With a week to go until the big kick-off, Pies thought we’d wade into the mire armed solely with 10 fully-primed predictions for the 2018 World Cup.
Here you go, see what you make of this rabble…
We’re tempted by France but despite their obvious talents, Les Bleus are always likely to be hampered by their resolutely negative manager.
The boring pick is one from Brazil, Germany or Spain – and we fancy La Roja to hustle their way to the end, powered solely by Andres Iniesta’s farewell narrative and Sergio Ramos being an absolute cad from minute one.
Argentina. Complete toss in qualification and that squad, beyond the obvious stars, honestly looks a bit threadbare.
The Albiceleste could be primed for a ‘shock’ group stage exit if Jorge Sampaoli and co. aren’t careful.
Also, the hosts, Russia, are going to get knocked out without anybody even noticing they were there.
Uruguay haven’t had the most intensive of warm-ups (one friendly against Uzbekistan) but they’ll almost certainly win Group A at a canter and go from there… up until the semi-finals, maybe…
Valiant second round defeat against Poland or Portugal or the like. Maybe even the quarters if we get lucky – which we won’t.
Probably get cheated out of an important decision, leaving everybody to decry our upright national team’s unwillingness to resort to gamesmanship to get results over the line while Gareth Southgate gets pilloried for being “too nice”.
It’ll be a defender, scoring thrice from corners and/or set-pieces to finish as joint-top scorer with Neymar, only to win it on a technicality of some description.
Tournament defining tactics
Tentative teams drilled to sit deep, soak up pressure and bore the living trousers off everybody is likely to be a big feature, especially in the group stages.
Might lead to the odd bonkers end-to-ender too, if we’re lucky.
Lucas Torreira, 22, of Uruguay and Sampdoria will be the new Marco Verratti by the end of the tournament.
Lionel Messi always gets hung, drawn and quartered if Argentina bomb and that means there’s real potential for a petulant international retirement if they’re properly woeful.
Also, Paul Pogba is on the verge of a worldwide lambasting after a somewhat indifferent season.
Nigeria’s kit has garnered a lot of praise for being unusually chaotic in an age of international blandness, but every true scholar knows that the nattiest threads belong to Germany, particularly that drop-dead köstlich away kit of theirs.
Peru will be this summer’s Iceland
Yes, Iceland will be there too, but Los Incas are poised to become the folk heroes of the 2018 World Cup as the Nordic invaders were at Euro 2016.
Indeed, almost 20,000 Peruvian fans turned out for their recent friendly against Iceland in Switzerland, which gives you an indication of just how fervently they will be supported in Russia.
19000 Peruaner singen ihre Nationalhymne im Kybunpark👍👍 pic.twitter.com/L83RI95VRj
— Matthias Hüppi (@matthueppi) June 3, 2018
They can also play a bit, too – which is bound to help.
So there you ruddy well go, Pies fans. What do you make of that little lot, then?
Please feel positively obliged to hit us with your own predictions for Russia 2018 – the bolder, the better!
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Should you be curious, here are our predictions for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
They were all absolutely spot on… naturally.