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Maylee Attin-Johnson: Brazil’s the best bet for 2018 W/Cup title; but don’t write off Germany just yet

“There are those who argue that this year’s team may well be the most balanced Brazilian teams we have ever seen, with strengths up front, in midfield, in defence and between the uprights…

“[But] I believe Germany pose a significant threat to their title aspirations.”

Former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson rounds off our Moscow 2018 countdown, as she tips Brazil as favourites but is wary of defending champions, Germany:

Photo: Brazil star Neymar (right) tries to get away from Germany midfielder Lars Bender during the Rio 2016 Olympic finals.
Brazil won on penalty kicks.

Once again, the sport’s most prestigious tournament is upon us and this time it has taken us to Russia. But it’s football, not roulette so my favourites to win the 2018 World Cup are Brazil.

After the embarrassing exit in the semifinal of the 2014 tournament at home, I believe that this year’s Brazilian team can win the coveted Cup for a record sixth time.

Looking back at previous World Cup-winning teams, we can identify key attributes that are common to past winners. They include a strong “spine,” industry or a good work ethic by the players, cohesion, strong leadership and an “it” factor.

The 2018 Brazilian squad boasts enormous in-form talent in the spine of their team. They have players such as Firminho of Liverpool, Fred of Shaktar and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City in their forward line, Paulinho of FC Barcelona, Fernandinho of Manchester City and Casemiro of Real Madrid in central midfield, and Thiago Silva of PSG and Miranda of Inter Milan along with Ederson of Manchester City and Alisson of Roma in central defence and in goal respectively.

So the spine of Brazilian 2018 compares favourably to the spine of many of their past legendary teams that have won the WC a record five times.

Photo: Brazil and AS Roma goalkeeper Allison is one of the most sought after custodians in Europe.

As a result, it seems fair to expect nothing less of Tite’s side in Russia.

In addition to its strong spine, this 2018 squad has some of the fastest and hardest-working wing-backs and a handful of the most skilful attacking players in the game today. Like their country, they do not lack industry. With players such as Marcelo of Real Madrid and Filipe Luis of Atletico Madrid in the wing-back positions, the team is well equipped to transition from defence into attack and vice-versa in the blink of an eye.

The supporting cast in attack comprises players of the calibre of Willian of Chelsea, Phillippe Coutinho of Barcelona, Douglas Costa of Juventus and Neymar “Mr Charismatic” Jr. That line-up makes this Brazilian team capable of scoring on any opposition, as we’ve seen in the qualifying campaign.

Under new coach Tite and with the strong leadership of Thiago Silva and Mr Charismatic, they have developed into a cohesive, creative unit.

There are those who argue that this year’s team may well be the most balanced Brazilian teams we have ever seen, with strengths up front, in midfield, in defence and between the uprights.

What’s even more exciting is that they have “it.” “It” in this case is Neymar Jr.

Photo: Brazil’s masterful attacker Neymar shows off the skills expected to make him a handful for opposing defences during World Cup 2018 in Russia.

The world knows that the 26-year-old star striker is a “true Brazilian,” capable of producing, like those who over the years have left their mark on the World Cup, moments of sheer magic. The only as yet unanswered questions are these: Can he do it on the game’s highest stage? And can he do it with a bullseye on his back?

Russia 2018 will provide the answers.

Although Brazil are my favourites to win for yet another time in 2018, I believe Germany pose a significant threat to their title aspirations. Like Brazil, the Germans have steel in their spine. With goalkeepers such as Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, central defenders and central midfielders of the quality of Matt Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Shkodran Mustafi, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos, this German team, like so many before it, will be very hard to break down.

As hard, you might say, as the Berlin Wall.

Solidity at the back is a traditional German virtue along with skill, structure, industry and discipline. Not to mention the fact that Germans just refuse to lose.

Photo: Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was outstanding in the 2014 World Cup and will feature again in Russia.

So once again, the time is upon us. May the best team win… but let’s also keep our eyes on the best disciplined team.

About Maylee Attin-Johnson

Maylee Attin-Johnson
Maylee Attin-Johnson is the Trinidad and Tobago Women's Senior National Team captain and has represented her country at senior international level since the age of 15. She has a bachelor's degree in Sports Management from the Kennesaw State University in Georgia, USA.

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