The 2018 World Cup has been full of surprises, from Germany going out in the group stage to hosts Russia knocking out 2010 champions Spain.
The run of results has been so bizarre that almost no one could have predicted them, not even the geniuses at Football Manager. However, against all odds, Euro 96 veteran Steve McManaman knew what to expect.
McManaman, who also played for England at the 1998 World Cup, was asked to make some predictions at the end of the group stage.
While many casual observers might have plumped for Brazil, with Spain the favourites to make it through from the other half of the draw, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder had other ideas - not only did he manage to predict all four of the nations that made it through to the semi-finals, he also predicted the final itself and eventual winner France in the astonishing video that you can find below.
“You said everyone can be different, but four of five people have chosen Brazil,” McManaman said, while making his predictions on ESPNFC.
It was the same story on the other side of the draw, with Portugal v Uruguay the only game he called wrong, and remarkably he got all four semi-finalists and both finalists correct.
So that’s 15 World Cup knockout games in total, where he called the winner in 13 of them – that’s some record.
He didn’t give a full reason for England’s semi-final exit, but he seemed convinced they would fall short against their opponents in the final four before predicting and all European final with France becoming the eventual victors over Croatia (a team that many definitely did not foresee appearing the finals).