Who will be the 2018 World Cup champions? Ask Gyde & Seek's fiercest soccer fans.
Forget forecasting models. Algorithms were no match for the historic meltdowns and stunning upsets that characterized the first two weeks of this year's cup. And anyway, where's the fun in arguing with a super-computer? A fellow super-fan makes for much better company around the water-cooler. With 16 squads still in contention, we asked soccer obsessives across the globe to predict who will compete in the 2018 World Cup Final—and which team will take home the sport's most coveted title. Still deliberating over your knockout bracket? Read on for their (purely objective!) projections, traditions, and superstitions.
João, Lisbon: Portugal 2 - Spain 1
Quick take: I'm calling an Iberian final, with Portugal coming out on top. Why? We're the current European champion with the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. And he's not the only one. Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Guedes, William Carvalho and Rui Patrício, the goalkeeper, will all help make the difference for Portugal. But it'll be close. Spain hasn't lost a game in almost two years. The Spanish players have great technique and know each other very well. They play the "tiki-taka" like no one else. Diego Costa is "The Beast" and hard to stop!
Game-day ritual: I only have one superstition. During the World Cup, I never pass through tunnels or under any construction signs. I end up zigzagging all over Lisbon, going out of my way in order to avoid all of the little arches.
Nicolás, Buenos Aires: Brazil 3 - Spain 1
Quick take: Even in a strange cup like this one, Brazil is always Brazil. I think the Brazilian players are the best in the world and suspect that they will beat Spain in the final, 3 to 1. I hope that they don't, to tell you the truth, but they are more confident—and they have more history.
Game-day ritual: Whenever Argentina wins, I insist on watching subsequent matches in the same place where I watched the first. The one time I didn't manage to get back to the bar where I'd watched the previous game (my motorcycle wouldn't start!) we lost. I totally jinxed it. My friends wanted to kill me.
Claudio, Mexico City: Mexico 3 - Spain 1
Quick take: It might seem farfetched to other fans, but I believe Mexico can win. Our team is finally discovering its inner greatness. It would be an incredible boost of confidence for our country.
Game-day ritual: In Mexico City, it's not unusual to see fans praying and going to mass! My favorite tradition actually happens after the game. If we win, the entire city storms the Angel of Independence (our most important monument) to celebrate the victory.
Marcelo, Rio de Janeiro: Brazil 3 - England 1
Quick take: Brazil has three extraordinarily talented players—Marcelo, Neymar, and Coutinho—but in my opinion, what gives this team an edge is its unity. All of the players are very closely connected and hyper-focused on winning this cup.
Game-day ritual: In Rio, we don't usually watch the matches at bars. Instead, we invite all of our close friends and family over for a Brazilian churrasco. Whenever Brazil plays, it might as well be a national holiday; everyone stops work to watch the games.
Felipe, Bogotá: France 3 - Croatia 2
Quick take: This cup has been full of surprises, and I think the final will bring yet another: France vs. Croatia. Croatia has the best midfielders in the competition. France has a talented young team and an experienced coach (Didier Deschamps) who knows how it feels to be a World Cup champion. The match may be hard-fought, but Griezmann and the French strikers are in fine form, and I believe they will get it done.
Game-day ritual: I wouldn't be without my David Ospina jersey on game-day.