Good morning! Following on from yesterday’s World Cup 2018 analysis of the drawn groups, we now bring you the breakdown of the FIFA World Cup 2018 Groups E to H, followed by our personal predictions about the teams, and who will progress into the second phase.
So, let’s kick things off again starting with Group E, so you can learn all about the wonders of Brazil in-depth all the way down to Serbia with their rock solid side, (though lacking in creation), just to name just a few things you need to know about the second half of the World Cup groups before the tournament commences on June 14th of 2018 in Russia.
Here we have Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia, comprising the first group of four. Obvious favourites are Brazil with the likes of Neymar Jr., Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Casemiro, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Roberto Firmino, Douglas Costa, Willian, Dani Alves, and Marquinhos, mixing new talent with World Class players (even in the defence line), with tons of experience to boot. Imagine all the other players not even the squad but are available for World Cup consideration. With the talent David Luis recently overlooked and with Richarlison of Watford not even in the squad just yet, upon reviewing the selection of talent that they’ve got, it makes them into the likely favourites to win the whole thing, if they can pull together and put that infamous 7-1 slaying by Germany on their home turf in 2014 well behind them that is! Who will go through alongside Brazil in this group, well that’s a good question, and we have an inkling of an answer.
Switzerland were at times unconvincing in their qualification, but are rightfully (maybe not) going, due to a controversial penalty which sent Northern Ireland out over two legs in a play-off match. Yes, Switzerland somehow qualified, but they are by no means ensured qualifying out of this group if they perform like they have done before. Despite having some notable players like Xherdan Shakiri, Granit Xhaka (King of Red Cards) and Breel Donald Embolo yet to blossom for the national side, Switzerland could be destined for an early exit. The dark horses here are Costa Rica and Serbia, with the before mentioned Central American nation able to spring surprises, no doubt. They will rely heavily on Bryan Ruiz, but they’ve also got former Arsenal player Joel Campbell now, plus they’ve got Marcos Urena who can score, but what they’ve got most of is pure grit, determination and pace, and they don’t give up easily. They finished second during the qualification stage after Mexico, so they could spring a surprise or two, or at least frustrate opponents defensively and then hit the opposition on the counter attack. However, Serbia probably wouldn’t let that happen, with arguably some seriously solid defensive talents, with players like Branislav Ivanovic, Nikola Maksimovic, Matija Nastacic and Aleksandar Kolarov, probably making up one of the best defensive lines on paper in the whole of the World Cup.
Seriously, that’s one tough back four if we’ve ever seen one. However, who have they got in the attacking third? Well, it’s not as impressive as the back line, but they’ve got potential in Adern Ljajic from Torino, plus they’ve got the controversial and very rough striker Aleksandr Mitrovic of Newcastle, and over in Midfield, they’ve got a couple of stand out players as well. In the middle of the park, there’s Nemanja Matic of Manchester United who will be expecting to go the extra mile for his nation, along with Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic, so throughout the center of Serbia’s squad, they’re super solid, but can Southampton’s Susan Tadic provide something creative from the flank? That remains to be seen.
Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:
Brazil and Serbia
Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea comprise this World Cup’s “group of death”, since obviously, this is the toughest group of all. Yes, luck would have it that Mexico, Sweden and South Korea will all be pissed off that they’re facing each other and would instead have hoped on playing Morocco, Saudi Arabia or Egypt, but they’re all “sh*t out of luck” on this occasion. Well, Germany will obviously be qualifying, but they won’t find it as easy as in previous World Cup tournaments. It’s tough trying breaking down Sweden, Mexico or South Korea for that matter, at least without playing extremely well to break the deadlock. They know that they would have wished for an easier ride earlier on too. Germany have a whole new squad, and a newer look so to speak, than they did four years ago, but they retain defensive key players like Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. Over in midfield, Toni Kroos is their new midfield maestro taking centre stage, along with Mesut Ozil, Emre Can, and Samir Khedira, plus they’ve got the added pace and skill of Leroy Sane and Julian Draxler, who are by definition some of the most talented wide players in the world. When it comes to attack however, much responsibility will be placed on Timo Werner, who’s still only 21-years old, but he’ll have late bloomer Lars Stindl to help him out if things get tricky, plus we all know that Mario Gotze, the baby-faced pint-sized attacking midfielder, can provide a goal or two as well. All in all, what Germany retains best is the mastermind Joachim Low, their coach, so he will know full well what he’s doing when the games start happening, so you can expect the Germans to perform like a well oiled machine as usual.
What of the rest the sides? Well, Mexico have the eccentric and undoubtedly talented Francisco Ochoa in goal, keeping up their tradition of flamboyant and eccentric goalkeepers since the days of Jorge Campos, it would seem. Mexico are more renowned for their attacking intent, which could also spell their downfall in this group, unless they can keep it tight at the back. In the attack squad, you have the accomplished goalscorer Javier Hernandez, who is unfortunately stuck at West Ham, and has once again ended up with the short end of the stick, with a crap side that’s managed by someone in even more crap than before, David “Moron” Moyes, who has yet to start things off properly, as usual. Some would say that Moyes is racist to Hernandez, and they’d probably be right on this occasion. Should Javier Hernandez move in the January transfer window? We think he should and very fast! Anyway, let’s alert you to the talents of Hirving Lozano, the 22-year old, who is absolutely tearing it up with PSV in Holland. To add to that, they’ve got the experienced midfielders Jose Guardado, Miguel Herrera and Jonathan Dos Santos, so Mexico are most definitely in with chance to qualify, if they can play well against Sweden. Sweden however are known to be resilient and all for working as a team defensively. Just look at how they knocked out Italy in the play-off match with a 1-0 aggregate, basically beating the Italians at their own defensive game. Nice! Now Sweden have some seriously lacklustre players in their squad like Isaac Thelin who can barely kick a ball as we saw against the Italians, but they do have Emil Forsberg who is proving to be a talented wide playmaker in Europe for RB Leipzig, even attracting the attention of Manchester United.
