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.