World Cup 2018 Russia: Analysed A to Z

Written by: Siddesh K Iyer

It’s almost upon us…the football carnival that repeats itself every four years, the one that gets the young, the old and even the dispassionate on their feet , yes the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia is almost upon us! The time when daily soaps and the usual mambo-jumbo on the TV sets go away to get replaced by the lush grass on Russian pitches and some exhilarating football on show, it’s almost upon us.

So who are the teams participating, the groups, the ones to look out for and the chances for each team this World Cup , it’s all here in this all inclusive guide by All Out Football…

Figures in brackets denote the predicted positions within the group

THE GROUPS:

Group A

Egypt (2nd)

The Star: Mohamed Salah : No second thoughts on this one. On fire for Liverpool and Egypt’s sole guiding light this World Cup. The biggest stage in the world definitely brings the biggest showmen to the fore, so over to you Mohamed Salah…hope he’s back for the World Cup all guns blazing.

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10  Not looking great, get well soon Mo Salah.

 

Russia

The Star: Igor Akinfeev: The Veteran goalkeeper who seems to be eternally young. The hosts would bank upon this legend to keep out all the attacks that come their way, but for how long? Only time will tell…

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Not good by any means

 

Saudi Arabia

The Star: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi: The 31 year-old with 28 goals in 38 international caps is Saudi’s only hope in front of goal this World Cup.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 World Cup qualification in itself is something to be proud of.

Uruguay (1st)

The Star: Edinson Cavani: He’s  been brilliant at PSG picking up the baton from a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Uruguay will expect their towering centre forward to fire on all cylinders alongside his strike partner, the ever hungry Luis Suarez. (Hope it’s only goals that you’re hungry for, this time, Luis)

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 5/10 Could go further a past the R16, slightly unfortunate to face teams from Group B in the R16.

Group B:

Iran

The Star: Sardar Azmoun: The 23 year old with 23 goals in 31 international appearances will be the centre of the Iranian attack this World Cup in Russia.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Not ideal, very tough group though.

Morocco

The Star: Medhi Benatia: The captain, the leader, an absolute rock at the back with enough experience at the top level with Juventus but can he lead his nation in the right direction? Not an ideal group by any means…

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 1/10

Portugal (2nd)

The Star: Cristiano Ronaldo: A living legend and the one destined to carry the entire nation’s hopes on his shoulders. He’s got enough in the tank for that, but then CR7 has to discover the pinnacle in his already exalted array of abilities to get his nation to ultimate glory.

Prediction: Quarter-Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 6/10 Prove me wrong, Cr7.

Spain (1st)

The Star: Sergio Ramos: A defender by game, but what’s in a name…that’s how Ramos plays his game. A rock at the back in front of arguably the best GK in the world, David De Gea, a hard but clean tackler with a penchant for collecting some “Coloured cards” but always available in attack with some pivotal goals when his team needs him. Spain will need Ramos on fire if they are to go all the way in this year’s World Cup. (On fire only with goals & clean sheets Sergio, cards aren’t impressive, you see..)

Prediction: Quarter- Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 7/10. Surely, no 5-1 drubbings this time, the Spanish would be delighted that the Dutch aren’t in Russia this term.

Group C:

Australia

The Star: Tim Cahill: The evergreen Australian legend would be the Aussies’ only hope this World Cup. An astute header of the ball with an excellent positioning sense. (Have some mercy on the corner flag though, Tim…careful with your celebrations)

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 3/10 Ouch.

Denmark (2nd)

The Star: Christian Eriksen: One of the most gifted footballers on the planet, it’s a pity he hasn’t transcended to the absolute top in club football (Not his fault though). However, the Dane is a terror for any defence in the world, long range shooting, a keen eye for a cutting edge pass matched by almost none, and an sharp free kick taker. Denmark, surely have a gem in midfield and well, Lord Bendtner in attack. (Listen Lord, you’re above a star)

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 4/10 But then… the Lord can do anything so…

France (1st)

The Star: Antoine Griezmann: Very hard to choose one among so many talented individuals in this squad. But then, Griezmann is amazing; fresh from a brace in Atelti’s Europa League final triumph, he’s all set to charm the crowds and spectators around the world to the tune of Hotline Bling and other teams beware he’s ready to hand you the L’s from Fortnite. Alongside other talents like Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, among others, Griezmann is all set to take France to new heights this term.

