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World Cup Preview – Group H

This group is wide open and will make for some quality entertainment. Colombia is the favorite here but Senegal, Poland and Japan will battle hard for the two spots in Group H. This high flying group will be fun to watch with James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane all battling against each other.

Colombia

Colombia

They have a high flying attack led by James and the Giant Peach. They also have Davidson College Sanchez at the back who had a good season for the Tottenham Hotspurs. Colombia has talent all about the pitch. Is Falcao good again? Some people seem to think so, but I haven’t seen him play since 2013 so it’s hard to say. Colombia is the favorite in the group and I see them taking first.

Japan

Star player Keisuke Honda is apparently playing for Pachucha in Mexico, I didn’t know that! It will take quite a team effort for Japan to advance through this group. They do have some players like Shinji Kagawa and Maya Yoshida playing at Europe’s top level, but they don’t seem as strong as years prior. I pick them to finish last in the group.

El Hadji Diouf

Poland

If they can get service into Robert Lewandowski this Poland team can do well. Lewandowski is one of the world’s best strikers and now is the time to prove his value. Piotr Zielinski is a talented young midfielder and Jakub Blastczczcdqwdjoqhakovski has a really long name. The Poles are in pole position… to finish second in this group.

Mane Senegal

Senegal

Senegal is a super fast team led by Sadio Mane. Along with Mane they have some exciting attackers like Keita Balde and Mbaye Niang. While they will fly around on offense they will have to show strength in defense to get by in a group that has some strong offenses. Can they conjur the magic of El Hadji Diouf and bring this team to the quarterfinals again? It’s possible.

Players to Watch

  1. Sadio Mane
  2. Shinji Kagawa
  3. Robert Lewandowski
  4. James

Group H

  1. Colombia
  2. Poland
  3. Senegal
  4. Japan
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World Cup Preview – Group G

This group should offer very few surprises with two strong teams and two weak teams. On the flip side, England have a great propensity to fail, so anything could happen.
Image result for belgium world cup

Belgium –

From a dark horse last World Cup to a powerhouse this World Cup. They have all of the pieces to be a dominant team. The only problem? They’re already facing injuries to captain Vincent (Grasson) Kompany and star boy  Eden Hazard. Injuries aside, they should still have the talent to win the group. They have an attack led by many Hazards, Lukakus, and other talented brothers. Manager Roberto Martinez chose to leave off Radja Nainggolan, the scariest looking soccer player in the world, for the weirdest looking soccer player, Marouane Fellaini. If they struggle, many will point to this decision.

Image result for belgium soccer funny

England –

Image result for england wayne rooney funny

A team of epic failures and constant problems, will things change this year? It looks like they might. They have a really young and interesting team that actually seem to play well together and get along. It’s all about the play during the tournament though, as they’ve shown this potential before. If things start off well, they could build a lot of momentum going into the knockout rounds. If they have trouble in the beginning, it could get bad. Harry Kane starts stealing Raheem’s goals, the Tottenham players start losing all of the close games because they are cursed, none of their goalies will save any shots, and Wayne Rooney comes back into the team for some reason. They’ll still move on to the knockouts.

Panama –

Image result for panama soccer

They were a great story to qualify, but the odds are not in their favor to go very far. It’s their first time in the tournament, so they’ll be excited to be a part of it. I could see them getting a win against Tunisia, and England depending on which England team shows up, but it’s not likely.

Tunisia –

Image result for tunisia soccer

Tunisia have injuries up front and not a lot of star power. They are similar in weakness to Panama, and similar in that they’ve got nothing to lose. I could see them winning against Panama maybe, but that’s pretty much it.

Players to Watch –

    1. Wayne Rooney
    2. Kevin De Bruyne

 

  1. Panama Canal
  2. Sir Harold of Kane

Group G –

  1. Belgium
  2. England
  3. Panama
  4. Tunisia

World Cup Preview – Group E

Brazil is the big dog in this group and they should stroll to first place. Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica round out the group. Brazil is one of the most talented teams in the world and will be one of the favorites to win it all. The second spot is wide open in this group and any one of the three remaining teams could end up taking it.

Brazil

A team filled with talent including the likes of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Coutinho. Neymar is coming off a serious injury though so it will be worth watching his fitness throughout the tournament. They were stunned 7-1 against Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and are raring to prove themselves in Russia this year. Positives about this team are my boy, Roberto Firmino, and the negatives are the culture of diving this team loves lead by Neymar. I pick them to finish first in the group and they should cruise in Group E.

