As an American, faced with the real­i­ty that is being a bystander dur­ing the upcom­ing World Cup. And, as I sit and think about it, I find myself still eager to enjoy the event even as a neu­tral. Sure, I want to par­tic­i­pate in the event liv­ing for each American game, but alas it was not to be. So, instead, I can focus on enjoy­ing the game for all its beau­ty and drama.

With that, I decid­ed to sit down and look at the groups in the first stage of the World Cup and make my pre­dic­tions on how they will fin­ish. The par­en­thet­i­cal next to each coun­try is their FIFA World Ranking as of May 13th.

I made my pre­dic­tions before I looked up the coun­tries’ FIFA rank­ings, before coun­tries began releas­ing their World Cup ros­ters and with­out doing addi­tion­al research. Lastly, I found an arti­cle on 538 from December 2017, with their pre­dic­tions after the groups were ini­tial­ly picked. I share their picks under mine in each group.

Lastly, my dis­claimer: I’m just some guy who loves soc­cer.

Group A

FiveThirtyEight calls this the eas­i­est group in World Cup his­to­ry, high­light­ing the lucky draw of the host nation. I believe Russia will heav­i­ly ben­e­fit from home field advan­tage, were this World Cup else­where in the world I would pre­dict Uruguay first and Egypt/Russia bat­tling for sec­ond. But see­ing as they are home they get the advan­tage and I believe Uruguay also leaves the group with them.

  1. Russia (#66)
  2. Uruguay (#17)
  3. Egypt (#46)
  4. Saudi Arabia (#70)

538: Russia and Uruguay


Group B

This group is easy. Iran and Morocco are nowhere near the same class as Spain and Portugal.

  1. Spain (#8)
  2. Portugal (#4)
  3. Iran (#36)
  4. Morocco (#42)

538: Portugal and Spain


Group C

France is clear­ly the best in this group but this one is actu­al­ly tougher than might you imme­di­ate­ly think. I waf­fled on Peru and Denmark but even­tu­al­ly gave the nod to Peru.

  1. France (#7)
  2. Peru (#11)
  3. Denmark (#12)
  4. Australia (#40)

538: France and Denmark


Group D

Argentina is the easy pick in the group, and I had to go with Iceland after wit­ness­ing their run in the Europian Championship back in 2016. Plus, how could I turn down an invi­ta­tion from the President and First Lady of Iceland?

  1. Argentina (#5)
  2. Iceland (#22)
  3. Croatia (#18)
  4. Nigeria (#47)

538: Argentina and Croatia


Group E

Brazil being the easy pick here. According to the FIFA rank­ings Switzerland is the obvi­ous sec­ond pick but I went with the dark horse from CONCACAF (the FIFA region which includes USA, Canada, Mexico and other cen­tral American coun­tries.) Perhaps it’s a bit of home region favoritism, but I think they are quite good and they also have one of the best keep­ers in the world in Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas.

  1. Brazil (#2)
  2. Costa Rica (#25)
  3. Switzerland (#6)
  4. Serbia (#35)

538: Brazil and Switzerland


Group F

Germany, the win­ners of the last World Cup, are the obvi­ous pick here. I went with Mexico as the sec­ond group to leave. I will admit I was tempt­ed to put Sweden in that spot sole­ly out of my appre­ci­a­tion for Gustav Svensson, a Swede who plays for the Sounders right now.

  1. Germany (#1)
  2. Mexico (#15)
  3. Sweden (#23)
  4. Korea Republic (#61)

538: Germany and Mexico


Group G

This group sur­prised me in their FIFA rank­ings. I thought England was high­er than Belgium, and I thought Tunisia was the low­est ranked coun­try in this World Cup. Little did I know.

This group is also notable as this could be where the US Men’s team were, had things gone dif­fer­ent­ly they might have found them­selves in Panama’s rather unen­vi­able spot. USA is ranked #24, and they would also be very hard pressed to escape the group.

  1. England (#13)
  2. Belgium (#3)
  3. Panama (#55)
  4. Tunisia (#14)

538: Belgium and England


Group H

Another one where I was off in my men­tal coun­try rank­ings, I thought Colombia was high­est in the group and Senegal was the low­est. But I am happy with Colombia and Poland’s chances to escape the group.

  1. Colombia (#16)
  2. Poland (#10)
  3. Japan (#60)
  4. Senegal (#28)

538: Colombia and Poland


Other Predictions

Final Match: Germany vs. Brazil
Winner: Germany, 3 – 2

Golden Boot: Thomas Muller
Silver Boot: Neymar
Bronze Boot: Cristiano Ronaldo

Golden Glove: Manuel Neuer

Published by Trick Jarrett

Sounders fan. Spurs fan. Reign fan. Barcelona fan. Soccer fan.