Prediction: FINALISTS

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 9/10 So close yet so far? Only time will tell…

Peru

The Star: Jefferson Farfan: The experienced pro is the one that the entire team will look up to, for inspiration. Having been at the top level for so many years, Farfan would be spearheading his nation’s attack and their hopes this World Cup.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Uh oh…

Group D

Argentina (1st)

The Star: Lionel Messi: No second thoughts here, one of the biggest stars in world football, legend and a player who delivers a 10/10 week in week out at the club level for FC Barcelona. But then, Leo Messi, unfortunately has been an absolute dud when it comes to international honours for Argentina. Is it down to only him? Not at all, La Albiceleste‘s Golden generation of footballers, despite being so talented has been clutching at straws year after year but then, this could be their final chance to stop the rot and save themselves from being labelled Total failures.

Prediction: Semi Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 8/10  Some unreal effort from Leo Messi required to get Argentina through..

Croatia (2nd)

The Star: Luka Modric: A master tactician at the centre of their midfield with unparalleled ability on the ball, shooting, passing and build up play of the highest order. Exactly, what Croatia need for their team to work perfectly and achieve a respectable finish.

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 5/10 . In the running for the “Best Kit Award”, the World Cup is a different beast altogether.

Iceland

The Star: Gylfi Siggurdson: Iceland’s centre of attention and arguably the most talented player in their squad, will have a major responsibility if they are to spring a surprise this World Cup. (Those chances of a surprise seem frozen in ice though…)

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Not much to say…

Nigeria

The Star: Victor Moses: The Golden Eagles would be heavily dependent on Victor Moses’ marauding runs down the wings as supply for their strikers Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa.

Prediction: Group stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 3/10 One of the best kits this tournament but then 3 million units of kit sales don’t get you a trophy…unfortunately…

Group E

Brazil (1st)

The Star: Neymar: The world’s most expensive footballer, back from a dreadful injury and back for good too. Neymar is Brazil’s major threat in attack alongside Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus. The tricks, the flicks, the showboating and goals too, he’s the entire package to get any football fan excited. However, one wonders if there’s finally gonna be some substance behind all this showboating to take Brazil back to the glories of the past.

Prediction: Quarter-Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 8/10 More style than substance..still some distance to go…

Costa Rica

The Star: Keylor Navas : The Real Madrid shot-stopper will have a huge responsibility on his shoulders to keep out all the attacks that come Costa Rica’s way. Meanwhile, their skipper, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell will have to make the most of the limited chances they get up forward.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Sorry Keylor, no luck this time, surely it’s not going to penalties.

Serbia

The Star: Aleksandar Kolarov: The marauding left-back, a real veteran of the game, now at AS Roma will be extremely pivotal for Serbia in all aspects of the game. Up forward, Aleksandar Mitrovic thrives off crosses and Kolarov will be responsible for quality balls being played into the box. Overall, it’s gonna be very tough to even get past the group stages here, but then, with players like Kolarov and Mitrovic on board, coupled with the raw young talent of Sergej-Milinkovic-Savic, you never know because football is a strange game…

Prediction:Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 3/10 Long names don’t ensure a high success rate, do they?

Switzerland (2nd)

The Star(s): Breel Embolo & Xherdan Shaqiri: Two speed demons on the pitch for the Swiss. Embolo, despite being only 21, is extremely mature and astute when it comes to his gameplay; he can create and finish off chances at ease. A major threat to any defence. Shaqiri, meanwhile has been a star at the very top at Bayern and has also shown that he can strut his stuff on a “cold night at Stoke”. So, if these two are on song, other teams beware, the Swiss are coming right at you…

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 3/10 With due respect, a FIFA World Cup isn’t just another cold night at Stoke. Period.

Group F:

Germany (1st)

The Star(s): THE ENTIRE TEAM : Well, that’s not hyperbole, that’s exactly how it is! The only nation that has an evergreen Golden Generation that truly lives up to the hype. If you still want me to single out a star in this huge galaxy, it’s got to be Thomas Müller, the chosen one who comes up trumps World Cup after World Cup. He’s currently on 10 goals overall in FIFA World Cups and is comfortably on track to keep the overall goals record in Germany itself by overtaking fellow countryman Miroslav Klose’s record of 16 goals overall.

