If you’re reading this, things are bad. There’s only a few hours until the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup, and you’re staring down an empty bracket. No fear, it’s actually pretty easy to fill out a World Cup bracket. Much like the NCAA tournament, the World Cup is about choosing the right mix of favorites and upsets, without getting too crazy. Follow this guide, and spend the next month in the office gloating over your successes.
World Cup Bracket Strategy
So for starters, there’s a few countries that have zero chance at advancing. I don’t care what you read at FiveThirtyEight, some teams have no chance of advancing past the group stage. Sorry to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, South Korea, Panama, Tunisia and Japan, but it’s just an honor to reach the World Cup. Trust us, it’s something both the United States and Italy failed to do this year.
The Germans are the defending champions as well as the favorite to become the first repeat champions since 1962. They’re not only incredibly talented and well-coached, but they’re easily the deepest team in the tournament. If there were a second German team at the World Cup, composed of backups and players that didn’t make the team, that team would easily reach the quarterfinals. It’s going to take an elite team to beat Germany, they’re not the type of team to get caught off-guard by an Iceland or Costa Rica. Germany should at least be in your quarterfinal, then decide how you feel about David Hasselhoff and adjust accordingly.
France hosted Euro 2016 and nearly won the thing, losing to Portugal in the final minutes. What I’m trying to say is that France is pretty much the best team in Europe, but they are well-known for their ability to underperform. They also have a deep roster, including fun personalities like Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba. France had the edge as hosts of Euro 2016, but it often gets lost that they scored a decisive 2-0 victory over Germany in the semifinals. France has the quality to put away lesser teams, and the star power to knock off the world’s best.
Brazil are odds favorites along with Germany, and I believe they are on a mission in Russia. They take their soccer seriously in Brazil, and a 7-1 loss to exit the last World Cup, on home turf no less, left a bad taste in the mouth of Brazilians worldwide. Neymar is now healthy, and I almost think Brazil wants to play the Germans for a little revenge. Since hiring Tite as manager, Brazil have been unstoppable in South America, and have not lost an international match since June of 2017. Neymar is the jewel, but as with any Brazil squad, there’s a host of supporting characters with singular names. I’m into the Revenge Narrative, and have Brazil at least reaching the semifinal.
On the cover Spain seems as strong as any of the above squads, and they enter the tournament playing really well. But then Spain did a funny little thing- they fired their manager just days before the start of the tournament. It’s a shock decision that will surround the team in Russia, and based on that, I’m not touching Spain as a potential champion. They have all the talent in the world, but without the proper leadership and adjustments they can only go so far.
Ok, so you might know Messi. Why not just put the best player in the final? Despite Messi being incredible, and he is, Argentina just isn’t the same team that reached the 2014 World Cup final. They’re older, worse on defense, and depend far too much on Messi. Making it out of the group stage is a bare minimum, but don’t be surprised if Argentina are the first “big” team to go down in Russia.
World Cup Bracket Predictions
While the World Cup is always a toss-up, you can’t go wrong picking one of the above teams to win it all. The pressure of the World Cup is immense, and the margins so slim, that the final teams remaining are typically teams with big-game experience. All of the above teams, with the excpetion of Spain, have reached the semifinals of either the 2014 World Cup or Euro 2016.
Now go get that money!