2018 FIFA World Cup: Our prediction for the knock-out stages
2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off from June 14 as 32 nations fight for the world's most coveted trophy. These 32 teams have been divided into 8 groups and two teams from each group will progress to the knock-out stage. The knock-out stage will start from June 30 with the final scheduled on July 15. Here is our prediction for the round of 16.
A look at the eight groups
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt. Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran. Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark. Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England. Group H: Poland, Colombia, Japan and Senegal.
Group A and Group B - Teams that could progress
In Group A, Uruguay could finish as toppers and might win all three games. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani hold the key for the south American giants. Joining them would be African nation Egypt. In Group B, Spain and Portugal have the best chances to progress to the knock-outs. The winner between the two sides could end up topping Group B.
France and Argentina could lead Group C and D respectively
In Group C, France are the favorites to qualify as toppers. Their superstars could make a big impression. The fight would be between the other three sides to seal a spot. Denmark could pip both Peru and Australia. In Group D, Messi-led Argentina are likely to end as group toppers and qualify for the knock-outs. Star-studded Croatia could join Argentina in the next round.
Heavyweights Brazil and Germany to enter knock-outs
Heavyweights Brazil have a tricky group, but with the quality names in the squad and the depth they have, the side is expected to qualify as Group E winners. The fight for the 2nd spot will be close between Serbia and Switzerland, but the former could just make it. In Group F, Germany are favorites to qualify and joining them could be Mexico.
Belgium, Colombia likely to lead Group G and H
Belgium look like definite contenders in Group G to reach the knock-outs as toppers. England will be looking to put aside the 2014 and 2010 disappointments and their squad, which has a nice mix, could help them finish second. In Group H, Poland and Colombia look like safe bets for the knock-out stages. The fight would be about being the table toppers.