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Friday, February 16, 2018

Which is the harder group for Russia 2018?

Por Fidel Orihuela

The groups have already been drawn for the FIFA World Cup in Russia, a tournament that will take place between June and July in eleven cities of the giant European country. In the Kremlin, one of the most iconic places of Moscow, the groups were defined for the greatest soccer event, in which the host will face some of the less complicated teams. Other favorites, like Germany, the last champion, or Brazil and Argentina, are in more complicated pools.

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. The host will face a pool with not so many complications, only with the presence of Uruguay as the most difficult rival, a team that has been twice winner of the FIFA World Cup. The Uruguayans, known for their courage and intensity in the field, are the favorites in this group, while the Russians will try to achieve at home the mystic of the soviet teams. Saudi Arabia and Egypt will try the great challenge of leaving a former winner and the host out of the competition.

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran. There will be great expectation with the opening game between the Portuguese and the Spanish, because Cristiano Ronaldo will face all of his team mates from the Real Madrid. At the beginning of the draw, there was an intention of making a death group but clearly these two selections from the Iberian Peninsula, managed by Julen Lopetegui and Fernando Santos, should have no problems to win when playing against Morocco and Iran and to classify to the sixteen team round.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark. Three selections that overcame the salvage to get to the World Cup will measure up against France, one the favorites to raise the victory Cup in Russia. Australians, Peruvians and Danish will be the rivals of the Gallic, which should not face complications to move on to the following round. Denmark should have no problems either to ensure the second place of the group, based on the tremendous level developed by this generation of players, with emphasis on the figure of the Tottenham star, Christian Eriksen.

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. At first, you might think that Iceland and Nigeria have nothing much to do in this pool, but these are very dangerous teams for both the Argentinians and the Croatians. The Icelandic have been the sensation for the last two years, with a great performance in the Euro Cup of 2016 and their posterior direct classification to the World Cup. On their side, the Nigerians have always been difficult rivals for the Argentinians and not so long ago, at a friendly match, they defeated the south Americans by winning with a 4-2 score. The Balkan, with their great constellation of midfielders, are the favorites along with Messi`s Argentina, but they have very difficult rivals on their way to the victory.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. A very complicated group for the Brazilians. The other countries have solid teams and even though historically they have not had great results, they are now ready to fight the big winner. The Brazilians being favorite, the second place should go to either Serbia or Switzerland, which should provide a show worth waiting for, although we can´t forget Costa Rica, a team that surprised us four years ago.

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea. It won’t be an easy task for the champion to get past all the teams in this pool, although the traditional game of the German soccer and their results puts the team as the favorite in a pool of great quality. If the predictions are accomplished and the disciples of Joachim Low keep their steady pace, the fight to advance to the next round will be a devastating one because Mexicans, Swedish and South Koreans have all interesting teams with possibilities to get to the next phase.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England. A clear advantage for the Belgians and the English which golden generations will match up in the fight for the first spot of this pool. As for the Tunisians and the Costa Rican, their great accomplishment is to be in the World Cup, but they have no real possibilities in this group. Belgium, on the other hand, has players that are currently enlisted in the best European clubs but they have not worked as a team in the most important tournaments, so this will be a new opportunity for them. England, on its side, has some new young players who are eager to surprise in this World Cup.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan. At first sight, this might seem the weakest pool of the World Cup, but it well may be that the low profile of these selections makes the struggle all the more interesting. Colombia and Poland have a head start because of the quality of their players, many of them being part of the European leagues. Senegal, on the other hand, had an excellent performance during classification games as well as in previous World Cups. Japan always attends the Cups and should not be forgotten.