Europe seems once again very strong – even without Italy or the Netherlands.
Although the European confederation misses out on nations like Italy and the Netherlands and therefor players like Ciro Immobile, Gianluigi Buffon or Arjen Robben, other teams like France, Germany or Spain have enough quality to bring to the world cup.
In regards to the world cup title holder Germany, it will be hard to prove themselves this summer, after all Germany lost strong player personalities after the resignation from players such as Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the previous captain Phillip Lahm. The biggest challenge Germany has to face, are thanks to the strong squad not their opponents, but the ability to have players strong leaders on the pitch.
France on the other hand has definitely risen to become a strong title aspirant after their strong performances in the last Europe Cup which was held two years ago in France. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) could step up to become the jewel of the yet very young squad. The French striker was nearly voted to become the 2016 Ballon D´or winner after strong performances for Atletico Madrid and scoring the most goals in the 2016 Europe Cup (6). In addition, the Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and PSG-striker Kylian Mbappé are other notable additions to the French squad. Whether they will be able to prove their role as a contender in the world cup is to be questioned as France has to equip their potential with team work and a high amount of effort to win this year´s world cup.
Meanwhile, Spain will have to show what they are capable of. After a reasonable result against Germany and the 6:1 win against Argentina, Spain has the qualifications to become a major title aspirant within this year’s world cup. The players definitely have the strength and the quality to reach at least the quarter-final, as with David de Gea from Manchester United, Spain has one of the best goalkeepers in the world since the prime of the forgotten Iker Casillas. In addition, the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona defence, consisting of Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (Madrid) and Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba (Barcelona), surely is another reason why Spain has a lot of potential this year. Furthermore, players such as Isco and Iago Aspas who played a vital role within their teams in La Liga this year, could give spain the extra edge needed in order to win such a prestigious tournament.
Brazil and Argentina – the South-American hope.
The continent of South-America brings in their regular contenders for the world Cup, Brasil and Argentina. Both teams are equipped with a strong squad filled with individuals which are capable of winning a game themselves.
Argentina is thanks to Lionel Messi a strong force which is to be reckoned with. After reaching last year’s final, and loosing 1:0 due to a goal in the very last breath of the extra time (112th min.), Argentina wants to reach out their hands to the very trophy, which they have been waiting for to win since 1986. Now this world cup could be their last chance to win it with Lionel Messi, as the striker from the FC Barcelona is already 30 years old and might not witness another active World Cup. In addition, players such as Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala (both from Juventus Turin) as well as Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) upfront, are giving enough diversity which is needed to hide the weaknesses in the Argentinian defence. Whether their attack will make up for their lack of quality in their defence is still uncertain.
In the meantime, Brazil needs to be able to forget about their shameful ending in the last World Cup after their 7:1 defeat in the semi-final against Germany. As for now this is not the only problem. The Brazilian left-winger Neymar (currently PSG), is one of Brazil’s biggest worries, after his foot surgery and being out for over three months. However, if Neymar finds himself back into his normal form in the friendly matches against Croatia and Austria, Brazil could have the biggest chances of winning in the world cup. Thanks to their unbelievable strength upfront with Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho and their incredible midfield and defence, Brazil could be able to win this year.
What about Belgium and England?
As with every big tournament there are certain teams that have a lot of potential due to their qualities in the team and are always named to be the secret favourites of winning a big tournament.
Once again Belgium and England are within this role. With players such as the Hazard brothers Eden (FC Chelsea) and Thorgan (Borussia Mönchengladbach) Belgium has two players which have shown a lot of potential for their respective clubs within this season. In addition, other players like Romelu Lukaku who had a tremendous first season at Manchester United could become a potential leader despite just turning 25. Moreover, Belgium’s defence and midfield could play a vital role in Belgium reaching at least the quarterfinal. Thanks to players such as Radja Nainggolan and Moussa Dembele, Belgium has players which are working incredibly hard for their team within the midfield. In regards to their defence, the Tottenham Hotspurs duo at the centre back positions with, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen is qualified enough to keep a clean sheet, when considering that Thibaut Courtois from the FC Chelsea is their goalkeeper.
In regards to England, coach Gareth Southgate will have to be able to form a team with the players that he has chosen. If England manages to develop a certain team-spirit that carries the team throughout the group-stage, England could have the potential to become one of the eight best teams in the world. As players like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling or Dele Alli are strong players which could make the difference in fairly close games.
What we could expect:
This year’s World Cup could become very special. As there are mainly four teams that stand out of all the other teams. Germany, France, Spain and Brazil. All four of these teams have the potential to win this World Cup, however these teams must deliver their full potential as most other nations have at least one or two players that could ruin the the hopes of winning the World Cup for these four teams.