On June 14th, the 2018 World Cup begins in Russia. Expect a month of football filled with controversy due to the use of VAR for the first time in the history of the competition. We will be previewing Groups A-D. Without further ado, here is our Group A preview.
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
The hosts of this year’s World Cup will need a miracle to get out of their group and avoid an embarrassing group-stage exit (like South Africa in the 2010 World Cup). As automatic qualifiers, a lack of competitive fixtures could work against them.
Igor Akinfeev. Captain of the Russian national team, Akinfeev is a stalwart whose experience will be required if Russia are to progress past the group stages. He has been a full international for Russia since 2004 and has over 100 caps.
Stanislav Cherchesov was appointed Russia manager in 2016 on a two-year contract. The former goalkeeper represented his country in the 1994 and 2002 World Cups resulting in 39 caps for Russia.
Performance at 2014 World Cup: Group Stage
The lowest-ranked team to qualify, Saudi Arabia are competing in their first World Cup since 2006 where they went out in the group stages.
One of three top scorers in qualifying with 16 goals – level with Robert Lewandowski and Ahmed Khali – Mohammad Al-Sahlawi has made himself known to the world at just the right time.
If Saudi Arabia are to spring a surprise and get out of their group, Al-Sahlawi will have something to do with it. After training with Manchester United for three weeks, he should be at the top of his game for the World Cup.
Spaniard Juan Antonio Pizzi has only been in charge of The Falcons since November so the World Cup will be his first competitive appearance. The former striker played for Spain at the 1998 World Cup.
Performance at 2014 World Cup: DNQ (Did Not Qualify)
For the first time since 1990, Egypt will be competing at the World cup and have a realistic chance of getting out of their group.
Mohamed Salah needs no introduction after the best season of his career. His sensational performances since moving to Liverpool last summer have surprised many people (expect Egyptians and Mo Salah himself). Salah is crucial to Egypt’s hopes of a successful tournament. He went off with a shoulder injury in the Champions League Final against Real Madrid, much to the despair of everyone associated with Egypt, but remains confident that he will be fit for the World Cup.
Hector Cuper has managed Egypt since 2015. He led them to the AFCON final in 2017 where they lost 2-1 to Cameroon. Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup was the main aim when Cuper was appointed and he has achieved that.
Performance at 2014 World Cup: DNQ
Thanks to a favourable draw, Uruguay should top this group with ease. They could be dark horses in this tournament and have plenty of experience throughout their team.
Luiz Suarez is one of the best players Uruguay has ever had and his passion for his country is clear to see. He is the driving force in the team and most importantly he is a leader. Suarez will be hoping to inspire his team-mates once again in what could be his last World Cup. Let’s hope he doesn’t take a chunk out of anyone this time around.
Known as El Maestro (The Teacher) Oscar Tabarez has qualified for four World Cups with Uruguay. Tabarez is a hugely respected figure in international football and his team will do everything to make him proud.
Performance at 2014 World Cup: Last 16
Group A Prediction
- Saudi Arabia
Featured Image Credit: FIFA.com