

Japan

0

0

3

0

The final group will be the shocker of the group stages with Poland taking first over Colombia. Poland is led by world class striker Robert Lewandowski and AS Monaco star center back Kamil Glik. They will beat both Senegal and Japan while drawing against Colombia in the second matches of the group stage which will allow them to come in first on goal differential. Colombia and James Rodriguez will have to deal with second place based on the draw against Poland. This might be disappointing for them as they may have to go up against Belgium in the round of 16. In third, Senegal led by Liverpool star Sadio Mané will lose to both Poland and Colombia but, they will get a win against Japan in their second match. Finally, in last is Japan who will lose all three games and go home really early.

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 7.44.36 PM

 

So here are the predictions for the round of 16. Check back at the end of the group stages to see the predictions for the knockout stages in the 2018 FIFA World Cup!!


Zach Malamud is a contributing writer for Dabuzzza. He is a radio host of The Plainview Blitz on WPOB 88.5 FM. He loves soccer and basketball and finds himself watching Manchester City on a regular basis. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Kevin De Bruyne. You can follow him on twitter at @Zachmalnyy