The year 2017 brought many surprises in world soccer. Toronto FC became the first Canadian club in league history to win the MLS Cup. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. And Paris SG paid Barcelona a world-record transfer fee of €222 million for Brazilian star Neymar.
What will 2018 bring? Here are some guesses:
1. Manchester City will record an unbeaten campaign in the Premier League
The Citizens earned a record 18th successive Premier League win on Wednesday, with a draw its lone blemish through the first 20 games of the season. Expect that to continue in the new year.
2. Real Madrid will three-peat as UEFA Champions League winners
Buoyed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliance, Los blancos cruised through this year’s group stage, and look a solid bet to win a third consecutive European title, becoming the first club to do so since Bayern Munich turned the trick from 1974–76.
3. Croatia will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Since the first tournament was held in 1930, only eight nations have won the World Cup. Croatia will become the ninth, shedding its perennial “dark horse” label and finally coming good by stunning the field next summer in Russia.
4. Barcelona will sell Lionel Messi to PSG
Even though Barca recently signed Messi to a new deal, PSG will pay the enormous buyout clause in his contract, set at 700 million euros, and bring the Argentine superstar to the City of Lights.
5. Toronto FC will end the MLS drought in CONCACAF Champions League
No MLS team has even won the CONCACAF Champions League, with Mexican clubs winning every tournament since the inaugural one held in 2008-09. But fresh off a record-breaking MLS season, the Reds could be poised to beat the best from across North America.
Agree? Disagree? Got predictions of your own? Let us know in the comments below.