The Foul Throw World Cup predictions part 2
As promised in part one, we’ve come back to give you greedy beggars some more.
Which currently relatively unknown player will earn themselves a big money move?
Jones: Trézéguet. No, I’m not writing this in 1998. I’m talking about Mahmoud Hassan, the 23-year-old Egyptian more commonly known as Trézéguet, due to the apparently striking resemblance he shared with the French striker as a youngster. Even if the physical similarities didn’t survive puberty, the nickname did (they always do).
He’s a good, tricky player, who has plenty of potential and as part of this Egyptian side could be really exciting. If he’s particularly impressive some mid-table Premier League sucker will splash big money on him. He isn’t worth that, but football is silly, and he’s got a great name (if a deal does go through there’ll be plenty of ‘shirt sales alone…’ nonsense about) so best of luck to him.
An honourable mention should go to Mexico’s Hirving Lozano here. A better player, undoubtedly, than Trézéguet, but in the name stakes I found myself less taken by Hirving.
Almond: I’m taking a pretty hard line on ‘earn’ for this one. Fekir might push a move to Liverpool or even Madrid over the line, but that’s longstanding interest and awareness. c.f. Torreira, Milinković-Savić etc.
So, I’m going with Papa Moussa Konaté of Senegal (yes there is a theme here). He’ll score goals and Chelsea or Everton absolutely will pay £30m for this man in the Summer.
Who is most likely to miss a vital penalty?
Jones: A World Cup quarter final. 120 minutes have been played and neither side has been able to break the deadlock. A shootout progresses. We reach the fourth spot kick.
Vital. Deep breath. Oh no! It lacked power and was at a nice height for the keeper who mercilessly bats its away. The net minder scrambles to his feet and roars with such a guttural eruption that his prominent jugular threatens to burst. Paul Pogba gazes at the perfectly level turf with half-hearted admonishment in his eyes.
Come on, he’s got it in him.
Almond: It would be incredibly easy to just write down an England player here. So I think I will. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do. Jordan Henderson. Next.
Which England player is going to be sent off?
Jones: Really, we both think this is going to be Dele Alli, but to keep things interesting I’ll go with Ashley Young. I haven’t got a great argument as to why, but should it come to pass I’ll retroactively amend this piece.
Almond: There are 73 minutes on the clock. The score 0-0. Tunisian defenders hurl themselves in front of everything. They’re bloodied and bruised but resilient. The atmosphere is taut. England players shoot nervous looks at each other, carefully avoiding Gareth’s gaze. Henderson plays Lineker, Alli Gascoigne. Southgate sees it and motions to Lingard to get up from the bench. But he’ll never reach the field. Alli’s studs slice down. It’s a stamp. It’s a red. It’s all over?
Which team will outperform their net xG by the greatest margin?
This category might need some introducing. Net xG measures how many goals a team ‘should’ have scored by how many they ‘should’ have conceded. Infamously, Burnley’s net xG last season was quite poor despite their lofty league position. They got jammy. Who will get jammy at the World Cup?
Jones: Peru. I really like this Peru side so wanted to give them a mention here somewhere. I also think they’re a good shout to rack up some goals. Their group game against Australia could be their best opportunity to put some serious figures on the board.
In the recently reinstated (following a doping ban, which was harsh to say the least) Paolo Guerrero, they have a striker who knows how to find the back of the net for his country. At their first finals for 36 years, Peru will want to put on a show, whilst they’re record suggests they should be pretty tight at the back too.
Almond: Portugal. Ronaldo will pepper opposition keepers from range with poor quality shots that don’t earn much xG and a few will probably fly in.
More importantly, Portugal just jam their way through, don’t they? Portugal. Lord help us. Yep, Portugal are the Burnley of international football, except without any of the romance. Sean Dyche if he just ate ready salted crisps not worms. That pub they renamed The Royal Dyche if it was called the Tea Leaf + Kettle or any other number of awful pub names.
Right, that’s your lot. It’s all about to kick off, and all our predictions will undoubtedly prove unfounded. Ahhh, football.