If each Round of 16 side was a Premier League team…
With the group stages now wrapped up, it’s got us thinking, if each nation still left at Russia 2018 was a Premier League team…. who would they be?
Uruguay would be…. Leicester City
Not quite up there in the top tier of potential winners, but the potential fox in the henhouse as the tournament reaches its latter stages. A dangerous opponent in the right mood that every big side will be hoping to swerve.
Russia would be… Huddersfield Town
Surprising everyone with a blistering start to a competition after being completely written off before a ball was kicked. Cracks look like they are starting to emerge against superior opposition.
Spain would be… West Ham
Whilst boardroom interference and rash decision-making at first glance looks like it may well jeopardise their campaign, the players manage to just about rise above it and keep things on an even keel.
Portugal would be… Crystal Palace
Both heavily reliant on one man to drag them through games, but when that player is on their game, the team can be lifted to new heights. When both lack their talisman, they look horribly exposed.
France would be… Man Utd
Plenty of talent within their ranks but so often fail to entertain. Usually have enough to keep their noses in the hunt for silverware even if it’s at the expense of viewers snoozing off.
Denmark would be… Brighton
Well-marshalled, defensively astute and capable of nicking a narrow win against the elite on their day, they wouldn’t be your first pick as you settle down for a night on the sofa but have the capacity to dig their heels in and stay in a game.
Croatia would be… Burnley
Impressively going about their business with the minimum of fuss, and a side all the big guns are suddenly re-assessing in the wake of an impressive winning streak at this World Cup. A side everyone will be expecting to fall away at some stage – but will they?
Argentina would be… Chelsea
A side bristling with quality but one never far from a behind-the-scenes meltdown that inevitably damages their chances of staying the course. They have more than enough to get themselves out of a hole, but with a manager suspicious of many of his players’ motivations, a genuine challenge looks unlikely.
Brazil would be…. Man City
A relatively low-key opening few games, but now starting to look the class act in the competition and surely capable of upping their game as the tournament progresses.
Switzerland would be… Newcastle
A side that proved more than the sum of their parts in Group E thanks to a canny manager on the sidelines in Vladimir Petković. Expected to struggle pre-tournament, tactical discipline with a splash of stardust means the Swiss won’t be easy pushovers in the knockout stages.
Sweden would be… Southampton
Looked all but dead and buried with time running out on their group stage campaign but showed their mettle in mounting an unlikely last gasp turnaround to top the group.
Mexico would be… Watford
Always seem to start off tournaments like a steam train before reverting to the mean within a couple of games. Undoubtedly difficult opponents on their day, you’re never quite sure which team will turn up.
Colombia would be… AFC Bournemouth
Occasionally sensational in attack, often sloppy in defence, any World Cup fan will happily settle down in front of this side knowing that a goalfest will surely follow. Despite their shortcomings, they deserve credit for consistently entertaining football.
Japan would be… Cardiff City
A tight-knit group little-fancied before a ball was kicked, Japan have battled their way through for a crack at the knockout stages. It will be tougher from here on in, but don’t underestimate a team fit to bursting with spirit and work ethic.
England would be… Spurs
A side starting to excite their fanbase with a fledgling young team and a manager promoting the power of positive thinking all around the training ground. Now they just need some silverware to usher in a bold new era, even if the fans still can’t quite believe they won’t find a way to mess things up somehow.
Belgium would be… Liverpool
Packed with attacking talent, guaranteed to be one of the most watchable teams at the tournament, question marks remain as to whether they have a manager capable of cutting out the occasional defensive lapse.
Germany would be… Arsenal
Probably now facing the prospect of being under new management after years of one man at the helm. Like Wenger, Löw must regret not walking away at the peak of his powers.
Peru would be… Fulham
A side that play lovely football in patches with an attitude, fanbase and atmosphere around the camp that you’d be pushed hard not to like. May take a little while to make the next step-up, but most will wish them well.
Iran would be… Wolves
Benefited from a tactically astute Portuguese manager to give the big boys of Portugal and Spain a scare they weren’t necessarily expecting. A team that could be set for greater things in years to come.
Poland would be… Everton
Will expect to do much better next time around after a very disappointing campaign. May well benefit from a new regime leading the team once they have banished memories of this experience.
All image sources from PA Images
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