64 matches, 32 countries, one winner. The World Cup is once again upon us, with the very best footballers on the planet competing for the ultimate prize. To mark the occasion the EchoSport reporters are pitting their wits against some of south Essex’s best and brightest young football experts to see who really knows more.
THE children at Holt Farm Junior School fancy Chile to upset the odds this summer, with some even tilting them to reach the last four.
Here is what Millie, Holly-Anne, Holly, Brooke, Scott, Connor, Liam, Samuel, William, Faye and Jacob thought would happen.
Samuel: I think Spain will have a really bad tournament. This is the year for the South Americans.
Holly: I still think Spain and the Netherlands are the teams to beat in this group.
Liam: I want Holland to win! I lived there in the last World Cup and want them to go all the way.
EchoSport reporter Luke: So you think there are three teams in the group that could go through. What two will it be though?
Connor: Spain have so many good players. (Sergio) Ramos, Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Fernando) Torres are just a few so I still think they will go a long way in the tournament.
Torres - has struggled at Chelsea but performed for Spain
Holly-Anne: The climate will play a big part in who wins and also the time-difference. Spanish and Dutch players will find it difficult to adjust to the time change.
Scott: I think Chile will be best prepared to qualify. Plus they have Alexis Sanchez and he is so good.
EchoSport Luke: So you don’t think Australia have a chance but one of the three teams will have to miss out. Who will it be?
William: It is really difficult to choose. The games between the three teams will be hard to predict.
Brooke and Millie agree: Spain and Holland have done well in previous tournaments so I would think they would be the teams to go through.
Dangermen - Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are Chile's star players
Holly-Anne: I don’t know if we should rule Australia out. They could have a sudden spurt of amazingness.
Samuel: There is always an underdog that tends to do well in these tournaments. I think it will be Chile but Australia could prove a few people wrong.
EchoSport Luke: Could any of these teams win the tournament?
Liam: Holland! They have some very good strikers and I think they will be the winners.
Connor: Holland might not even get out of their group. Chile know the climate and I think that could make the difference.
So what about England? 48 years since Bobby Moore lifted the trophy do the youngsters think the Three Lions and Steven Gerrard will be repeating the feat in Rio this year?
Samuel: I think England will qualify but won’t get past the first or second knock-out rounds. They won’t be able to cope with the intense heat.
Connor: England could end up playing Japan or Greece in the next round and that would be a good draw. After that it will be too hard for them.
EchoSport Luke: Where do you think England are weakest?
Holly: I don’t know what formation they will play. They have a lot of options but I don’t even think they know what the best team is.
EchoSport Luke: If England can’t win it, who will?
Holly-Anne and Holly: Brazil or Argentina are the favourites.
To bring the World Cup to south Essex, EchoSport has invited eight primary schools to take on each other (and us!) in predicting the results of the matches. A correct score line prediction will see three points awarded and the correct result one point. The school with the most points at the end of the tournament will be crowned champions.
Friday: Spain v Netherlands
Echo: 2-0 Holt Farm: 2-1
Friday: Chile v Australia
Echo: 1-0 Holt Farm: 2-0
18/6: Spain v Chile
Echo: 2-1 Holt Farm: 1-1
18/6: Australia v Netherlands
Echo: 0-3 Holt Farm: 0-2
23/6: Australia v Spain
Echo: 0-4 Holt Farm: 1-3
23/6: Netherlands v Chile
Echo: 0-1 Holt Farm: 1-2