World Cup Group B Preview

Two teams are clear favourites to go through. 




The number 4th ranked side in the world go into this competition as reigning European champions. Portugal have made 6 appearances in the World Cup their first coming in 1966 which also happened to be their best finish in the competition placing third. 


Goalkeepers – Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Göztepe)
Defenders – Bruno Alves (Rangers), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphaël Guerreiro (Dortmund), José Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Mário Rui (Napoli), Cédric (Southampton)
Midfielders – Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), João Moutinho (Monaco), João Mário (West Ham), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Adrien Silva (Leicester City) 
Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), André Silva (AC Milan), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Ricardo Quaresma (Benfica)
Manager – Fernando Santos 
Most Caps – Cristiano Ronaldo (149)
Captain – Cristiano Ronaldo
Star Player – Cristiano Ronaldo 

Portugal drew two and won one of their three friendlies. Portugal are European champions and should be one of the two teams to reach the round of 16. Portugal have a decent squad and they have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, and so they could possibly reach the latter stages of the World Cup, winning it seems a stage too far. 




Spain’s first World Cup came in 1934 and have since participated in 14 other iterations. They managed to win the coveted trophy in 2010 in what was arguably Spain’s golden era. Lately Spain have fallen short but a youthful squad could cause problems to opponents in this years competition. 


Goalkeepers – David De Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao), Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Defenders – Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Nacho (Real Madrid), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Midfielders – Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe), Saul (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid)
Forwards – Rodrigo (Valencia), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City)
Manager – Julen Lopetegui
Most Caps – Sergio Ramos (151)
Captain – Sergio Ramos
Star Player – Andres Iniesta

Spain are looking to reach the heights they reached in the first half of the decade. Gone are the days of tiki taka football and there is a focus on holistic development. This World Cup also happens to be Iniesta’s last World Cup and he remains the player that makes Spain tick. Spain will probably reach the round of 16 and going further like all other teams will depend on the draw but Spain could make it to he quarter finals at least. 




Morocco have participated in four world cups, their first came in 1970 and their best finish in the competition was the round of 16 which they reached in the 1986 World Cup. They return to the competition after missing the last four. 


Goalkeepers – Yassine Bounou (Girona), Munir Mohamedi (Numancia), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (IR Tanger)
Defenders – Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (Lille), Manuel da Costa (Istanbul Basaksehir), Medhi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce)
Midfielders – Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Mbark Boussoufa (Al-Jazira), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Amine Harit (Schalke 04), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Mehdi Carcela (Standard Liege)
Forwards – Ayoub El Kaabi (RS Berkane), Khalid Boutaib (Yeni Malatyaspor), Youssef En-Nesyri (Malaga), Aziz Bouhaddouz (FC St.Pauli)
Manager – Hervé Renard
Most Caps – Mbark Boussoufa (58)
Captain – Mehdi Benatia
Star Player – Mehdi Benatia

Morocco are an interesting team and should provide some interesting football to watch in their games. Portugal and Spain should be one step too far for them though but if Benatia is able to martial his defence adequately then a few surprises could be sprung. 




Iran have made four appearances in the World Cup, failing to get out of the group stage in all four competitions. Their first appearance came in 1978. 


Goalkeepers – Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)
Defenders – Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiacos), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al-Sadd), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Oostende)
Midfielders – Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (Aek Athens), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis)
Forwards – Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersund), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen), Mehdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa), Alireza Jahanbaksh (AZ), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest) 
Manager – Carlos Queiroz
Most Caps – Ehsan Hajsafi (93)
Captain – Masoud Shojaei
Star Player – Reza Ghoochannejhad

Iran are a team that could surprise their group with players like Reza and Azmoun providing some quality options going forward. In most cases they will probably not go through the group but much like Morocco their main aim will be to provide some good performances for the fans. Iran have won two of their three friendlies and going into the World Cup in a positive mood. 



World Cup Group A Preview

One of the tougher groups. 

The World Cup is almost upon us and that means it is time to review the teams that will be taking part in the World’s most followed sporting event. 



Russia have participated in ten World Cups till now and their best finish has been 4th place in the 1966 World Cup that was held in England. 

Team Preview
  • Manager – Stanislav Cherchesov 
  • Most Caps – Ignashevich 122 (Defender)
  • Captain – Akinfeev (Goalkeeper) 
  • Star Player – Dzagoev (Midfielder)

The World Cup is being hosted in Russia so they are expected to at least make it past the group stage. They have played two friendlies in the build up to their opening game, the first they lost to Austria by a goal to nil, while the second they drew with Turkey at home. While the group is tough getting past the group stage will be more than sufficient. 

Saudi Arabia 


Saudi Arabia have participated in four World Cups, their last being in 2006. Their highest finish in a World Cup has been to reach the round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup which was hosted in the USA. 

Team Preview
  • Manager – Juan Antonio Pizzi
  • Most Caps – Osama Hawsawi 134 (Defender)
  • Captain – Osama Hawasawi
  • Star Player – Al-Sahlawi

Saudi Arabia have lost both of their last friendlies against Italy and Peru respectively and are the possibility of reaching the round of 16 is slim at best. Winning one of the three group games should be a respectable performance for Saudi Arabia, anything more would be a great achievement. 



Egypt have participated in two World Cups, their last being in 1990. Reaching the group stage of the World Cups has been their best achievement so far. 

Team Preview 
  • Manager – Héctor Cupér
  • Most Caps – Essam El-Hadary 157 (Goalkeeper) 
  • Captain – Essam El-Hadary 
  • Star Player – Mohamed Salah (Forward) 

Egypt are perhaps the dark horses of this group and mostly because of one very special player, Mohamed Salah. Salah had been gradually picking up form since leaving Chelsea, and his move from Roma to Liverpool in 2017 was seen as a decent buy. Fast forward to 2018 and Salah has finished the season with more than 40 goals and has become a household name. His last game in the Champions League final saw him suffer an injury to his shoulder but Egypt is optimistic that he will play a part and might even make it for the opener. The Egyptian team has other Premier League players such as El-Neny, Hegazi and Sobhi as well as stalwarts like Elmohamady. They have drawn two and lost one of their three pre-World Cup friendlies but I think they might make it to the knockout stages of this World Cup especially if Salah plays a part. 



Uruguay have made 12 appearances in the World Cup their first being in 1930, a World Cup which they managed to win along with the one in 1950. 

Team Preview
  • Manager – Oscar Washington Tabarez
  • Most Caps – Maxi Pereira 124 (Defender)
  • Captain – Diego Godín (Defender)
  • Star Player – Luis Suárez (Forward)

Two time champions Uruguay are favourites to top Group A, and with players like Suárez, Cavani, Godin, Giménez to name a few they should top the group. Suarez is their talisman and has also been a controversial figure in last world cups, but he has gained maturity in the last four years and should lead by example. Uruguay in all likelihood will make it to the round of 16 and a quarter final spot should be in their sight depending on who they face.