Predictor returns for second half
© EFE

Welcome back Predictors! We kick off 2011 with Round 18 of FIFA World Leagues Predictor. But before we take a look at some of the round’s big games, let’s take a quick look at how things stand on the overall leaderboard.

Leaders
After three consecutive weeks in third place, SUPERSTOFFEL claimed the summit in Round 17. The Belgian enters Round 18 with a slender 63 point lead on closest challenger realjfk. The current runner-up will be kicking himself for recording a zero score in Round 17 - realjfk was sitting strong in first place until he failed to record his Round 17 predictions. In third place, only 86 points behind the Belgian leader, is jaime1706. The Peruvian No1 has held the summit on six separate occasions this season and looks to be a strong contender for the Season 4 Grand Prize. Representing Egypt, our current African champion is Amrmessidona who broke into the top five in Round 17. Rounding off the top five is Spain’s david150982.

There is a significant points’ cushion between the top five and the chasing pack, and challengers will have to start the year firing on all cylinders if they plan to contend for the coveted Grand Prize - a trip for two to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™!  
 
Round 18 highlights
Match of the week: Real Madrid-Villarreal CF (Spain)
Mourinho sees Kaka return to the Madrid lineup, but loses Higuain to back surgery. Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, remains an uncertainty for the game due to illness, leaving Benzema as the only remaining senior centre forward. Will you back The French-led Los Merengues attack, or do you think Villarreal can upset the balance in Spain?

Napoli-Juventus (Italy)
It’s second against fourth in Italy on Sunday and with only two points separating the pair, predictors should expect an all-out attacking battle in Naples. Napoli are on a four-game winning streak at home while Juventus are undefeated in their past five away games. 

Kaizer Chiefs-Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
In South Africa’s Premiership, the current top two battle it out on Saturday. Chiefs will cut Sundown’s lead at the top to just a single point should they manage a win. Sundowns, who are chasing a record sixth title since the Premiership was launched 14 years ago,  have displayed impressive away form this season (five wins and one loss from six away games). Will they trump the might Chiefs this weekend and cement their place at the South African summit? 

Round 18 fixtures (8 and 9 January)
Sydney-Gold Coast United (Australia)
Kaizer Chiefs-Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
Llanelli-Bala Town (Wales)
Lisburn Distillery-Ballymena United (Northern Ireland)
Sporting CP-Sporting Braga (Portugal)
Real Madrid-Villarreal CF (Spain)
Napoli-Juventus (Italy)
Omonia Nicosia-Alki Larnaca (Cyprus)