England reached the final of the Euros last yearWIKIMEDA COMMONS (LICENSED UNDER CC BY-SA 3.0)

Varsity sport co-editor James Hardy: Argentina
Varsity sport co-editor Joshua Korber Hoffman: England
Men's blues: Brazil
Women’s Blues captain Frances Steele: France

Ben Conway's verdict: The bookies’ favourite, by some margin, is the men's Blues shout: Brazil. I’m having an internal struggle between the patriot in me that wants to say England, and my brain, which would bank on Brazil.

JH: Argentina, Belgium, Portugal, France
JKH: England, Portugal, Switzerland, Argentina
Blues: England, Brazil, Germany, Argentina
FS: Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany

Verdict: Argentina are the only side to make it into all four predictions. Should they top their group with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland, their most likely run to the semi finals is Switzerland, then the Netherlands, both of whom you’d reckon they’ll overcome. But nothing is guaranteed in football (apart from England being eliminated on penalties).

Dark horse
JH: Senegal
JKH: Ecuador
Blues: South Korea
FS: Belgium

Verdict: I love the Ecuador shout here. To qualify for the tournament they beat Colombia and Chile. They even recently had an appeal lodged against them for fielding an ineligible player, which has since been overturned. You’d imagine they’ll be fired up for it, and their group features Qatar as the pot A team, so it’s extremely open. Aside from them, I wouldn’t put it past Denmark to have another impressive run, or Japan to upset Spain or Germany.

Biggest letdown
JH: England
JKH: Brazil
Blues: Portugal
FS: England

Verdict: Very bold calls here. My pick is Spain. Their squad looks fairly makeshift, with their best players past their prime and their stars still young. There’s no exceptional out-and-out
striker and the defence looks average. With Germany, Japan and Costa Rica to overcome in group E, an early flight home wouldn’t shock me.

Best team outside Europe and South America
JH: South Korea
JKH: Senegal
MBP: Senegal
FS: Ghana

Verdict: I like Fran’s shout. Ghana vs Uruguay in group H is a must-watch; revenge has been pending for over a decade for that handball by Luis Suarez in the 2010 quarter-finals. The
look on Asamoah Gyan’s face after he missed the penalty still haunts me. I really hope the Black Stars make it far this time around.

How will England do?
JH: Last 16
JKH: Winners
Blues: Quarter-finals
FS: Quarter-finals


Mountain View

This World Cup should not be happening

Verdict: Falcons captain Joseph Helm was very specific with this one, forecasting an extra-time loss to France in the quarters, accompanied by national devastation. I don’t think the nation could deal with two consecutive lost finals, so it’s win or bust this year. For me — we either we lift the trophy, or I’m going with quarter-finals too.

Golden boot
JH: Lionel Messi
JKH: Harry Kane
Blues: Harry Kane
FS: Kylian Mbappé

Verdict: Surely he couldn’t win it two World Cups in a row?! But our experts have some substantive faith in Harry Kane, which I’ll echo. He scores all types of goals, takes our penalties, and has ample opportunity to stats-pad in the group against Iran, Wales, and USA. Vinícius Jr.’s sparkling form over the last year makes him a prime contender as well.

Most assists
JH: Kevin de Bruyne
JKH: Lionel Messi
Blues: Kevin de Bruyne
FS: Kevin de Bruyne

Verdict: A clear trend here. My qualm is that Belgium’s first knockout game will likely be against Spain or Germany - so KDB might not play enough games to top the charts. I’ll go with the Netherlands' lesser-known Cody Gakpo: he has 11 assists in his first 12 league games this season, and group A is probably the easiest on paper. Should the Netherlands top the group, they will likely have a favourable RO16 fixture against the second placed team in England’s group.

Golden glove
JH: Thibaut Courtois
JKH: Yann Sommer
Blues: Alisson
FS: Alisson

Verdict: Blues centre-mid Matt Harris was reportedly extremely confident with his prediction, but I think it overlooks a tricky group (Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon). I like Argentina’s chances of two-plus clean sheets in their Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland group. So it’s Emi Martínez for me.

Golden ball
JH: Lionel Messi
JKH: Lautaro Martínez
Blues: Lionel Messi
FS: Kylian Mbappé

Verdict: This one is always hard to predict - there’s always some player who produces the five best performances of their career one after the other and then fails to live up to those standards for the rest of his career (the name James Rodríguez springs to mind). So I really appreciate JKH’s prediction. But I’ll say Gareth Bale, who will be trying to conjure a spectacular last dance, given that he’ll probably retire as soon as the tournament is over.

One to watch
My ones to watch are Messi and Ronaldo. If either of their nations lift the trophy, that might just settle the ‘GOAT’ debate. The predictions above mention Messi for most assists, most goals, and best player, with no Ronaldo love at all. It promises to be fascinating, and that’s where I’ll be resting my focus.

Rising star
I have two to keep an eye on. Mohamed Kudus of Ghana showed English audiences just what he can do with a screamer at Anfield in September, and is primed to cause some problems in group H. And Moisés Caicedo has already made himself a linchpin in the Brighton side at just 20 years old. He is integral for Ecuador too, and will have the chance to impress potential suitors on the world stage.

Where to watch in Cambridge
While the footballers will be playing in Qatar’s roughly 30°C winter, most of us will be in the UK, replacing (or better, complementing) pints of beer with mulled wine or hot chocolate. Fortunately, Cambridge is blessed with ample places to get your fix of the footy. I reckon that most college bars will show the games - at the very least the England ones.
Outside of colleges, Cambridge has over 100 pubs. Towards the north of the university, "The Isaac Newton" is a personal favourite, due to its large number of TVs and exceptional curly fries. Down south, the Alma has a projector screen that shows big matches and has a generally friendly atmosphere. Centrally, the Baron of Beef has very pleasant staff and is quite cosy. Outside of Cambridge, many students will be on the Varsity ski trip for the round of 16 and the quarter-finals, and the organisers have committed to putting on viewings of the games.