Tag: Spain

We Predict… The 2018 FIFA World Cup

You feel that, right? That’s the feeling we football fans get in the days leading up to the start of a FIFA World Cup. That’s the feeling you get when you know there’s a whole month of tournament football lying in wait. After Russia face Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener at the Luzhniki on Thursday, there are 55 games in the space of 19 days. Once it all gets going there’ll only be one day left of June that won’t have a match on. You feel it, right? It’s called FIFA World Cup fever.

Everyone at Icons.com has it. We’re all heading out to Russia over the course of the tournament and we could’t be more excited. But nor could we be more divided on what’s going to go down when the best of the best go head-to-head.

Making a hash of what’s to come over the next 32 days, our staff and partners have made their predictions for the competition ahead. But don’t take our word as gospel, feel free to get involved on our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions. After all, you can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of official FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia from icons past and present – available right now on Icons.com.


Edward Freedman, Chairman

Winners: SPAIN have the best individuals and, since their victory in 2010, they are experienced in winning this tournament.

Runner-up: FRANCE’s weakest link is their inexperience but they have a great team that can get them to a second straight tournament final.

Shock exit: ENGLAND are rubbish. I don’t think they’re in the same class as a lot of the teams being talked about at this tournament. The Three Lions will draw against Panama and lose to Tunisia with the former shocking the world to progress to the knockout stages.

Golden Boot: DIEGO COSTA will inspire the eventual winners with a glut of goals.

England will… well, see above.

Random predictions: Iran will do a lot better than people expect while Belgium will disappoint despite progressing through Group G.

Can Diego Costa fire Spain to their second world title – a fourth major tournament triumph in ten years?

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Winners: SPAIN know how to win it, can keep the ball forever, have the world’s best goalkeeper and this time around they have the ugliest of ugly up front. And, of course, Sergio Ramos can take out any striker whenever necessary.

Runner-up: I like the look of FRANCE. They are my office sweepstake pick and I also like the look of about 23 high-calibre players that can’t even get into the squad (think Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial etc.). I think it’s a tournament too early for them to become world champions but the mix is right and in Antoine Griezmann they have a potential Golden Boot winner.

Shock exit: BRAZIL are not as good as they think they are, especially at defending. Neymar Jr can’t be 100% fit and the team is built around him. If they are dysfunctional upfront then the first big team that stands up to them can exploit the spaces at the back.

Golden Boot: If France get to the final then GRIEZMANN will play seven games and clean up just as he did at UEFA EURO 2016.

England will… play better football, look relatively organised, narrowly win the first two games, lose to Belgium and then come close to beating Colombia in the ROUND OF 16. They will come home feeling that the future’s brighter than the present.

Random predictions: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s mission to complete their trophy collection will be the journalistic narrative but team ethos, top goalkeeping, multiple goal threats, sound defending and ball-keeping midfielders will triumph over what they can offer. England fans will be looking through the silverware-winning U17 and U20 squads and drawing up their 2026 FIFA World Cup teamsheets come early July.

France forward Antoine Griezmann will be looking to go one better after Les Blues came close at UEFA EURO 2016.

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Winners: You don’t necessarily need the depth GERMANY have to win seven FIFA World Cup matches but the quality they possess is just insane. The fact that Leroy Sane will be watching from home (or more likely from a private island resort) speaks volumes.

Runner-up: FRANCE have the joint second youngest squad at the tournament. They beat Germany at UEFA EURO 2016 but that was on home soil. A second straight loss in a major final will be hard to take but we will be approaching a period of French dominance if they can eventually get it right.

Shock exit: Expectations will be higher for COLOMBIA after a stunning FIFA World Cup campaign four years ago and their group is one of the more competitive. PORTUGAL’s time in Russia will end as soon as they reach the knockouts. Both will be seen as underachievements.

