In case you missed it:
We’re back to preview and predict the next two groups of the World Cup!
RIPLT: Germany, Spain, Costa Rica, Japan
Well, well, well: Group E. I’m going out on a limb and say Germany — the 2014 World Cup winners — will finish first, closely followed by Spain. Hansi Flick will mastermind a win over Spain (Leroooooooy Jenkins!) and dispatch the rest of the group.
zippy: Germany, Japan, Spain, Costa Rica
Upset alert! This group is trickier to navigate than it looks, and there’s no room for a slip-up for either European giant. Slipping up is exactly what Spain will do against an underrated Japan side, Tiki-Taka-ing their way to nowhere. Luis Enrique’s FC Barcelona-heavy side experience a share of their Champions League doldrums. Maybe it helps them win La Liga?
Germany, meanwhile, shake off their recent malaise to show that old steel and fire, avenging their 6-0 defeat to Spain under Joachim Löw when it counts and collecting a hard-earned nine points.
RIPLT: Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Morocco
I think Belgium finishes first and Noussair Mazraoui’s Morocco last. As for Canada and Croatia, they will be tied on points and goal difference so it will be decided on who scored more goals in the group (I checked and that’s the third tie breaking criterion). Canada outscore Croatia and advance to the Round of 16 (the former finished ahead of the United States and Mexico in qualifying, they can do it).
zippy: Canada, Croatia, Belgium, Morocco
Oh, I think Canada can do it, alright, and more than that — they’ll top the group while Alphonso Davies works his way back. Lille OSC’s Jonathan David has a tournament to remember and is an early contender for Golden Boot. This will be an exciting group to watch.
Croatia? Well, I can’t believe Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić is still playing, and at top level, too. It’s not only him, he’s got plenty of team around him, including even Bayern Munich’s Josip Stanišić. They’ve turned it over nicely at goalkeeper too, with Dominik Livaković. It won’t have an easy path, but a triumph over Belgium in the critical game will make the difference. A bitter swan song for the latter’s own golden generation, from Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne to Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku.
Stay tuned next time for Groups G & H!