Group A is the first group of this mini series. This is a group of “returning” nations: Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be making their first appearance in a World Cup since 2006 and 1990, respectively. Both teams will be joined by host nation Russia and the first ever World Cup champions Uruguay.
World Cup Appearances: 10 tournaments (40 games)
Best Result: Semifinalist (1966)
2014 World Cup result: Group Stages
The former URSS (Russia since late 1990s), will be trying to use the home condition in their favor. Historically the odds have always helped the host nation (only South Africa in 2010 didn't make it into the next round) and Russia doesn’t want to be an exception. The 2018 Russian national team is not as strong as the former URSS teams, with Lev Yashin, Ivanov or Igor Netto, and locals have almost no hope in their team. With players like Akinfeev and Kokorin, Russia will try to prove the its own people wrong and make it into the Round of 16.
With more than 100 caps to his name, Igor Akinfeev goes into this years World Cup as the most experienced Russian player. The agility and reflexes he has shown with CSKA Moscow, make him the ideal goalkeeper. Also, his great technical ability make him a reliable pass option for midfielders and defenders. Will he be capable of stoping Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah from scoring?
This 22 year old midfielder will be setting tempo of the Russian game. He will use his technical abilities and combine them with his good physical attributes (1.80m tall) to not only generate goals, but also to stop the opposition form creating important goal opportunities. Will his inexperience affect his game at the World Cup?
Russia’s Head Coach since 2016, Cherchesov has had a bad managerial term with a poor efficiency of 26%. When he was announced as manager, the Russian Federation announced its expectations: reaching the semifinals, but a bad Confederations Cup (5th place playing as hosts) makes such goal a tough battle for Cherchesov. How far can he take Russia?
World Cup Appearances: 4 tournaments (13 games)
Best Result: Round of 16 (1994)
2014 World Cup result: Didn’t participate
After a 12 year absence, Saudi Arabia has qualified for the World Cup. Making its debut in 1994 (with players like Saeed Owairan: the dessert Maradona) Saudi Arabia went on to play in 3 consecutive tournaments until 2006. The Saudi Arabian record is a poor one only 2 wins and 2 ties in 13 World Cup matches.
Nicknamed by some as the arabic Messi, this talented midfielder has helped his national team achieve this return to the World Cup, with 18 appearances in the qualifiers. His amazing vision and creativity has gained him an opportunity with Spanish side Leganes. Can he take Saudi Arabia, this group’s underdogs, into the next round?
This multifaceted young player will be looking to connect efficiently, with midfielders Al-Sheri and Al-Dawasari, and net some goals for the Sons of the Dessert. Will he be able to do so? How many goals can he score?
Juan Antonio Pizzi
After failing to take Chile to the World Cup, Juan Antonio Pizzi was offered the Suadi Arabian managerial chair. With a Copa América with Chile and a Copa Libertadores with San Lorenzo, Pizzi’s objective is to at least make one point and end the no point streak. Can he steal some points from the other teams?
World Cup Appearances: 2 tournaments (4 games)
Best Result: Round of 16 (1934)
2014 World Cup result: Didn’t participate
The pharaohs were the first African nation to participate in a World Cup in Italy 1934, but things didn’t go so well for them until 1990 when they finally made it back for their second World Cup. Now, 28 years later they’ll have a third chance. Will they be able to win their first ever World Cup match?
PFA’s player of the year, Liverpool’s 2018 top scorer with 44 goals and with 58 Egypt caps to his name, Salah is regarded as the most important figure of the Egyptian team. He scored the penalty that qualified Egypt for the World Cups, and all the country’s hopes are set on him, but an incidental tackle in the Champions League final has made his participation in the World Cup a mystery. Will Salah recover in time and take Egypt past the group stages for the first time ever?
While the attack of the team revolts around Salah, Elneny is in charge of the midfield. His strength makes him a tough player and opposition will certainly have to find ways to run through him. But his ability doesn’t stop there, he can also aid the team in attack and even score some goals. Can he support Salah with assists and give Egypt the defensive stability they need?
Egypt’s Head Coach since 2015, Cuper has managed to bring the egyptian magic back. Having managed teams like Inter, Valencia, Betis, Parma and Mallorca, Cuper has now taken his club experience into international football. He ended runner-up with Egypt in the last African Cup and has made history by qualifying them to their third World Cup. Will Cuper keep making history with Egypt in this tournament?
World Cup Appearances: 12 tournaments (51 games)
Best Result: Champion (1930, 1950)
2014 World Cup result: Round of 16
The first ever host nation and first ever champion of a World Cup, Uruguay is also the national team with the most FIFA recognized trophies to its name: 19. Famous for carrying out El Maracanazo in Brazil 1950, they will try to do as good in the up-coming tournament. Can Suarez and friends make it back to the semifinals as in 2010?
With almost 100 international caps under his arm, Luis Suarez goes to Russia to play his third World Cup. Always a polemic player (he handballed a clear goal in 2010 and bit Georgio Chiellini in 2014) he will try to remain cold blooded and help his team till the end. Will he be able to do it?
The 32 year old defender will be playing his third World Cup and will be looking to get his second official title with the national team (he won Copa America in 2011). Known to be a though and strength-full player, Diego can also score headers in corners. Can he help keep Fernando Muslera’s goal safe?
Oscar Washington Tabarez
As the oldest manager in this years Wolrd Cup, Tabarez will try to bring his experience into play. After making it to the Round of 16 in Italy 1990 and Brazil 2014 and into the Semifinals in South Africa 2010, Tabarez will try to break his own record and make it into the Final in his 4th Wolrd Cup as Uruguay’s manager. Can he do it?
Thanks for reading. I will be posting the next groups soon, so stay tuned.
If you have any comment, suggestion or complaint, please leve it in the comments.