Who will win the World Cup? The Supplement panel provide their picks
Last Updated: 12/06/18 6:50am
The tournament is almost upon us - but who is going to lift the trophy? We asked the World Cup Supplement panel for their picks.
Brazil are favourites with most bookmakers but there is plenty of faith behind Germany, Spain and France.
We'll be bringing you the best insight, reaction and analysis to the major stories in Russia with the World Cup Supplement podcast.
Host Neil Ashton is joined by journalists covering the tournament for a series of podcasts over the course of the competition. In our first episode, Jonathan Liew (The Independent) and John Cross (Mirror) sit down with Ashton to discuss an array of topics, including who they think will end up lifting the trophy in mid-July.
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Here's what the experts are predicting....
Jonathan Liew (The Independent)
I've gone for a Spain v France final. I think France have the strongest squad but not the strongest team while Spain have the pedigree in tournaments.
It's interesting that they've kept the same spine of the team that did so poorly in the last two tournaments but they have breathed new life into themselves. They still have Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta - there's not been a huge amount of change there but that can work to their advantage.
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You can spend ages talking about the ridiculous amount of quality players France have got.
My concern is Didier Deschamps - I don't rate him as a tournament manager. He doesn't know what his best XI is.
There is a still a question about Paul Pogba. Do you play him in a three? And what about Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud? Where do you fit them all in? That's my main concern. The players are incredible but it's whether the manager can get them playing as a unit.
John Cross (The Mirror)
It's weird, the office asked us to pick our winners four weeks ago and I said Germany as I always go for them. They are so reliable.
However, after looking at their squad, they are solid without gripping me. Yes, they'll be contenders but it surprised me the lack of 'wow factor' in their squad. They'll reach the last four but I'm not sure they'll go all the way this time.
The squad that really excites me is France - they've got so many options. You've got quality players cropping up all over the place - it's astonishing - and someone like N'Golo Kante anchoring that midfield. They should be winning the World Cup but the question - like always with France - is whether they can do it as a team.