The groups for the 2018 World Cup in Russia have been drawn, and for once, there are clear favorites in each group. Without the likes of the United States, Italy, Netherlands, and Chile to make the field a little more competitive, each of the eight groups will be fairly straightforward. Nevertheless,the World Cup will be an amazing tournament to watch some of the world’s best soccer players, and here’s what to expect from each group.
Group A: Russia/Saudi Arabia/Egypt/Uruguay
Russia and Uruguay have historically been a strong and will likely advance in this group, but Mohamed Salah’s stunning combination of speed and skill for Egypt could pose problems for both teams. If Salah continues his form in the Premier League during the summer, Egypt could emerge as the dark horse team in the tournament.
Group B: Portugal/Spain/Morocco/Iran
Arguably the most clear-cut group in the tournament, Portugal and Spain are almost locks for the knockout stages. Spain has been one of the world’s most dominant teams and is without question a championship-or-bust team. As for Portugal, its entire World Cup will be dictated by Cristiano Ronaldo. If Ronaldo plays well, Portugal will advance.
Group C: France/Denmark/Peru/Australia
With relatively weaker opposition, France will undoubtedly come out of Group C on top. For the second place spot, Denmark may be the favorite because of star midfielder Christian Eriksen and Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel, but Australia also has a strong Premier League goalie in Matthew Ryan. All in all, the battle for second will be interesting.
Group D: Argentina/Iceland/Croatia/Nigeria
Will Messi finally win some hardware for Argentina? He has the perfect group draw to set him on the right track. Along with players Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and Angel Di Maria, Argentina is arguably the world’s best team and is certainly in the conversation to win the entire tournament. Regarding second place, Croatia’s midfield combination of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will dominate Iceland and Nigeria, putting them through.
Group E: Brazil/Switzerland/Costa Rica/Serbia
Group E is another group with a clear favorite and a close battle for second place. Brazil is one of the world’s best teams and will finish this group with ease behind Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, and Philippe Coutinho’s leadership. It’s likely that Switzerland will grab second behind Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri and Bundesliga goalie Yann Sommer.
Group F: Germany/Mexico/Sweden/South Korea
Germany, the reigning world champion, will have to play strong football to defeat Mexico and Sweden. Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (or should I say Zlatan’s Sweden?) has returned from international retirement and is ready to make a final push for the world cup. Mexico is also a solid team and will need forward Chicharito to step up, while South Korea’s Son Heung-Min will need the performance of a lifetime for his country to clinch second.
Group G: England/Tunia/Belgium/Panama
With weak opposition, England and Belgium will almost certainly advance from Group G. There is not much of a conversation to be made for this group, as both teams have a dynamic combination of midfielders and forwards that will certainly be enough to move them into the knockout stage.
Group H: Senegal/Colombia/Poland/Japan
Believe it or not, Group H may be the most competitive group in the entire tournament. Although Colombia and Poland are favorites to win the group, Senegal has talent that rivals both of those teams, creating an action-packed group stage. Japan may also be a team worth its bid to the World Cup.