This group looks like a dream group for Uruguay as there is a lack of proven threats when it comes to international football, with hosts Russia and Egypt looking to provide some sort of to the two-time World Champions. Saudi Arabia can occasionally surprise the others with their but even with a relatively easy group, their qualification to the next stage looks like a long draw. The battle for the second-spot behind Uruguay could be exciting with not much to choose from between the Egyptians and the hosts.
Considered by many as one of the dark horses of the tournaments, this World Cup could well witness a more attack-minded Uruguay team with the world-class front pairing of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani ably assisted by a young and energetic midfield full of attacking flair. Diego Godin will be his usual rock-solid self at the back.
History- 2 times world champions
Qualification Form- Qualified with 9 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses, second in CONMEBOL table.
Watch out for- Luis Suarez- probably the best striker in the world right now, had yet another excellent goal-scoring season at La Liga with Barcelona.
Russia, the host nation can be a tough side to beat but their recent form and statistics aren’t that great. Also, being the hosts, they will be under immense pressure to perform in front of their proud supporters. Whether that will motivate them to perform beyond their limits or pressurize them to an extent that they fail miserably is what is to be seen.
History- 4th in 1966
Qualification Form – Hosts
Watch out for- Aleksander Golovin- A talented young player with a huge potential, Golovin helped Russia win the Euro U-17 at 2013 and reach the final of Euro U-19 in 2015. Can he replicate something close to this at the senior level?
The lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, the Saudis will be determined to be anything but mere pushovers and will look to play an attacking brand of football that helped them to qualify for the tournament. But the team lacks enough international experience and anything else than a 4th place finish in their group will be a huge achievement.
History- 1st Round, 4 appearances
Qualification Form – Won 6 drew 1 lost 3 finishing 2nd behind Japan in their group.
Watch out for- Nawaf Al Abed- The forward has made 36 appearances for Saudi Arabia, scoring seven, including four in World Cup qualifying. He will take up the goal-scoring duty for his team. He can operate as a winger and create chances if he is starved of the ball at the top, which will be quite likely.
Egypt is notoriously tough to beat as they defend very well as a team and are very difficult to break down. They have conceded more than one goal in a match only once in their last 30 games. Upfront, they have Mo Salah, providing goals and assists with astonishing regularity and Mahmoud Hasan, known for making direct runs into the box. Much of their campaign will depend on how Mo Salah performs in the attack as the supposedly tight defense may be exposed by the quality teams in the competition and they will need to have some genuine quality upfront.
History- 1st Round, 2nd appearance
Qualification Form- Won 6 drew 1 lost 1 and qualified as table toppers ahead of Uganda.
Watch out for- Mohamed Salah- What a season he has had for Liverpool! 44 goals and 14 assists this season, he is easily a strong contender for Ballon d ‘or and he will be determined to do just as well in the World Cup this year.
My Prediction: 1. Uruguay 2. Egypt 3. Russia 4. Saudi Arabia