It's a game of opinions as we all know (and hear so often), and who are we not to share ours? We asked our team of contributors to give us their predictions, thoughts and tips about the World Cup.

First, their team allegiances because, beyond Australia, everyone has a 'second' team.

The exception is Sally Freedman whose first love is, of course, the place of her birth, England, followed by her new home, Australia.  Charlie Laurendi is without a second team as it would normally be Italy. Mike Tuckerman is partial to both Germany and Japan after Australia because he's lived in both countries. No prizes for guessing Pablo Bateson's second team - so good, he named himself in their honour: Spain. Stuart Thomas is opting for Mexico because he's a fan of big hats. Serbia is the natural second choice for Bonita Mersiades, followed by Iceland if she can possibly sneak in a third. 

According to the tipsters, the big winners are Australia - with four predicting they'll get out of the group stage; Antoine Griezmann; and Belgium or Germany. Here's what they had to say. 

How will Australia go in their group games?

  • Sally:  L - France; D - Denmark; W - Peru
  • Charlie:  L - France; D - Denmark; L - Peru
  • Mike:  D - France; L - Denmark; W - Peru
  • Pablo:  D - France; W - Denmark; D - Peru
  • Stuart:  D - France; L - Denmark; W - Peru
  • Bonita:  D - France; W - Denmark; D - Peru

How far will Australia go?

  • Sally:  They won't get out of the group
  • Charlie:  They won't progress beyond the group
  • Mike:  I'm going to be an optimist and predict round of 16
  • Pablo:  Beyond the group stage and then we make our own luck and believe anything is possible 
  • Stuart:  They will scrape into the round of 16 by the skin of their teeth
  • Bonita:  With a win, a draw and a loss, we'll get through to the round of 16 just as Jose Mourinho predicted

Who will do the best of the five Asian teams? 

  • Sally:  Japan 
  • Charlie:  Japan
  • Mike:  Australia
  • Pablo: Australia followed by Iran
  • Stuart:  South Korea and Australia
  • Bonita:  Australia

How will the VAR perform?

  • Sally:  If it’s anything like it was in the A-League, it will be a shambles
  • Charlie:  More controversy
  • Mike:  FIFA is extremely conscious of not making a mistake, but it's inevitable that they will. The first decision that clearly benefits one team and disadvantages the other will be the first VAR controversy of the tournament. 
  • Pablo:  There will be more controversies. It hasn't improved the quality of the game and has taken the edge away from spontaneous goal celebrations and increased letdowns for players and fans alike. #VARout
  • Stuart:  It will break the heart of a nation, and prove as problematic as it has in domestic leagues
  • Bonita:  Better than it did in the A-League but there will still be controversy and heartache for some fans 

Who will get the Golden Boot?

  • Sally:  Mo Salah
  • Charlie:  Antoine Griezmann
  • Mike:  Robert Lewandowski
  • Pablo:  Neymar
  • Stuart:  Harry Kane
  • Bonita:  Cristiano Ronaldo, though it pains me to say it

Who will be player of the tournament?

  • Sally:  Eden Hazard  
  • Charlie:  Paul Pogba
  • Mike:  Neymar
  • Pablo:  Antoine Griezmann
  • Stuart:  Antoine Griezmann
  • Bonita:  Kevin De Bruyne

Who will be the surprise packet (team)?

  • Sally:  Colombia 
  • Charlie:  Colombia
  • Mike:  Poland
  • Pablo:  England - really!!!
  • Stuart:  Uruguay
  • Bonita:  Switzerland

Who will be big name team to flop?

  • Sally:  England ( as always)! 
  • Charlie:  Portugal
  • Pablo:  Argentina
  • Stuart:  Belgium
  • Bonita:  Argentina

Who will be the finalists and who will win?

  • Sally:  Belgium v Argentina - Belgium to win
  • Charlie:  Germany v France - France to win
  • Mike:  Brazil v Germany - Germany to win. I don't believe they deserve to be outright favourites - there are plenty of good sides in the World Cup, but they play a style that overwhelms most opponents and boast some of the world's best players in key positions.
  • Pablo:  Germany v Spain - Spain to win
  • Stuart:  Brazil v Germany - Germany to make it back-to-back
  • Bonita:  Belgium v Colombia - Belgium to win. I'm going for these two simply because I'd like to see a different country win it. However, it's more likely to be Germany or France v Brazil. 

Categories: Opinion | World Cup

2018 world cup, #russia2018, predictions, tips

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