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RUSSIA – Yaroslav Levin, attaché and head of the ambassador’s office in the Russian Embassy in Bahrain
I really hope that our team plays well and reaches the final. The other side to watch out for again will be Germany – they look solid and have a great chance of making it all the way. At every World Cup we discover new talent and I’m sure several young players will shine this year. One to look out for is Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin who plays his club football in central midfield for CSKA Moscow.
SAUDI ARABIA – Ruwaid Ahmed, engineer
I think Brazil will go all the way to the final and face Argentina. Saudi Arabia may not qualify for the second round. I think we will leave with at least a point from a draw against Egypt. My favourite player is our striker Fahad Al Muwallad because he plays for my favourite team in the Saudi League. On the tournament level, however, my favourite has to be Argentina’s Lionel Messi. A World Cup winner’s medal is the only thing missing from his football trophy cabinet. He is arguably the greatest player in the history of football.
EGYPT – Anan El Kady, marketing & communications manager
I firmly believe that we will qualify to the quarter final stage but that’s about it. I predict that the tournament will probably end with Brazil playing Germany in the final. Still, I remain optimistic about Egypt’s chances and continue dreaming of great things because we have the legendary Mohamed Salah in our team. This young man is such an inspiration. He is not just known for his footballing abilities but also his good behaviour on and off the pitch.
URUGUAY – Zapican Velasco, aircraft engineer
To predict the final is very difficult with the level of the teams but I would go for Uruguay against Germany. I believe my country is ready both physically and mentally for this tournament and they will reach until the last stages. From all the players seIecyed, I like Diego Godín, he’s like a boss on the back. He’s such an astute defender and he has been playing really well for his Spanish club Atlético Madrid. You need leaders in every team and we have one of the best.
BRAZIL – Wellington Ceciliano, raw materials manager
In the last 18 months, the current coach has restored the spirit that had evaporated during the last World Cup campaign at home in Brazil. Now he is working on bringing back some of our old magic into play. We will end up in the final playing against Germany, I predict. My favourite player is Neymar Junior and as my daughter would simply say: “He scores a lot of goals and he is very famous!”
SWITZERLAND – Humbert Vincent Buemi, businessman and Swiss Honourary Consul to the Kingdom of Bahrain
I predict Germany and France will reach the final. Switzerland have a chance to qualify for the second round, but we are in a tough group with Brazil as the top contender. With a bit of luck, we could reach the quarter-finals. My favourite player is the German Toni Kroos, a polyvalent player who plays in the shadow of others but has a tremendous positive impact on his team’s results.
COSTA RICA- Mario Tristan, health research academic
I believe France and Argentina will make it in the final. Unfortunately Costa Rica will probably end up in third place at the end of the first round.
I don’t think we will move onto the second stage of the tournament as the team does not look to be doing very well in recent matches.
My favourite international player is Egypt’s Mohamed Salah. He is the best!
SERBIA – Sava Jankovic, student at St Christopher’s
I predict a final between France and Germany. France have such a world class team with brilliant players like Antoine Griezmann. Germany will be there as well because they are simply the best team in the world.
I hope Serbia at least reach the knock-out stages. Our players have great potential and could surprise a few.
My favourite Sergej Milinkovic-Savic had a fantastic season playing in midfield for Lazio. He is already being linked with giants such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.
PORTUGAL – Isabel Santos, a bakery owner
Portugal will play Spain in the final. I believe my team will make it because we have a strong team and a great coach in Fernando Santos.
We have good reason to be optimistic, after all, we ALSO have the best football player on the planet, namely CR7.
My favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo and this will be his last shot at leading his country to the ultimate prize. We have faith.
SPAIN – Ana Moraza, fashion designer
I hope Spain will make it to the Moscow final, of course, probably playing against France. That would be a really good final.
We have a very good team and we won the World Cup in 2010. I’m sure we will make it through the early stages and build up the momentum to take the trophy again cup. My favourite player is Sergio Ramos. His personality and character are essential to the way the Spanish team play.
MOROCCO – Hajar Taifi, waitress.
I believe Spain and Brazil will make it to the end and Spain will most likely win it.
As for Morocco, I’m not very hopeful. I don’t think they will get very far.
They last played in the finals in France in 1998 and are back after hiring Herve Renard to guide their fortunes. A creative midfield is complimented by a strong defence but, although they won one of their qualifying games 6-0, scoring is still a problem.
