The World Cup in Russia was one of the most unpredictable major international tournaments in recent times. The latter rounds of most major tournaments read like a who’s who of footballing nations.
However, this time round, the latter stages featured countries such as Sweden, Russia, Croatia and even England! The form book was thrown out of the window with the 2014 champions being knocked out in the group stages by South Korea, and in this article we take a look back at some of the pre-tournament predictions that were proved wrong.
England would be the biggest disappointment of the tournament
Okay, you can let them off on this one. England have made a habit of disappointing their fans for decades since 1966. In fact the Three Lions hadn’t won a knock-out match at a major tournament since a 1-0 victory against Ecuador in Germany 2006.
However, England proved all the pundits wrong, reaching the semi-finals and even managing to win a penalty shoot-out for the first time since Euro ’96.
Germany will retain the World Cup
Fans selected Germany as their favourites to lift the trophy in Russia. And they weren’t alone in thinking that Die Mannschaft would win the World Cup for the second-time in a row.
When Leroy Sane was omitted from the squad, pundits and fans remarked how good the Germans must be if they could leave a player like Leroy Sane out of their squad.
Well, the predictions were wrong. Despite a last-minute Toni Kroos winner against Sweden in the second group game, Germany crashed out after a disastrous 2-0 loss to South Korea in their final game.
Wow, just wow, if you thought the previous predictions were poor, then this one from Paul Merson really goes beyond the pale.. At the beginning of June, speaking to Sky Sports Super 6 Merson argued that England could win the World Cup.
He also said that it was notoriously difficult to predict the World Cup top scorer, citing Paolo Rossi and Roger Milla as examples of that. He then went on to say that Raheem Sterling would win the golden boot.
The World Cup in Russia was chaotic and unpredictable, with plenty of shocks occurring. The one thing it tells us about football is that it’s almost pointless to try and predict anything. Read Mark Lawrenson’s predictions this week and he’ll have Huddersfield down to lose 3-0, and Liverpool down to win 4-0 – like he did every weekend last year.
And then of course, who predicted that Leicester City would win the Premier League two years ago? No-one could have envisaged Andrea Bocelli serenading Claudio Ranieri and the Premier League trophy at the KingPower Stadium!