Golden Boot: So many options! Having said that, I fancy someone from Group A with those kind fixtures against Russia and Saudi Arabia providing a good chance for the hat-trick that would take you halfway to the crown. I’ll be brave and go with Uruguay to be the nation with the most goals while MOHAMED SALAH takes the individual prize.

England will… lose in the QUARTER-FINALS. It’s hard not to put on the rose-tinted glasses. We have some outstanding wing-backs, one of the best strikers in the world and some great and in-form attacking support. Tight wins against Panama and Tunisia, coupled with a draw against Belgium, followed by a gritty win against one of Colombia or Poland in the round of 16 takes us to the quarters and Germany. That’s when I throw my glasses away.

Random predictions: Iran will only concede two goals but still go out at the group stages. Harry Kane will score a hat-trick while Harry Maguire will be an unlikely goalscorer. Lionel Messi will speak out against the AFA when Argentina are knocked out.

Germany are much-fancied to defend their title with strength in depth a particular asset.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Winners: BRAZIL are the perfect combination of gritty between the lines and irresistible going forward.

Runner-up: SPAIN are back to their best but come up just shy of a fourth title in ten years.

Shock exit: It pains me to say it as a massive fan of Lionel Messi but I see ARGENTINA going out at the group stages. Group D is deceptively tricky and there is a clear imbalance to Jorge Sampaoli’s squad. A fast start is needed to keep the immense pressure of their supporters’ expectations from getting to them.

Golden Boot: A relatively straightforward group and a deep run to the latter stages gives NEYMAR JR the best chance.

England will… reach the QUARTER-FINALS. Victory over Tunisia will lift their spirits enough to also cruise past Panama but defeat to Belgium leaves them second in Group G. They scrape by Colombia in the round of 16 causing a surge of excitement back home before Southgate’s men are outclassed (but hardly embarrassed) by the almighty Germans.

Random predictions: Lacking experience, training and guidance, FIFA World Cup officials struggle to properly implement VAR, which leads to several high-profile mistakes and widespread protestations over the use of the technology at future tournaments. Meanwhile Group C tops the goalscoring charts. 

Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) will be in use at the FIFA World Cup for the very first time. But will it help or hinder?

James Tildesley, Head of New Business

Winners: GERMANY, as I really don’t see a weak area of their game and they have such depth to their squad. Couple that with a manager who knows how to win and I can’t see past them.

Runner-up: I like the look of Spain and Brazil but I think FRANCE will be the ones who eventually lose out to the Germans. Again, this is a team with a phenomenally good squad which appears to have less of the types of personalities that derailed them so spectacularly in 2010.

Shock exit: PORTUGAL have a difficult group and I felt they really flattered to deceive at UEFA EURO 2016. There will be plenty who say they won it on merit and I would tend to agree but I also feel there was an absence of any real opposition.

Golden Boot: I have money on TIMO WERNER so failure is not an option.

England will… get done 2-0 in the ROUND OF 16. I don’t see us doing much better than scraping out of our group but it’s also difficult for me to picture anything other than a spectacular disappointment in which we lose to Tunisia and Belgium and draw with Panama.

Random predictions: Mohamed Salah will overcome his shoulder injury to score six in Group A as he pulls himself into contention for the Golden Boot (I have money on him as well!). 

Egypt’s undoubted talisman, Mohamed Salah, will lead the line in a group of Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Brett Sinclair, Warehouse Manager

Winners: BELGIUM have an all-round top quality squad with plenty of experience. They just need to work well together in a way that they have not before. Let’s see what Roberto Martinez can do.

Runner-up: ENGLAND. I must say that I think we are going in to the FIFA World Cup with a young squad that will have a lot to prove. Let’s wait and see what they can do.

Shock exit: There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding SPAIN this year but I think they get frustrated too easily. They may be on the end of a few red cards which could spell trouble in the group stages.

Golden Boot: As long as ANTOINE GRIEZMANN is on the pitch, I would always expect to see big things coming from him. The French squad has tons of talent and they should be able to make it easy for him.

