FIFA World Cup 2018: Reviewing my predictions

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SINGING IN THE RAIN: The inclement weather certainly didn’t ‘rain’ on France’s parade. PHOTO: DNA India

A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE was this 2018 edition of international football’s most prestigious tournament, with France taking out the top prize beating Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow. Russia put on an amazing display of colour, culture and camaraderie with all 32 teams walking away feeling like they achieved something.

After the first weekend of play, I attempted to predict this unpredictable world phenomenon and not surprisingly I failed miserably in some respects. From the group stage to the final, there was just some things that didn’t go the way of me, you or anybody who tried to shine the crystal ball of world football.

So today, I’ll go through all of my predictions from Group A to Group H and the knockout stages. It will be interesting to see just how hard it is to prognosticate the event that is the World Cup.

Group stages:

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FRENCH REVELATION: Kylian Mbappe is only 19, just let that sink in. PHOTO: Hypebeast

 

The group stages certainly did not go to plan for many of the big juggernauts of the World Cup. Germany for example, the reigning champions, were eliminated in humiliating circumstances by South Korea. This made way for the lesser-nations, the teams that were there to ‘make up the numbers’ to be successful on the big stage. Japan and Sweden played out of their skins due to these opportunities. There were also teams who exceeded expectations like England, Mexico and especially Croatia. In this section, I show you my original prediction and the actual outcome, highlighted in pink. There are some interesting results, so take a look for yourself.

Group A:

Prediction:

1. Uruguay

2. Russia

3. Egypt

4. Saudi Arabia

Actual outcome:

1. Uruguay

2. Russia

3. Saudi Arabia

4. Egypt

Group B: (PREDICTED CORRECTLY)

Prediction:

1. Spain

2. Portugal

3. Iran

4. Morocco

Actual outcome:

1. Spain

2. Portugal

3. Iran

4. Morocco

Group C:

Prediction:

1. France

2. Australia

3. Denmark

4. Peru

Actual outcome:

1. France

2. Denmark

3. Peru

4. Australia

Group D:

Prediction:

1. Croatia

2. Argentina

3. Iceland

4. Nigeria

Actual outcome:

1. Croatia

2. Argentina

3. Nigeria

4. Iceland

Group E: (PREDICTED CORRECTLY)

Prediction:

1. Brazil

2. Switzerland

3. Serbia

4. Costa Rica

Actual outcome:

1. Brazil

2. Switzerland

3. Serbia

4. Costa Rica

Group F:

Prediction:

1. Mexico

2. Germany

3. Sweden

4. South Korea

Actual outcome:

1. Sweden

2. Mexico

3. South Korea

4. Germany

Group G: (PREDICTED CORRECTLY)

Prediction:

1. Belgium

2. England

3. Tunisia

4. Panama

Actual outcome:

1. Belgium

2. England

3. Tunisia

4. Panama

Group H:

Prediction:

1. Colombia

2. Poland

3. Japan

4. Senegal

Actual outcome:

1. Colombia

2. Japan

3. Senegal

4. Poland

Three out of eight groups predicted correctly in order ain’t bad. In a tough tournament, I can hold my head up high here.

Knockout stages:

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HEROIC: Luka Modric owned Croatia this past month with his dazzling displays on the pitch. PHOTO: SB Nation

The knockout stages are expected to display incredible football with the juggernauts coming out on top. This was partly true and albeit we didn’t get to see powerhouses everywhere it made for an even more entertaining knockout phase. All I can say is Croatia and England, enough said.

