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Will Germany repeat as World Champions or can someone new rise to the challenge?

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World Cup Predictions: Champion, Golden Ball, Golden Boot, and More!

Previews - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Moscow on Thursday of this week. Can you believe that it’s already here? The quadrennial tournament is always full of surprises, so we decided to make our picks for the tournament.

It seems like it was just yesterday that Mario Götze was scoring the winning goal in Rio de Janeiro to help Germany, once again, reach the pinnacle of the sport. Now, just four years later, Götze has been cast aside after a disastrous four years, and Germany will attempt to retain their crown without das wunderkind.

Can they do it? Let’s go to our picks!

Who is getting out of the groups?

As you can see above, our staff is mostly in agreement with which teams are getting out of the groups. Let’s dive in.

Group A

Nearly all of us believe that Uruguay is advancing on to the knockout rounds. However, the big discrepancy comes from whether Russia or Egypt join them. The hosts have only not reached the group stage once (South Africa in 2010), but Russia will have their hands full against Egypt. If the Russians don’t take all three points in the tournament’s opening match against Saudi Arabia, it could very well be lights out for them there.

Group B

It’s near unanimous here: Spain and Portugal will be advancing through to the Round of 16. Still, two of us hold out hope that Morocco can somehow stun the world and get through over Portugal. Do the Moroccans have a shot? One would think that Portugal’s chances hinge on the fate of Cristiano Ronaldo; however, we saw the Portuguese get the job done without him at Euro 2016 when he went out of the Final early.

Group C

As one of the favorites to win the entire thing, it would be beyond shocking to see France get bounced before at least the quarterfinals. It’s the second place finisher that proves intriguing. The majority believe that Denmark are going to grab that spot, but a few of us are holding out hope for Peru (and even Australia).

Group D

There’s one thing that we all agree on: Leo Messi will get Argentina through to the next round. From there, though, we’re all over the place. Only one of us believe Nigeria will get through to the next round, while the rest of us are split pretty equally among Croatia and Iceland. The battle for second place in this group will be great.

Group E

Brazil is another favorite to win this tournament, so it’s obvious to all of us that they’l be making it to the knockout rounds. Again, this is another group where we’re pretty evenly split on who the second place team to come out of the group will be. Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia all get multiple votes on making it to the knockout rounds.

Group F

Germany are the overwhelming favorites to come out of this group with Mexico just behind them. However, any Mexican slip-up could be just the catalyst that a Zlatan-less Sweden need to get over the hump and out of the group stage. The final matchday between Mexico and Sweden will likely be for all the marbles.

Group G

There’s no reason to beat around the bush here: Only Brian believes that someone other than Belgium and England are getting out of this group. Brian is going out on a limb with the belief that Tunisia will upset England and send them home after only three games. We shall see.

Group H

You’re looking a group of people that believe in Robert Lewandowski and James Rodriguez. Poland and Colombia are the overwhelming favorites to get out of the group stage and try their luck in the knockout rounds. A few of us believe that Senegal has a shot, and absolutely zero people think Japan will be playing more than three games in Russia.

Who is winning the World Cup?

John N. Dillon - Germany
Ineednoname - Germany
Chuck Smith - Germany
Tom Adams - Germany
Drake Hills - Brazil
Ryan Cowper - Mexico
Jacob Dorman - Brazil
Cole Godfrey - Spain
Brian Kellogg - France
Patrick Pintaske - Germany
Mark Williams - Germany
Valentin King - Germany
Gopika CPB - Germany
Zepa Pires - Germany
Phillip Quinn - Germany
Mike Lynch - Argentina

We are clearly a group of people who believe in the German national team once again. After reaching the top of the mountain back in Brazil in 2014, Germany will try to repeat as world champions in Russia. As this is the final tournament for both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, one can expect both of them to go all out and trying to win the World Cup for their respective Nations. Do they have enough help in their squads though to overcome the massive machine that is Germany? That is the question they're going to have to answer. Otherwise, we may very well be looking at another championship for Germany.

Who will be the best player at the World Cup?

John N. Dillon - Kevin De Bruyne
Ineednoname - Lionel Messi
Chuck Smith - Thomas Muller
Tom Adams - Eden Hazard
Drake Hills - Neymar
Ryan Cowper - Hector Herrera
Jacob Dorman - Neymar
Cole Godfrey - Lionel Messi
Brian Kellogg - Lionel Messi
Patrick Pintaske - Joshua Kimmich
Mark Williams - Neymar
Valentin King - Lionel Messi
Gopika GPB - Toni Kroos
Zepa Pires - Joshua Kimmich
Phillip Quinn - Neymar
Mike Lynch - Lionel Messi

Winning the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup means that you had a wonderful tournament, and it’s usually the big stars that take the award. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised to see players like Lionel Messi and Neymar topping the list. Both players are set for standout tournaments and could very well be fighting each other for this award at the end of the day.

However, who is player number three in our list? It’s the kid. It’s Joshua Kimmich. Watch out, world.

Who will be the tournament’s top scorer?

John N. Dillon - Timo Werner
Ineednoname - Thomas Muller
Chuck Smith - Timo Werner
Tom Adams - Antoine Griezmann
Drake Hills - Someone not German or Brazilian
Ryan Cowper - Cristiano Ronaldo
Jacob Dorman - James Rodriguez
Cole Godfrey - Lionel Messi
Brian Kellogg - Antoine Griezmann
Patrick Pintaske - Timo Werner
Mark Williams - Kylian Mbappe
Valentin King - Timo Werner
Gopika CPB - Neymar
Zepa Pires - Gabriel Jesus
Phillip Quinn - Antoine Griezmann
Mike Lynch - Thomas Muller

As you can see, we are all over the map with who will win the Golden Boot. However, one thing has become clear, and that is that we believe France and Germany are the score lot of goals. Timo Werner, Thomas Muller, Kylian Mbappe, and Antoine Griezmann lead the way and suggestions from the two countries. We also have a soft spot for superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar. The tournament is wide open, so this award will probably won by who puts up the biggest group stage numbers.

So, dear reader, jump into the comments and tell us your picks, tell us that we’re wrong, or tells us that we’re right!