AN ANALYSIS OF THE FIFA 2018 WORLD CUP (GROUP A).

in football •  last year 

wc2018a.jpg
Group A - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
RUSSIA
Russia must try not to be knocked out early, and this group could be good for them.
Russia go into the draw as the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams, having failed to advance past the group stage of any tournament since 2008. Ambitious talk of reaching the quarter-finals or even semi-finals has faded.
There are off-field problems too, with reports of disputes between players and the coach. Hooligan rampages at Euro 2016 tarnished Russia's image, with the country threatened with expulsion from the tournament in France.
SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia have the honour of playing in the opening game against Russia, but Asian confederation teams are traditionally the weakest.
Preparations for Russia have been far from ideal since qualifying for a fifth World Cup, with two coaches fired.
Edgardo Bauza was dismissed nine days before the draw after only five friendlies in charge. The team lost to Portugal and Bulgaria last month.
Bauza had been appointed in September to replace Bert van Marwijk, who was fired despite leading the team to their first World Cup since 2006.
Juan Antonio Pizzi, who was only named on Tuesday as the new coach, will be tasked with improving on Saudi Arabia's best-ever performance at World Cup - the second-round exit to Sweden at the 1994 tournament in the United States.
EGYPT
Egypt waited a long time to be back at the World Cup. The record seven-time African champions had to watch on the sidelines since last qualifying in 1990.
The team hit new lows recently, failing to even qualify for the African Cup of Nations - a tournament they once dominated - from 2012-15. They are back now, reaching the final of this year's tournament and following that up with a long-awaited World Cup return.
Egypt pose the main danger to the hosts and Uruguay. It may be their first World Cup since 1990, but star player Mo Salah was exceptional in qualifying.
URUGUAY
Only Brazil had a more solid performance in South American qualifying than Uruguay. Though some of the team's stars started fading, new players have emerged for the World Cup.
Defender Diego Godin (31) and strikers Edinson Cavani (30) and Luis Suarez (30) still trouble opponents. But now youngsters like midfielders Federico Valverde (19) and Nahitan Nandez (21) have become frequent starters.
My group prediction: Uruguay and Russia to go through!

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