Former India football skipper Baichung Bhutia is backing reigning champions Germany and former champions France and Spain to lift the FIFA World Cup beginning on June 14 in Russia.
Belgium, he reckons, could be the dark horse.
“Surprise could be Belgium. It is one thing that I feel. They have the talent. Big names like France, Germany are the favourites to win it, but teams like Belgium (can spring a surprise),” Bhutia said during a media interaction.
The ‘Sikkimese Sniper’ was speaking after official broadcasters of the FIFA World Cup Sony Pictures Networks India launched a promotional campaign, Meri Doosri Country, ahead of the mega event.
Bhutia also said that hosts Russia could go past the Group stage while Spain are also capable of lifting the Cup.
“They will go past the group stages - the Russians would do well. They have the players to take them to the pre-quarters. Spain is always a team that is a favourite to win, but again, the World Cup is a tournament where you can have a great league (stage) and then one bad match and you are out of the tournament,” he said.
Diego Maradona’s second goal (regarded as Goal of the Century) against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match in Mexico, wherein the Argentinian forward evaded a host of defenders, is Bhutia’s favourite World Cup memory.
“I have never been to a World Cup. My first experience – as a kid you don’t remember much – but I remember Maradona’s goal against England and Maradona lifting that World Cup in Mexico... that can’t beat any (other) World Cup (memory),” he said.