FIFA World Cup 2018: What to expect from Group A
Group A has Uruguay,Egypt,Saudi Arabia and Russia to fight it out in the group stages.
Uruguay (FIFA rank: 17)
Egypt (FIFA rank: 30)
Saudi Arabia (FIFA rank: 63)
Russia (FIFA rank: 65)
Group A has the much talked about Egypt with FIFA ranking of 30. Egypt has been in news since Liverpool's sensation Mohammed Salah has come into the limelight. During the Champion league finals against Real Madrid, the whole stadium was teary-eyed when Ramos ended Salah's CL dream with a challenge which was so bad that Salah was off the field in first 30 minutes.
Salah will miss the first match against Uruguay but the side still looks promising with Ahmed Fathi (Al-Ahli Cairo), Saad Samir (Al-Ahli Cairo), Ayman Ashraf (Al-Ahli Cairo) in the side. Egypt participated in the World Cup twice before; the first was in 1934 and the last one in 1990 in Italy, when they were eliminated in the group stage.
Uruguay with a FIFA ranking of 17 looks promising on paper. La Celeste (Uruguay) has qualified 13 times for the world cup. They have been won FIFA World Cup in 1930 and 1950.
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez will be lethal for the team with 50 goals in 100 matches. PSGs Edinson Cavani has scored 3 goals in five matches he played for the team. Uruguay reached the semi-finals of World Cup 2010 on the back of a controversial save by Luis Suarez against Ghana in a nail-biter.
Saudi Arabia is the lowest rank team in the World Cup. The team in the1994 World Cup, qualified from their group with wins against Morocco and Belgium to set them up with a last 16 tie against Sweden which they lost 3-1. Juan Antonio Pizzi only took charge in November 2017 after resigning as Chile manager having failed to qualify for the World Cup. Pizzi, who used to play for Barcelona, led Chile to Copa America triumph in 2016 and has over ten years of managerial experience.
NawafAbed will be key for Saudi Arabia, as he is being described by regional media as "on the brink of being one of Asia's best". Al-Abed was credited with scoring the fastest-ever goal in association seconds when he wasted no more than 2.4 seconds to lob the goalkeeper after the ball was rolled to him from kick off. Mohammed-Sahlawi's 28 goals in 38 caps for Saudi Arabia marks him out as their go-to man for Saudi Arabia.
The hosts having a FIFA ranking of 64 will look to make some impact. The side will be under the guidance of Stanislav Cherchesov. Coach Leonid Slutsky resigned as the coach for Russia after a dismal campaign in Euro 2016. They are likely to have a hard time competing against likes of Uruguay and Egypt.
Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will be their best shot at the World Cup. Fresh legs of Alan Dzagoev will be instrumental in strengthening the host. The attacking midfielder has shared the 2012 Euro top scorer award with Mario Balotelli, Mario Gomez, Mario, Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres, all of whom scored three goals each. As the host nation, Russia did not have to qualify and was automatically placed in Group A.
The dynamics of this group can be topsy-turvy with underdogs like Russia and Saudi Arabia pitted against Uruguay and Egypt.