The Liverpool legend and 39-capped Ireland defender is gearing up for international duty again and he’s lavished us here at Paddy Power News with his World Cup predictions including winner, top scorer and dark horses.
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World Cup 2022 tips
I think BRAZIL will win it, on the basis that they’ve just got such a good all-round team. In the past you could look at them and think things the goalkeeper’s not up to much. They’ve got two world-class keepers now.
When you think about it, they might actually have too many players as in who do you pick? They’ll be perfectly comfortable playing in the heat and that will help the South American teams rather than the Europeans.
In every single position Brail have quality depth. Looking at them now, with all that European experience, they can grind out results. Adding that flair with the organisation and intensity of playing in Europe, I just think it improves them and I can’t see anyone else beating them.
I’ve got ARGENTINA as losing finalists. I think I’ve got it right using my World Cup wallchart!
My Golden Boot bet is a little bit left-field as he’s not an out-and-out striker but I’ll go for VINICIUS JNR. Every time I see him he just gets better and better and he’s lightening quick. You can say, ‘What about Kylian Mbappe?’ Well, I’m not quite sure how far France will go.
They’re tearing themselves apart, France, they’re becoming the new Netherlands. The Netherlands would go into a tournament with brilliant players then they’d all have a row, fall out with the association and go home. They just seem a bit volatile, the French.
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT
This is a difficult one because at first I had Kevin De Bruyne down for the Golden Ball award. He’s been incredible for Manchester City but they’re in the same part of the draw as Brazil so they’ll have to get through them. I think I’ll still go for KEVIN DE BRUYNE, though.
He’s absolutely at the top of his game and he’s just unbelievable. He’s big and he’s strong, he’s the best midfield player in the world at the moment bar nobody else.
ENGLAND WORLD CUP PREDICTION
The problem is that Gareth Southgate’s got quite a few players out of form. I just worry a little bit about the fact that Southgate seems to want two holding midfield players. I’m not sure that gets you enough goals.
I’ll got for England to get to the QUARTER-FINALS which probably, for the majority of England supporters, won’t be good enough but I don’t look at them and think they’re good enough to get to the semis. It feels like they’ve had their moment in the sun and they look a bit like they’re going down the mountain rather than climbing it at the moment.
WILL GARETH SOUTHGATE STAY ENGLAND MANAGER?
I think he would step down if it’s last eight and out, most definitely. Gareth’s a very honest guy and he will consider that as failure. A lot of other managers obviously wouldn’t be he would, yes.
It’s just those holding midfield players which I find really, really strange because they’ve got some really good players, England, and with that extra player in midfield rather than holding you get a little bit more out of them going forward which I think has been a problem.
WALES WORLD CUP PREDICTION
They’ve most definitely got a chance of getting out of the group. Iran, we don’t know much about them but USA will be fit and athletic. But if you’re Wales you expect to beat USA. I think Wales will get out of the group but the LAST 16 will be as far as they go.
The problem will be that Gareth Bale needs to be super fit and Aaron Ramsey is injured again. He’s starting to look like he’s injury prone and I think, at best, they’ll get out of the group but I see them getting knocked out at the first knockout stage.
WORLD CUP LONG-SHOTS
It will be interesting to see how URUGUAY go because they’ve got some top players but they’re in the same half of the draw as Belgium, Brazil, Germany and Spain. I just think they’ll have a good tournament. I’m biased towards the South American teams given the conditions in Qatar but I fancy they’ll do quite well.
I also just wonder if LUCAS PACQUETA will really explode here. We’ve all heard about him and people in France have been raving about him. He’s just getting going at West Ham and I just wonder if this is the tournament where he becomes a top player on the world stage.
MESSI V RONALDO
Lionel Messi’s still a top, top player but going from playing in Ligue 1 week in week out to must-win games at the World Cup will be tough. It looks like Portugal will get through their group but I just think ARGENTINA WILL GO FURTHER THAN BRAZIL.
Portugal are not the force they would have been three or four years ago, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo hardly starting at Manchester United. They might struggle for regular goals. I think Messi will outperform Ronaldo and that he’ll go deeper in the competition as well.
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