As the World Cup qualifiers edge closer to its conclusion, countries like the Netherlands (runner-ups in 2010), USA, Croatia, and Wales find their former glory wafting up; and strangely enough, Egypt, Iceland, and Panama bask in its outpour. The former set will return home with empty hands and the latter will rejoice in this newfound opportunity. As the World Cup brings its share of surprise, setbacks, and enjoyment, we at stuff listings dribble past the crush of sports outlets to cover the most relevant news from the football world. Here is a list of the top contenders for World Cup 2018.
Runner-ups in Euro 2016, the Frenchmen’s dexterity and talent seem to be surpassed only by the depth of their squad; even the likes of Anthony Martial, Pogba, Umtiti, Giroud, Alexandre Lacazette and Ousmane Dembélé will have to fight for a couple of spots in the final squad of 23. With such a squad, it boggles the mind to imagine their quality of play in the final 11 and the circumstances will certainly not be propitious for other giants like Germany as Les Blues pack some star power this time, quite contrary to their times of triumphs with Platini and Zidane when the onus wasn’t well distributed over many shoulders.
The defending champions of World cup, Germany’s dominance is equalled only by the side’s discipline and its efficient organisation. Joachim Low has managed to play his card right and their counter-attack game has peaked as their teamwork reinforced Germany’s long-standing and glorified ideology, the free-flowing play. A side that has managed the third position in 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup, and aced 2016 Confederation Cup is clearly a favourite. Germany also packs a very experienced side that boasts of players like- Nueur, Boateng, Ozil, Kroos, Muller and Khedira, laying more emphasis on central midfield and has shown to manipulate the pace of the game to steer it into their favour.
Having been rendered trophy-less for a long time now, the drought seems ripe for its fitful outpour. The five-time champions have had a weak defence but under the aegis of Tite, the side seems to have dribbled past their previous weaknesses. With players like David Luiz, Thiago Silva to boot, their defence is stout, and their attack is lightning fast and just as formidable. The Canarinho packs the most technical and youngest side, with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho, and Firminho, in this World Cup and has shown that the dependency on Neymar has now become a thing of the past.
The team with both the spectrums of Ice and Fire, with the likes of Iniesta, Busquets, Koke and Ramos, Pique, Isco comes alive in the most coherent combination. The team has managed to bounce back from its rather dismal performance in World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016 and now has the best midfield and quality attackers at its disposal. With the appointment of the new coach, Julen Lopetegui in 2016, Spain has followed a 4-3-3 formation and the players have worked a lot on their possession. Their success seemingly depends on how the experienced players like Ramos make things easier for the younger and energetic side, the likes of Asensio and Aspas, and ball possession is the key.
The runner-ups to the mighty Germans in the last World Cup have struggled quite a lot to make it through qualifiers and the side still rests heavily on Messi’s shoulders. Their shaky defence and lack of coordination have plagued the team for quite a while and that saw to a slew of criticism hurled at Messi’s feet. The side with players like Messi, Di Maria, Icardi and Aguero has a pretty good attack and remarkable attacking midfield and their success will depend on how Sampaoli plays his cards. This might prove to be the last opportunity for Messi to be hailed as a Messiah and join the ranks of Pele and Maradona as the lack of an international trophy has blighted his career long enough.
So, what do you think of the possible winners of the upcoming World Cup? let us know in the comment section below.