Former Derby Captain and Welsh international Robbie Savage has offered his typically forthright opinions on some of the teams who have thus far competed at this year’s blossoming World Cup.
Invariably, this includes an, ahem, frank, assessment of England’s chances (more on that later).
Savage had encouraging words for two of the less illustrious teams who have graced the world cup stage at this point in proceedings; he was particularly impressed with German conquerors Mexico and fellow minnows Peru, who only narrowly lost to France.
On the two countries Savage said: “Even though Peru lost I was very impressed with them.
"Mexico beat the champions Germany, what a performance that was! Chicharito up front worked his socks off. For me Mexico so far.”
Savage was less enthused by two of the powerhouses of world football, however, bluntly stating:
“Wasn’t that impressed with Brazil. Argentina; not quite”.
Both drew their first games against relatively smaller and much less-fancied opposition (Iceland and Switzerland respectively) 1-1 while Lionel Messi and co. also lost their second game to Croatia 3-0 and now look unlikely to make it past the group stages.
So who does Savage actually think will lift the World Cup?
That would be the French.
“My favourites before the tournament were France," he said, before France's 1-0 win against Peru on Thursday. "I think if you can leave out the likes of Martial, Payet, Lacazette, I think that you should have a very strong squad.
"They won the first game, it wasn’t convincing, but as the tournament grows I think they’ll use their squad well, and I think when you’ve got Griezmann, Mbappe, Kante, Pogba, Varane, Lloris, then I think you’ve got a great opportunity, so I’m going France”.
How about his assessment of Germany and Spain, the last two nations to lift the trophy?
On Spain, Savage opined:
“To lose their manager two days before the tournament, to have Hierro in charge of them, I thought they done (sic) ok. Can they go all the way? I’m not so sure.”
He was no more impressed with holders Germany, pointing out that they ‘‘weren’t looking great going into the competition and have lost to Mexico”.
Man of the tournament thus far? That was apparently a no-brainer.
“But that man Ronaldo, what a hat trick, what a free kick, what a player, what a performance”.
Difficult to argue with Ronaldo providing the talking point of the tournament so far, the Portuguese defying old enemy Spain with a confident hat-trick, a wonderful free-kick icing the top of the Ronaldo cake.
And what of England, the country Savage played his whole career in?
In a word…ouch.
"England, can they lift the trophy? 14 to 1 with William Hill (laughs). 14 to 1!? I think that’s a bit generous! Should be a hundred to one, they’ve got no chance.
"Harry Kane, big stage, big player, he’s got to do it on this stage. He was disappointing in the European Championships when Wales done (sic) so well…but, Harry Kane, Dele Ali, Jordan Henderson captain of Liverpool in the Champions League final.
"Big tournament for big players, Harry Kane (has) decent odds on him to be the top scorer in the world cup, to win the Golden Boot, to emulate Gary Lineker…but I’m not so sure he will.
"Raheem Sterling, what a season for Manchester City, goals and assists. Can he achieve the same level for England? He’s had a tough few weeks but I’m sure his character will shine through."
"He’s got his team mates around him who’ve all been supportive, his manager’s been supportive. Listen, what a season. By all accounts he’s a fantastic guy, humble guy, I’m sure he’ll do his best.
"Rashford, what part will he play? Little injury before the tournament but I’m sure he’ll be a huge impact player for England."
Robbie Savage was speaking at the William Hill Arms, the pub which will offer fans the ultimate England watching experience including expert analysis, plus free food and drink. For your chance to win exclusive access to England’s remaining group games head to William Hill’s Twitter or Facebook pages
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