Belfast Telegraph

Paddy McCourt and Shay Given reveal who they think will win the World Cup

By Adam McKendry

Finn Harps midfielder Paddy McCourt and former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given have both backed Brazil to triumph in Russia and win the 2018 World Cup.

The pair, who were playing in the pro-am ahead of this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin, think Neymar and co are the team to beat in the knockouts this year.

Brazil face Belgium in the quarter-finals after they overcame Mexico in the last-16, with Uruguay or France then standing in their way of the final should they win.

Both McCourt and Given believe that Tite’s mercurial Samba stars are the favourites, especially following that win over their local rivals in the previous round.

“I tipped Brazil from the start,” McCourt said. “They had a sticky start but they seem to be coming good at the right time.”

Given added: “I said Brazil beforehand and they’re still in it, so I’ll stick with them! England did well last night but I think I’ll stick with Brazil.”

While Given, who played in the 2002 World Cup for the Republic of Ireland, added he wanted Brazil to win as well as thinking they will, McCourt wasn’t lending his support to anyone.

The former Northern Ireland international, who will return to Derry City later this year to head up their Academy, revealed he was simply revelling in good football on the game’s biggest stage.

“I’m just watching it as a neutral, enjoying it like everyone else,” he admitted.

“Some of the games have been very good and some haven’t been quite so good, but it seems to be picking up momentum now. The last couple of round-16 matches have been exciting so hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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