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Staff Picks: World Cup Predictions on the Pitch and in Fantasy

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We’re letting you know which teams and players we think will do well, something that has certainly impacted how we have made our recommendations and chosen our World Cup fantasy teams. Which predictions do we agree on, and where do we diverge? And how do you expect things to turn out?

Spain Fans - World Cup 2018
A lot of us think that 2010 (and 2008 and 2012) presage history repeating itself. What do you think?
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

I am sure that you have been devouring our coverage over the past few weeks, as well as peeking elsewhere. Admit it! (It’s o.k., really, just as long as you promise that we are your real, true love here.)

Never Manage Alone is a fantasy advice site, so naturally much of what we delve into deals with prognostication... Expectation... Trying to see the future, or at least the most likely outcomes. We get some right, and we get some wrong, but I like to think that we do an awful lot better than tossing a dart at the board.

We are, of course, a collection of individuals coming together (or diverging separately) at a single blog site. As such, there is always a danger of group think — when the hive mind becomes one in an echo-chamber and everybody fails to think for his or her own. Then again, there can also be a problem when everything gets too individualistic for the sake of novelty and brashness. Perhaps a happy medium is ideal, but just as perfectly impossible.

Just like you, we’ve been tossing and turning, biting our nails, gnashing our teeth, racking our brains, trying to figure out what’s going to happen, and ultimately figuring out our perfect fantasy teams. After all of the insight, the poring over data, the reading and analyzing and venturing into the brink of madness, then doing that over and over and again and again, it is finally time to lay everything out there for posterity.

So, then, now that we are at that point, where have we (the staff) arrived? And how are you thinking, when it comes to predicting what will happen for this sure-to-be-majestic 2018 World Cup summer in Russia? Now we come up with concrete reasons for why we’re picking our fantasy teams just the way we are, and perhaps why we are phoning our bookmaker down at the corner delicatessen or jetting off to Las Vegas to splash the cash at our favorite casino sports book.

Because ultimately, how we fashion our brackets and who we figure will win the awards has an awful lot to do with how we contemplate putting together our fantasy teams, even at the start of the group stage. So let’s take a look at our staff picks, shall we?

World Cup Staff Predictions

CATEGORY CHRIS DARRYL DAVID OMAR SANTIAGO STALL
CATEGORY CHRIS DARRYL DAVID OMAR SANTIAGO STALL
Grp A 1st&2nd URU/RUS URU/EGY URU/RUS URU/EGY URU/RUS URU/RUS
Grp B 1st&2nd SPA/POR SPA/POR SPA/POR POR/SPA SPA/POR SPA/POR
Grp C 1st&2nd FRA/DEN FRA/PER FRA/PER DEN/FRA DEN/PER FRA/DEN
Grp D 1st&2nd ARG/NIG ARG/CRO ARG/CRO ARG/CRO ARG/CRO ARG/ICE
Grp E 1st&2nd BRA/SWI BRA/SER BRA/SER BRA/SER BRA/SER BRA/SER
Grp F 1st&2nd GER/MEX GER/MEX GER/MEX GER/MEX GER/MEX GER/SWE
Grp G 1st&2nd BEL/ENG BEL/ENG BEL/ENG BEL/ENG ENG/BEL ENG/BEL
Grp H 1st&2nd POL/COL COL/SEN COL/POL POL/SEN COL/SEN COL/SEN
CHAMPION Brazil Brazil Spain Spain Spain Germany
2ND PLACE Spain Spain Brazil Argentina Uruguay Brazil
3RD PLACE Germany Uruguay Germany Brazil Germany Spain
4TH PLACE Portugal Germany France Germany Brazil Uruguay
DARK HORSE Nigeria Senegal Peru Denmark Uruguay Iceland
GOLDEN BALL Neymar Neymar Neymar Messi T. Alcantara Neymar
GOLDEN BOOT Neymar Messi Griezmann Neymar L. Suarez G. Jesus
MOST ASSISTS Kimmich Coutinho D. Silva Messi D. Silva Neymar
GOLDEN GLOVE Alisson Alisson De Gea De Gea Neuer Neuer
#1 FANTASY FW Neymar Neymar Griezmann Neymar L. Suarez Neymar
#1 FANTASY MID Coutinho Coutinho Isco Mueller Isco Coutinho
#1 FANTASY DEF Kimmich Marcelo Marcelo Pique Alba Kimmich
#1 FANTASY GK Alisson Alisson De Gea De Gea De Gea Neuer

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Maybe We Are Just One Big Hive Mind After All

We had loads of things in common:

  • In Groups A, D, E, and F, everybody had Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany, respectively, winning.
  • In Groups B and G, we all had the same two teams going through (Spain & Portugal; Belgium & England).
  • We all went with three of the big favorites to win the World Cup: Spain, Brazil or Germany.
  • On top of that, everybody had Brazil, Germany and Spain finishing in the top four.
  • Otherwise, Uruguay was a popular pick to do well, with Santiago pegging them 2nd, Darryl 3rd and Stall 4th.
  • Four of us pegged Neymar to win the Golden Ball, and to have the most points at the forward position.
  • Keeping the Brazil love going, a quartet of us picked Philippe Coutinho to have the best output in midfield.
Brazil v Argentina - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier
We are calling on these guys to fare well in fantasy
Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

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No, We Are Individuals with Independent Thoughts of Our Own!

Thankfully, we weren’t completely the same, with some differing opinions:

  • The second spots in Groups A and C were split (to varying degrees) between Russia & Egypt, and Peru & Denmark.
  • While the two teams were the same, Omar had them finishing in a different order than the rest of the staff for Group B (Portugal #1, Spain #2) and C (Denmark & France).
  • Similarly, Santiago and Stall were the only two to pick England to win Group G and Belgium to finish 2nd in Group G.
  • Stall went against the grain in picking Sweden to take 2nd in Group F, as everybody else had Mexico.
  • Chris was the only backer of Switzerland in Group E, compared to the otherwise consensus Serbia.
  • Chris had Nigeria and Stall had Iceland getting through Group D, whereas the rest went with Croatia.
  • We had five different players winning the Golden Boot.
  • Everybody’s dark horse team was different!
  • Along the same lines, almost everybody picked a different player to end up with the most assists!

[Ed. Note: The above predictions were all turned in prior to the news of Spain’s managerial sacking. Be sure to read in the comments section of that article and/or this article with thoughts on how, or whether, that news has impacted any of our predictions.]

What do you think will happen in the World Cup? How do your predictions differ from ours, and how are they the same? And just how do our picks — and your expectations — impact how you are putting together your fantasy teams? Have you changed your mind at the last minute after looking over our picks, or are you holding strong? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re feeling bold enough, please join us in listing your own predictions!