In attack, there’s Markus Berg, who can be an unexpected quality finisher if he receives any service, but he’s by no means a Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Plus add to that the physicality and odd goal from Ola Toivonen, and in a dream you might envisage either of them actually scoring… However, scoring has been and may be the problem against higher quality opposition. In defence, Andreas Granqvist and Viktor Lindelof have a tight partnership, and its in defence where Sweden’s strength lies. However, not scoring won’t win you games, so much of the nation of Sweden (60%) are calling for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come out of International retirement to play in the World Cup, pending a good second half of the season for Manchester United, which should be seen as a guarantee. Bring back Zlatan into the Sweden side, we say, or risk not qualifying at all! Emil Forsberg could finally feed Zlatan, you know? Well, what about South Korea? Well, all we know is that they have Heung Min Son of Tottenham, who is a serious goal threat, but they also play with pace, defend with tireless work ethic, and can also hit you on the counter attack like you wouldn’t believe.
Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:
Germany & Mexico
Oh yes, now its time to preview arguably one of the most clear-cut groups in the whole tournament, with an easy ride for two sides, unless England manage to screw things up… Only joking! However, with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama as their opponents, then surely this is the easiest group that anyone could have asked for. England have formed a solid ground for the forthcoming World Cup and they finally have yet another proven goalscorer this time, comparable to the days of Alan Shearer who nabbed two at his only World Cup, whilst Gary Lineker was the more prolific, but you shouldn’t discount the likes of Michael Owen, David Hurst in 1966 or even Bobby Charlton for that matter, wow! What a stretch! In all seriousness, Gareth Southgate has Harry Kane to call on, and if he’s firing on all cylinders come the World Cup, then England can go places.
The question is how far they can go? You know, with penalty shoot-outs and things of the sort. Kane, along with the pace of Raheem Sterling, plus the re-emergence of a seriously refined Ashely Young in contention after his brilliant displays for Manchester United, plus with Gareth Southgate wanting to start with a new style of playing it out from the back like the Germans, this could either be very effective, or prove their downfall come the second phase of the tournament. Yes, England will surely qualify alongside Belgium, but how far can they go? Can Southgate get the right blend of youth and experience and coach his players to not be shaken to fear by the nation media, as it always happens? Anyway, in the flemish speaking national side, on paper, it’s yet another case of them being one of the best squads in the whole World Cup. Belgium have Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Radja Nainggolan, Yannick Carrasco, Marouanne Fellaini, Toby Alderweild, Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany (if not injured), Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens ready to bang in the goals, and that’s just some of the starting players not counting the talented bench warmers either. So, it’s safe to say that Belgium and England will progress as it would seem that Tunisia and Panama have no real noteworthy players at their disposal, so if one of the teams provide an upset, it will go down as a World Cup miracle.
Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:
Belgium & England
Last but not least, it’s Group H, which some would say is the most random group of them all, and we think you’d agree once you see who’s taking part. This group is made up of the likes of Japan, Colombia, Senegal and Poland. After looking at this list of countries for about five seconds, Colombia and Poland stick out as the most likely of teams to progress. Colombia has the star player James Rodriguez to call on, who’s currently still settling into life at Bayern Munich after a cold start, quite literally.
However, unbeknownst to most people, he’s still probably one of the most talented football players in the world, but he just hasn’t been able to show it off as much since the World Cup in Brazil four years ago. Remember, he was the top scorer in that tournament, but he has now somehow been out shadowed in Real Madrid, which is why he now finds himself at Bayern Munich, still adjusting to a different lifestyle. Colombia had a mixed qualification campaign, finishing fourth just behind Argentina, but they were never in any real danger of not making the World Cup like Argentina were at one point. Colombia are not the same side as they were in 2014, but they do have Carlos Bacca in their corner who has been making more of a name for himself with transfers since the previous World Cup, plus there’s also of course Juan Cuadrado of Juventus, who provides pace and goals. It’s safe to assume that Colombia will be relying heavily on James Rodriguez if they wish to have a memorable tournament. What about Poland you ask? It’s almost the same sort of story to Colombia, but with less flair and more consistency. With star striker Robert Lewandowski in their pocket, who some say is the best striker in the world , so they’re a real goal threat.
Apart from that, they have some help in the flank with veteran Jakub Błaszczykowski, their newer talent Piotr Zielinksi of Napoli in midfield, and with either Fabiański or Szczęsny between the sticks, what you can expect from Poland is a rigorous side that’s hard to beat. They’re not a pushover by any means. If Lewandowski can get the right amount of service, then expect them to be a surprise package in the longevity of a run in this tournament. After all, Lewandowski was the top scorer in qualification for the World Cup finals.
Who will Qualify into the Second Phase:
Poland & Colombia
So there you have it! We hope you enjoyed our in-depth take on the World Cup Russia 2018 Groups and their teams, with some handy notes for you to ponder before the greatest show on Earth kicks off this coming summer. Who’s your money on? Tell us in the comments section below.
Brainstain, over and out!
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: Major League Soccer