Neymar Crying

Costa Rica

After a surprising run in the World Cup in 2014 they will have to recapture that magic for another run. This group is muddled for the second spot in the group so Costa Rica has a chance to get to the round of 16. They are led by goalkeeper Keylor Navas from Real Madrid who will have to stand on his head for Costa Rica to get through. They have a strong defense but lack scoring options. Finding goals will be tough for them and I think it will cost them the chance to get to the round of 16.

Karlore Navas

Goalkeeper Karlore Navas

Serbia

The Serbians are a tough team that has a good chance to surprise at the World Cup. They are led by midfield destroyers Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojevic. They have an exciting young attack with Aleksandr Mitrovic at striker and attacking midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is wanted by some of the world’s biggest clubs. Also, give this team an award for long ass names, am I right?! This team is aging and slow on defense which will likely be their downfall. I like Serbia to surprise in this World Cup and I pick them second in Group E.

Switzerland

I feel neutral about this team. Ok, I had to but also I’m not too excited about their prospects at the World Cup. They have a decent team with the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, and Xherdan Shaqiri leading them. The most exciting player on their team is 21 year old Breel Embolo. He’s an elite athlete but hasn’t completely put it together yet. The Swiss will have to hit the ground running to advance from the group.

Neymar Crying 2

Players to Watch

  1. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
  2. Aleksandar Mitrovic
  3. Breel Embolo
  4. How many goals Brazil score in this group.

Group E

  1. Brazil
  2. Serbia
  3. Switzerland
  4. Costa Rica

World Cup Preview – Group D

This is a tough group. Argentina will stand as the favorites but Croatia are a very talented team who can cause trouble for Argentina. Nigeria and Iceland round out the group and are no slouches either. Iceland had an incredible run at Euros 2016 and bring a fighting spirit to the World Cup. They will be the fan favorites throughout the tournament. Nigeria is explosive and exciting on attack. Group D is one to watch because any two teams could advance to the round of 16.

Argentina

This team has an ultra talented attack and a mediocre defense. Leo Messi can lead them to glory but other players need to step up. Players like Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuian need to put in goals and make plays for this team to make it deep into the tournament. The ability is there but can they put it all together when they have to? I still think their defense is weak and Nicolas Otamendi is garbage. I know he made the Premier League team of the year but he was protected by a team that often had 80% of the possession. He was exposed against Liverpool this season and will be exposed with less protection on Argentina. Messi can carry this team but they can win it all if others play well too. I pick them to win the group.

ManeOtamendi

Expect Otamendi to find himself on the ground a lot.

Croatia

This is a dark horse team for a lot of people to go deep into the tournament. They are led by world class midfielder Luka Modric, and he will orchestrate the offense. They have an exceptionally talented midfield with Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic along with Modric. Talent hasn’t been the question, but coaching and having a coherent system are the problem with this team. Croatia finished behind Iceland in qualifying and fired their coach. They have a new, inexperienced coach and if he doesn’t install a fitting style for the team they could struggle. The team also has Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren who can often go walkabout on defense and make bad errors. Croatia could make it to the quarterfinals but they may not get out of this tough group. I pick them third in this group, because I think they will struggle to find form as a team.

Croatia

Iceland

This is your favorite team at the World Cup. They had an incredible run at the 2016 Euros and they could do it again here. Iceland are the opposite of Croatia and they have an incredible team spirit. These things matter a lot when you play a bunch of games in a matter of a few weeks. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the talisman of this Iceland team and he will have a lot to do for Iceland do advance. They will have to work hard and pull some results together but I think they are good enough to get results against Nigeria and Croatia. I’m picking them 2nd in the group mostly because that’s what I want to see.

Iceland

Iceland’s coach and team

Nigeria

This is a tough team with talent in midfield and attack. Led by John Obi Mikel and Wilfred Ndidi in central midfield they will need to control the tempo so their shaky goaltending is not exposed. They also have pacy attackers in Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho. They pose a threat going forward but may start 19 year old goalie Francis Uzoho, who is inexperienced and not playing consistently at club level. The defense is also young and raw. They will need to outscore opponents to move forward. They are capable of that but their defensive issues may be too much to overcome. I pick them last in this very difficult group.

Nigeria

Players to watch

  1. Gylfi Sigurdsson
  2. Kelechi Iheanacho
  3. Leo Messi
  4. Ivan Perisic
  5. What kind of mistakes will Otamendi and Lovren make?

