Well I got bored the other day and put a few random bets on to make the World Cup a little more interesting. It just so happens I have bet on some of the following questions, so lets do this.
How far will England get
I think I, rather unwisely, have put money on this one. I think England will reach the quarter finals. This group with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia is navigable. I suspect England will finish second, but you never know either way really do you? At that point, if I have worked this out right, the biggest threat would be Poland who I think we can take. I didn’t look beyond that, but lets face it anything better than a quarter final spot would be an unexpected pleasure.
Your England Starting XI
I have gone with vaguely the system Gareth Southgate utilises rather than my standard 4-2-3-1 for this kind of thing.
I will break straight in with probably the most controversial call of Nick Pope in goal. I just think that of the three available keepers he has had the best season for Burnley and should get the nod.
Elsewhere in defence I like the use of Kyle Walker in the back three if nothing else to allow Kieran Tripper to play as well. It gives some great attacking options down that side of the field. I am not a fan of Phil Jones, and no I do not need a reason although did you see the penalty he conceded the other day for Manchester United? Gary Cahill, I hate to say it, may be past his best. That means that Harry Maguire and John Stones make up the back three. On the left I think it has to be Danny Rose. I know he lacks match fitness but I rate him so highly.
Jordan Henderson does not get a look in meaning Eric Dier is needed to offer that protection. I think Dele Alli is a must, so he gets in and I think if you are playing this system it should be a third central midfielder hence Ruben Loftus-Cheek coming in at the expense of Jesse Lingard or whoever else might have their eye on that spot.
Marcus Rashford may be another controversial one. Raheem Sterling was not at his shooting best against Nigeria, but after the season he has had it is hard to leave him out. I am though a huge fan of Rashford and his youthful exuberance. I mean that goal against Costa Rica not to mention all the silky skills some in the England squad could only dream of. Though Jamie Vardy does run them both close. Then is probably the simplest choice, captain Harry Kane simply has to start.
England’s Top Goal Scorer
I put money on Vardy, because the odds were better and I think it could happen if Kane does not fully get over his injury. In reality though if it is not Kane I would be surprised.
France. I look through their team and think wow.
Lets go for Brazil. I mean Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus are surely going to obliterate most teams.
The Final Four
I think Spain and Germany will make up the semi-finalists, but I do also feel Belgium could do well. I have money on all of those things so I certainly hope so. I have not checked the various routes so I have no idea if the above is even feasible!
If Mohamed Salah is fit then Egypt have a good chance of being that team. We have seen in recent years that one world class player can take an average team a long way. Gareth Bale and Wales is the first to spring to mind.
Based on the above I guess Argentina. They are the only really big hitter who I am not backing for a semi-final spot and I mean look at their attacking talent.
Golden Ball Winner
I’m going to say Neymar as he inspires Brazil to a second place finish.
Best Young Player
Kylian Mbappe. For me it is going to be the young French star who will play a major role in their successful tournament.
Golden Boot Winner
Antonie Griezmann. Yes I think we will have to put up with that awful celebration a few times. I think it is France’s year and Griezmann is the top danger man up front for them.
Golden Glove Winner
Huge Lloris. As I said it is France’s year and he is a top keeper. This is another I have backed.
If given a chance Ruben Loftus-Cheek. We might know he can do it, but even with the popularity of the Premier League who else really cares what Crystal Palace do?
Cristiano Ronaldo. Or at least I hope so, Portugal being rubbish and winning the European Championship was annoying enough.
Your Own Bonus Prediction
Sterling gets blamed for England getting knocked out because he smiled during the match and did not cry for long enough after full time. I mean seriously why would he?