I have not had the chance as yet for a proper conflab with Pargie but I know he is big on France for value as in his view they combine top league experience with the likes of Koscielny, Lloris, Giroud, Schmeidelin, Cabaye, Pogba and Payet, Veraine of Real Madrid and Griezmann of Atletico allied to the youthful talent of Mbappe.
Today I’m taking a look at Belgium, in England’s Group, and the first to qualify. They have a lot of quality but generally all in the same position, central midfield. There they have de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Moussa Dembele. In central defence they can count on Alderweireld and Vertongen of Spurs plus Kompany of Manchester City, but they need to find a left back out of them alongside right back Thomas Meunier.
No problems up front with Romelu Lokaku and Dries Martens of Napoli and Courtois is one of the best keepers in the tourney. My doubt about them is the manager Roberto Martinez, not a great coach defensively and, with his number two Thierry Henry, short on World Cup nous. The feeling is that they will qualify for the group but fall to one of the big boys in the quarters.
In a country which occupies one eighth of the total of the world’s inhabited surface and 11 time zones, travelling distances which could exceed 6000 miles is going to be a big issue.
The favourites and best team does not tend to win.
Brazil were generally recognised as the best in 1982 in Spain but Italy turned them over in one of the greatest World Cup games 3-2, to go on to win the trophy.