Who will win the 2018 World Cup that kicks off in Russia on June 14?
The answer may be Brazil because it produced some of the greatest footballers of all time and has become an obsession for all those who love the game. As a joke, it is said even god is a fan of Brazil.
The team is hoping to lift the World Cup for the sixth time as Neymar (pictured) is back in form. Joining the team after being out of action for more than three months due to a fractured leg, he surprised his coach Tite with a fine performance in a warm-up match with Croatia last weekend.
But football legend Pele thinks Brazil is not prepared as a team to emerge as the World Cup winner. He told Reuters recently that Neymar is not going to win the World Cup on his own. It needs team work. Although Brazilian players are individually good, they still are not a team, he said.
Instead of expecting Neymar to bring results, his teammates should play their natural game and score goals to reach the finals.
Brazil will play their opening match against Switzerland on June 17.
Spain, with its ideal mix of young and experienced players, is another strong contender for the World Cup.
Julen Lopetegui, who has been training the team since Euro 2016, told AFP that after the 2014 World Cup humiliation, his squad has arrived in Russia to prove themselves.
Lopetegui said the team is ambitious. But to win the World Cup again as they did in 2010, the Spaniards have to consistently perform well and win all the matches.
Spain’s first match is with Portugal on June 15.
For Germany, the challenge is defending the title they won in 2014 in a 1-0 thrill-packed match against Argentina. Manuel Neuer’s comeback after a foot injury he suffered seven months ago has energised the team. They are on fire, according to their coach Joachim Low.
Centre-back Jerome Boateng, who was also out of action since April following a hamstring injury, has returned to the team. Boateng played a crucial role during Germany’s 2014 finals against Argentina. He is confident of retaining the title despite tough challenges from teams like Brazil and Spain.
Winger Marco Reus Reus, who too returned to the squad after long-term injury, wants to help his team win the World Cup.
Although Argentina appeared to be out of form in the qualifier, the team led by Lionel Messi can spring a surprise on Brazil, Germany and Spain.
Argentina were unable to a play a friendly against Israel in Jerusalem after Palestinians opposed the event.