This Uruguay side are undoubtedly the favourites for this group with a very balanced and powerful first 11. Their backline consists of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, two members of the strongest defensive team in Europe, Atletico Madrid. Moving up through this South American team, they tend to play a 4-3-1-2 with Mikel Vecino in the centre of the trio, the Inter Milan central midfielder is a key part of this Uruguaian side as a key playmaker for the big guns of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani up top.
There is a slight worry for Uruguay for the climate, the Russian weather could definitely take a game to get used to, so that could be the one downfall of this deadly side.
Expected group position: 1st
TIP: Uruguay to win Group A is currently 8/11 with Bet365
Egypt are a side with a lot of hopes relying on the fitness of recently injured Mohamed Salah. His presence in this Egyptian side is absolutely vital if they’re going to stand any chance in this group, Salah has been absolutely incredible this season and the game changing capabitilies could really work wonders for them. Egypt’s side has some positives, featuring Ahmed Hegazy [West Brom] Ramadan Sobhi [Stoke] and Mohamed Elneny [Arsenal]. The defensive and playmaking abilites of Elneny will be very important if Egypt’s midfield was to have any kind of structure and strength. Egypt’s ambitions rely solely on Salah’s fitness, without him they will very much struggle for goals without their number one talisman.
Predicted group finish: 4th
Moving towards the hosts Russia they have massive expectations as you’d expect being the hosts of the tournament, and the squad they’re bringing should be enough to carry them through the group stages. Fedor Smolov has been deadly in recent friendlies and in the league at Krasnodar in the Russian Premier this season. The midfield threat of Alan Dzagoev will prove a challenge to the group’s defensive backlines, his distribution to target man Smolov is going to be a consistent issue. Russia’s serious downfall is their always aging defensive line. Igor Akinfeev has been the Russian goalkeeper for a while now he once had huge potential and links to the Premier League but has never quite fulfilled expectation. Sergei Ignashevich is the core of the Russian defence but has a definite lack of pace, which could be fatal in a group with some very quick attacking players.
Predicted group finish: 2nd
Saudi Arabia are expected to be the groups weak link, but from recent games against the likes of Italy and Germany they have very much proved otherwise with very close 2-1 defeats. They haven’t got a team full of big name, big league players but as a collective they link together and play some dangerous attacking football, not holding back against even the bigger teams. Fayad al Muwallad is a danger down the left flank, the 23 year old winger holds bags of pace and dribbling abilities and will be the main man to look to for providing goals for this Saudi side. Unfortunately the lack of high level players from some of the world’s elite leagues will not have given the side enough top level experience, which could very much prove Saudi’s downfall.
Predicted group finish: 3rd
Example Group Standings:
1st: Uruguay :7 Points
2nd: Russia :5 Points
3rd: Saudi Arabia :3 Points
4th: Egypt :1 Point