LAFC at the World Cup
As the World Cup starts tomorrow, I’m going to follow our boys in Russia! To start off the World Cup though, I think it’s important to look at who is going to be playing where and if they have an opportunity to lift the trophy in a month’s time. First, let’s start with group A and Egypt.
Egypt – Omar Gaber – Group A
It’s tough to figure out if Gaber is going to start at any point this tournament. While he has the speed to go down the line (as we have all seen in LA), he might be a good bench player for Egypt. In the warmup matches for Egypt prior to the World Cup, he only started one game and was subbed out after 60 minutes, which could be due to his injury this winter. In the end, I only see Gaber as a substitute against Russia and Uruguay. I can see him starting against Saudi Arabia but will come out in the second half. Egypt has the tools to make it to the knockout round, and I would be surprised if they didn’t make it there. Prediction: Egypt ends up 2nd in the group but loses in the Round of 16. Omar ends up with one assist from the group stages.
Costa Rica – Marcos Ureña – Group E
Costa Rica is one of the most interesting teams in this year’s World Cup. If you follow soccer closely (or just follow the World Cup), you know the Cinderella story that Costa Rica pulled off in the 2014 edition. There is a big problem for Costa Rica this year though; they are pretty much the same team, but only 4 years older. In World Cup years, that’s a lot, and I have a feeling that it’s going to bite them quite hard. With regards to Ureña, he has a chance to get back in the grove that he had at the beginning of the season with LAFC. Ureña is well known for making runs into the box that pulls defenders towards him and allows his teams to have open shots at goal (sound familiar?!). Costa Rica is not going to make a dream run this year, but Ureña will play well and come back to Los Angeles will new found energy. Prediction: Costa Rica is knocked out in the group stages, but Ureña gets at least one goal to his name.
Mexico – Carlos Vela – Group F
Mexico, Mexico, Mexico. I have no idea what Mexico is going to do this World Cup. While they have pretty much always done well in the group stage, at times, they have been really poor against opponents that are lower ranked than them. The game against Germany is going to a loss, so it will be important for Mexico to get a good result versus South Korea and at least a draw against Sweden. If they stumble against one of them, they have a good shot at not making it out of the group stage. With regards to LAFC, Mexico has one of our best players, Mr. Carlos Vela. Vela is going to be playing up top with Javier Hernandez, which could be a deadly one-two combo. Vela has a chance to become a star for Mexico, but he needs to have the support behind him. It will be fascinating to watch them play this summer. Prediction: Mexico squeaks into the Round of 16, but gets knocked out in penalties in the round of 16. Vela scores at least two goals, one being a classic bender from the edge of the box.
Belgium – Laurent Ciman – Group G
While Belgium is a favorite dark horse for many in the 2018 World Cup, it’s hard to figure out if Ciman is going to have an active part in the team. In the two games leading up to Russia, he started in the game against Egypt and was on the bench for the game against Costa Rica. (The Belgium management must be a fan of LAFC guys since they all pretty much played one another). Ciman played really well against Egypt, while Dedryck Boyata from Glasgow Celtic FC took Ciman’s place and played against Costa Rica. Ciman right now is technically an alternate for the Belgium squad, so it’s not even a guarantee he even plays this month. Belgium on the other hand is stacked, and this might be the only window they have in order to win a World Cup title. Their offense power has to be one of the best in the tournament, which is why I have them going far. Prediction: Belgium wins their group and ends up going to the World Cup Final. Ciman does end up playing in three or more games, holding down the backline.
Enjoy the World Cup even if your team is not in it! It only comes once every 4 years, so you might as well wake up early and watch all the games! Have fun!