Group D

  1. Argentina
  2. Iceland
  3. Croatia
  4. Nigeria

World Cup Preview – Group C

France is the clear favorite in Group C but that hasn’t stopped them from underperforming before. It would be an upset if they aren’t able to top the group that contains Australia, Denmark and Peru. Denmark has some quality in it as well with Christian Eriksen leading the Danes. This is France’s group to lose but they have been very good at losing in recent World Cups.

Australia

The Soceroos are not expected to go far in the tournament. Aaron Mooy from Huddersfield will be the lead playmaker on a team that will need everyone to be at their absolute best to make it through the group. Their long-time coach, Ange Postecoglu, resigned after they qualified, who was well liked by the team. That leaves the team a bit rudderless with new manager Bert van Marwijk. They will have to learn his style quickly and squeeze out some results to get through. I still pick them to finish fourth in this group.

Zidane

Denmark

The Danes are led by world class midfielder Christian Eriksen. He can change any game in an instant and has proven his value with Tottenham. Kasper Schmeichel is a quality goalkeeper who will need to put in some good performances for Denmark to make it to the round of 16. Nikolai Jorgensen is a big striker who will need to pop in some goals with Eriksen creating chances. They have size and strength throughout the team but not much creativity aside from Eriksen. I like Denmark to finish second in group C ahead of Peru. Eriksen will have to inspire this team to get any further than the round of 16 though.

Great-Dane

Christian Eriksen

France

Les Bleus are the easy favorite to get through this group and definitely one of the most talented sides in the world. The issue here is their youth and inability to mesh as a team. Paul Pogba was in poor form to end the season for Manchester United and he will need to be in form for them to make a run at the title. They have a very strong attack with the likes on Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, and Ousmane Dembele. N’Golo Kante is a tireless worker in the midfield and the former Premier League player of the year will do the dirty work to allow the guys up top to do what they do best. Their inexperience and the fact that Pogba is often more interested in his social media following can be their downfall. They should place first in this group anyway.

Peru

Their captain and leading goal-scorer, Paolo Guerrero, was banned by FIFA for doping. He was found to have actual cocaine with it’s street name also being dope in his system. He appealed and claimed it was accidentally ingested in some tea he drank. An unlikely story, but hey a court in Switzerland said he’s eligible to play so on we go! Guerrero is the key to any success they have along with the funly named Jefferson Farfan. They haven’t been to the World Cup in 36 years so I’m sure they will play with a passion in every game. I just don’t think they are better than Denmark and have them in third in the group.

Paul-Pogba-pokemon-hairstyle

Players to watch

  1. Christian Eriksen
  2. Kylian Mbappe
  3. Jefferson Farfan
  4. Aaron Mooy
  5. Paul Pogba’s Hair

Group C

  1. France
  2. Denmark
  3. Peru
  4. Australia

 

World Cup Preview – Group B

Spain and Portugal are the two favorites with two of my least favorite players, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. If they play up to their potential both should get through to the round of 16, but Morocco and Iran will provide a challenge. Morocco and Iran are both teams that could steal a spot from Spain or Portugal if they aren’t on their game.  Portugal won Euro 2016 but that was more of an aberration than anything.

Iran

An easy team to overlook, but you shouldn’t. This team is solid defensively but they have had some high quality attackers come into form this past season. Alireza Jahanbakhsh is a very difficult name to spell but the winger was the top scorer in the Dutch Eredevisie scoring 21 goals for AZ Aikmaar. He’s one to watch in this group and he’ll need to be at his best to get past Spain or Portugal. Sardar Azmoun will also have to step up for iran, leading the line at striker. Iran is coached by Carlos Queiroz who has helmed Real Madrid and Portugal. He’s coached at the highest level and his past experience with Portugal could help them prepare. This Iran team could pull a surprise at the World Cup.

herve renard

Handsome man Herve Renard, Morocco’s Coach

Morocco

This team is led by center back Mehdi Benatia who plays for Juventus. He leads a sturdy defense that will have to be stingy against the Portugal and Spain. They have the talented Hakim Ziyech in midfield and play will flow through him. Ziyech had an excellent season at Ajax and is being touted to move to a bigger club in Europe. They could pull a surprise in Group B but they’ll have to be at their absolute best to grab a spot in the round of 16. Coached by certified handsome man, Herve Renard, that’s gives them a chance too. Not just because of his looks but because he’s an experienced coach who has won the African Cup of Nations with both Zambia and Ivory Coast. Still, I don’t see them getting out of the group.

