Fifa World Cup predictions: Neymar as Golden Boot, France to win and Croatia dark horses at Russia 2018 – what we got right and wrong

Mixed success for our team as big names disappoint on the pitch to leave field wide open for individual tournament honours and biggest prize in the game

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 July, 2018, 1:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 July, 2018, 2:12pm

It all looked so clear when we stared into our crystal balls but we did not look hard enough.

Before the tournament our writers looked at who would win the World Cup and the players that they thought would take home the individual honours of Golden Boot, Golden Ball and Golden Gloves.

While they were out on a limb we also asked them to take a punt on the other stand-outs for the summer.

Here is how they got on.

Who will win the World Cup? Winner: France

One of our reporters picked the winner, well done Paul Ryding. Chan Kin-wa was close with Belgium, who lost to the eventual winners in the semi-finals. Less successful were Jonathan White (Germany) and Nicolas Atkin (Spain). The warning signs were there.

Golden boot, MVP and World Cup dark horses – our writers predict the stars of Russia 2018

Who will finish as Golden Boot? Winner: Harry Kane

Neymar, Leo Messi and Romelu Lukaku were our tips and all were wrong. The Belgian striker finished in third with four goals, overtaken by France’s Antoine Griezmann after he scored in the final. Partial credit to Jonathan White for suggesting that Kane and Lukaku would “fill their boots against Panama and Tunisia”. Golden boot Kane did not score in England’s final three games.

Who’ll take the Golden Ball for best player? Winner: Luka Modric

Neymar and Messi again, plus a nod for Spain’s Isco, mean another unsuccessful tipping from the team. Instead it was the Spaniard’s Real Madrid teammate who got the trophy for taking Croatia to their first final.

Fifa World Cup: Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs tips Marcus Rashford to star, even if it means England have to do well

Who’ll claim the Golden Gloves? Winner: Thibaut Courtois

Two for Brazil’s Alisson and one for Spain’s David De Gea offered various diminishing returns. De Gea was awful in Russia and while Alisson was better, that Brazil left at the quarters to Belgium in a game that saw Courtois at his best, meant he was never going to get the golden gloves. The Belgian stopper impressed to the last, keeping a clean sheet in the third-place play-off.

Who is a dark horse for the tournament?

We’re in credit here. Tips for Belgium, England and Croatia meant the second, third and fourth placed teams in Russia.

What about a surprise package?

As quickly as we looked good come three suggestions that left at the first hurdle: Peru, Mohamed Salah and Iceland. None did anything particularly wrong but all were a case of what might have been, with Peru and Iceland both regretting missed penalties.

Alternative Fifa World Cup 2018 predictions – what will happen off the pitch in Russia?

Who will be the star of the tournament?

This is more like it. One for Paul Pogba and two for Kevin de Bruyne. The Frenchman was tipped to “follow Zinedine Zidane in dragging the nation to a World Cup or pretty close” while the Belgian was acknowledged as a player that would “shine brightly but not for long enough to win the Golden Ball”. He starred to the last, sadly his last was the game no one wants to play.

Which unknown player is one to look out for?

A mixed bag. Harry Maguire took his chance for England and delivered on the promise we saw but Serbia’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was not around long enough for us to really take to him. At least he looked good when he was there, Peru’s Christian Cueva had the opportunity to put his side 1-0 up in their opening game against Denmark and put his penalty over the bar. He never quite recovered.

French soccer fans celebrate their team’s World Cup victory in Hong Kong

And which young player to make a name for themselves?

Partial credit for this. Australia’s Daniel Arzani was a bright spot from the bench and a rare glimpse of a hopeful future for an ageing side. England’s T rent Alexander-Arnold and Marcus Rashford saw limited game time but offered enough to suggest that when they get an opportunity they will not let Gareth Southgate down.

Read our original predictions in full.