Round of 16:

Prediction:

France (WIN) v Argentina

Uruguay v Portugal (WIN)

Spain (WIN) v Russia

Croatia (WIN) v Australia

Brazil v Germany (WIN)

Belgium (WIN) v Poland

Mexico (WIN) v Switzerland

Colombia (WIN) v England

Actual outcome:

France 4 def. Argentina 3

Uruguay 2 def. Portugal 1

Russia 1 def. Spain 1(4-3 on penalties)

Croatia def. Denmark 1-1 (3-2 on penalities)

Brazil 2 def. Mexico 0

Belgium 3 def. Japan 2

Sweden 1 def. Switzerland 0

England 1 def. Colombia 1 (4-3 on penalties)

Quarter-finals:

Prediction:

France v Portugal (WIN)

Germany v Belgium (WIN)

Spain (WIN) v Croatia

Mexico v Colombia (WIN)

Actual outcome:

France 2 def. Uruguay 0

Belgium 2 def. Brazil 1

England 2 def. Sweden 0 

Russia 2 v Croatia 2 (4-3 on penalties)

Semi-finals:

Prediction:

Portugal v Spain (WIN)

Belgium (WIN) v Colombia

Actual outcome:

Croatia 2 def. England 1 (ET)

France 1 def. Belgium 0

Third Place:

Prediction:

Portugal (WIN) v Colombia

Actual outcome:

Belgium 2 def. England 0

Final:

Prediction:

Spain v Belgium (WIN)

Actual outcome:

France 4 def. Croatia 2

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SYMBOLIC: Luka Modric was everywhere but just couldn’t help an unlucky Croatia get over the line in the final. PHOTO: Sportsnet

Well my knockout phase predictions were incredibly far off the mark as the competition went further on. Spain in the final, Colombia and Portugal making it through to the last four, Germany making it to the knockout stages and Mexico getting to the quarter finals, they were rough, give me a break. What did happen was very special and I much preferred the real life outcome to my predictions. In summary here I predicted;

  • 4 out of the 8 Round of 16 matches
  • 3 of the the 8 quarter-finalists
  • 1 of the 4 semi-finalists

The rest was wrong but again the predictions were not bad in reality.

Overall this World Cup was by far the most entertaining and memorable I’ve ever watched. The pride and the passion was in full swing and I cannot wait to see it happen all over again for the 22nd time in Qatar 2022. Until then, goodbye.

KELSEY TRUSCELLO

 

 

 

 

So Andrew Gaff Did This… – Round 20 Of The AFL Was Insane

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OUT: The moment Andrew Gaff struck Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw in the third term of Sunday’s Western Derby. PHOTO: The West Australian

UNBELEIVABLY EPIC is two words to describe this round of football, it was a mega finals series within the home and away season.

The round started off with 5 of the first 6 games decided by under 5 points, saw former Magpie and current St Kilda midfielder Nathan Freeman play his first game after five seasons on an AFL list and had Sydney Swan Alex Johnson return after six years on the sidelines. Buddy kicked 6 and Michael Walters took what could be mark of the year plus much, much, much more.

You better have recorded every game.

Oh and in other news, West Coast Eagle and Brownlow Medal fancy Andrew Gaff, known for his professional, well-mannered and clean approach sent 18-year-old Fremantle Docker Andrew Brayshaw into oblivion with a punch Barry Hall’d be dazed by. West Coast won the game by 58 points.

WATCH: Andrew Gaff’s sickening off-the-ball hit on Andrew Brayshaw. 

http://www.afl.com.au/video/2018-08-05/gaff-strikes-brayshaw-in-face

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AGONY: A bloodied Andrew Brayshaw walks off the ground with a broken jaw on Sunday afternoon. PHOTO: AFL Media

It was the last thing you’d expect even in the most hostile of games, the Western Derby. A game that has seen plenty of spite in it’s 23-year history, this was one game that will stick in the mind of fans and players alike for many years. During the third quarter of Sunday afternoon’s game between the Eagles and the Dockers, Andrew Gaff was tussling with fellow Andrew, Andrew Brayshaw on the far wing of Optus Stadium. Brayshaw had up until this point being playing quite well and so had Gaff. As they were confronting each other, Gaff did the unthinkable and threw a left hook downing the youngster and sending him to hospital with a broken jaw.