IRAN – Hassan Ebrahim, sales
My team in general are well organised and well-rounded and I do hope that they are able to move on to the second stage … but I do understand it will be difficult.
It all depends on their first game, whether they win, draw or lose against Morocco. If they draw or lose, I don’t think they have much of a chance of progressing.
I think Brazil will play Argentina in the final. Those games are often noteworthy for the sheer level of competitiveness and talent of the two squads. I hope Argentina win.
GERMANY – Claudia Hardt, public relations and communications consultant
Germany are certainly considered to be one of the favourites in this tournament and could go all the way and win the World Cup. However, they will have to overcome Mexico, Sweden and South Korea first to get out of the group stage which will not be easy. It’s never easy in the World Cup Finals no matter what opponents you have. Saying that, Brazil, France and Spain all have a fair chance to go far in this competition.
MEXICO – Nadia Noor, 29, accountant
I predict Spain and Brazil would make it to the final showdown. Spain play the most fluid and entertaining football. Brazil normally perform well in the World Cup Finals and have one of the world’s best players in Neymar. Brazil haven’t reached the final in the last three tournaments and this will be probably their best opportunity since 2002. Mexico have a good chance of getting through the group stages as I see them finishing second to Germany.
SWEDEN – Richard Raab, general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay
As a true Viking, having being born and having grown up in Sweden, my father’s home country, I have to support both Sweden and Denmark. Unfortunately neighbouring Norway, my mother’s country, did not qualify.
I believe Denmark will reach the Quarter Finals. My prediction final is a match between Brazil and Germany. Then again, my favourite player is Toni Kroos, the German midfielder. He controls the game completely.
SOUTH KOREA – Jaewoo Oh, businessman
I don’t think we have a big chance of winning many matches to be honest. Perhaps we can beat Sweden but with Germany and Mexico in the same group I don’t think we will have much of a chance.
Germany and Brazil are my two favourites to make it all the way through to the World Cup Final. Germany are Number One and they have the experience and we can always say we lost to the eventual champions.
They might have to face a big test this time against a determined Brazil.
FRANCE – Renaud Hirondeau, graphic designer
With the strength of the French team this time around, I’d be hugely disappointed if we didn’t make at least the semi-finals.
Winning the entire tournament becomes something of a lottery at that stage, but I’ll be cheering my team along in every match they play.
I believe Antoine Griezmann will be the key. He’s our best striker, so if he can score lots of goals we’ll have a good chance. I’d love to beat Germany in the final.
AUSTRALIA – Lachie Bennetts, service desk analyst
I am feeling optimistic for Australia because whilst they are up against one of the big favourites in France, the other teams in our pool are not as strong as others. It is going to be slightly difficult but hopefully the true Aussie spirit will get us through, so we will see.
I was hoping before the draw that we would avoid Spain or Brazil, so that’s a bonus. Will we win the World Cup? Realistically, no, but there is every chance that we will surprise a few people and maybe make it through to the knock-out stage.
PERU – Joshua Nino, university student
Latinos are always passionate about football.
The excitement is strongest when their beloved country is in the World Cup Finals.
I am so proud that Peru made the finals for the first time in my lifetime, 1982 was the last time!
I think we will struggle to get out of the group, but I don’t care as I’m just happy to see my team there.
I hope Uruguay win overall because I love Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
DENMARK – Thomas Hansen, managing director
UEFA Euro 92 stands as Denmark’s finest hour, when we showed the world that we have what it takes to be champions. Whilst there are talented players today, they do not play in the same teams. Most of the good players play overseas and even many of the Danish teams are now full of overseas players therefore the unity of the team is not what it was. All Danes wish this team the very best and look forward to them doing well to boost the nation, and with Christian Eriksen in the team, anything is possible.
BELGIUM – Thomas Adrien, PR representative
I predict Belgium and Brazil will make it to the final. Since the 1986 semi-final appearance we’ve been nowhere … but this year will be different.
We have a top team with top international players, including Eden Hazard, the best Chelsea player.
The team’s synergy is perfect and it’s a young, eager team. We have a young, talented team with excellent technical skills.
We’re definitely going to beat England!
PANAMA – Jean Almengor, student
This is the first time for us being in the World Cup Finals so it’s amazing. When we qualified, our president ordered a national holiday!
