One week out from the biggest tournament in sports and the hype continues to build. From a personal standpoint, this is only the third World Cup I have experienced. Prior to 2010, I had no knowledge of the beautiful game, but that just one of the sad side effects of being an ignorant American. Since then, however, I’ve found myself encompassed with all things soccer. So I jumped at the opportunity to go all in for the World Cup in 2018. Here is the second part of my World Cup Predictions featuring the Knockout Stage (Find part 1 here).
I won’t sit here and go into every match from my knockout stage predictions because it’s likely that some of the group stage predictions could be a little off. So, I’ll just hit some of the more notable matchups instead.
Let’s start with Uruguay vs. Spain in the round of 16. This is the only match in the first round that I feel could go either way. Uruguay is solid, but what edged Spain out in the end is the fact that they had a super disappointing run in 2014. I think they’ll be coming out with a vengeance. Not to mention, they have the worst person on Earth leading their back line. I’ve made the Sergio Ramos/Draymond Green comparison quite a few time. Both of them are dirty players that continue to toe the line of “how far is too far”. The only people that don’t see an issue with the way they play are fans of their teams. Which is why it’ll be interesting to see if he can make it through this entire competition without getting into any trouble.
There are a couple of matchups I want to address in the quarterfinals. Let’s start with Belgium/Brazil. Soccer fans around the globe have been wondering if this is finally the year that Belgium will play up to their talent. Many experts are choosing them as a dark horse team to win it all, I am not. Especially if they come up against the Brazilians. This Brazil team is way better than the one put out in 2014 and that team didn’t do half bad (let’s just forget about that game against Germany). Brazilian teams have been a powerhouse in the World Cup, for as long as it’s existed and this year will be no different.
The other game I wants to address in the quarterfinals is the one featuring the 2 best players in the world. Argentina v. Portugal. If this matchup actually comes to fruition and Messi doesn’t walk away on top, there is nothing he could possibly do to get out of CR7’s shadow. I’ll take Messi in this matchup just because the team around his is far superior to the team around Ronaldo.
Sticking with Argentina, how about their matchup in the semifinals? A rematch of the 2014 World Cup final. 4 years later and no Mario Götze this time around. I would love to see this play out, but I think Germany walks away victorious.
Let’s jump into my projected Final. As I alluded to earlier, the last time these two teams met the scoreline was ugly. Germany has Brazil figured out. I don’t think it’ll be as ugly as the 7-1 thrashing last time, but it comes down to this, the German team was incredible in 2014, and they got better. I like them to go back to back. I’ll even go as far in my prediction to say Thomas Mueller and my favorite player, Marco Reus, are the two players that find the back of the net to secure the trophy.
Wrapping things up, I’d like to think I have a little bit of knowledge about soccer, but I’m taking this bracket with a grain of salt. After all, I thought France was going to stomp all over Portugal in the Euro finals. I hope one day soccer gets big enough in America that Warren Buffet puts a prize down for a perfect World Cup bracket, but for now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the next month.