Before the start of the World Cup, The Japan Times got the lowdown from Japan-based supporters of some of the 32 teams fighting it out for the ultimate prize in Russia.

Bruno Tamataya (Brazilian)

Who is Brazil’s man to watch?

Neymar. When he’s motivated, he can do awesome plays and assists, so I believe he’s going to draw some attention during the matches.

How far do you expect Brazil to go?

Brazil has improved a lot since the current coach took control, so I expect this team to win the cup — or at least go up to the final.

So who’s going to win?

I expect Brazil to win this cup, but Germany and Spain also have a good chance too. [Both Germany and Spain have since been eliminated.]

Milica Pavkovic (Serbian, but supporting England)

Who is England’s man to watch?

The English team is one of the youngest in this World Cup, so there’s not that many players that are really, really famous, but let’s say Harry Kane. He’s the one to look at.

How far do you expect England to go?

Well, I always hope for the final, but this time maybe semifinals, and that’s very hopeful, actually.

So who’s going to win?

I don’t know why, but I just feel Germany’s gonna win. Football has to do with emotion, not actually rational thinking, so I always go with my heart. That’s why I support England even though they never do anything.

Paula Chiarino (Uruguayan)

Who is Uruguay’s man to watch?

Definitely Edison Cavani. He is the second-top scorer in Uruguayan history, behind Luis Suarez. He is a powerhouse, and it’s a pleasure to watch him, since he always gives his all and shows his strong, deep-rooted love for football through every move.

How far do you expect Uruguay to go?

Hopefully Uruguay will be among the best four this year. I truly believe we have the team to pull through and perform as well as we did in South Africa in 2010 or even better.

So who’s going to win?

Difficult question. Germany and Brazil are among the favorites, but I do believe we could be surprised!

Mathias Aboudou (French)

Who is France’s man to watch?

Kylian Mbappe. At only 19, he is already the second most expensive player in the world. Skills, goal sense, speed, passing — he has it all.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

If things go to plan, one of the really big games would be Brazil vs. Belgium in the round of eight. This is the year of redemption for Brazil, which lost in 2014 at home in stunning fashion. Belgium is carried by an exceptional young generation, playing in the best Premier League clubs — Hazard, De Bruyne, Lukaku. They are also looking to make up for their disappointing Euro 2016 and show they can finally realize their potential.

Edvard Vondra (Croatian)

Who is Croatia’s man to watch?

My favorite player is Andrej Kramaric, because he used to be very good in my hometown of Rijeka.

Which game are you most looking forward to?

Argentina vs. Croatia will be very interesting because Argentina is maybe the best team and Croatia can show how strong or weak it is. [Croatia won.]

How far do you expect Croatia to go?

I hope we’ll pass the first round. With luck, maybe the quarterfinals.

So who’s going to win?

I believe it’ll be Brazil, because of the last time, when Germany beat them 7-1. Now they want revenge.

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