Fifa World Cup: were our alternative predictions for Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Sergio Ramos at Russia 2018 accurate?
Our team tried to call this year’s vuvuzela, Nessun Dorma and Paul the Octopus – now that the dust has settled we hold them to account
In the future when we look back on this World Cup what will be the defining memories of Russia 2018?
That is exactly what we asked our team before the tournament and now we look back at what was spookily accurate and what was just plain wrong.
Here are our alternative predictions for Russia 2018 and how they stood up to 64 games and all that goes with that.
Spoons of Victory?
We said: 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.
Miss: One vuvuzela is enough so we have got off lightly.
Live it Up
We said: 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 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.
Hit: It’s an actual hit. Also, Will Smith talking about Neymar’s acting is enough to light up any World Cup.
Congratulations to France, who played extraordinary soccer, on winning the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, congratulations to President Putin and Russia for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament -- one of the best ever!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 15 July 2018
We said: 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.
Miss: Trump was busy calling too many other things “fake news” for the World Cup to make it on his radar until the end. He congratulated France on winning while showing his support for Russia as hosts.
Pain for Spain
We said: 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.
Miss: Spain imploded all right but any resentment at the Real Madrid lads did not come to light. The Champions League winners were among the better performers in a disappointing campaign.
We said: 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 will 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.
Hit: This is frighteningly close. Harry Kane’s goals made the English think football was coming home, Russia’s 5-0 win in the opener might as well have been 7-0 and the troublemakers were no trouble at all. Spooky.
Too much to bear
We said: 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.
Hit: One bear made the headlines for being driven around Moscow on opening day, just casually sat in the back of a car, and another in a Siberian zoo wrongly predicted Croatia would triumph in the final.
Sore and sorry Salah
We said: 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.
Miss: Salah sadly sat out the Uruguay game and Suarez did not bite anyone at any point.
Joke is on Asia
We said: 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
Miss: Japan not only made it through the groups on fair play, ironically becoming everyone’s least liked team in doing so, they then went mightily close to a quarter-final. The Blue Samurai threw away a 2-0 lead against Belgium with the last kick of the game before winning everyone over again by leaving the stands and changing rooms cleaner than they found them.
Vlad the Impaler
We said: 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?
Miss: While the Real Madrid defender continued his own brand of martial arts at every opportunity, he was not joined by Putin. Although, every time the Russian president shrugged in the opening game, there seemed to be another goal.
Could US v China be a key contest?
We said: 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 of The Star Spangled Banner and March of the Volunteers.
Miss: England never met France, which was probably for the best, and for all the pictures of Chinese fans representing the country, the US fans blended in.