Group A in the FIFA World Cup 2018 consists of South American giants Uruguay, hosts Russia, African hopefuls Egypt and Asian minnows Saudi Arabia.
Uruguay are the obvious favourites to top the group, but we expect an interesting battle between Russia and Egypt for the second qualifying spot.
Here’s our little preview of four teams from Group A.
Egypt are making their third appearance at the FIFA event and their first since the 1990 World Cup. The Pharaohs, who are ranked 46th in FIFA rankings, have never managed to win a game at the football’s biggest event. However, the Northern African nation have a big superstar amidst their ranks this time in Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
Salah is facing a race against time to be fit for the tournament following his infamous injury against Real Madrid in Champions League final. He is likely to carry his nation’s hopes on his shoulders in the tournament. Besides Salah, Mohamed Elneny, Ramadan Sobhi and Ahmed Hegazi are some other known players in Egypt’s squad. We expect the Pharaohs to get the better of Saudi Arabia, but their fate in the tournament will very likely depend on their game against the hosts.
Russia have often disappointed in World Cup, and they will be desperate to put up a decent show in front of a home crowd. Since the dissolution of USSR in 1990, Russia have qualified for three World Cups. However, they are yet to make it to knockout rounds of the competition. Russians didn’t do well at Euro 2016 too as they finished last in their group.
However, host nations tend to do well in World Cups, and there is some hope for the Russians. They are currently 65th in FIFA rankings, but they find themselves in a rather comfortable group. We don’t fancy them to top the group, but they are favourites for the second spot in the betting market. Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Kokorin and Yuri Zhirkov will be key players for the hosts.
The Middle East nation are the minnows of Group A. They are favourites to finish bottom of their group, and we have no reason to not support this outcome. Saudi Arabia, 67th in FIFA rankings, are the lowest ranked side in their group. The Asian powerhouse did qualify ahead of Australia in their qualifying group. However, their entire squad is full of players playing in the domestic league, and we believe that they will struggle to cope with conditions in Russia.
They are making their first appearance at World Cup following a gap of 12 years. Overall, this will be their fifth appearances at the global event. Only once, in 1994, they managed to make it past the group stage.
The South Americans are huge favourites to top their group. The Uruguay national side consists of some world class names such as Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and more.
Uruguay were impressive in the qualifying campaign as they finished in the second spot, only behind Brazil. They have also become a regular at World Cup, and this is their third consecutive appearance at the event. La Celeste managed to make it to the knockout rounds in each of last two cups. They were semi-finalists in 2010, and they lost in the last-16 round in 2014. It was a disappointing tournament for them in Brazil, and they will be looking to go further in the competition in Russia.
We are backing Uruguay to top the group and Russia to clinch the second qualifying spot.