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Our World Cup 2018 Predictions: Ian R

Ian’s turn to try and predict the upcoming World Cup

Austria v Brazil - International Friendly Photo by Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images

Despite having an almost lethargic lack of interest in the international football up until the actual competition, I am now going to throw forward my haphazard predictions about this summer’s Russian football party.

How far will England get?

Lacking experience but maybe unburdened by previous failures, Southgate has done, in my opinion, the right thing by picking players who are fully fit and in-form over possibly more established big names.

A lack of a quality passing midfielder in the centre of the park is likely to cost us, along with me being unconvinced of Kane’s fitness makes me unconvinced we will get much past the group stage.

Valiant defeat to a decent side in the last 16.

Your England starting XI:

I think most of the team is fairly well established, though I wonder if England lose something by playing Walker as a right sided centre back with his explosive pace to test teams. I also like the look of Loftus-Cheek and feel Alli has been somewhat off the pace all season. Lingard does have quality but I think Rashfords performance against Costa Rica warrants him a start, England need to start fast and make a statement and Rashford can blow teams away with his pace and finishing. So this pick is the team that I would play against Tunisia in the first game assuming that they will defend deep:

Formation 3-2-2-2-1

GK: Pickford

CB’s: Cahill, Stones, Maguire

WB’s: Walker, Rose

CM’s: Dier, Loftus-Cheek

WM’s: Sterling, Lingard

CF: Kane

England’s top goalscorer:

Though Harry Kane is the obvious man for this, I still feel he isn’t really firing at top form. If Raheem Sterling gets in the goals early and gets his confidence up then I’m gonna back him, though the Mail will still hate him

Competition Winners:

The Germans are the obvious ballers with their strength in depth, though lacking a recognised striker. However, for a more romantic option I’m gonna back Brazil, especially since Neymar is back in the team and looking like he’s actually fit

Runner Up:

If the German juggernaut doesn’t win it, got to back them to at least make the final

Final Four:

The new breed of Spanish players might carry them to the final four, going to throw Croatia in there because I like Mandzukic and Modric.

Surprise Team:

Stealing totally from the Guardian football weekly preview, apparently Mexico just love to attack no matter who they are playing, with one or two quality attacking players and Rafa Marquez playing in his 19th World Cup (probably), these guys could show some decent entertainment value.

Flop Team:

I think Portugal and Argentina make strong calls to flop, especially Portugal. However, with all the hype around their golden generation I’m going to hand it to Belgium to totally flunk under the pressure and be massively underwhelming, with them desperately lumping it at Fellaini and Lukaku as they crash out to a rampant Panama.

Golden Ball Winner:

Neymar, looked sharp upon his return against Croatia and backing him to carry Brazil all the way.

Best Young Player:

Quite like the look of Assensio from Spain, about the limit of my young player knowledge to be honest.

Golden Boot Winner:

I’m picking Neymar again, though he seems a prick I reckon he will biff a few in.

Golden Glove Winner:

Can I not give it Buffon? Since Neaur isn’t fully fit then I will predict that everyone’s favourite transfer rumour Alisson will put a few extra zeros on his price tag with a strong summer.

Surprise Player:

If Ruben Loftus-Cheek gets going I would like to see him rampaging through the midfield, suspect he may not be given the chance but I do feel given a shot he could really be the missing link for England.

Flop Player:

Gonna be controversial and pick Kane, not fully fit bottles it in the first couple of games and Vardy roars into the team and bangs in 6 goals. Immediately fails a drug test and England are booted out of the world cup.

Your own bonus prediction:

Russia are class because they are all clearly doped up to the eyeballs. Can’t wait to see a 39 year old Segei Ignasavich outpacing Lionel Messi.