FIFA World Cup Russia 2018: Groups A to D Predictions

Happy Monday everyone! Now to brighten up the wintry morning doldrums, we’ve decided to tackle the overview of Friday’s FIFA World Cup 2018 draw, roughly six months ahead of the greatest sporting event on planet Earth, which commences on June 14th 2018, which is four days later than it usually does. Yes, the beautiful game will come back to entertain us all, and relegate most women to a dire summer of watching their husbands watch football on the box, at every given opportunity. The most fanatic of men wouldn’t even risk missing Saudi Arabia versus Egypt, as we all know that one particular match could seemingly be filled with a fair bit of violence, and a couple of rough challenges, perhaps?

So without further ado, it’s time for us to breakdown the groups with all of our expertise. First however, here’s the very intriguing list of groups in full for the Russian World Cup.

Credit: FoxSports

Group A

The hosts (Russia) kick off the tournament against Saudi Arabia, and the host country most definitely looking like they’re in for a second round qualification spot, even though they qualified as the host nation, they recently drew 3-3 with Spain in their last Friendly match, so they are by no means a pushover. They’ve got rising striker Fyodor Smolov available in attack, along with star player Aleksandr Kokorin leading the line, so Russia will most likely run rings around the Saudi Arabian and the Egyptian defence when they face each other.

Kokorin is Russia’s main man up front. Credit: FIFA.com

Plus, Russia have experienced goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in between the sticks who will play a central role once Russia go through to the second round. Apart from that, the hosts face competition from Uruguay in their group, with Luis Suarez expected to perform at the highest standard, hopefully without biting anyone this time as he once did in the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

Luis Suarez is a natural born scorer and so can he lead Uruguay in 2018? Credit: DailyMail

Luis got slapped with a nine match international ban after chomping away on Giorgio Cheillini’s shoulder muscle with his massive front gnashers. Hmmm, tasty! If Suarez can keep his teeth to himself, then he should be able to form a devastating attack with PSG frontman Edison Cavani, plus they’ve got the experience and defensive mastermind Diego Godin, who’s been known to strong-arm the backline for years already.

Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:

Uruguay & Russia

 

GROUP B

Once again in this Group, (more so than in Group A), there are two standout countries, Spain & Portugal, facing the lesser soccer nations Morocco & Iran. Unfortunately, there are no notable single players that we know much of in the teams of Morocco & Iran, so let’s cut to the chase. Alvaro Morata of Spain is expected to turn in a massive tournament for the former World Champions, if they are to fulfil their expectations of performing well beyond their disastrous 2014 World Cup exit in the group stage, this is most definitely the tournament for them to redeem themselves. This will be Andres Iniesta’s last World Cup, who could and should run things in midfield with the likes of anchorman Sergio Busquets, as well as with the creative flair that David Silva has in midfield. If they don’t perform, nor will Spain.

Morata has the whole country on his shoulders for the finals in Russia, witin the goals department. Credit: EgyptToday

David De Gea will keep the goal safe, but Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have to put their tense domestic and national (Basque) rivalry aside, to keep the defence in check, otherwise there will be leaks come the second phase. We expect Spain to go far in Russia 2018, as well as Portugal who won the Euro 2016, with Cristiano Ronaldo being pivotal throughout, apart from in the Euro final when he was deliberately and unjustly injured. Striker Eder stepped up with a low hard drive in extra time to win it for them, whilst Ronaldo cheered them on from the sidelines.

Can Ronaldo lead Portugal to World Cup glory? Credit: SkySports

This may be the very last World Cup tournament of Cristiano Ronaldo, and most definitely Pepe, so they would very much love to win the World Cup before retiring for good. However, can the likes of new talents like Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva and Bruma help to inspire in what could be Portugal’s first Golden Generation since the days of 1996 (with Luis Figo, Nuno Gomes and Joao Pinto in the squad) to get anywhere near the World Cup final? Only time will tell, but we predict a Quarter Final slot for them at the very best.

Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:

Spain & Portugal 

 

GROUP C

In arguably one of the easier groups, (with some hidden tricks up their sleeves), France come up against Denmark, and Australia against Peru. France will dominate, but only if they perform well, with lots expected of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Anthony Martial on the World’s biggest stage. On paper, France may have one of the strongest and most exciting squads in the tournament, so if they gel well, we could be in for a real football treat, indeed. However, if the young talents fail to arrive on the occasion, you can expect countries like Peru to provide a surprise opposition, with a driven team of eleven players including Jefferson Farfan playing their hearts out, which saw them qualify for the World Cup in the first place.

Eriksen is Denmark’s key man. Credit: 101GreatGolas

Yes, the dark horse in this group is definitely Peru, who could give Denmark, and most definitely Australia a very tough time once they meet. As for Denmark, their star player is Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen, but with young star players like Pione Sisto and the potential of Viktor Fischer and Yusuf Poulsen able to shine through attack, apart from the infamous legend of Nicklas Bendtner… Can Denmark make a serious run for gold this year? That’s entirely up to them, as otherwise without any renowned defensive players and an all around good defensive record in the qualifiers, it could still be a very busy time for Kasper Schmeichel once they meet even stronger opposition in the second round.

Antoine Griezmann playing for France. Credit: 101 Great Goals

Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:

France & Denmark 

Group D

In this group, you’ve got Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. That’s a group that’s already going down as one of the more difficult groups in the World Cup in Russia. There you have four countries that have the potential of qualifying, but immediately most people would write off Nigeria and Iceland straight away, whilst putting Argentina first, (naturally), but how about Croatia? Well, Croatia will know that Iceland and Nigeria are simply pushover sides coming to Russia just to fill the space in the greatest tournament in the World. Iceland have their world renowned Viking clap and a mentally stronger side than in Euro 2016, plus Gylfi Sigurdsson and Birkir Bjarnason in midfield.

Viking clap gods, Iceland. Credit: WalesOnline

If they believe as hard as as they did two years ago, they can beat Croatia again just as they did in the World Cup qualifiers, and make another shocking statement to the World with an inspired performance. However, Lionel Messi of Argentina should and will make light work of them. The nation nearly didn’t make the World Cup altogether this time, until Messi stepped up with a hat-trick in their final game to beat Ecuador to ensure their qualification. People are questioning Jorge Sampoali’s validity as coach to lead them into what could also be Messi’s last World Cup… Let’s just say that Argentina were not impressive in qualification alone, and so a lot is riding on making these players play like a team.

Will it be a one man show, with Messi? Credit: dw

Can Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano, Paulo Dybala and Ever Banega rise to their full potential along with Lionel Messi and go far is World Cup? We will see. As for Nigeria, they’ve probably got their best squad of players on paper since the USA World Cup in 1994, with former Chelsea man John Obi Mikel in the anchor midfield role, along with Premier League players like Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, as well as Leicester City’s Kelechi Icheanacho and Ahmed Musa to boot. If Nigeria only had a solid defence, this would perhaps see them go through with Argentina. As for Croatia, they may have been runners-up to Iceland during the World Cup qualifiers, but with players like Ivan Rakitic, Marelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic in midfield, and Mario Mandzukic along with Nikola Kalinic in attack, expect them to be fighting hard for the top or second qualification slot in the group.

Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:

Argentina & Croatia

 

So there you have it! Come back tomorrow for our Review and Analysis of Groups E through H.

Brainstain, over and out!

<Story by The Narrator>

Featured Photo Credit: Major League Soccer

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