Published on by Darren8196 6 Comments Updated on
With the first few games now having been played, we move on to the second half of fixtures in Matchday 1, which sees another eight games take the spotlight as we try and predict who will come out victorious and take the confidence into their second games.
So, let's get into the second half of my Matchday 1 predictions.
Costa Rica v Serbia
Costa Rica came through their qualifying group having dropped points just once and will be hoping to follow up the success they had at the last World Cup, where they topped a group with Italy, England and Uruguay and only lost in the quarter finals on penalties to the Netherlands.
Serbia came through a difficult qualifying group with Wales, Ireland and Austria and suffered only one defeat, so will no doubt be high on confidence coming into the group stage.
Neither side has been in great form recently, and it is Serbia who I feel have the upper hand there. But with the experience that Costa Rica have, especially in Keylor Navas, they will be a tough side to beat.
My prediction: Draw
Match played: Sunday 17th, 1:00 p.m. (BST) / 8:00 a.m. (EST)
Germany v Mexico
The defending champions may have left out the man who scored the winner in the final last time along with Leroy Sané, but if anything that just shows their incredible strength in depth that they can afford to leave such talents out of their squad.
Mexico have been very consistent in the World Cup, having reached the Round of 16 in each of the last six tournaments. They will be hoping to reach that stage again, if not further, but they face a tough opening game.
Germany are the big favourites here and I can't see them messing up what may be the toughest game of the group for them.
My prediction: Germany win
Match played: Sunday 17th, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Brazil v Switzerland
Neymar only just came back from injury but has already found scoring form. Having suffered a massive blow in losing Dani Alves to injury just before the squad met up for their warm-up friendlies, two comfortable wins will no doubt help calm the nerves and confirm that they deserve their spot as favourites.
Switzerland will be thrilled with their warm-up friendlies, having drawn with Spain and then winning against Japan. Last time out, they took eventual finalists Argentina to extra time, and their 6th place in the world rankings puts them ahead of the likes of France and Spain.
Switzerland are no pushovers, but I can't see them stopping a Brazil side who are looking to win their record sixth World Cup.
My prediction: Brazil win
Match played: Sunday 17th, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Sweden v South Korea
Sweden reached their first World Cup in 12 years, which may have come as a surprise to some after Ibrahimovic retired after the 2016 EUROs. They pulled off what may have been the biggest upset in the playoffs, beating Italy 1-0 to deny the Azzurri entry to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. Their last four friendlies have all ended negatively, having scored just once and failing to win any of those games, so they look like they need something special to make an impression on the finals.
South Korea aren’t in much better form, with only a win over Honduras in their four warm up games as a positive. Their main hopes will lie with ‘Sonaldo’, who was in fine form during the domestic campaign with Spurs. They haven’t quite hit the heights of their fourth place finish back in 2002 when they joint-hosted, but they will be hoping to at least make the knockout stage in a group that looks like it is a three-way battle for second place.
I have a feeling this will be a close and low scoring game, with South Korea having the edge in attack and Sweden in defence, but I’m going with a South Korea win as the fact they have a proven goalscorer makes a big difference.
My prediction: South Korea win
Match played: Monday 18th, 1:00 p.m. (BST) / 8:00 a.m. (EST)
Belgium v Panama
Belgium will be desperately hoping to avoid the reputation as serial underachievers with a good run in this tournament. Their squad is not short on talent, with the likes of Hazard, Lukaku and De Bruyne all coming into the prime of their careers.
Panama’s 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on the last day of qualifying saw them jump ahead of the US and qualify automatically for the finals, marking the first time they have ever reached the tournament. They have the joint oldest squad in the competition, along with Costa Rica, so they will be hoping that experience will help them avoid defeat in all three of their games.
Belgium simply have too much ability in their squad to be caused too many issues by Panama, and they should come out with three points.
My prediction: Belgium win
Match played: Monday 18th, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Tunisia v England
Tunisia have made it to four World Cup finals before this one, and won just one game in that time, so their main aim may just be to get points on the board in one of their games. They reached their highest ever FIFA ranking last month (14th) and will come into the tournament with high hopes after losing only one of their five warm up friendlies, that being a narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain.
England will be hoping to ease through the group stage and have their spot in the knockout stage before the group game against Belgium. They start off with what they are hoping will be a comfortable three points and avoid another disappointing summer in a major competition. With the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling among their talents, they will feel like this could be their time to make significant progress into the knockout stages.
Tunisia may be on a high, but I feel like England just have too much talent to not win this game.
My prediction: England win
Match played: Monday 18th, 7:00 p.m. (BST) / 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Colombia v Japan
Now we get into the group that is, on paper anyway, the toughest to predict who will progress. Colombia are seen as favourites for this group, and Japan as the underdogs, making this one of the closest games of the first matchday, and one that will definitely be worth watching.
Colombia were the dark horses back in 2014, which helped shoot James Rodriguez from a relatively unknown young talent to a household name around the world. A disappointing few years at Real Madrid saw him have a great year at Bayern and restore his confidence as he tries to help carry Colombia to the knockout stages again.
Japan are probably the weakest of the four teams in the group on paper, but they are not to be written off. Their squad is full of experience across the top European leagues, and they will be hoping to carry on their current run at the competition which has seen them reach the knockout stages every second tournament.
I feel like Colombia are the most likely of the two teams to win, with their quality in James, Falcao and Cuadrado helping them to victory.
My prediction: Colombia win
Match played: Tuesday 19th, 1:00 p.m. (BST) / 8:00 a.m. (EST)
Poland v Senegal
Poland star a host of talents, with the likes of Zielinski and Milik helping their main man Lewandowski to try and push themselves into the knockout stage after an eight year absence from the World Cup. Currently sitting 8th in the FIFA rankings, they have proven many times that they always to be taken seriously and not to be underestimated.
Senegal aren’t lacking in big names as well, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane among their more well known players. A poor 0-0 draw against minnows Luxembourg and a loss to Croatia as part of their warm up fixtures won't exactly fill them with confidence ahead of the finals either.
With these two most likely vying for second in the group, it could be closer than some might think. While a draw is tempting, if Lewandowski can get over his late-Champions League hiccups, Poland should be too much for the Lions of Teranga.
My prediction: Poland win
Match played: Tuesday 19th, 4:00 p.m. (BST) / 11:00 a.m. (EST)
That's what I think will happen think will happen in these games. Let us know what you think below.
As always, good luck and happy predicting!