England will… make it to the FINAL, as I stated earlier.

Random predictions: My very random prediction is that we will see a very high number of cards. I also think that VAR will not be used nearly as much as it should.

Is it time for Belgium’s golden generation to come good?



Icons Launch Exclusive ‘Signed & Match Worn’ Section

Andres-Iniesta

Icons work with the world’s best players and today we are proud to launch our new and exclusive signed and match worn section. These are authentic, unique, game-used items direct from some of the greatest players on the planet. But how do you know these shirts are the real deal? 

Icons has and always will be dedicated to the highest standards of authenticity and our brand new signed and match worn range is no different. There are just a few simple questions you have to ask yourself as a customer to put your mind at rest when buying these items.

 

Does the supplier have long-standing and official relationships with the players?

Just a glance at the Icons homepage will tell you we have been working with the world’s best for over a decade and a half. We have official contracts with Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale and have been working with Cristiano Ronaldo for over ten years now. No one else in the world can claim such partnerships, with Icons a step ahead at every turn. We also have established relationships with the likes of Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and many more.

Does the supplier have photos of the player with the match worn shirt?

Icons is proud to provide clear photos of the player with the exact shirt they played in and have signed. This sort of endorsement is what elevates Icons above the rest. Our signed and match worn shirts are also dated, where possible. These dates were hand-written by the players themselves as a way to officially stamp said shirt as match worn from that specific match on that specific date.

Luis-Suarez-(Liverpool)

Do the shirts have any unique identifiers?

All our match worn shirts have unique identifiers establishing them as the products worn in the matches we say they are. Our Barcelona match worn shirts have an authentic tag on the hem of the shirt, which contains a serial number with nine digits, the year of the season and the iconic Nike tick. Our Luis Suarez Liverpool shirt bears the official Hillsborough 25th Anniversary crest that was specifically created for that game and has not been worn since. And our Andres Iniesta Spain shirt bears text under the badge, confirming the match opponents, date and location for example.

What about Certificates of Authenticity?

Anyone with a word processor can create a COA. All our items come with a Certificate of Authenticity, which include the details of the signing session and a photo of the player signing the product line at the signing session, where available. We introduced numbered, sequential Icons holograms to add to the COA security. They are uniquely printed on two sided black card so as to be unphotocopiable too. Details of our company are registered with Companies House and our company number is 06791294 – this is always displayed on the COAs. We are easily traceable and subject to UK law. So, if you can’t find a company’s details on its website then proceed with caution and remember you will have no claims in the courts. Our CEO personally signs every COA and we never reproduce signatures, even for this small task.

Gareth-Bale-match-worn-shirt-real-madrid

Do they have licenses with official bodies?

Icons were awarded the world’s first ever signed football memorabilia licence by FIFA in 2010 so we could produce our range of iconic signed World Cup products. We went on to create a range for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and have been awarded the rights for the forthcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. In July 2012, Icons was awarded the first ever official licence for the UEFA Champions League and have renewed for 2015-18. Our rights now also include the UEFA Europa League so together our ranges incorporate the entire history of elite European club competition. We were also given the first ever UEFA European Championships memorabilia licence in 2015. As such, we’ve just launched our official UEFA EURO 2016 France range. If the governing bodies of world and European football deal with Icons, why would you buy signed items from anywhere else? Icons are looking to bring you match worn shirts from these tournaments so as to be able to combine our licences with these coveted products. Sign up to the Icons newsletter to find out first about this.

 

So remember when buying match worn items, does it have:

  • A COA and hologram with it?
  • A photo of the player with the item?
  • A signature from the player in question?
  • Where possible a date tying it to the specific game?
  • Identifiable patches or manufacturers details marking it as a match issue shirt?

 

Icons Shop Ltd is the world’s leading football memorabilia company and Icons.com the most trusted brand in the game. Authenticity is everything to us, as it is everything to our customers. So check out our exclusive and exciting match worn range featuring genuine shirts worn by the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta and Gareth Bale.

