Our Football Analysts' soccer world cup Predictions

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Our in-house football writers give their outright soccer world cup predictions.

The 21st edition of the soccer world cup is finally here and it’s time to start betting on who will win the tournament. With 32 teams taking part, it can be difficult to predict a winner, so we spoke to our soccer writers to give us their input on who will be crowned world champions. Let's find out their thoughts ahead of this year's prestigious tournament:

Aaron Crowie says SPAIN (6/1) – Spain’s ridiculous wealth of superstars makes my selection easy. From back to front there are absolutely zero weaknesses amongst this fantastic squad. Many experts and former players consider the 2010 and 2012 Spanish sides to be among the best ever international teams in world football, but this one can certainly rival it.

With the number of quality players excluded from La Roja’s 23-man squad, manager Julen Lopetegui would be able to assemble a so-called “B” team good enough to succeed in this year’s showpiece. If that doesn’t win you over, Spain remained unbeaten in the qualifying round with nine wins and just one draw from 10 matches, scoring a colossal 36 goals and conceding only three times. Enough said! Back the Spaniards to be crowned world champions at 6/1!

Jason Dewey says ARGENTINA (9/1) – Argentina – while not enjoying the most ideal qualification run – can most certainly go all the way in Russia. They boast arguably the best array of forwards we’ve seen in the last three or four editions of the soccer world cup. Sergio Aguero will likely be the focal point of a three-man forward line with Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi playing on each flank. Jorge Sampaoli will be able to call on the considerable talent of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain from the bench if they do fall behind in games.

The midfield will be anchored by the evergreen Javier Mascherano with Lucas Biglia and Giovani Lo Celso in front of him. The worry for the South Americans will be their back four. Nicolas Otamendi and Federico Fazio are hardly the quickest around while Sergio Romero’s injury means the gaffe-prone Willy Caballero will play between the sticks. Still, I honestly believe that the Argentineans will be able to outscore anyone they play against. A bit of a left-field call, but they represent great value at 9/1.

Benedict Ngwenya says FRANCE (13/2) – France has a star-studded team with great players in each position. Their 2016 Euro campaign where they only lost to Portugal in the final should serve as a warning sign to their opponents. They made up my mind for me when they eased past Germany in the semi-finals of that tournament.

Les Blues' midfield combination of N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi brings stability, creativity, experience, energy and the competitive edge against any team in the world. Most people are complaining about the omission of Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial and the absence of Dimitri Payet due to injury, but Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe & Antoine Griezmann should be able to get the job done. On the upside, the recovery of Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy from injury gives them a solid option at left-back. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't go all the way!

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Wayde Dorkin says BRAZIL (4/1) – The most successful nation with five soccer world cup victories last won the tournament in 2002 and have failed in the last three tournaments by failing to progress from the quarter-finals. Brazil breezed through the South American qualifiers by finishing 10 points above second-place Uruguay and were also the first nation to book their place in Russia, losing just once in 18 matches.

The Selecao have arguably the best squad in world football and boast influential game-changers like Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Douglas Costa, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Willian. This is their strongest team since the three big R’s in Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo triumphed in South Korea and Japan and I believe the time is now for Samba Kings to remind the world why they are considered the most talented football nation.

Banele Pikwa says FRANCE (13/2) – Les Bleus boast a squad that has a balanced look. They have three top goalkeepers, with captain Hugo Lloris claiming the number one spot. A back-line of Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe expected to start, plus a midfield of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi.

Not to mention their frightening and very dangerous strikeforce of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud. For me, the French squad is more balanced than any other team and this squad can easily destroy opponents in this year’s tournament. Should any of the above-mentioned superstars pick up an injury, a ready-made replacement would walk in, almost as if there was no difference to the original line-up.

Jesse Nagel says BRAZIL (4/1) – Backing the tournament favourites? Why not? Brazil are playing a completely different brand of football under coach Tite, a brand that involves a lot more swagger and typical samba feel to it. The attacking options of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Willian and Douglas Costa are as exciting as you could ask for, while the last line of defence in Alisson Becker or Ederson will look upon the backline of Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Miranda and Marcelo to keep things tidy and watertight.

Brazil have moved on from that 7-1 humiliation suffered in the last soccer world cup, and it could be the Selecao dishing out high-scoring defeats this time around. Also, WHEN Brazil win the World Cup, it would mean that 2018 is the year that Neymar becomes an international great, which is inevitable.

Chadley Nagel says SPAIN (6/1) – Despite dropping some high-profile stars, Julen Lopetegui has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with a great mix of youth and experience. You could argue that even La Roja’s second XI would go far in the tournament.

The 2010 world champions are in safe hands with De Gea in goal and Pique and Ramos in front of him and they have a wealth of midfield talent such as Busquets, Iniesta, Silva, Asensio, Isco. And with Costa spearheading the attack, it’s going to be incredibly difficult stopping this team. Lopetegui’s side were superb in the qualifiers with nine wins and a draw, netting 36 goals while conceding just three. And in March, they thrashed 2014 finalists Argentina 6-1 in a friendly, which further underlined their soccer world cup credentials.

Full soccer world cup 2018 Fixtures HERE

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