It’s that time once again when 32 nations from all four corners of the globe compete for the biggest prize in football.

It’s been a long journey since the qualifying process began, but the countries who have successfully reached the FIFA World Cup are now ready to shine on the biggest stage.

This year it’s Russia who will play hosts, and with big hitters such as Italy, Holland, Chile and the USA all failing to qualify, the tournament is wide open.

Ahead of the month-long tournament, which gets underway on 14th June, UCFB students gave their predictions on what and who to look out for…


Keaton Shaw, BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management student:

Tournament winners: France. They’ve got great strength in depth, especially with their young players.

Golden Boot: Lionel Messi. I can see him scoring a fair few in the group stages to put himself far enough ahead of anyone else who progresses further than Argentina.

Player to watch: Marcus Rashford. If he’s given the opportunity, I think he will shine in the group stages for England.

Surprise package: Portugal. Although they’re the current European champions, they’re not one of the favourites. I expect them to do well so long as Cristiano Ronaldo stays fit.

Most looking forward to: Watching the games from the USA as I’ll be coaching over there this summer.


Josh Bunting, BA (Hons) Multimedia Sports Journalism student:

Tournament winners: France. They have the perfect balance in their squad of youth and experience.

Golden Boot: Antoine Griezmann. With every good side there comes a goal scorer. Messi and Ronaldo aside, this man is one of the best in the world right now.

Player to watch: Portugal’s Andre Silva. He did brilliantly last summer at the Confederations Cup and I wouldn’t be surprised if his outstanding performances for his national side continued.

Surprise package: Uruguay. They came close in 2010 and have the attacking quality to go far with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Most looking forward to: I’m most looking forward to watching England play. I’m excited to see who Gareth Southgate picks, especially in goal.


Nick Pratt, BA (Hons) Football Business & Media student:

Tournament winners: France. The strength in depth gives them plenty of quality options to choose from.

Golden Boot: Antoine Griezmann. After having a great season with Atletico Madrid, I think Griezmann will be the main man in the France squad.

Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo. With this possibly being his last major tournament for Portugal, I think Ronaldo will up his game and aim to bow out of international football on a high.

Surprise package: England. We go into the tournament with no pressure and an in-form squad of players. I think we have every opportunity to do well!

Most looking forward to: The main thing I’m looking forward to is everyone coming together and getting behind their country. Even people who don’t usually watch football always seem to watch the World Cup when it’s on.


Emma Anderson, BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student:

Tournament winners: France. Their strength in depth is incredible with quality all across the field.

Golden Boot: Antoine Griezmann. With France likely to go deep into the competition he has every chance of ending the tournament as top scorer.

Player to watch: Marco Asensio. He has often been overlooked amid Real Madrid’s star studded line-up but the youngster is showing all the signs of being a top player.

Surprise Package: Belgium. With this said to be their golden generation of players it could finally be their time to shine.

Most looking forward to: There are plenty of teams with exciting young squads. I am looking forward to seeing how some of these prospects perform on the biggest stage.


Julia Kuźniak, BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student:

Tournament Winners: Spain. They have a great mix of the older players with experience and the younger talent who are hungry for success.

Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku. He’s a classic number nine striker and is a cert to grab a few goals.

Player to watch: Rodrigo Bentancur. I think he’ll play a key role for Uruguay, he’s been brilliant for Juventus this season.

Surprise package: South Korea. They could surprise us with Heung-Min Son and Ki Sung Yueng, two great Premier League players, in their squad.

Most looking forward to: I’m looking forward to watching Poland play during the tournament with the best squad they’ve had in years.


Read more UCFB World Cup 2018 insights here.