 

For our full range of match worn products, check out icons.com now!

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Go Behind The Scenes Of Our Signing With Andres Iniesta With Our Brand New Video

Andres-Inesta-Icons

Andres Iniesta is one of Spanish football’s greatest ever players. When Barcelona manager Luis Enrique called him “a national monument” after the team’s 4-0 thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in November 2015, few could argue with him. That’s because, put simply, Iniesta is one of the very best in the game today.

So is it any wonder the midfield maestro is one of our most popular Icons?

Now you too can go behind the scenes of our latest signing with Andres with our fantastic new signing video, which showcases our close connection with the Barcelona superstar, who has signed with us since 2011.

In his fourth session with Icons, Andres happily signed a wide range of Barcelona and Spain shirts, home and away, as well as a selection of action photos and his very own Nike boots.

For the full range of Iniesta signed shirts, boots, balls and photos, head over to icons.com today and don’t forget to enter the discount code “JAN16SALE” for 20% off on selected items throughout January.

andres-inesta-signed-barcelona-shirt_1_andres-inesta-matchworn-signed-spain-shirt For a full report on our signing session with Andres, click herePhotos courtesy of Matt Hardy. For more images of Icons’ visit to Barcelona, visit www.matthardyphotography.co.uk.

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Neymar Jr Returns! Brazilian Talisman Signs With Icons Again

Neymar-Jr-Signing-Session-Icons

We saw Neymar for another special signing session on August 6th 2015 in Barcelona. Once again a pleasure to work with, the Brazilian offered the highest level of professionalism possible. Regarded as one of the most exciting talents to hit the international stage in years, Neymar Junior has the world at his feet. The Brazilian boy wonder is part of the most dangerous attacking force on the planet and in 2015, Neymar is set to take the world by storm once again with Brazil and Barcelona.

At just 23 years of age, Neymar has achieved more than some footballers do in their entire careers. Dubbed “the new Pele” by the great man himself, the young forward quickly amassed plaudits following his Santos debut aged 17. In his first three seasons with Santos, Neymar won three consecutive league titles and was awarded Player of the Year each campaign. He also beat Wayne Rooney and Leo Messi to the prestigious FIFA Goal of the Year award in 2011 for a skilful run and calm finish against Flamenco. At just 18, Neymar made his debut for the Seleção and now just five years later is the focal point and captain of the Brazil national side. He was a constant goal threat at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil before injury ruled him out of the semi-finals. The forwards’s style is rooted in the street football he played growing up in Sao Paulo; all sharp touches, stylish step-overs and incisive flicks.

Joining Barcelona after a sensational 2013 Confederations Cup, Neymar settled quickly, reaching double figures in goals for the Catalan giants in his first season. Neymar’s quick-footed flair and incredible pace make him a joy to watch; but it’s his devastating finishing that looks set to make him a legend and Icon for years to come.  He now partners Leo Messi and Luis Suarez in the most feared strike force in the world and one that led Barcelona to an unprecedented treble in 2015, ending the season with a personal 39 goals in all competitions.

Other superstars such as the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Ronaldinho and retired World Cup winner Ronaldo have all identified Neymar as the next best player in the world. Will 2015 see Neymar inherit that title from the man who just so happens to be a teammate?  Whatever the outcome, fans are in for a treat as the best players in the world vie for football’s top prize.

New range of signed Neymar Junior memorabilia

Neymar has been signing with Icons since 2012, just before his £71.5 million move to Spain.

Neymar memorabilia is hugely popular on icons.com and we are delighted to stock products carrying the authentic Neymar Junior autograph. These include current and previous Barcelona and Brazil shirts as well as seminal photographs and posters signed by all three of the amigos. Don’t miss out on these ultimate collector’s items, a must-have for any true Barcelona fan.