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Fear The Wall Roundtable: World Cup Edition

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Brazil v Germany - Final: Men's Football - Olympics: Day 15 Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With the World Cup a week away the FTW crew decided to give their takes on what to expect this year. We all gave our takes on the 4 below questions

  1. Who will win the World Cup?
  2. Who will be the best player in the World Cup?
  3. Who will be the best BVB player in the World Cup?
  4. What team will be the surprise of the World Cup?

Alex Greenberg

1. Who will win the WC

I think Spain will be the last team standing. Their group should be easy enough to get out of as I think Portugal has a down year after their triumph in Euro 2016. I think Diego Costa at his best is the perfect striker for a World Cup. He’ll score, hold up play, and he loves to do the dirty work that it takes to be successful in a major international tournament.

Then you look at their defenders and you see some of the very best in Europe. Sergio Ramos knows the best way to beat other teams is to injure their players out of the game, I bet we see that in Russia too.

They have a couple players (Busquets, Iniesta, Ramos, Pique) who have the experience of winning the 2010 World Cup, and I think they win their second in Russia. Also they have David De Gea...he’s pretty good.

2. Who will be the best player in the WC?

I just picked Spain to win but I think that will be mostly a team effort. As far as individual players, I think Christian Eriksen has a great shot at being a dominant player in this tournament. He carried Denmark to the World Cup, and I don’t see any reason why he can’t keep that form up.

But if Neymar is recovered enough from his injury, then I think he’ll pretty clearly be the best in Russia.

3.Who will be the best BVB player

If Marco Reus plays enough, it should be him. Obviously Germany won the last World Cup, and could very well win this one too. Reus will get plenty of service and opportunities in a team that will dominate possession. They’ll also certainly be a lot more defensively stable than Dortmund were this year.

I think Shinji Kagawa will find a way to get some goals too, even if Japan don’t have that much overall success.

4.What team will be the surprise team of the WC?

I think Senegal will get out of their group and cause some trouble in the knockout stages. They’re not thought of as a traditional footballing powerhouse, but their roster is quietly very well balanced. Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is one of the most sought after defenders in Europe and Idrissa Gueye is a solid Premier League midfielder. Their attacking corps is genuinely scary. Sadio Mane, Keita Balde, and Mbaye Niang should strike fear into opposing defenses relatively easily...good luck keeping pace with them.

Sean Keyser

1. Who will win the World Cup?

France.

Everyone is saying that they’re too young and inexperienced, that 2022 will be their year, that Germany and Brazil are better, et cetera. First of all, I generally think that the importance of experience is massively overstated, and that young, fast, talented squads are just as dangerous as older ones. Second of all, their players don’t necessarily have experience in international tournaments, but many have gone deep into the Champions League and know how to perform in high-pressure environments.

They’ve got Raphael Varane, who I consider the best all-around center back in the world, along with Samuel Umtiti, who I consider among the top five or so. They’re a bit shallow at full back, but Sidibe and Pavard are two excellent players as well. Their midfield of Kante, Pogba, Matuidi and/or Tolisso is right up there with Germany’s, and I think their forwards are miles better. Griezmann, Mbappe, Fekir, and… Dembélé? Oh, nevermind.

Fallback pick: Belgium, for reasons TBE in Question #2

2. Who will be the best player in the World Cup?

Even though I picked France to win the whole thing, I think that Kevin de Bruyne from Belgium will be the best player of the tournament. I already think he’s best attacking midfielder in the world, and can dominate a match singlehandedly when he’s on. I don’t think his complimentary pieces are as good so I’d still pick France over Belgium, but I expect him to rack up a ton of goals and assists.

3. Who will be the best BVB player

The obvious answer here is Marco Reus, but I’m going to go a different route and say Manuel Akanji. Reus is obviously better, but I don’t think he’ll stand out as much on a stacked German roster. Akanji is, in my opinion, already a stellar defender, and I think that if Switzerland want to go far, that the young Swiss (Schweizer? Swissman? Switzer-lad?) will have to play out of his mind. For those new here, Switzerland is my favorite national team, so all I have to say is Schweizer Nati, Ole! Ole!

4. What team will be the surprise team of the WC?

I think that England will surprise people simply by not being purely disappointing garbagerubbish. Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Dele Alli, unlike what their media would have you think, are highly skilled players who all want to do their country proud, and I fully expect them to play as well as they do for their clubs.

That, or they choke away the group stage to Panama. No pressure!

Nick Kapatos

1.Who will win the World Cup

France. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more talented group of player brought to a World Cup in the time I’ve paid attention to soccer. From top to bottom, their roster is absolutely stacked, with their forwards and midfield as the focal points. It also helps that they’re in a pretty easy group of Australia, Peru, and Denmark. I think they’ll make it pretty easy to the Semis, and then anything can happen.

2.Best player at the World Cup

Damn, I mean... damn. It’s a tough choice, especially with so many talented individual players playing this month. I hate to make this cop-out, but it will be Lionel Messi. He’s a transcendent athlete and the focal point of a very talented, very lucky-to-be-in-the-World Cup Argentina squad. He literally willed Argentina into the World Cup with a hat-trick in a must-win game against Ecuador in the last game of South American qualifiers. If he isn’t marked by the entire opposing team, he’ll tear anyone he sees apart.

