Eurosport Roundtable: Who will win the World Cup?
We asked our writers the ultimate question: who will the World Cup in Russia?
Brazil. Who are the outstanding team? The bookmakers certainly can’t decide, with little to choose between Brazil, Germany, France and Spain in the betting. So why Brazil? Well, no team has retained the World Cup in 56 years so that’s Germany out; Spain look a little one-paced; and France’s outstanding squad may not translate into a cohesive first XI. Brazil, meanwhile, have quality throughout the team and a brilliant attacking line that can evoke memories of the legendary Ronaldo-Rivaldo-Ronaldinho trident of 2002.
Germany. It is always far too tempting to back their rivals, yet usually you regret having done so. Germany always seem to find a way, and there is nothing about Jogi Low’s Class of 2018 that should give anyone cause to doubt them. Die Mannschaft have class and experience of international success running through the squad, something their rivals do not have, plus a manager who knows exactly what is required through the demands of major tournaments.
Belgium. The players will end up ignoring Roberto Martinez completely to run things themselves, but they’re good enough to make that work. Too many other teams have obvious weaknesses, and Belgium have somehow managed to paint themselves as dark horses despite an astonishingly talented squad. It’s set up for them to slowly build and then produce some big wins in the knockout stages.
Spain. Yes, yes, yes I'm aware that they have just had the most chaotic start to a World Cup in recent memory but come on, this is still Spain we're talking about. Their squad is the envy of most and their players will stand up, this group is far too professional and experienced not to. Do you honestly think Sergio Ramos will not give it 100% just because he's p***** off with the Spanish Football Federation? Ramos (32) represents an ageing quartet of this squad, along with Pique (31), David Silva (32) and Iniesta (34) for whom this may well be their last chance at winning a second World Cup. They're going to want to go out on their terms, not anyone else's...
France. Just look at that squad. They can beat teams in a myriad of ways. Solid at the back, creative in midfield and lethal up top. There is so much to admire about Les Bleus. They are a far better outfit than the side that made the final of Euro 2016, and in Didier Deschamps, they have a manager whose pragmatism might just be a perfect foil for France's youthful exuberance.
Brazil: It used to be accepted wisdom that South American sides cannot win in Europe but Brazil's best players all play over here and their squad is full of talent. Germany, France and Spain all rival them for strength, and depth, but Brazil have also made great tactical and organisational strides under Tite, who led them to a fantastic qualification campaign. When you factor in their historic love for this competition, and their sense of entitlement on the World Cup stage, it's hard to see past the Selecao.