By Niall Clarke
- Group A Preview and Predictions
- Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – In the build up to the World Cup, Britwatch Sports will look at every group and give our predictions on who will finish where. Today we look at Group A which features hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and former champions Uruguay.
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June 14th : Russia vs Saudi Arabia (19:00)
June 15th: Uruguay vs Egypt (13:00)
June 19th: Russia vs Egypt (19:00)
June 20th: Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (16:00)
June 25th: Uruguay vs Russia (15:00)
June 25th: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (15:00)
Fifa World Ranking: 65
World Cup Appearance: 11th
Previous Best: 4th place as the Soviet Union (1966)
2014: Group Stage
Qualifying: Automatically qualified as hosts
For the first time Russia head into a World Cup as the hosts, giving them a home field advantage. The Russians once boasted a team with the likes of Andrey Arshavin where they made the semi finals of the Euro 2008 tournament.
It is fair to say this team is a far cry from that one as they currently rank 66 in the world, and do not boast any major stars outside of the Russian Premier League. They do have a home advantage and the players will be used to the playing conditions and the atmosphere in Russia, but looking at the squad I do not see a lot of quality, so the hosts may fall short of qualification from the group stages.
Prediction: Third Place
Fifa World Ranking: 67
World Cup Appearance: 5th
Previous Best: Round of 16 (1994)
2014: Did not qualify
Qualifying: Second in Asia’s Group B
Saudi Arabia come into Russia looking to advance beyond the group stages for the first time since 1994 where they made the round of 16. They currently rank 67 in the world, one place behind Russia which pits them at a similar level, so we can expect some tight matches in this group.
Saudi Arabia finished second behind Japan in Group B of the Asian qualifying and looking at this team I see a lot of potential chemistry. A lot of the players play together in the Saudi Arabian league so there will be an understanding between them. However, they are tipped to finish last because like Russia they lack any real depth of quality and unlike the hosts they do not have any home field advantage.
Prediction: Fourth Place
Fifa World Ranking: 46
World Cup Appearance: 3rd
Previous Best: Group Stage (1934, 1990)
2014: Did not qualify
Qualifying: First in Africa’s Group E
Despite being a regular fixture in the African Cup of Nations since the turn of the century, Egypt’s participation in the World Cup has been scarce, with this being only their fourth appearance ever.
This one could be their most fruitful once though, being drawn into a group they could feasibly advance from. Whilst Saudi Arabia and Russia lack a star player, Egypt boast one of the best in Mohamed Salah, the man who could carry Egypt beyond the group stages, but there are still questions over his fitness after suffering a shoulder injury in the UEFA Champions League final. With the addition of other Premier League players such as Mohamed Elneny, this Egypt side has the capabilities of making the knockout stages, especially if Salah is fit enough to play all three games.
Prediction: Second Place
Fifa World Ranking: 17th
World Cup Appearance: 13th
Previous Best: Winners (1930, 1950)
2014: Round of 16
Qualifying: Second in South America
Uruguay are undoubtedly the best team in this group, boasting world class players both up front and in defence. This is the team that finished second in the South American qualifiying, ahead of Argentina, and have made it out of the group stages for the past two World Cup tournaments.
Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, both from Atletico Madrid lead the backline with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front providing the goals for Uruguay. This is a team that is going to be very hard to beat for any team in this competition, never mind their opposition in this group. Uruguay has the potential to go deep and they should not have many issues getting through to the knockout stages.
Prediction: First Place
The XXI FIFA World Cup Starts on June 14, as Russia host Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s curtain-raiser in Moscow at 4pm UK time.
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