The 2018 World Cup has been so far surrounded by excitement and controversy in equal measures. From Russia’s political coldsnap with other countries to the country’s rather unreliable experience in handling banned substances where athletics are concerned, there have been many concerns regarding the upcoming World Cup due to kick off on 14 June in Russia.
We stop and take a thorough look at the teams that are slated to win. All 32 countries have elected their teams that will take part of the latest fray of football action. In a series of articles, we will examine those teams that we can justly call favourites. Without further ado, here we go – vetting the pros.
We begin by addressing two of our top picks for the world cup this year – Argentina and Belgium. More analyses will follow in the other articles of the series.
Argentina and the 2018 World Cup
Argentina is in a good position to seek victory. The country managed to yield before Germany in 2014’s final, going home as a runner-up. This year’s event will also be marked by Lionel Messi’s reaching the apogee of his career. At 30, Messi will be at the peak of its powers, and probably start to decline thereafter.
Argentina’s qualification has had its ups and downs but has been very much contingent on how Lionel Messi has managed to translate games into success for his team. Not so long ago, Argentina lost to Spain 6 to 1. The match, you guess correctly, did not feature Messi.
How is the team faring?
Argentina is now effectively pinning all its hopes on Messi who has also suggested recently that he may seek to quit international football following the world cup event. Argentina may even dispense with Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala, as the boss Jorge Sampaoli focuses on nurturing a Messi-centric team.
In his own account of the event and Messi, Mr Sampaoli has been quite evocative in his choice of words:
Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn’t win it, he’s shot and killed. As a result, he can’t enjoy his talent. The negativity surrounding international football damages Messi.
What should Argentina do next?
Argentina will continue to strive towards its start, Lionel Messi. However, Messi is increasingly under more pressure to deliver the title for its team. This may be an increasingly tall order for Messi who despite his impeccable qualities may still need the support of his teammates in order to compete on par with other teams.
Belgium has never won a World Cup event, but recently the team has been showing all the trappings of a potential winner. Not only that but their team sports many of the current Premier League stars.
The current results of the team have been quite impressive in their own right. They have overwhelmed Saudi Arabia and Cyprus with 4-0 going in their favour in both events. Belgium’s only defeat was to Italy with 2-0.
How’s the team faring?
With the current manager Roberto Martinez, the team has scored 16 consecutive victories. However, the team remains acutely aware that despite its high potential and individually skilled players, more may be needed in order to shape it as leaders.
According to playmaker Kevin de Bruyne:
We still put too much on our talents. As long as we don’t have a good tactical system, we will have difficulties against countries like Mexico.
What’s next for the team?
Belgium will have to play a couple of friendly matches in June up against Portugal, Egypt and Costa Rica before it joins the sports action in earnest and challenges its first tournament-specific contenders from Panama.
Even the country’s own non-participating athletes are aware of the potential of Belgium to forge ahead to a convincing victory. If Belgium manages to pull off a convincing victory throughout the tournament starting on 14 June, that will be one of the best achievements the country has done yet. The 2018 World Cup is an opportunity for Belgium to prove itself.
Closing Comments for 2018 World Cup Part I
Our series will focus on providing you with the basic details about the competition as it unfolds on the small screens. If you are not attending the matches in Russia in person, then you may rely on our expertise in covering the events.
When we look at Belgium and Argentina. Two teams that have significant chinks in their armors, but which may nonetheless overcome short-term adversity and translate it into long-term success on the spot.
Belgium would do well to heed the advice of Kevin de Bruyne where tactics are concerned. No professional athlete would allow themselves to speak openly about weakness in their squad formation unless those needed addressing rapidly.
Mr De Bruyne’s insight may be a much-necessary success formula for the future success of his team. It would do everyone well to heed his call.