It may be the off season for league clubs but it’s fair to say that many fans’ attention will turn to the FIFA World Cup which begins on the 16th June.
This year there are no Port Vale angles or interest, to our regret it was Burnley’s Pope rather than Vale’s Pope who was a late addition to the England World Cup squad, but that will not stop many supporters in the Potteries casting their eyes towards Russia very soon.
For once, the hype about England’s chances hasn’t reached fever pitch and World Cup odds show England as a reasonably placed outside bet to lift the trophy on the 15th July.
Gareth Southgate may not be everyone’s cup of tea but in our view he has made steady if unspectacular progress although the squad is perhaps lacking a true world class midfielder to take the game by the scruff of its neck.
So, if not England, who could shine at the finals this summer?
Brazil have plenty of attacking riches with the likes of Jesus, Neymar and Firminho and are rightly among the favourites. As many England fans know to their cost, it’s also foolish to write off Germany’s chances. Spain and France may not be quite as strong as in previous tournaments but both also have realistic hopes of challenging for the trophy.
As for individuals – this could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s swansong International competition and he will be keen to impress. At the other end of the scale Mo Salah had a momumental season for Liverpool and will be keen to show his talents on the world stage during his first World Cup finals. Both are outside contenders for the golden boot – with Antoine Griezmann the favourite to end as top-scorer.
Anyhow, for your entertainment only, here are OVF’s three World Cup tips:
- Belgium to win it
They may be only ranked just above England in the bookies’ odds but Belgium seem to be a class above Gareth Southgate’s squad. The Belgians have quality oozing through their squad and have some of the best and most in-form players on the planet.
- Timo Werner to finish as top-scorer?
The German youngster may be a comparative unknown but he’s showing every sign that he could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jürgen Klinsmann and Miroslav Klose. With Germany expected to be as successful and clinical as usual, could he be an outside bet for the Golden Boot?
- Iceland to impress in first World Cup finals
Even though this will be Iceland’s first World Cup, the squad have plenty of experience in terms of years and international caps won together. They may be the smallest nation to play in the finals but they will aim to surprise the world this summer, just as they did by reaching the quarter-finals at Euro 2016. That could well mean the minnows qualifying in the group stages and earning a place in the latter stages in Russia.