World Cup 2018 – The Fans’ Preview: Group A

World Cup 2018 is going to be here very soon, the biggest sporting event on earth and i think its time for a quick overall view of of the teams in the competition. We will post some analysis to share with you and lets get a few of the microwave pop corn ready, clean your sofa and stock up your fridge and do the count down!!!

Group A at this summer’s World Cup brings together an intriguing and unpredictable mix of teams.

Despite having the lowest average FIFA ranking of all eight groups, there will be plenty of talent on show. Interestingly, A is also one of only three groups to feature representatives from four continents.

The hosts Russia will kick off the tournament against Saudi Arabia on June 14 in the opener, while group favourites and 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay start their campaign with a bang against Egypt and their one-man awards show Mohamed Salah (should he be fit).

In one of the toughest groups to call, here’s what the fans think…

1. Egypt

Name: Adam Sidky

Best moment during qualification: Salah’s 94th minute penalty vs Congo to send us through to the finals! The fact it was a dubious pen made it even more special. The Gods were on our side!

Worst moment ever as an Egypt fan: Imagine the team you support having a one-off, winner-takes-all game against your most bitter rivals. Then multiply that thought by 1,000 and you have the clash that is Egypt vs Algeria. 2009, one game, one chance to make it to the 2010 World Cup. A devastating 1-0 win for Algeria crushed my and my country’s dreams.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Ramadan Sobhi. ‘Fringe player for relegated Stoke City’ some have whispered. However, look beyond the fine locks of curled hair and you will find a real threat. A player with devastating pace and a few tricks up his sleeve. At only 21, I’m tipping Ramadan to raise a few eyebrows in Russia this summer!

Which group game are you most nervous about: Uruguay. The first group game always sets the tone. Even with the rock Ahmed Hegazi at the back I’m still worried about Suarez and Cavani causing havoc.

How far will Egypt go?: Last 16.

How much does the success of this tournament for Egypt depend purely on Salah: I think its telling that this is a man that came third in our Presidential election vote. I’m a realist. Our success is 100% dependant on King Mo. He’s the equivalent of Messi to Barça, or Ronaldo to Real Madrid. The only difference is Barça and Madrid have the likes of Suarez and Isco behind their superstars, we have Ahmed Elmohamady…

2. Russia

 

Name: Ilya Sokolov @lokosokol

Proudest moment ever as a Russia fan: Of course, the game against Netherlands in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008. Russia managed to beat [3-1] a team which was considered to be the best in the tournament after the group stage.

Worst moment ever as a Russia fan: The 1-7 defeat to Portugal during the World Cup 2006 qualifiers. Russia has had a lot of bad games and tournaments, but conceding seven was too much.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: [Lokomotiv Moscow forward] Alexey Miranchuk. The guy will probably be linked to foreign clubs after the tournament, as he is talented and has a low release clause.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Poland. A team with several experienced players and a world-class forward will play in the most exciting group.

Realistically how far will Russia go: Round of 16. If Russia qualify from the group, they will be stopped by Spain, Portugal, or whoever eliminates Spain or Portugal.

One player who will make the squad but shouldn’t in your opinion: Igor Smolnikov. There were better choices in his position.

Have Russia been lucky with the group draw: The draw could possibly have been better, but it’s still lucky, as Russia probably got the weakest team from pot four, and one of the weakest from pot two.

3. Saudi Arabia

Name: Yahya Al Zahrani

Best moment during qualification: Fahad Al-Muwallad’s second-half winner against Japan in Jeddah which took Saudi Arabia to its fifth World Cup finals.

Proudest moment ever as a Saudi Arabia fan: There are many moments to be proud of but for me it is advancing through to the Round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup. We shocked the world by fighting hard against the Netherlands and almost beating them. Then we defeated Morocco and our striker Saeed Al Owairan scored one of the best goals in World Cup history against Belgium.

Worst moment ever as a Saudi Arabia fan: The 2006 World Cup in general wasn’t the best moment for Saudi football, particularly the match against Germany in which we were completely outplayed and lost 8-0.

Which group game are you most nervous about: The opener against Russia, because all eyes will be on this game.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: France. I like their style of football and they also have some dangerous players like Griezmann, Pogba, Matuidi, Dembele and Mbappé making them a strong contender to win the tournament this year.

Realistically how far will Saudi Arabia go: I would be extremely happy if we were to make the last 16. With the other teams in our group we have a real chance of doing that and as long as we put up a good fight then I will be satisfied.

4. Uruguay

Name: Nico Milieris

Best moment during qualification: When Uruguay destroyed Chile by three goals. We clearly outplayed them during that game and it was a great moment for us.

Proudest moment ever as a Uruguayan fan: Winning on penalties against Ghana in South Africa 2010, after Ghana missed a penalty in the last second of the game. It was without doubt, one of the most exciting moments in football history.

Worst moment ever as a Uruguayan fan: Losing against Australia on penalties in 2005 and missing out on the World Cup in Germany – a moment every Uruguayan will remember for a long time.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez. Everyone of course is talking about Suarez and Cavani but I believe Maxi will be one of the big surprises of this World Cup.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Croatia. This tiny European nation produces some of the best players in the world. With Modric and Rakitic in the midfield, anything can happen.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Egypt. Mo Salah has become one of the most lethal players in the planet. You give him one extra second and he can make you pay for it.

Realistically how far will Uruguay go: Quarter-finals.

 

 

 

 

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