On the eve of the Qatar World Cup, we asked our Impact sportswriters and some friends for their World Cup predictions. From the GOAT winning the Golden Ball to shock exits, here are our incredibly valuable tournament insights. Hopefully they don’t look stupid by Christmas.
Having had the benefit of reading everyone else’s terrible predictions, I’m surely best placed to make the most accurate choices. Although my answers are majorly influenced by my desire to see Messi win the World Cup, I still think they’re all spot-on predictions.
Winner: Argentina – unbeaten in 36, Messi back in top form… what could go wrong?
Which of the favourites will go out first? Portugal. Might even go out in the group stages… but I think they’re losing in the Round of 16 to Brazil.
Golden Ball (best player): Messi. GOAT.
Golden Boot (top scorer): Neymar. Tempting to say Nuñéz though…
Golden Glove (most clean sheets): Alisson.
Worst group stage team: Saudi Arabia. It’s looking rough for them against Argentina, Mexico, and Poland.
Dark horse: Uruguay.
In likely their last World Cups, who goes further: Messi or Ronaldo? Messi.
Rosie has justified some of these predictions by claiming “I’m not too knowledgeable”
Next up is our Sports Editor, and Rosie has justified some of these predictions by claiming “I’m not too knowledgeable” and that a tennis prediction would be better-suited.
Favourites out first? England
Golden Ball: Kane. A group stage masterclass maybe…
Golden Boot: Neymar.
Golden Glove: Neuer.
Worst group stage team: France. One word: bold.
Dark horse: Uruguay
Who goes further: Messi or Ronaldo? Ronaldo.
Despite his cautious optimism about England in October’s Article of the Month, Ben isn’t backing them all the way.
Favourites out first? Spain
Golden Ball: Messi
Golden Boot: Vinicius Jr.
Golden Glove: Lloris.
Worst group stage team: Tunisia.
Dark horse: Denmark.
Who goes further: Messi or Ronaldo? Messi.
Favourites out first? England.
Golden Ball: Messi.
Golden Boot: Nunez.
Golden Glove: Alisson.
Worst group stage team: Australia.
Dark horse: Nunez.
Who goes further: Messi or Ronaldo? Messi.
We also put out a survey to gather some extra responses, with many of the responses coming from the football geniuses at HistSoc FC.
66% of the respondents are backing Argentina to win their third World Cup, with Brazil second favourites to take the crown. There were very optimistically two shouts for England (I’m sorry but it simply isn’t coming home).
An even amount of people each believe England, Netherlands, and Belgium will be the first of the favourites to crash out. Only Argentina, Brazil, and Germany avoided being predicted to be the early shock exit.
Lionel Messi, in surely his last chance to win the tournament, was overwhelmingly backed to pick up the Golden Ball for best player as he did in 2014. No other player received multiple votes – Ronaldo, Neymar, Vinicius Jr., De Bruyne, Mbappe, and Valverde all getting a shoutout.
Darwin Nuñéz was the second-most elected player to be top scorer, which as a Liverpool fan is something I would absolutely love to see
In similar fashion, Messi was clearly the favourite for the Golden Boot, with nearly 50% of the vote. Darwin Nuñéz was the second-most elected player to be top scorer, which as a Liverpool fan is something I would absolutely love to see.
Alisson dominated the vote for the Golden Glove, commanding nearly half of the predictions. There hasn’t been much pro-England sentiment thus far, but Pickford was touted by 15% of people. One person even went for Ter Stegen, which would be an impressive feat given he is likely to be on the bench, with Neuer having started nine of manager Flick’s 15 games in charge.
Although they will be hosting the tournament, voters don’t think Qatar’s team will be sticking around beyond the group stage. 46% predict that they will be the worst performing side in the groups, followed by Ghana and Canada after their 36-year absence.
Over 45% of people have opted for Uruguay as their dark horse, perhaps proving that they are a bit too good to be considered as a dark horse. Nonetheless, there were plenty of more niche shouts such as Nigeria, Switzerland, USA, Wales, and my personal favourite Serbia.
A whopping 85% of people believe the Argentinian will best the Portuguese and (for now) Manchester United legend
As you may have gathered, Messi is a popular figure amongst those who have contributed to these predictions. Unsurprisingly, he easily wins the debate as to who will go further between himself and Ronaldo in what is surely their last World Cups. A whopping 85% of people believe the Argentinian will best the Portuguese and (for now) Manchester United legend.
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