Hungry for more sports action now that the NBA season is over? Not sure which World Cup team to cheer for this summer with the US squad watching from home?
Let’s start with the real contenders –
Germany — Golden State Warriors
Germany the 2014 defending champions are a completely loaded and stacked team that even their second unit and third could threaten in the World Cup. They are loaded and like the Golden State Warriors are always in the conversation for winning a tournament that they enter. They are well coached and always feared, health concerns may be their biggest weakness as it was for the NBA champs heading into the playoffs and finals.
Portugal — Cleveland Cavaliers
Portugal has a European Championship and lots of great young talent as well as an aging group of veterans from what should have been a golden generation. They don’t have Kevin Durant to blame, but they are surely known for not getting it done. The team is known as Cristiano Ronaldo and the other guys just as SNL covered LeBron and his team. This team can always be dangerous because of their star, but isn’t really seen as a threat on the World Cup scale against the powerhouses.
France — Houston Rockets
James Harden and Chris Paul, home field advantage how could they lose? Known more for choking than success of late, but feared and revered around the world because they are always capable of making a very deep run and always seem a play or player away from winning it all. France, like the Rockets, are deadly and able to hang with anyone and will likely make a long run in this tournament. However, as we saw in the Euros — will they get it done when it matters most?
Brazil — Boston Celtics
Brazil is loaded with depth, talent and expectations just as the Boston Celtics were to start last season before losing Gordon Hayward and then Kyrie Irving, among others. Like Boston, Brazil has a ton of depth, a youthful speedy team that can threaten even without its top players. They are loaded with talent, though many are inexperienced in the tournament and like the 2018 Celtics were embarrassed in their previous tournament (7-1 defeat to Germany at home) and will be hungry to redeem that effort.
Spain– San Antonio Spurs
Like the Spurs franchise, Spain has won this tournament and have great players who at any point can lead a team to the cup. Like the Leonard situation leading up to the playoffs, questions are around the mental state of the team. Their coach was fired days before the tournament because of another opportunity he has accepted. Spain has several players from their 2010 victory in the midfield, but seem to lack the bite on offense to really make a run at this years’ tournament. Perhaps they can string one more run together with some of their aging stars.
They can keep it interesting, but probably won’t have the legs to go the distance in the later rounds…
England — Toronto Raptors
So much talent, so many expectations and they get all of the fans of the game wondering if this is the year and then…and then they do what they do. England has one of the most dangerous strikers in the game, plenty of strong attacking midfielders on top clubs and their domestic league is arguably the best in the world. They have talent at nearly every position, but psychologically it is easy to see them getting swept from the tournament as the Raptors did.
Argentina — New Orleans Pelicans
Argentina has Lionel Messi, while physically not the imposing player that Anthony Davis is, he certainly creates as much fear with the ball at his feet as AD does in his hands. AD is a threat in the league at both ends of the court and made people believe that the Pelicans could make a run if they had everyone healthy. Messi is so good he can drag an aging mediocre team with a few deadly players to a final and even win it all.
Belgium — Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC had a lot of potential to begin the season and many wondered if they finally had it figured out when the playoffs started. As we’ve seen in the past Russell Westbrook led teams have just not gotten it done. Belgium’s golden generation have really elevated their game this season with many players having won league titles over the last two years and established themselves as some of the best players in the world. Can they put it together as a team and get it done? Time will tell. Their window may be closing fast.
Uruguay — Washington Wizards
One of the most dangerous forwards in the world both from a football standpoint and with his teeth, Luis Suarez can take over a game. You can’t concentrate on him however because his counter part Edinson Cavani is equally dangerous. Much like the duo of guards in Washington they have a lot of star power and great pieces to make a deep run. Their defense can keep them in any game and their capable of scoring on anyone.
Colombia — Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo was always a dangerous player and good enough to make many wonder if even the Boston Celtics with 53 wins would be able to get out of the first round. With Kris Middleton meteoric play they very nearly pulled off the upset. James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao have that dual threat component and are considered some of the best at their craft in the world. Columbia can certainly play with anyone because of their stars, but often get overpowered and their lack of depth fails them.