| Tue 12/06/2018 - 08:50 EDT

World Cup 2018 Soccer Expert Predictions, Pick To Win It All

World Cup 2018 Soccer Expert Predictions, Pick To Win It All

Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup?

There are a stack of fantastic teams at the World Cup this year and picking a winner is no easy feat.

France have arguably the greatest squad in terms of big name players, and their incredible depth was on show this week as coach Didier Deschamps omitted a host of big names that would walk into most other national setups.

Likewise, Germany will look to defend their title with a very strong group that does not include Manchester City's Leroy Sane, who won the PFA Young Player of the Year, nor Mario Gotze, who scored the winner in their 2014 triumph.

Spain have somewhat flown under the radar since their 2014 flop, and boast a team that rivals France for quality and depth. They too are a big chance.

Yet there can only be one winner and we are picking Brazil to cement their place as the most dominant force in world soccer with a record sixth World Cup title. The return to fitness of Neymar is a huge boost, and after the disappointment and humiliation of their semi-final exit in 2014, we believe they have a point to prove at this tournament and will more than make it.

Depending on which sportsbook you prefer, Brazil will start as either the favourite or second-favourite behind the Germans. At +400, they offer a fantastic opportunity in the outright market. 

The Road to the Final

Brazil will need to overcome a host of challenges en-route to the World Cup final, as shown by our in-depth tournament prediction.  

Group Stage

Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Russia should kick off their home World Cup with a win against a Saudi Arabia side that is not expected to do much at the tournament, although our overall feeling is that they will struggle. Our prediction is that the Russians will be just the second host nation to be eliminated from the group stage - Egypt will take second place in Group A behind a strong Uruguayan side that should have no problems reaching the second round.

Our Pick To Progress: Uruguay, Egypt

Group B - Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group B is fairly straight forward, with European giants Portugal and Spain the overwhelming favourites to progress to the second round. The only question appears to be the order of the two as they move into the Round of 16 - this will likely come down to their opening match. In the event of a draw, we feel as though the Spaniards will score more against Iran and Morocco, and will therefore top the group.

Our Pick To Progress: Spain, Portugal

Group C - France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

France are the overwhelming favourites to top Group C, while their three opponents will likely fight for second-place in the group. Peru would be the fairytale story here, given that they are making their first appearance at the tournament since 1982, although we're tipping the Danes to progress. Australia will struggle to make an impact with a brand new coach and few notable stars.

Our Pick To Progress: France, Denmark 

Group D - Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Argentina are the top seed in Group D and shouldn't have any problems progressing at the top of the group. They will meet Nigeria for the fifth time in the World Cup group stage, and considering that they have won all four of their previous encounters they should be confident of a win against the Africans, while minnows Iceland shouldn't cause them any issues. Croatia are easily the second-best side in this pool and will qualify behind them.

Our Pick To Progress: Argentina, Croatia 

Group E - Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Brazil have topped their group in the last nine-consecutive tournaments and will almost surely make it ten here. Costa Rica showed in 2014 that they can upset high-profile teams, although we can't see a repeat of this and think that Switzerland and Serbia will compete for the second qualifying spot. The Swiss side have looked good in both qualifying and in pre-tournament friendlies and are our pick.

Our Pick To Progress: Brazil, Switzerland

Group F - Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea Republic

Germany will start their title defence alongside a Mexican side that have made six straight Round of 16 appearances. Sweden were good in qualification and saw off the Italians in a play-off, while Korea are next to no chance in Group F. We're going with the Germans to ease to the top of this group, with Mexico topping Sweden to reach the second round.

Our Pick To Progress: Germany, Mexico 

Group G - Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

The Belgians have a squad capable of going deep at this tournament, although it remains to be seen whether they can turn their potential into a result. They will almost certainly qualify alongside England in Group G and shouldn't be troubled by Tunisia or newcomers Panama. The final match between Belgium and England should decide the final standings - we think Belgium will finish top.

Our Pick To Progress: Belgium, England

Group H - Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

This is one of the most open groups at the tournament. Poland are the top seed but have not impressed recently, and it looks as though Colombia are the pick to top this group. We're tipping Senegal to go through in second place behind the South Americans, with Japan unlikely to have any sort of impact on Group H.

