Alternative Fifa World Cup 2018 predictions – what will happen off the pitch in Russia?
Will we see more fake news claims, regulated hooliganism or even a cameo on the pitch from Vladimir Putin himself?
The Fifa World Cup is only hours away but there’s more to life than the football. The defining sights and sounds of World Cups past have not been the great goals, saves and skills on the field but something out of left field – it is the vuvuzelas, animals and the climax to Nessun Dorma that stirs the memory.
We predict that Russia 2018 will be no different and here our writers have their say on what will live forever from this summer.
Spoons of Victory?
Eight years ago, World Cup fans were treated to the soothing South African symphonies of the vuvuzela. The deafening novelty plastic horns just about made it through the group stages before whispers of stadium bans arose. The official 2018 Russia World Cup instrument is the lozhka – a Russian spoon often used by folk musicians – and appears to be less ear shattering. I predict these so-called “Spoons of Victory” will reach the semis. Andrew McNicol
Live it Up
By the end of a tournament where we have been delighted with more goals than ever before and absolutely no hooliganism, the official Fifa tune Live it Up will have transformed from the one of the worst songs to feature Will Smith this side of the Willennium to the kind of banger that is so meaningful you’ll be having your first dance at your wedding to it. Jonathan White
Undeterred by that pesky little thing called reality, president Donald Trump will tweet that it is “fake news” the United States are not at the World Cup, before adding he will be supporting Russia anyway. Nicolas Atkin
Pain for Spain
Tensions will be simmering in the Spain camp after the extraordinary dismissal of manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament. Some reports are suggesting that the Real Madrid players in the squad actually knew their club’s discussions with the unbeaten Spain boss were at an advanced stage. My guess is there’ll be some resentment aimed at the Los Blancos contingent in the dressing room and there could be a France/Netherlands-style meltdown bubbling away. Paul Ryding
Russian politician Igor Lebedev will get his way and hooliganism will become an official sport midway through the tournament in a bid to remove the carnage from the terraces and the streets. Either that, or Russia win their opener against Saudi Arabia 7-0, England go on a Harry Kane-inspired tear-up to give their fans a semblance of hope and the troublemakers all drink and be merry. Sam Agars
Too much to bear
Whether it’s Pickles the dog discovering the Jules Rimet trophy or that locust thing on James Rodriguez’s shoulder last time out, animals have a part to play at every World Cup. Something involving a bear is my prediction. I don’t know what it will be – in fact, I shudder to think – but it will go viral. Jonathan White
Sore and sorry Salah
Mo Salah will make a shocking return from the injury he suffered in the Champions League final when Sergio Ramos threw him to the ground, taking his place in the Egypt starting XI for their opening game against Uruguay – only to have to be subbed off again when Luis Suarez bites his shoulder. Nicolas Atkin
Joke is on Asia
When will the first Asian country win the World Cup? One day three soccer fans, one from Japan, one from South Korea and one from China, went to God for the answer. God first told the Japanese fan, maybe it will take 50 years. The fan cried because he wouldn’t able to watch it. Then God said to the South Korean fan that his country may need 100 years. The fan also cried, saying even his son wouldn’t be able to watch it. Then came the Chinese fan. This time it was God who cried, saying even he might not be able to watch it! My prediction – no Asian teams will get out of the group stage. Chan Kin-wa
Vlad the Impaler
Is it too much to ask for renowned judo practitioner Vladimir Putin to take out Spain player-manager Sergio Ramos (because that has to happen) with a bit of his own medicine? Jonathan White
Could US v China be a key contest?
Despite having no discernible interest in the tournament itself, football fans from the US and China have flooded into Mother Russia to embrace the festivities. Far more than supporters from countries that are actually participating like, say, England (a meagre 33,000 tickets sold according to reports in UK media) and France (even fewer). It’s not too far fetched to imagine those two meeting at some advanced stage of the tournament and after the obligatory strains of Le Marseillaise and God Save the Queen, the largely Sino-US crowd launching into impromptu renditions The Star Spangled Banner and March of the Volunteers. Paul Ryding