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Mirror, mirror on the wall … Five bold predictions for the World Cup

Mirror, mirror on the wall ... Five bold predictions for the World Cup

Durban — The World Cup is bound to be surrounded by controversies off the field and surprises on it.


The unusual dates of the tournament means that teams, especially those from Europe could have difficulty to adapt to the weather and conditions, which could have an effect on the outcome of matches.

Some of these predictions may not age well but here are five bold predictions from IOL Sport writer Eshlin Vedan for the World Cup’s opening round of fixtures.

England will stutter against Iran

As usual, some are saying “this England team is finally the one” and while they do have immense depth, they head into the tournament in poor form and without a win in six games. This sequence of results included two defeats to Hungary, a team that they should have beaten.

Iran are capable of holding the Three Lions to a draw if they play to their potential on Monday.

The champion’s curse striking France is a possibility

France are expected to finally break the World Cup winners curse which has effected the winning team since 2006. After winning the World Cup in 2006, Italy bombed out in the group stage in 2010. The same happened to Spain as defending champions in 2014, before Germany followed suit in Russia four years ago.

Les Bleus head into the tournament with injury issues. They will have to make do without midfield kingpin N’Golo Kante, reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and midfielder Paul Pogba.

France should record a victory in their opener against Australia on Tuesday and should have enough to beat Tunisia, but their second game against Denmark will be difficult.

As was proven by their elimination at the hands of Switzerland at the Euro 2020, the French are not invincible.

Argentina and Brazil to sail in opening games

Argentina and Brazil are the two favourites to win the World Cup. The former should record a comprehensive win in their tournament opener against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Brazil have a harder opponent in Serbia, but should come out with a hard-fought win against the European nation on Thursday.

Spain’s Gavi and Pedri to be contenders for Young Player Award

Spain probably do not have enough to go all the way in Qatar, but they will be an exciting team to watch with their young players that includes central midfielders Pedri and Gavi.

I expect the Spanish to bow out in the quarter-finals or semi-finals, with either Pedri or Gavi staking a strong claim to be crowned the best young player at the tournament.

Belgium to flop

This World Cup will be the last time that Belgium’s so-called “golden generation” consisting of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Thibaut Courtois play together.

Courtois and De Bruyne could have another World Cup left in them, but the same cannot be said for the others.

All the teams in Group F — Canada, Croatia and Morocco will fancy their chances of progressing beyond the group stage. I expect Belgium to be one of the flops of the tournament.


IOL Sport

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