The incident sparked a brawl involving many of the players, including Gaff. Gaff was taken to the bench and looked incredibly emotional and remorseful in the hands of coach Adam Simpson. This fizzled out and broke into another brawl later in the term when he was met solidly by Fremantle late inclusion Michael Johnson and defender Luke Ryan. This followed with a chorus of boos for a few Fremantle players involved in the remonstration. Dockers coach Ross Lyon had to calm his troops at the 3QTR-time break to keep them from bringing themselves into “disrepute” Lyon said when talking to the media post-game.

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PHOTO: AFL Media

The West Coast #3 was in the last quarter given a standing ovation after the game and mobbed by teammates after kicking a goal in the 4th quarter. Many pundits and fans taking to social media to voice their disgust for the West Coast fans support of Gaff’s actions.

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OUTPOURING OF EMOTION: Andrew Gaff shows remorse on the sidelines after the incident PHOTO: AFL Media

In an interview with David King on Fox Footy post-match the West Coast superstar apologised to the family of Andrew Brayshaw.

“I feel sick. I feel sick about it.

“I did the wrong thing and I’d like to think it doesn’t indicate my character. My main thought is how he is. I’m very remorseful and feel sick about it.

“What will happen will happen. My only thought is how Andy is. It is what it is and what will happen will happen.” Gaff said.

The brother of Andrew Brayshaw, Hamish is teammates with Gaff.

Taking Barry Hall’s famous hit on Brent Staker from 2008 as a precedent, the West Coast midfielder will miss close to the rest of the season through suspension, a devastating blow to the Eagles.

KELSEY TRUSCELLO

7 West Coast Players That Won’t Be At The Club In 2019

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STILL MOVING FORWARD: Mark LeCras and Jack Darling have revitalised their careers in 2018. PHOTO: SoPerth/AFL Media

THIS WEEK’S WESTERN DERBY will still hold significance in its 48th incarnation irrespective of both teams place on the premiership ladder and going on Round 20’s theme of thrilling matches, this could closer than we think. It could see the Eagles gain a stranglehold on the rivalry that encapsulates this state, with an 7th straight derby victory staring them in the face. Fremantle on the other hand are playing for pride and maybe even a big scalp in front of a ‘home’ West Coast crowd. This derby will see first ever Glendinning-Allan Medal handed out to the player judged best afield by expert panelists and it’ll be the first ever time West Coast will host the Dockers at the new home of football in WA, Optus Stadium.

It would be an understatement that this game will also have major significance for the players of both clubs, especially some Eagles that are fighting for their careers. It has been a tough season for the list managment team of West Coast with the majority of their key players out-of-contract and eligible for free agency. They’ve signed Jeremy McGovern and now they have the tough task of acquiring Andrew Gaff and Scott Lycett. It all gets very interesting from here.

In late June I placed the blowtorch on 7 Dockers who will most likely not be playing in purple next season, now I place that very same instrument on the other side of the coin, the West Coast Eagles. Nothing is a certainty in football but it is almost certain these players will not be playing in blue and gold next season.

1. Eric Mackenzie

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LUCKLESS: Poor old Eric Mackenzie has not played since this game, the 1st Semi Final versus the Giants last year. PHOTO: The West Australian/AFL Media

Eric Mackenzie has definitely ridden the rollercoaster during his career. A best & fairest winner in 2014, he’s been an underrated key of the West Coast defence for many years. Mackenzie already has missed an entire year of football in 2015, when he tore his ACL in the pre-season. He famously kept Port Adelaide from scoring a behind to win the game in the dying minutes of the Elimination Final in extra time last season, heroically and courageously ramming himself into the behind post. There was even talk at the end of the 2016 season that he’d be traded to Fremantle for Hayden Ballantyne, so it’s been a wild ride. The 30-year-old’s season is over due to a foot injury and it would take a mammoth effort to come back and be fit for 2019, I mean we’ve seen Sydney defender Alex Johnson return after a six-year absence due to knee injuries so anything is possible. We hope for the best for the former Club Champion in his recovery but it is more than likely he’ll be delisted or retire at the end of this season.

