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World Cup 2018; Our preview to sport’s greatest competition

World Cup 2018; Our preview to sport’s greatest competition

It’s that time again. You can officially allow yourself to get excited about the World Cup. All domestic football has finished for the 17/18 season with every major trophy claimed by their (mostly) deserving winners. Whilst it’s always difficult to wave goodbye to the Premier League, Champions League etc for another season, rest assured the action we see in Russia will live up to the billing and keep us satisfied till August.

Ahead of the tournament, we’ve prepared a group-by-group preview to give you an insight into every team before kick off on June 14th.

Group A
Russia

Key Players

Igor Akinfeev: A hugely experienced keeper unbeatable on his day
Alan Dzagoev: A versatile box-to-box midfielder and one of Russia’s brightest attackers

Fixtures

  • 14th June – Saudi Arabia
  • 19th June – Egypt
  • 25th June – Uruguay

Saudi Arabia

Key Players

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi: The 30 year old striker played a key role in qualification with 16 goals.

Fixtures

  • 14th June – Russia
  • 20th June – Uruguay
  • 25th June – Egypt

Egypt

Key Players

Mohammed Salah: Little needs to be said about this man’s season – he is Egypt’s golden boy and, assuming he recovers from his Champions League injury, will be their talisman this World Cup.
Shikabala: Recently returned to the national set-up after a three year absence – a mercurial midfield talent

Source: Liverpool Offside

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Uruguay
  • 19th June – Russia
  • 25th June – Saudi Arabia

Uruguay

Luis Suarez: Barcelona’s front man is the team’s biggest hope of glory and their all-time top goalscorer – this will be his third World Cup
Edinson Cavani: South America’s top scorer in qualifying can either play up front on his own or in a deadly partnership with Suarez
Diego Godin: May have lost some pace but remains a vital figure and scores important goals.

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Egypt
  • 20th June – Saudi Arabia
  • 25th June – Russia

Our Group A prediction:
Uruguay
Egypt
Russia
Saudi Arabia 

Group B
Portugal

Key Players

Andre Silva: Showed his intent with 9 goals in qualifying as well as a lethal partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo
Goncalo Guedes: After a fantastic season in La Liga, the 20 year old will be keen to show he can do it on the big stage

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Spain
  • 20th June – Morocco
  • 25th June – Iran

Spain

Key Players

Isco: So many names to chose from in this side, but Isco will be the heart of the creative side following an outstanding season
David Silva: Only seeming to improve with age, David Silva will too be at the forefront for the Spaniards

Source: 101 Great Goals

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Portugal
  • 20th June – Iran
  • 25th June – Morocco

Iran

Key Players

Sardar Azmoun: Seen by many as the best striker in Asia at the moment
Reza Ghoochannejhad: Scoring goals for fun with Heerenveen in the Dutch top flight

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Morcco
  • 20th June – Spain
  • 25th June – Portgual

Morocco

Key Players

Mehdi Benatia: The highest profile of the Moroccan exports
Younes Belhanda: Brings the star quality that energises the Moroccan team – links brilliantly with the also talented Mbark Boussoufa

Fixtures

  • 15th June – Iran
  • 20th June – Portugal
  • 25th June – Spain

Our Group B prediction:
Spain
Portugal
Morocco
Iran

Group C
France

Key Players

Antoine Griezmann: It’s difficult to pick out individuals from this star-studded team but Griezmann is one of the most sought-after and coveted attackers in the game
Kylian Mbappe: One of the world’s most exciting talents and a thorn in any opponent’s side

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Australia
  • 21st June – Peru
  • 26th June – Denmark

Australia

Key Players

Aaron Mooy: A talented attacking midfielder regarded as the best of the new generation for the Aussies

Source: GOAL

Fixtures

  • 16th June – France
  • 21st June – Denmark
  • 26th June – Peru

Denmark

Key Players

Christian Eriken: The go-to name when you think of the Danish squad – an incredible 11 goals in qualifying just shows the progression he has made under Pochettino. He seems happy to accept the responsibility of inspiring the team
Pione Sisto: A winger that has been a relevation in the past few months

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Peru
  • 21st June – Australia
  • 26th June – France

Peru

Key Players

Edison Flores: The big success story of the qualifying campaign who finished the side’s join top scorer with five goals

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Denmark
  • 21st June – France
  • 26th June – Australia

Our Group C prediction:
France
Denmark
Peru
Australia

Group D
Argentina

Key Players

Lionel Messi: In the 8 games he missed, Argentina earnt just seven points. In the 10 in which he featured, they managed 21. Rarely do we see a team as dependent on one player as Argentina are on Lionel Messi

Source: Fox Sports

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Iceland
  • 21st June – Croatia
  • 26th June – Nigeria

Iceland

Key Players

Gylfi Sigurdsson: Despite a quiet start to his Everton career, the midfielder finished top scorer during the World Cup qualifying campaign

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Argentina
  • 22nd June – Nigeria
  • 26th June – Croatia

Nigeria

Key Players

Victor Moses: Proved in the qualifying campaign that Nigeria are one level up on their ability when he plays
Jon Obi Mikel: Still the calming presence in the midfield – playing a more advanced role than he did at club level