I don’t believe we will get past the group … but we can dream, right? I never thought I’d see my country on the world stage, but here we are. My favourite player in the team is Gabriel Torres, who is our main striker. I think Brazil will play Germany in the final and Brazil will win 2-0. They have the experience of winning the tournament.
TUNISIA – Med Arbi Soualhia, insurance writer
The last time we played in the World Cup it was disappointing. This time we have a new team and I hope we get through to the second round. We didn’t score many goals last time so anything better than that would be welcome. Saif-Eddine Khaoui has been tasked with supplying the creativity so I hope we score goals. I predict France to reach the final. They are one of my favourites. I think a Latin American team will be playing against them, maybe Brazil or Argentina.
ENGLAND – Paul Sabberton, construction manager
Here we go again! If I was a traditional England fan, I’d say we had the potential to go all the way, but I’m a realist so I’m going to predict we scrape through the group stage before being knocked out at the first sign of a decent team. Probably on penalties. It’s a young squad this year, which should mean more energetic football but I’m just hoping that the lack of experience doesn’t come back to bite us. My money would be on France or Germany in the final.
ARGENTINA – Dulcina Ruiz, waitress
Obviously I would prefer that Argentina win the World Cup and I would like to see us in the final either beating Brazil or Spain 5-0. The reason for Spain is because my husband is from Spain. I usually watch the games with him. Argentina is a country filled with fantastic football players such as the great Lionel Messi. I believe that we can perform great as a team. Our players just need to keep a level head on the pitch. There have been a few incidents which have led to red cards in the past.
ICELAND – Matthias Nygårdsson, photographer
I’m just so delighted that Iceland qualified for the World Cup Finals for the first time. For such a sparsely populated country with limited facilities, it’s like we’ve already won the tournament. It was a great joy for my country, so I have no doubt that the players in the squad will try their best for the fans. I don’t expect much in terms of getting far in the tournament, but I don’t care! I just hope our talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson recovers from injury to play a part, as he’s the main reason we are here.
CROATIA – Danilo Kosanic, hotelier
I’m very excited about Croatia being in the World Cup Finals especially as we get to play Argentina. We always tend to get good scores against highly-placed teams but lose against the not-so-good ones.
The reason we do so well playing against the better teams is because we are so motivated. We can do well if we can get through this group stage. Then anything is possible. My bet is that Brazil, France or Germany will take the cup. I don’t think that Spain will win it.
NIGERIA – Ashu Kefni, marketing executive
My country will definitely qualify from the group stages as we are playing against Iceland and Croatia after facing Argentina in our first match.
I think we are going to get through to the knockout stages. My favourite player in the team is Victor Moses because he has what it takes to surprise big teams. He plays in the English Premier League, one of the best leagues in the world.
My prediction for the World Cup Final is Brazil against Germany.
POLAND – Edyta Przybyla, consultant PR and marketing
I have high hopes for Poland, as we had an impressive qualifying campaign. We are now one of the strongest teams, with my favourite player Robert Lewandowski in superb form and with some luck – we have a chance to progress far in the tournament. There are other good players in the team but he’s simply phenomenal, one of the best players on the planet! He has the quality to make a difference and is capable of winning games on his own.
SENEGAL - Wasu Eshetu, waitress
I’d love to see Senegal against Brazil in the final. No one will ever forget our last World Cup in 2002, where we beat then-holders France 1-0 in our first game and reached the quarter finals.
This year I believe our team will do even better because we have strong players and a good team.
My favourite player is our captain Sadio Mane. He has tremendous ability and just reached the Champions League final, and is the strongest player in the team.
COLOMBIA – Carolina Rodriguez, fitness instructor
I’m a big football fan and am looking forward to this year’s World Cup Finals.
I think the biggest threat in Group H for Columbia is Poland. Senegal don’t worry me at all but Japan are getting better, they could be a dark horse.
Many Colombians are hoping Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez will star again and the entire country’s hopes are pinned on them. I think the quarter finals is a realistic aim.
JAPAN – Josh Falls, translator
I’m half Japanese and half American, but since the latter didn’t qualify this year all my hopes are with the Land of the Rising Sun! I hope that Japan achieves the best result possible in the World Cup.
I think we have a challenging group, I want Japan to move on to the next level and I think we have a good chance as there are none of the ‘super’ teams in our group. If Japan doesn’t make it to the final, I predict that it will be Brazil and Spain, which will be a fantastic game to watch.