Prediction: CHAMPIONS (Yet again)

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 10/10 You know you’re a class apart when you can form 3 teams of  world class levels with your pool of players; that’s where Germany are, at the moment, every player is a star in his own way; and I’m sure not many can argue against that. So, the German juggernaut goes on…

 

South Korea

The Star: Son Heung-Min : A dark horse as one of Spurs’ best players this season. Clever, blessed with quick feet and an expert finisher; South Korea have placed all their hopes on him to deliver the goods this World Cup. And they certainly need at least that, to even make it out of the group stages…

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 Being generous here…

Mexico (2nd)

The Star: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez: Mexico’s all time top scorer, the “Little Pea” is an absolute beast when it comes to the box, a fox in the box personified. He has this uncanny ability of being in the correct positions at the right moment to find the net with ease. And Mexico certainly have the talent to provide him ample amount of chances to find the net…

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 4/10 Not quite enough…

Sweden

The Star: Emil Forsberg: One of the very best for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. He can score, create and find a cutting edge pass with ease. With no Zlatan to save their face, Sweden would be heavily dependent on Forsberg to pull the strings.

Prediction: Group Stage (Close one, a tad too harsh maybe)

Chances of Eternal triumph: 3/10 Had Zlatan been there, it could’ve been 11/10 but alas…

Group G:

Belgium: (1st)

The Star: Eden Hazard: It has to be him. The captain, with all the responsibility of carrying an individually brilliant team, with the togetherness that it has lacked, tournament after tournament. But then Hazard is blessed with all the talent in this world. Pace, with a pinch of stardust and an ability to turn a game on its head in a trice. With teammates like Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne coupled with an excellent defensive unit, this might finally be the moment when the Belgian unit clicks… (To the tune of “Next year is our year” right?)

Prediction: Semi-Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 8/10  Not quite a bundle of matchsticks yet…

England:(2nd)

The Star: Harry Kane: No second thoughts here. The responsibility, the hopes, the team everything rests on Harry Kane’s shoulders. Certainly, he’s capable of a “Hurricane” but then a lot depends on how his teammates assist him to determine if the hurricane blows the opponents away or well… I guess the less I say, the better…

Prediction: Round of 16 (Err… well, yes)

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 5/10 Not there just yet…

Panama:

The Star: Luis Tejeda: Panama’s all time top scorer with 43 goals, an out and out striker; he’s set to be the focal point of Panama’s attack this World Cup. Well that’s all I can say…

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 1/10 Well, thanks for participating…

Tunisia:

The Star: Wahbi Khazri: Experienced, fast, skilled and a pretty good finisher. He’s been there at the top division with Sunderland before and knows all the tricks of the trade. Tunisia will be banking on him, and well, that’s it.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 1/10 All the best!

Group H

Colombia: (1st)

The Star: James Rodriguez: What a “golazo” that was at the 2014 FIFA World Cup! Yes, that man who won the BEST goal at the 2014 World Cup. The definition of a true star in his country. Alongside, Radamel Falcao, he forms a formidable attacking force. Hope Colombia score a lot of goals just for “that” celebration, so, after all, Shakira’s not the only one from Colombia who sets the stage on fire with her tunes, you see? It’s just that James’ feet don’t lie…(Commiserations to Pique, not getting any support here…)

Prediction: Quarter-Finalists

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 7/10 The celebrations are certainly ace, but then it’s not yet tango on the biggest stage…

Japan

The Star: Shinji Kagawa: The Samurai, Kagawa is Japan’s biggest star on the international stage with his success at Borussia Dortmund and Man United. He, along with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki is Japan’s brightest ray of hope, this World Cup. So, the Land of the Rising Sun is Asia’s biggest shot at glory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 4/10 That’s as good as it gets…

Poland :(2nd)

The Star: Robert Lewandowski: If there was a copyright on goals, this man would be way ahead in the queue. A freak talent, who possesses the unearthly ability to smash in 5 goals in just 9 minutes is just too hot to handle for any defence in this world. It’s just that, how far can he carry this team, on his own…there’s certainly no doubting his ability, but then, it’s the biggest stage in World football, you see…

Prediction: Round of 16

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 5/10 You’ve got all those 5 points Robert!

Senegal:

The Star: Sadio Mane: Again, what do I say about this man? Yet another freak talent and a speed demon who’s carrying all the hopes of his country after a great season with Liverpool, but one, which ended in heartbreak in the Champions League. Nevertheless, he’s gonna do as much as he can, in the World Cup, that’s for sure.

Prediction: Group Stage

Chances of Eternal Triumph: 2/10 I’m being generous here…

We, at All out football, are always for the fans, so this article isn’t complete without a fans’ predictions section.. (Based on the responses we received via our social media channels)

World Cup 2018 predictions

featured image credit ITV.com

About the Author

Siddesh Iyer
A die hard Man United fan for over a decade now. It's been a journey of thrills and spills, lots of highs and a few lows. A part of AOF for over a year now, I specialize in opinion pieces, FPL and match previews and interviews of some well known names in the footballing world ( Interview of John Dykes on AOF).