5 bold predictions for 2019 in world soccer

James Sharman, Danny Dichio and Craig Forrest look at Canada's 2018 in soccer, highlighted by the news of the FIFA World Cup coming in 2026.

It feels like understatement to say that 2018 was a wild and crazy year for soccer.

Who could have guessed that Cristiano Ronaldo would leave Real Madrid for Juventus? Or that Aresene Wenger would finally part ways with Arsenal? Or that Toronto FC wouldn’t qualify for the MLS playoffs?

What will 2019 bring? Here are some guesses:

1. Canada will win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Canada has never won the biggest tournament in women’s soccer – its best showing was a fourth-place finish in 2003. Next summer will be different, as the Reds will finally break through and win it all thanks to the experience of iconic captain Christine Sinclair and an exciting crop of young prospects.

2. Tottenham will win the UEFA Champions League
Tottenham survived a tough group stage, edging out Inter Milan for a spot in the Round of 16. Most English pundits are talking up the chances of Liverpool and Manchester City, the two teams fighting it out for first place in the Premier League. But Spurs have quietly gone about their business, and will claim a few scalps en route to lifting the richest prize in European club soccer.

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3. All three Canadian MLS teams will miss the playoffs
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be in rebuilding mode under new coach Marc Dos Santos. The Montreal Impact won’t shore up its aging defence. Toronto FC will still be psychologically burdened by its disastrous 2018 MLS regular season.

4. Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona for Inter Milan
Following in the footsteps of rival Ronaldo, who joined Juventus in July, Lionel Messi will part ways with Barcelona and come to Serie A by signing with Inter Milan – Juve’s biggest rival.

5. Toronto FC will end the MLS drought in CONCACAF Champions League
No MLS team has ever won this continental competition, with Mexican clubs winning every Champions League since the inaugural tournament staged in 2008-09. TFC came close in 2018, losing to Chivas Guadalajara in the final via a heartbreaking penalty shootout. The Reds will go one better in 2019 and strike a blow for MLS pride.

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