3.Best BVB player

This is probably the most difficult question to answer. The players playing for Dortmund in Russia are either on teams that probably won’t make it very far (Shinji, Piz, Akanji), were hurt for most of the season (Shinji, Raph), or are playing behind much better teammates (Bats, Reus, Burki). There’s no clear-cut, all-star player from BVB at this year’s World Cup. If I had to pick one player, though, I guess I would pick Manuel Akanji. I think this is going to be his breakout tournament, spraying passes all over the place and manning a backline that will help Switzerland advance from Group E.

4.Surprise team

Peru. I don’t know what it is about those Peruvians, but seeing them in their first World Cup since 1982 is really cool. Especially since they came out of CONMEBOL, the toughest region to qualify from in my opinion. Outside of France, I’m not overly impressed with the difficulty of their group. With their attack-minded team, I think they can beat Australia, and they can at least draw Denmark, if not surprise them with a defeat and finish second. It’s also nice to hear that their captain, Paulo Guerrero, has been cleared to play after that whole business with the drug suspension, and then the unsuspension, and then the resuspension, and then his clearance.

Joel MacDonald

1. Who will win the World Cup?

I see Spain winning it. A few months ago I would have said Germany, but lately I think they’ve looked a little shaky and Löw has had to deal with transitioning between generations for too many positions in the squad. Spain is ruthless in every position, and they have excellent depth.

2.Best player at the World Cup

I’m going to take a wild guess and just say Timo Werner. Either he or Thomas Müller will be Germany’s top striker and I see a lot of their goals coming through a pacey forward like Werner.

3.Best BVB player

Marco Reus is going to come out the gates with something to prove since he missed last World Cup. Considering what nation he represents, he’ll probably make it farther into the tournament than the other BVB players, so he will have more time to perform.

4.Surprise team

England’s going to surprise everyone by making it out of the group stages. No, but in all seriousness, I think Poland has a decent squad and can make it farther than people expect them to.

Gilles Hoffmann

1.Who will win the World Cup?

Germany. They have some injury problems and the continuous weakness at left back but they still have their core players from the 2014 WC run and can still be dominant. It helps that most of them have been playing together for a long time.

2.Who will be the best player in the World Cup?

There are a bunch of candidates like Messi, Neymar or de Bruyne but I’ll go with the less flashy choice of Toni Kroos. He has been the centerpiece of a Real Madrid team that has won 3 consecutive Champions League titles and was already a key piece for Germany when they won in 2014. Central midfielders get often overlooked in “best player” discussions but they are often the very reason for a teams success. Kroos has transformed from a talented winger/offensive midfielder into one of the best box-to-box midfielders on the planet and if Germany wants to defend their title it will be because of Kroos’ commanding presence in midfield.

3.Who will be the best BVB player in the World Cup?

Marco Reus. He was incredibly unlucky in 2014, picking up an injury during the last friendly before the tournament but he’ll make up for it in Russia. Löw extensively praised Reus during Germany’s training camp which is why I expect him to be a key player for Germany. Reus has the talent to be one of the best players of this World Cup and with all the bad luck he had in recent years it’s long overdue that he gets his moment on the biggest stage of them all.

4.What team will be the surprise of the World Cup?

Croatia. They are the perennial underachievers, always being mentioned as a possible dark horse that could go all the way and then never fulfilling that promise. But at some point a team that contains the likes of Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic, Perisic and Mandzukic, just to name a few, has to show their potential right? They are in a tricky group with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria but they have the potential to upset Messi & Co. to win the group and make some noise in the knockout stages.

Joseph Mahfood

1.Who will win the World Cup?

Argentina.

2.Who will be the best player in the World Cup?

Messi:God mode, now or never to cement his legacy in Argentina and emerge from Maradona’s shadow

3.Who will be the best BVB player in the World Cup?

Reus: with sane dropped it’s his time to shine.

4.What team will be the surprise of the World Cup?

Argentina, I say this because although they are good, no one is expecting them to win!

Brian Meyers

1.Who will win the World Cup?

I think team USA has a really good shot this year, especially with young stars like Christian Pulisic and Julian Green.I wouldn’t count out Italy or the Netherlands either. Italian star Ciro Immobile is set to have a big tourney. I’d also expect Jo-hoo Park has a shot at leading South Korea to FIFA glory.

Seriously I think it will be France. They are just so freaking stacked. Al thought this year I think it it one of the most we’ve fields we’ve had with Belgium,Spain,Brazil, and Germany all in the running.

2.Who will be the best player in the World Cup?

It will be Messi. I’m not sure how far Argentina will get but Messi will have to drag them there regardless.

3.Who will be the best BVB player in the World Cup?

Reus. Please please please don’t get hurt.

4.What team will be the surprise of the World Cup?

Portugal. Portugal are the reigning Euro champs but everyone seems to be counting them out. They have Ronaldo! In addition to Ronaldo they have a varied cast of vets and young talent, especially BVB star Raph Guerriro. Don’t be surprised to see them make a run.