Our Pick To Progress: Colombia, Senegal

Round of 16 Predictions

  • Match 49 - 1A (Uruguay) vs 2B (Portugal)
  • Match 50 - 1C (France) vs 2D (Croatia)
  • Match 51 - 1B (Spain) vs 2A (Egypt)
  • Match 52 - 1D (Argentina) vs 2C (Denmark)
  • Match 53 - 1E (Brazil) vs 2F (Mexico)
  • Match 54 - 1G (Belgium) vs 2H (Senegal)
  • Match 55 - 1F (Germany) vs 2E (Switzerland)
  • Match 56 - 1H (Colombia) vs 2G (England)

Most of the top-ranked teams from the group stage will progress to the quarter-final stage, although Uruguay and Colombia are the exceptions to the rule and will be knocked out by Portugal and England respectively according to our prediction.

While we expect two African nations to reach the second round, it is hard to see either progress to the quarters; Egypt will have the toughest test when they face Spain, while Senegal will be huge outsiders against Belgium.

Argentina and Brazil will be the only two nations outside of Europe left in the tournament after these fixtures, which all look to be fairly straight forward.

Our Pick To Progress: Portugal, France, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, England

Quarter Finals Predictions

  • Match 57 - Portugal vs France
  • Match 58 - Brazil vs Belgium
  • Match 59 - Spain vs Argentina
  • Match 60 - Germany vs England

There are some mouth-watering potential matchups lined up for the quarter-finals, as you would expect to see at this stage of the tournament.

Portugal will face France and this time we think the French will be ready and waiting. Les Bleus will have already have knocked off European rivals Croatia and potentially Denmark by this stage of the competition, and we can't see them losing to Portugal a second time around, they simply boast too much talent.

Brazil against Belgium is a matchup between two of the best squads at the tournament. It's no secret that Belgium have produced a golden generation, although they are up against a nation that permanently produces superstars. We think Brazil will be too good here.

Spain against Argentina will be a cracking match, and will see Lionel Messi up against the majority of his La Liga peers. Although Spain definitely have a better team on paper, we can see this one going the way of Argentina, perhaps needing extra time and more to split the pair.

Germany and England will reignite an old rivalry when they go head to head, and it will be certainly be a case of experience against youth. We think that England would be over-achieving if they went beyond the quarters, and surely won't be good enough to knock off the defending champions.

Our Pick To Progress: France, Brazil, Argentina, Germany

Semi Finals Predictions

Match 61 - France vs Brazil

Match 62 - Argentina vs Germany

Only former winners will remain in the hunt at the semi-final stage of the tournament. 1998 winners France will have a tough test against five-time winners Brazil, while two-time winners Argentina add another chapter to their rivalry against the Germans, who will be looking to add to their four titles.

Brazil catastrophically exited the tournament at this stage last time around, and will make amends by knocking out the highly-rated French to reach another decider.

Argentina will look for revenge against the Germans, who of course beat them in the 2014 final, although once again the Germans will show their class against an Argentine side who will have to settle for a top-four finish once more.

Our Pick To Progress: Brazil & Germany

World Cup Final - Brazil vs Germany

If our prediction for the final comes true, Brazil and Germany will square off in what will be one of the most highly-anticipated climaxes in World Cup history.

Brazil won the last match between the two sides, a friendly played in Berlin back in March, although few could argue that this match made up for the semi-final capitulation Brazil suffered at their home World Cup. That 7-1 defeat will go down in history as one of the World Cup's biggest shocks.

Despite being the two most successful teams in the history of the World Cup, Brazil and Germany have only come up against each other twice in the tournament. Germany's 2014 win is somewhat cancelled out by Brazil's victory over the Europeans in the 2002 final.

Overall, Brazil have a record of 13 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses against the defending champions - no team comes close to that kind of record against the Germans.

We have said from the start that this is going to be Brazil's year, and although this match is almost too tight to call, there can only be one winner. As long as the match doesn't go to penalties, we think the South Americans are the ones to lift the trophy.

Category : Soccer

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