Ronaldo

Portugal

They have Cristiano Ronaldo. Honestly, their run to win Euro 2016 was the luckiest thing I’ve ever seen. They only got three points in three games, finishing third in the group. The Euros extended the number of teams to 24 allowing 16 teams to qualify instead of eight like in 2012, so that’s how they made it in. If the format hadn’t changed, Portugal wouldn’t have even made it. Not even that, they also only won one game in regulation, beating Wales 2-0 in the semifinals. Feels good to finally get that off my chest, now Portugal should qualify for round of 16 but I hope they don’t.

Ronaldo crying

Spain

This is a Spain team that has had a fall from grace. After winning Euros in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup in 2010 they were the world’s top team. They crashed out early in the 2014 World Cup losing to the Netherlands and Chile. Spain also had a poor showing at Euro 2016 losing in the round of 16. They have arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in David de Gea and he will need to have a great tournament in order for them to make a deep run. They have a solid midfield and defense, led by goon Sergio Ramos. Isco, Iniesta and David Silva will form an attacking midfield that will give opponents fits. Can they translate that into goals is the question. Their striker options aren’t great though and another goon, Diego Costa, is likely to play up top. This isn’t the same Spain team that won the 2010 World Cup, but they do have plenty of talent. I pick them to be first in the group anyway, unless Ramos or Costa gets an early red card.

Ramos kicked in the face

Sergio Ramos being kicked in the face.

Players to Watch

  1. Hakim Ziyech
  2. Isco
  3. Alireza Jahanbakhsh
  4. David Silva

Group B

  1. Spain
  2. Portugal
  3. Iran
  4. Morocco

Rory’s Round-up: Week 1

I hate getting up early. Maybe as much as I hate bigotry, or popcorn. One reason I will get up early is for Premier League soccer, and also work. Here’s my take on the games I was able to catch this weekend.

Arsenal 4 – Leicester 3

This was a really fun game to watch for many reasons. One, it’s hilarious to see Wenger’s reactions to his team failing. And it was the typical crap turnovers and poor defending that his team has been known for over the past 100 seasons. Second, there were so many goals. Lacazette started the action off the action early on, but Leicester came back at them fast with goals from Okazaki and Vardy. Arsenal were good to get one back right before halftime through Welbeck. More excitement came later on after Vardy put Leicester ahead, until Arsenal got two back in dramatic fashion for the win.

Both teams had similar defensive problems. They both looked like good competitive teams with some work to do at the back. I was really impressed with both attacks. Iheanacho barely played, and as soon as they get him more involved they could get even better. Welbeck and Lacazetter were really dangerous up front as well, so if they can stay healthy, I see them finishing pretty high.

 

Liverpool 3 – Watford 3

This was the most typical Liverpool game ever played. Goalkeeping blunders? Check. Suspect defense? So many checks. Shit on set pieces? Checks again. Dropped points in stoppage time? Obviously. The positives were that Salah and Mane looked really good. Firmino was good in attack too, even with his (and the other defenders) not marking on the first goal.

Coutinho would’ve helped, but I have to put this mostly on Klopp and Liverpool’s brass. They haven’t addressed the team’s defensive needs at all. Lovren shouldn’t be starting on a championship calibre team, nor should Moreno. They have no creative replacement in midfield for Coutinho, so I’m worried about Liverpool if they don’t do any more business before the summer window ends. It doesn’t look great for them, and Watford weren’t an especially talented team.

 

Everton 1 – Stoke 0 

King Rooney hath returned! I kid about his influence, but he actually looked really good. Everton’s defense was pretty strong overall, and Jordan Pickford was probably the player of the game for me. He’ll be a steal at that price if he plays like he did today. On Stoke’s side, Shaqiri should’ve been sent off for his elbow on Baines in the 48th minute. He was a little shit all game, diving around and yelling at his teammates. He played like Ronaldo if he was 4 feet shorter and significantly less skilled. He had a nice shot at the end of the game, but Pickford got a good hand to it.

 

Manchester United 4 – West Ham 0

Manchester United were scary good this game. Their passing was great and Lukaku looked excellent up front. If I had done my predictions after seeing this game, I would’ve picked them first or second probable. This team will definitely be tough to beat.