Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia predicts the winner of FIFA World Cup 2018 and backs defending champions Germany and former champions France and Spain to lift the coveted trophy. The World cup kickstarts on June 14 in Russia.
However, “The Sikkimese Sniper” thinks Belgium can be the dark horses in the tournament.
“Surprise, for me, it could be Belgium. It is one thing that I feel they have the talent. Big names like France, Germany are the favourites to win it, but teams like Belgium (can spring a surprise),” Bhutia said after the official broadcasters Sony Pictures Networks India launched a promotional campaign, “Meri Doosri Country.
Bhutia believes that hosts Russia, who are currenly at 66th spot in the FIFA rankings, could also go past the group stage. Russia are the lowest ranked team in Group A behind Uruguay(World rank 17), Egypt(World rank46) and Saudi Arabia(World rank 67) .
“They will go past the group stages – the Russians would do well. They have the players to take them to the pre-quarters. Spain is always a team that is a favourite to win, but again, the World Cup is a tournament where you can have a great league (stage) and then one bad match and you are out of the tournament,” he said.
Bhutia also revealed his favourite world cup memory and named Argentine legend Diego Maradona’s extraordinary goal, against England in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico to be his choice.
“I have never been to a World Cup. My first experience — as a kid you don’t remember much — but I remember Maradona’s goal against England and Maradona lifting that World Cup in Mexico….that can’t beat any (other) World Cup (memory),” he said.