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The World Cup Finals taking place in Russia this year

The World Cup Finals taking place in Russia this year

Courtesy of The False 9

The World Cup Finals taking place in Russia this year

Courtesy of The False 9

Courtesy of The False 9

The World Cup Finals taking place in Russia this year

Charlie Schiavo and Grant Blumberg, Sentry Staff reporters

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On June 14, the 21st fielding of the FIFA World Cup will start in Russia. Every four years, the month-long soccer tournament is watched by millions of people across the globe. Even countries that did not qualify for the tournament will watch what many speculate will be the most entertaining tournament in recent memory. Each of the eight groups has four teams, with two teams advancing out of each group. Here are The Sentry’s predictions for the group winners of this summer’s World Cup celebration of soccer.

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

  • Uruguay
    • Uruguay are the favorite for this group, but they tend to underwhelm on the big stage. They will likely score a lot of goals with their two world-class strikers, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani- if Suarez is not suspended for biting (yes, biting) an opponent again. Promising defender Jose Maria Gimenez will be responsible for anchoring Uruguay’s shaky, aging defense.

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran  

  • Spain
    • As the winners of the 2010 tournament, Spain is one of the deepest teams in terms of having good players at each position in the entire tournament, and manager Julen Lopetegui will ensure that his team plays a defense-first game and pounces on balls that get turned over. Isco is the heir apparent to Spain midfield legend Andres Iniesta in commanding Spain’s lethal attack.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

  • France
    • This team is an incredibly talented squad that went all the way to the finals of the European Championships in 2016, but are known to lose concentration late in big matches and surrender important goals. Winger Thomas Lemar will hope to use this tournament to secure himself a big-money move to an English Premier League club.

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

  • Argentina
    • Finalists in the 2014 World Cup, finalists in the 2015 and 2016 Copas America and champions in none of them. This Argentina squad will be on a mission to get Lionel Messi the World Cup- the one major trophy he does not have. Although jam-packed with attacking talent, Argentina’s defense has proved to be leaky, and, as the saying goes, “Defense wins championships.” Paulo Dybala has been touted as “The new Messi”. Look for him to be slicing up opposing defenses and scoring miraculous goals alongside Messi.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia  

  • Brazil
    • Seeking redemption for last World Cup, their front three of Neymar, Coutinho, and Jesus will tear opposing defences to shreds. High expectations as usual but should win the group comfortably, especially now that Brazil finally has world-class goalkeeping in Allison (Roma, Serie A) and Ederson (Manchester City, England). Gabriel Jesus has been hailed as the next Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (arguably the greatest striker of all time) after scoring 9 goals in his first 15 appearances for Brazil.

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea  

  • Germany
    • The current World Champions have a squad just as good if not better than 4 years ago. Ozil, Kroos, Boateng, Muller, Hummels, and Neuer will be playing and will blend in well with the younger German talent that has emerged in the last four years (Kimmich, Werner, Hector, Goretzka). Their incredible squad depth will help them win the group with ease. Thomas Muller is no stranger to performing at the World Cup and is coming off a successful league campaign with Bayern, scoring 15 goals.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England  

  • Belgium
    • Belgium’s golden generation will be at their peak this summer, with Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne at the height of their careers and a strong defense behind them. However, doubts about Roberto Martinez’s management ability, specifically Radja Nainggolan’s exclusion from the squad, are the chief reasons Belgium are not considered among the tournament favorites. Striker Romelu Lukaku is certain to bag a few goals in Russia this Summer.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

  • Colombia
    • Colombia should win this group relatively easily. Goalkeeper David Ospina, although inconsistent at club level in the English Premier League for Arsenal, is a wizard between the goalposts when he plays for Colombia, and an air-tight defense led by Barcelona starlet Yerry Mina will allow enough space for Colombia’s attacking stars to operate. Midfielder James Rodriguez was breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, and his playmaking instincts and spectacular dribbling should be a pain for other teams to defend.

Knockout Stage Predictions (advancing teams in bold)

Round of 16:

Uruguay vs. Portugal

France vs. Iceland

Brazil vs. Mexico

Belgium vs. Senegal

Spain vs. Egypt

Argentina vs. Peru

Germany vs. Costa Rica

Colombia vs. England

Quarter-Finals:

France vs. Portugal

Brazil vs. Belgium

Spain vs. Argentina

Germany vs. Colombia

Semi-Finals:

France vs. Brazil

Spain vs. Germany

Third Place:

Spain vs. France

Finals:

Brazil vs. Germany

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