The USA is not in the World Cup that begins the day after we find out the USA will host the World Cup in 2026. It has been hard to get revved up for the next month of soccer without the USA, Italy, Netherlands and Ghana competing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a fun watch. I looked through the groups and break down who I think will get out of each group and who will win the cup.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, & Uruguay
I have Uruguay winning the group behind the easiest footballer to hate, Luis Suarez, but they have plenty of talent in Edison Cavani, Diego Godin, Maximiliano Pereira and more. They are a solid team but nothing special as you will see in the knockout rounds. Russia actually has a good shot to win the group behind big Russian names that aren’t well known to casual soccer fans. Alexandr Golovin is a special young talent at CSKA Moscow, while the Miranchuk twins from Lokomotiv will really open eyes at this year’s tournament. Egypt will finish third behind star Mohamed Salah, while Saudi Arabia will struggle to secure a point.
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, & Iran
This one is very top heavy, but I have Portugal tabbed to win the group. Behind Christiano Ronaldo, you have the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Alves, Pepe, and more. They simply have more talent and are a better team than runner ups Spain, who I don’t see having the scoring to make it deep into the tournament, but good enough to get out of the group and possibly one more match but not go on a run. I see Morocco finishing third with Iran struggling to get a point, much like the other team from the Middle East.
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, & Denmark
France might have as much talent as any team in the tournament, and should cruise through the group. There is so much talent in fact, Karim Benzama, Anthony Martial, Adrien Rabiot, and Aymeric Laporte will all be watching the tournament from home. The second team from the group may very well be determined on Friday when Peru and Denmark face off. I see Denmark knocking off Peru behind the star Christian Eriksen and a plethora of forwards they have on the squad. That leaves Australia last in the group, but I know I will tune in to see Tim Cahill in likely his last World Cup.
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, & Nigeria
There is not a traditional “Group of Death” this year, but this may be as close as it gets. Argentina features arguably the best player in the world. Iceland is coming off a fantastic showing in the Euros two years ago that made them the darlings of the soccer world. There might not be a better midfield duo in the tournament than Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic for Croatia, and Nigeria features vets Victor Moses and Mikel John Obi. In the end I see Argentina finishing first while Croatia is a very strong second.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, & Serbia
Brazil has been a quiet team heading into the World Cup for the first time ever, but I still see them coasting through a solid group. Serbia has the veteran leadership to escape as the number two team, just ahead of Costa Rica followed closely by Switzerland.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, & South Korea
This is another really interesting group that will have Americans unsure of how to root. Do you pull for rival Mexico to represent the CONCACAF or do you root for them to face an early exit. Germany is easily the best team in the group and will run away with it, while I do see Mexico just holding off Sweden with South Korea coming in last.
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, & England
If France is the most talented team in the tournament, Belgium is 1B. They may actually be able to roll out Youri Tielemans and Adnan Januzaj as subs, which is a nice luxury for head man Roberto Martinez. England has a special group of players that may make them a threat in Qatar in four years, but they definitely have enough to finish second in this group. I see Tunisia having a good showing and actually finishing third in the group, ahead of Panama.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, & Japan
This might end up being the least interesting group of all, but there is some sneaky talent here. Robert Lewandowski is still an elite goal scorer and will carry the club to a win in the group. Senegal is solid but will finish last in the group. The Colombia vs. Japan game on Tuesday will be more important than some expect. With a new coach at the helm, veteran stars Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda, and Shinji Okazaki are seeing more time on the pitch for Japan. That said, I think Colombia has just enough to finish second in the group over Japan.
Round of 16:
Spain over Uruguay
Portugal over Russia
France over Croatia
Argentina over Denmark
Brazil over Mexico
Germany over Serbia
Belgium over Colombia
England over Poland
The best match here will be France and Croatia, as Croatia has the team to push France to the brink, but France just has too much talent. If it is Spain against Russia rather than Portugal, I could see the hosts advancing to the quarters.
France over Spain
Portugal over Argentina
Belgium over Brazil
Germany over England
This would make for an incredible Quarter Finals to watch. France has incredible talent knocking off an undermanned Spain club. The two best players in the world face off yet again in Portugal and Argentina. Belgium’s talent is just too much for the always dangerous Brazil club. German and England face off in a rivalry that is always fantastic.
Belgium over France
Germany over Portugal
The two most talented teams face off with Belgium coming out on top, while the best team overall in Germany knocks off arguably the best player in the world.
Third Place Game
France over Portugal
This is typically the least interesting match in the tournament, and there is a real chance Ronaldo doesn’t even play in it, but France will get the chance to show their depth and take third.
Belgium over Germany
In a final that will have people worldwide really confused by the far too similar flags, it is talent that wins out over team play. I see Belgium lifting the cup in a final that could be epic.