Category Archives: World Football

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Who Will Win It?

One year away.  We are one year away from the beginning of the most popular competition in the world of sports, the FIFA World Cup.  It seems like yesterday witnessing Germany beat Brazil 7-1 at the Maracana Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2014 in front of their home fans.  This match shook the world.

It also seemed like a recent memory looking at Lionel Messi, after Argentina lost in extra-time to those same Germans 1-0, dejected after accepting the Golden Ball award for the best player of the competition.

Qualifications are still underway and we still may be surprised if some teams can qualify or not for this World Cup, which will host for first time 48 countries instead of 32.

Argentina, for example, is currently in big trouble, being fifth in the standings and with Lionel Messi still has to serve three of a four match ban imposed by FIFA (La Pulga and Argentina Futbol Association have appealed the decision and will meet with FIFA during the summer to reduce the suspension).

European nations have won the World Cup three times in a row now starting with Italy in 2006.  Spain followed in 2010 and Germany in 2014.  In the history of the game, it would generally be one European country followed by one South America side.  After all, Brazil has five stars on their shirt, Argentina and Uruguay 2 each, making it 9 Word Cups in total.

My money is on a South American country to win it all next summer and despite the fact that Brazil has been the first country to earn its ticket to the big dance along with already qualified Russia, my prediction is the following:

Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, raises its third World Cup and the FC Barcelona genius cements his status as probably the best player to ever grace a football pitch.

Stay tuned…

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2016-17 Champions League Final – Real Madrid CF vs. Juventus FC

Ahh, the Champions League final!

An event difficult to miss, especially when two giants of European, if not, World football collide for the most prestigious prize in club football, the UEFA Champions League.  Both clubs have been impressive leading up to the final.

Juventus FC on pace for their first possible triple (having already secured Serie A and la Coppa d’Italia) have eliminated FC Porto, FC Barcelona and AS Monaco FC en route to Cardiff, Wales.  Real Madrid CF has had to deal with SSC Napoli in the Round of 16, then FC Bayern Munich and derby rivals Atlético Madrid.

For Los Blancos, it will be a chance to make history as being the first club to win back-to-back Champions League titles since the introduction of this format in 1992.  For reasons difficult to explain, no team has ever been able to repeat as champions.  As for I Bianconeri, it will be a chance to finally lift the trophy after failing to win it in 2003 vs. AC Milan and 2015 vs. FC Barcelona.  We have to go back in 1996 and their success on penalty kicks versus titleholders Ajax Amsterdam to witness The Old Lady winning the title.

It is a 50/50 final.  Despite the tremendous amount of talent and money Real Madrid has at its diposal, la Juve has been able to inject more funds and more quality players to their side in the past few years.  The recent additions of Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Mario Mandzukic etc. have made this team more dangerous than ever.  And after beating Real Madrid, two years ago, to reach the final of this same competition, the confidence level will be high for the Italians.

Prediction – Juventus FC ends its 21 year drought and complete their treble by winning 2-1.

Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball 2017 – Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

The season has come to an end in the Spanish League and Real Madrid CF have won the championship in front of their arch-nemesis FC Barcelona.  Los Blancos held a three point advantage and were able to hold on to it until the very last game of the season.

Furthermore, Real Madrid will play, for the second year in a row, the final of the Champions League, against Juventus FC this time.  Since the introduction to the Champions League format in 1992, no club has been able to repeat as champions.  History is not on Los Merengues side on this one.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, Los Blaugranas have won the Spanish Cup (la Copa del Rey) by beating Alaves 3-1 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Paco Alcacer.  It provided the near perfect farewell to manager Luis Enrique who will leave the club this summer.  His replacement is supposed to be officially named soon and the current manager of Athletic Bilbao is the favourite to take on the job.

As for individual statistics and awards, Lionel Messi has won the European Golden Shoe for this season.  Cristiano Ronaldo is very far away in the standings.  It is the fourth time (equaling the record of the Portuguese international) that La Pulga has won this award.  Luis Suarez was the winner last season.

As for the Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball France Football is concerned, here is a look at the statistics and trophies won by Messi and Ronaldo so far from January 1st to May 28th, 2017 (in bold, the player with the advantage):

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
Games 33 28
Goals 32 27
Assists 8 6
Trophies 2
(Copa del Rey, European Golden Shoe)
1
(La Liga)