Ahead of the opening World Cup fixture between hosts Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday, the Sky Sports pundits have made their predictions on what is going to occur on the distinctive tournament.
Jamie Carragher – Argentina
“It was either Brazil or Argentina. They are the two favourites, but I would love to see Messi win the World Cup. I feel that would cement his position as the greatest player of all time.”
Karen Carney – Brazil
“I’ve got a soft spot for them, to be honest – but if you look at their attacking players, they are just a joy to watch. Everyone talks about Messi’s last one, but it could be Neymar’s as well. I think Argentina could meet Brazil in the semi-final so it comes down to whoever wins that.”
Jamie Redknapp – Brazil
“Neymar’s in great form again – I have gone with Brazil as I feel it could be their time again.”
Gary Neville – Brazil
“We always feel we have got great players in this country and we do, but when you look at the Brazil squad you think, ‘Oh my God – where have they come from?’ It was the same when I was playing in tournaments. They had incredibly special players. I’m quite confident they will win it.”
Jamie Carragher – Portugal
Karen Carney – Spain
“In the Euros, they went out to Italy, and I think it’s their possession of the ball which will take them close. They eventually lost to Italy on penalties, and their young players are phenomenal in midfield. Their manager Luis Enrique is really experienced so they only thing that concerns me is goalscoring, but I back them to keep the ball.
“They have received the World Cup beforehand and not using a striker so I do not see it being any completely different.”
Gary Neville – France
Jamie Redknapp – Spain
Jamie Carragher – Quarter-finals
Gary Neville – Quarter-finals
“It’s dangerous to predict where the pathways of teams are going to go, but it looks like England are going to do what they think they will in the group, and France do the same, they would meet in the quarters and I just don’t think they would beat France.
“But that is the one supervisor and one group of gamers who I feel can put a efficiency collectively and hold in there – and so they can even win on penalties. I do assume there’s an opportunity, however I feel France can be stronger within the quarters.”
Jamie Redknapp – Quarter-finals
“I think England’s performance in the Nations League has dampened everybody’s expectations. I just hope I’m wrong and we get a bit of momentum and start to play. I hope we can get that belief and real confidence in these players, then anything is possible because I do believe it’s a wide-open tournament.
“When you have a look at the potential champions, you will have folks considering France might win it, however they’ve issues in midfield. It’s going to take a little bit of momentum for me to get excited.”
Karen Carney – Semi-finals
“I feel that is probably the most we are able to hope for. With (Paul) Pogba and (N’Golo) Kante out, I really feel for this reason we’d progress previous France. After then, it is pot luck however we might be glad. Of course, we’d wish to get to the ultimate however realistically attending to the semi-finals can be good.”
Karen Carney – Round of 16
Jamie Carragher – Group Stages
“I simply assume by way of the 2 particular gamers they’ve had within the final couple of tournaments in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, they’re getting a bit older and it is likely to be the final time we see them in a Welsh shirt.
“I think Bale will go down as one of the greatest British players of all time with the Champions League titles and being the player of the year a few times in England, as well as what he’s done for Wales taking them into tournaments.
“I simply really feel with the vitality and the depth of this USA crew could also be an excessive amount of for them.”
Jamie Redknapp – Round of 16
Gary Neville – Group Stages
Surprise package deal
Jamie Carragher – Denmark
“Denmark are in France’s group, and they played each other not so long ago and beat them. If Denmark finish top of that group, France could then play Argentina in the first knockout stage.”
Karen Carney – Spain
Jamie Redknapp – Senegal
Gary Neville – Denmark
Jamie Redknapp – Senegal
“I like them and I feel they have got some talented players with pace in the team. They are exciting. I don’t think they will go deep into the tournament but it’s not really a surprise if Spain do well.”
Surprise early exit
Karen Carney – Belgium
Jamie Carragher – Belgium
“They have been a great team and Roberto Martinez has done fantastically well – they finished third in the last World Cup but I just feel it’s a step too far. Romelu Lukaku hasn’t played for weeks, even months. I’m not sure he’s played this weekend for Inter Milan either. I feel they could be the surprise package to go out.”
Jamie Redknapp – Belgium
Gary Neville – Uruguay
Karen Carney – Lionel Messi
Jamie Redknapp – Lautaro Martinez
“Whoever wins the Golden Boot usually scores a lot of goals in their group games. Argentina have got Saudi Arabia in their group so that’s why I’ve gone for them.
“Harry Kane has an awesome alternative as effectively once you have a look at the fixtures, beginning towards Iran. No one has ever received back-to-back Golden Boots so it will be nice to see him try this. Martinez will get objectives for Argentina.”
Gary Neville – Kylian Mbappe
Jamie Carragher – Lautaro Martinez
Player of the Tournament
Karen Carney – Neymar
“I think Argentina and Brazil will meet in the semi-finals and so I think it’s a battle between Messi and Neymar. Whoever wins that battle, for me, will be player of the tournament.”
Gary Neville – Neymar
Jamie Carragher – Messi
Jamie Redknapp – Neymar