Opening game Russia against Saudi Arabia on Thursday 14th June in Moscow after a tedious and self-referential opening ceremony with lots of elderly fat men in suits in the VIP boxes. There are 8 groups of four nations. To get going I'll lay out the groups and my predictions where I can for the group stages.
Hard to see anything other than Russia and Uruguay emerging here but Egypt may shock one of them on their day. However I think it will be a tedious group.
Should be Spain and Portugal emerging although Morocco are the wild card and have it in them to produce a shock result. Iran don't.
Australia have the ability to ruin the hopes of at least two other teams in this group but would need to put in great team performances. It should be France and Denmark to go through but there is room on the bus home for a quietened big gun of the game.
Possibly the most unpredictable group. Argentina should go through but are just as likely to get caught in a hot-tub the night before with some girls, Nigeria versus Croatia could be a wild game and Iceland may well have had their moment in the sun recently but would need to replicate the shield wall in this group to progress.
Brazil obvious front-runners to go through, Switzerland everyone's favourite to go home as they are incredibly boring. Costa Rica and Serbia aren't boring but may well fall into a stupor playing Switzerland and one of them may slip up. It would be okay to see Brazil and Costa Rica through as at least they are likely to remember the goal at the other end of the pitch.
Jeez. This is hard. Germany and either Mexico or Sweden to go through, but probably Sweden on headed goals against Mexico and South Korea. South Korea will be high tempo buzzing about but not much of an end product unless there is a secret breeding camp for rising salmon in the penalty box five miles south of Seoul about to be sprung on the world.
Belgium one of the best teams in the world on paper. Unfortunately for Belgium association football is actually played on grass. This enigma wrapped inside a conundrum is as yet unresolved by Belgian coaches. If they do figure it out Belgium could top this group and odds drop dramatically but they are just as likely to huff and puff. England also a conundrum but psychologically need to get their players over the fear of being labelled as the fall-guy by the tabloids back home. England playing freely and to the strengths of their game at home would be challenging but as is so often the case the build-up paralyses any chance of natural expression and the phrase 'there is no easy game at this level' is seldom far away. Should be Belgium and England going through but both teams have an achilles heel often referred to as 'the opposition'.
No-one other than their fans actually cares.
Other than that the cameramen will try to get us glimpses of pretty girls (probably very blond) in the crowd but not enough to annoy the politically correct. There will be sh1tloads of analysis pre, mid, and post games which at least gives employment to retired players in a sort of Royal Hospital way without the natty uniforms. There will be terrible suits, someone will go home in disgrace, outrage over refereeing decisions and the Russian hosts won't be able to resist spying on everyone.
Germany will probably win it. Selah. The hog is in the tunnel alongside the many, many officials.
The match schedules
Current odds as at 20th May for top scorer competition... https://www.oddschecker.com/football...top-goalscorer