Belgium, Croatia, England, France? Who will win it all? Who cares! This will go down as one of the best World Cups of all-time. We had VARs make crucial decisions in a match, Germany lose to Mexico and South Korea, Argentina spanked by Croatia, Peru comeback to the World Cup after 36 years, Panama come for the first time ever, Iceland and the thunderclap, and of course, Neymar’s dramatics after getting his precious ankle stepped on. What we also had are some of the best games in the history of all the World Cups. This World Cup became about teams that never really get the ultimate shout-outs because they do not have everybody’s favorite players, and yes, I am talking about Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo. In this tournament, we had people such as Kane, Mbappé, Modric or anyone on the Belgium squad (you pick) make the headlines. Here is my take on why the final four is set up to be freaking awesome:
- Belgium: My initial pick to win it all. Why? They are loaded with individual talent that cohesively work as a unit from Courtois in goal to Lukaku up top. They are to me the most complete team. Let us not forget, they are the deadliest counter-attack team in the tournament. Ask Japan, they can tell you.
- Croatia: My oldest son’s name is Luca (Italian) and one of my favorite midfielder’s name is Luka (Croatian). Coincidence? Not really, but watching number 10 play in the mid has been exciting to me. My advice about Croatia is that if you take them to PK’s, you will probably lose, so try to avoid a tie after 120 minutes. There is something about Croatia; it is their entire midfield that gets my attention.
- England: There is something fun and exciting about the English team that screams world champions. I cannot tell if it is Kane’s ability to be the leader (not just in goals), Pickford’s big time saves, Stones in the back stoning the attack of the opposing team, or Southgate with his wardrobe and charisma. There is one thing for sure; they are the most organized team I take notice of. As a coach, there is a belief that a team that is organized and successful on set plays will beat you. England is doing just that. So, avoid giving the Three Lions a corner or free kick, because they have the players and strategy to finish it.
- France: My least favorite team of the four, but the one that has the best chance to win it. Why? Mbappé, Pogba, Griezmann, Giroud, Kanté, Pavard, Umtiti, Varane. Oh yeah, and let us not forget one of the deepest benches in the World Cup. This team can score goals, but they can give up goals, too. If they do not show up, they are beatable, but if their game is on, goodnight or as the French say, “bonne nuit!”.
So, in the end, if you have a favorite team that is fine. Me? I do not care who wins, but there is one thing that is certain: we are less than a week away from finding out who will raise the trophy. These semifinals, consolation and final will be fun to watch. In the end, whoever lifts the biggest trophy on the planet is deserving of it. Who is your pick to win it all? My pick is…?