World Cup Preview – Group A

After getting out of the ‘Group of Death’ in 2014 things were looking up for the United States. Christian Pulisic, the brightest young talent US Soccer has ever had burst onto the scene. Yet, the United States did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup and our soccer program is left in shambles. But the World Cup will go on without us, so here is my preview for this summer’s biggest event.

Group A should be called the ‘Group of Boring’ because the only interesting things about this group are whether Mo Salah will be fit to play for Egypt and will Luis Suarez bite someone again.

Group A consists of the host, Russia, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

Russia

Much like in American politics, they don’t belong here but they have a chance to influence proceedings anyway. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is the best player on the team. A hot goalie could see them make it out of the group. Any good Football Manager player will tell you that Akinfeev is a top level player. He will have to be great behind Russia’s garbage defense. It is their biggest weakness and will likely be their downfall. Injuries to two of their top center backs leave them weak at the back. Fedor Smolov will lead their attack, leading the Russian League the last two seasons in goals scored. He’ll have to be in form for Russia to advance. Alan Dzagoev is the creator in midfield and attacks will flow through him. Russia could make it out of the group if Mo Salah isn’t healthy for Egypt.

Salah 1

Egypt

A team that could be exciting to watch if Mo Salah is able to make it on the field. Otherwise they will be battling with Russia for the second spot in the group. Salah is a magical boy and an utter joy to watch. A healthy Salah would likely topple Russia and Saudi Arabia and should be enough to take second in the group. Even with Salah they are not at the same level as Uruguay. Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny can add quality to their midfield if he is fit after an ankle injury. This is a mediocre team with one star player in Salah, but if he’s able to play against Russia and Saudi Arabia that should be enough for them to take second in the group.

Salah 2

Saudi Arabia

Just a bunch of guys named Al trying to make it in the World Cup. Yahya Al Shehri is the top player on the team who is relied on to create chances from midfield. This is the first time they have qualified for the World Cup in twelve years and they seem to lack the quality to advance. However, if they can get a good result against Russia in the opening game they could stand a chance of getting to the round of 16 because this is a weak group. Ultimately I pick them to finish last in Group A and they will struggle to score in Russia.

2018 World Cup Qualifications - Africa - Egypt vs Congo

Uruguay

They couldn’t have asked for any easier group to get through. Things set up nicely for Uruguay to make a run deep into the tournament. Led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani this team could honestly score 15 goals and give up none in the group stage. Suarez and Cavani provide the goals and create, but the back line is also strong with Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez commanding the box. The Atletico Madrid duo will be tough to break through. They have a talented, young midfield who haven’t been tested like the rest of the squad which could be where they struggle. Uruguay should cruise through Group A and make a deep run in the World Cup.

Salah 4

Players to Watch

  1. Mo Salah
  2. Mo Salah
  3. Mo Salah
  4. Luis Suarez biting someone

Group A Standings

  1. Uruguay
  2. Egypt
  3. Russia
  4. Saudi Arabia
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