World Cup 2018 – Group A preview
After the Russians launched their bid to host the World Cup for the first time, they were on a high after reaching the semi-finals at the 2008 European Championship, times have changed since then.
They go into the tournament as the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams, having failed to advance past the group stage of any tournament since 2008.
Key Man – Igor Akinfeev
An experienced goalkeeper who captains the team, mistakes in big games has hampered a move to Europe’s elite.
Coach – Stanislav Cherchesov
The former keeper will rely on a steady defence in the tournament, because they have very little going forward.
Preparations for the tournament have been rocky, to say the least since qualifying for a fifth tournament, with two coaches fired.
Edgardo Bauza was sacked only nine days before the draw after only five friendlies in charge.
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.
Key Man – Mohammad Al-Sahlawi
16 goals in the qualifying stages make Al-Sahlawi the Saudi’s biggest threat.
Coach – Juan Antonio Pizzi
Only named in May as the coach will be tasked with improving on Saudi Arabia’s best performance, the second round in USA 94.
A long wait for Egypt since they last played at the tournament hasn’t been aided by the injury to key man Mo Salah in the Champions League final.
After recent failures to qualify for the African Nations cup the Pharaohs are back and hoping for something to shout about.
They haven’t featured at the World cup since 1990.
Key Man – Mohamed Salah
Five goals in six games in the final round of qualifiers, including the late penalty that booked the final place.
Coach – Hector Cuper
Another defensive minded coach, who will attack on the counter. Many in Egypt don’t like his style, but it seems to work.
Uruguay have finally created a good balance between youth and experience, defender Diego Godin (31), Edinson Cavani (30) and Luis Suarez (30) joined by young guns Federico Valverde (19) and Nahitan Nandez (21) ensured a solid qualification from the South American group.
Coach Tabarez will treat this tournament as experience building for 2022.
Key Man – Edinson Cavani
Leading South American goal scorer in qualifying with 10 in 18 games, frightening that he also plays alongside Luis Suarez.
Coach – Oscar Tabarez
His fourth World Cup. The 70-year-old has used a wheelchair since diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2016.