2. Will Schofield

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PHOTO: AFL Media

I am very ambivalent on Will Schofield. He has had plenty of success for the West Coast over 12 seasons in defence but since 2016 has played 18 games, 10 of which came last year. He’s no doubt a fantastic athlete and solid player but I just don’t think he has enough to stay in the side for 2019 as he’s struggled to keep his spot in a very good team. He’s 29 now, so he brings some experience but not enough edge to West Coast’s backline. Today’s game will be Schofield’s 173 apperance for the Eagles but it may be one of his last. When you think about it, if Eric Mackenzie was fit, I don’t know if you’d see him in the side. I think he’ll be inline for a retirement at the end of this year to make way for a younger defender.

3. Malcolm Karpany

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PHOTO: AFL Media

This speedy midfielder has only managed 7 games in 4 years for West Coast. He has shown signs of brilliance in those games though with his most memorable game coming against the Western Bulldogs in Round 15 last year, kicking three goals and gathering 17 disposals. However he’s not yet notched up a game for the Eagles at all this year in a tough season to do so, playing all of his football in the WAFL with East Perth. Unless Karpany can prove something in the lead-up to finals his career could be over.

4. Fraser McInnes

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Fraser McInnes (Pictured right) PHOTO: AFL Media

It’s another extraordinary football story, the story of Fraser McInnes. Since arriving at the end of 2011 he has only played 14 senior games for the Eagles, making his debut in 2015. Clearly the coaching staff can see something in him with his strong performances for East Perth, repaying the faith in the ruckman for 7 seasons. He did manage 7 games during the clubs Grand Final year but has only played 7 since then, 4 of them losses. With the rise of Scott Lycett and the return of injured Nathan Vardy, McInnes has just not been able to make it work at AFL level. Expect a delisting at the end of the season.

5. Luke Partington

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Luke Partington in action for West Coast affiliate East Perth. PHOTO: The West Australian

A first-round draft pick in 2015, Partington has 6 games and 3 goals under his belt so far in his career. Although he is a young player, the South Australian has been an Eagle unable to break into the side at all this season. At 21, other much younger talent has seen senior action unlike Partington, a worrying sign for the out-of-contract youngster. Unfortunately he hasn’t received any interest it seems from rival clubs, even in his home state. I don’t see him coming into the side in the remaining games of the season, he will need to show some strong form for East Perth to keep his spot on the Eagles list.

6. Matthew Allen

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PHOTO: AFL Media

From the same draft and South Australian U-18’s team as his teammate Luke Partington, Allen (no relation to Oscar Allen, also his teammate) has been unable to find a way into the Eagles side for an AFL action during his career unlike the latter. Has had good form in the WAFL but with this current Eagles forward line he’d have to be producing unbeleivable results to break in. Would not expect Allen to be given a contract for next season.

7. Mark LeCras

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PHOTO: AFL Media

This is about the 5th bold claim of the article but bare with me folks. Mark LeCras was probably a 60/40 at best to retire at the end of last season after a mediocre year by the crafty forward. He was given a contract however and has definitely proven his worth in 2018, but I still think he’ll retire at the end of this year. So here’s the ultimatum for Mark LeCras , in my opinion, it’s premiership or bust. He missed the 2006 flag despite being on the list and I think he’ll leave nothing left in the tank after this season. He looks good but I really doubt his body could go the journey next year. Don’t be too surprised if you see LeCras announce his retirement next month. If he does end up choosing retirement he’ll go down as an all-time great for West Coast, playing over 200 games and ending up 3rd on the all-time goalkicking list for the Eagles. I do regretably remember those 12 goals vs Essendon in 2010 Mark.

Apologies to the West Coast supporters who’ve hearts I’ve broken with this list.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

These are a few players who will be lucky to play in West Coast colours next year or are out-of-contract after the close of this season. These players will likely all stay and be safe in Eagle hands in 2019.

  • Chris Masten
  • Dom Sheed
  • Scott Lycett
  • Andrew Gaff
  • Lewis Jetta
  • Mark Hutchings

KELSEY TRUSCELLO