Daily Football Show editors Joel Fruci, Hugh Schuitemaker and Brayden May enjoyed embarrassing themselves so much with their A-League predictions that they thought they would give it another go for the World Cup.
Joel: Germany. Going back to back is not easy but there is just so much quality and depth for Joachim Low to work with; so much so that Leroy Sane was incredibly left out of the final 23. They know how to get it done when it counts.
Hugh: Brazil. The likes of Neymar and Roberto Firmino are coming off amazing seasons at club level, while Philippe Coutinho can also change a game. With the motivation the team will feel from the failed 2014 campaign, there is a point to prove that will result in another crown for the Seleção.
Brayden: France. The level of depth in the French national team is absolutely insane, you just need to look at the players they have left at home. They fell just short at the Euros on home soil two years ago and that harsh lesson may just spur them on.
Joel: As per usual, Brazil have a squad that can cause some serious damage and they will go far on the world stage again. The Selecao have tough opposition in Group E (Switzerland, Serbia, Costa Rica) but should still be expected to top that pool.
Hugh: I’m going for something of a surprise in Belgium. They have been touted for years, but with a confident Kevin De Bruyne feeding Eden Hazard and Romely Lukaku, this could be the tournament where we see the best from Roberto Martinez’s men.
Brayden: Germany were on the top of the world four years ago but this time around they are going to fall just short. But they are just a good as chance as anyone of winning the whole thing.
Joel: Iran will do Asia proud and push the envelope in the hugely challenging Group B, alongside Morocco, Spain and Portugal. They breezed through AFC qualifying and coach Carlos Queiroz has the benefit of continuity in the top job for seven years.
Hugh: Croatia have a team full of names that have impressed domestically this season and apart from Argentina, face winnable fixtures against Nigeria and Iceland. If the attackers can build confidence in the group stage, then they can cause upsets deep in the tournament.
Brayden: Sadio Mane is a talented player who we often get to enjoy on a weekly basis in the Premier League. On the back of a successful season, he will lead Senegal to a knockout stage berth.
Joel: On paper, Belgium have one of the best squads at the tournament and should go far, as they were expected to do in Brazil four years ago. But this time around Roberto Martinez’s side is not even guaranteed to go through alongside England and the unbeaten Africans Tunisia. Not convinced.
Hugh: Spain. There has been little progression in the starting XI since their 2010 crown and a lot will hinge on the first match with Portugal. La Furia Roja’s confidence will be rattled early.
Brayden: It seems an easy out, but England often let their supporters down. While expectations are not too high, they do have a talented squad, and I would not be surprised if they do not even progress to the knockout rounds.
Joel: Antoine Griezmann will be world football’s next €100 million man and looks ready to prove it to everyone. The Atletico Madrid star has been in imperious form for both France and the Rojiblancos.
Hugh: Neymar has no shortage of teammates ready to feed him assists and similar to the Brazil squad as a whole, will want to silence any critics which remain over his transfer to PSG.
Brayden: Despite facing a difficult test in Group E, Neymar is already banging in the goals prior to the tournament and he will continue to do so in Russia.
Joel: If Germany are to claim their second World Cup in a row, their big guns will have to fire and Toni Kroos is exactly that. He was instrumental in another Real Madrid Champions League victory and will convert his form to the global stage.
Hugh: Manchester City’s 2017-18 Premier League dominance was led by Kevin De Bruyne and I expect that these efforts will be replicated for Belgium.
Brayden: Paul Pogba has always had his price tag at club level questioned and now is his chance to show why Manchester United paid the big bucks. Forget the extravagant hairstyles, this guy is here to play in Russia.
A Star Is Born
Joel: He has already secured himself a move to Bayern Munich from FC Schalke, but young German star Leon Goretzka will continue his rise as one of the world’s most promising midfield prospects. Everyone will know his name by mid-July.
Hugh: We sing his praises everyday in Austraiia, but Aaron Mooy has shown that he can handle pressure situations with Huddersfield and will leave his mark on the World Cup stage.
Brayden: Serbia’s Serge Milinkovic-Savic is already being linked with Europe’s biggest club and this tournament will only see his price tag grow. His line of potential suitors may be as long as Russia’s east-to-west border by the time the final whistle sounds on the World Cup.
Joel: “Kazan renamed to Karzani as Aussie starlet shocks France”
Yep. He really is going to nutmeg Pogba.
Hugh: “Roosia 2018”
I went there.
Brayden: “Socceroos stun the world, again”
We were given very little hope in 2006 and it would be amazing to reminisce similar memories.