Fixtures

16th June – Croatia
22nd June – Iceland
26th June – Argentina

Croatia

Key Players

Luka Modric: Off the back of another impressive Champions League season for Real Madrid – made skipper at the start of last season

Source: The National

Fixtures

  • 16th June – Nigeria
  • 21st June – Argentina
  • 26th June – Iceland

Our Group D prediction:
Argentina
Nigeria
Croatia
Iceland

Group E
Brazil

Key Players

Neymar: As he enters his peak, he could make this World Cup his. Full of pace and extraordinary technique, he is a constant threat

Fixtures

  • 17th June – Switzerland
  • 22nd June – Costa Rica
  • 27th June – Serbia

Switzerland

Key Players

Xherdan Shaqiri: His career may not quite have lived up to expectations, but there’s always a danger when he gets the ball on his left foot

Source: Stoke City FC

Fixtures

  • 17th June – Brazil
  • 22nd June – Serbia
  • 27th June – Costa Rica

Serbia

Key Players

Dusan Tadic: A constant threat despite a poor season for Southampton
Aleksandar Mitrovic: Impressed on loan at now-promoted Fulham and will be hoping to add to his six qualifying goals including two crucial equalizers

Fixtures

17th June – Costa Rica
22nd June – Switzerland
27th June – Brazil

Costa Rica

Key Players

Keylor Navas: The standout starter in an elite team – a keeper with bags of experience at the very highest level

Fixtures

17th June – Serbia
22nd June – Brazil
27th June – Switzerland

Our Group E predictions:
Brazil
Switzerland
Serbia
Costa Rica

Group F
Germany

Key Players

Toni Kroos: Exceptional vision, icy composure and unrivalled experience; the midfield ace sets the tone and runs the game
Thomas Muller: Although rarely picked as a stand-out performer, his World Cup scoring record is impeccable

Fixtures:

  • 17th June – Mexico
  • 23rd June – Sweden
  • 27th June – South Korea

Mexico

Key Players

Javier Hernandez: After a fairly poor season with a temperamental West Ham team, Mexico’s all time top goalscorer still remains as the team’s biggest threat

Fixtures:

  • 17th June – Germany
  • 23rd June – South Korea
  • 27th June – Sweden

Sweden

Key Players

Emil Forsberg: By far and away the most creative element in this Sweden team, particularly with the lack of Zlatan in the squad

Source: Getty Images

Fixtures

  • 18th June – South Korea
  • 23rd June – Germany
  • 27th June – Mexico

South Korea

Key Players

Son Heung-min: The diamond in the rough for South Korea – a much loved figure in Korea and the focal point for most attacks

Fixtures

18th June – Sweden
23rd June – Mexico
27th June – Germany

Our Group F predictions: 
Germany
Mexico
Sweden
South Korea

Group G
Tunisia

Key Players

Wahbi Khazri: In a farily unrecognisable team, Khazri is one of the few that has experience in the top flight of both England and France.

Fixtures

18th June – England
23rd June – Belgium
28th June – Panama

Belgium

Key Players

Eden Hazard: Captain of the side and given the freedom of the pitch, he is a constant threat
Kevin de Bruyne: Following another blockbuster season for Premier League winning side Man City, the attacking midfielder is now looking to recreate his impressive form for his national team

Source: Action Images

Fixtures

18th June – Panama
23rd June – Tunisia
28th June – England

England

Key Players

Harry Kane: The captain and talisman of the team – all eyes will be on him to perform this summer
Raheem Sterling: Following his most impressive season yet for Man City, Sterling will hope to replicate his form for England

Fixtures

18th June – Tunisia
24th June – Panama
28th June – Belgium

Panama

Key Players

Roman Torres: From a team of fairly unrecognizable players, the standout would have to be captain Roman Torres who scored the goal to clinch qualification – he embodies determination

Fixtures

18th June – Belgium
24th June – England
28th June – Tunisia

Our Group G predictions:
England
Belgium
Tunisia
Panama

Group F
Poland

Key Players

Robert Lewandowski: If his world-class ability was ever in doubt (it wasn’t), he more than confirmed it during qualifying when he finished the campaign with 16 goals to his name

Fixtures

  • 19th June – Senegal
  • 24th June – Colombia
  • 28th June – Japan

Senegal

Key Players

Sadio Mane: Lifts the side to a higher level in attack as their World Class attacking option
Kalidou Koulibaly: Remained a key figure at Napoli for multiple seasons and is crucial to the Senegalese defense

Source: Getty Images

Fixtures

19th June – Poland
24th June – Japan
28th June – Colombia

Colombia 

Key Players

James Rodriguez: After having a golden torunament in 2014, James has struggled at club level for Real Madrid – his loan to Bayern however has once again proved what a key player he is for his national team

Fixtures

  • 19th June – Japan
  • 24th June – Poland
  • 28th June – Senegal

Japan

Key Players

Shinji Kagawa: Despite limited game-time this season for his club, Kagawa provides the spark to create something out of nothing
Shinji Okazaki: Another player with limited game time – despite this he holds years of premier league experience and an excellent work rate up front

Fixtures

  • 19th June – Colombia
  • 24th June – Senegal
  • 28th June – Poland

Our Group F prediction:
Poland
Senegal
Colombia
Japan

For the full fixture list, visit the link below:

2018 World Cup

 

 

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