The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off today in Moscow with the host nation, as is tradition, getting the tournament underway by taking on Saudi Arabia in Group A. We asked some of our new editorial team and friends for their picks of the teams to watch out for over the next month.
Tony Allen: Sport Editor – Egypt
No-one but the most patriotic Egyptian would put money on Egypt taking home the trophy. They’re in a tough group alongside Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and the hosts Russia – but they have the potential to be a dark horse and cause a few upsets. Their toughest group tie will be tomorrow against Uruguay, and a positive result here would give the team real confidence. A lot will hinge on whether Mohamed Salah can not only win his battle for fitness but whether he can recreate his sparkling form in a different red shirt this season. But if he can lead the Pharaohs out of their tricky group, they could give either Spain or Portugal a scare in the Round of 16 and potentially upset a lot of bets in the process.
Meyzi Adoni: Sport Senior Reporter – Various
With Turkey and Italy not being able to qualify for the World Cup, for the first time in a while I am not supporting a specific team. So it is a different excitement for me. But it is possible to say that Spain, Germany, Brazil and Argentina are for sure the main favourites of the tournament. But at the same time France and Egypt are also the teams that I look forward to watching. I am curious about how Salah is going to perform after his injury at the Champions League final. I also think Portugal has a strong team and am keen and excited to watch their performance against Spain. This World Cup could be full of surprises but I think in the end there will not be a surprise winner.
Jack Ashton: Deputy Editor – France
It’s heresy to say you’re not supporting England, but I’m a betting man, and my money is on France. They were unlucky to miss out at the Euros, and with a transitioning Germany team and a managerless Spain then they’re definitely Europe’s best shot. Any team boasting Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante in midfield should be reckoned with, but being spearheaded by Antoine Griezmann and supported by a host of players with big game experience means you’d be a fool to rule them out.
Laura Sandoval: Concrete Writer – Colombia
For the World Cup I’m supporting los Cafeteros, mi Tricolor, Colombia! Football is such a big deal in Colombia, the country stops to watch our boys represent us in front of the world. Last World Cup we got through to the quarter final for the first time in our history, it was glorious… until Carlos Velaco Carballo broke every Colombian’s heart by disallowing Mario Yepes’ goal and letting Brazil off with no yellow cards. Thankfully, this time El Tigre, Radamel Falcao, is back along with James Rodriguez and I think we’ll do even better! I can’t wait to see more celebration dances from mi seleccion.
Keep up to date with the World Cup on concrete-online.com, with reports of all England games and the final.