World Cup Group A Preview


Best XI:

GK: Mohamed El Shenawy, 29, El Ahly (Egypt)

LB: Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, 32, Al-Fateh (Saudi Arabia)

LCB: Ahmed Hegazi, 27, West Bromwich Albion (England)

RCB: Ali Gabr, 29, West Bromwich Albion (England)

RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, 30, Aston Villa (England)

LCM: Mohamed Elneny, 25, Arsenal (England)

RCM: Sam Morsy, 26, West Brom (England)

CAM: Trezeguet, 23, Kasimpasa (Turkey)

LW: Ramadan Sobhi, 21, Stoke (England)

ST: Marwan Mohsen, 29, El Ahly (Egypt)

RW: Mohamed Salah, 26, Liverpool (England)

Analysis: Like most other African nations in World Cup tournaments, Egypt is attack-first, defend-last. The biggest question mark is Mohamed Salah, who almost missed out on the 23-man squad due to injury. It's unlikely he'll be fit for their first match (June 15th vs. Uruguay), but there's a good chance he'll be healthy enough for Egypt's June 19th match against Russia. It's hard to see a Salah-less Egypt squad taking any points from Uruguay, and Russia still might be too much for them even with Salah playing. Egypt has to get production from Premier League players Ahmed Hegazi, Mohamed Elneny and Ramadan Sobhi while earning points from better squads if they want to advance. Even if Mohamed Salah plays two of the three group stage matches, it'll take a lot more than him to advance out of Group A.


Best XI:

GK: Igor Akinfeev, 32, CSKA Moskow (Russia)

LB: Fedor Kudryashov, 31, Rubin Kazan (Russia)

LCB: Ilya Kutepov, 24, Spartak Moscow (Russia)

RCB: Vladimir Granat, 31, Rubin Kazan (Russia)

RB: Mario Fernandes, 27, CSKA Moskow (Russia)

CDM: Roman Zobnin, 24, Spartak Moscow (Russia)

LCM: Aleksandr Golovin, 22, CSKA Moscow (Russia)

RCM: Alan Dzagoev, 28, CSKA Moscow (Russia)

LW: Yuri Zhirkov, 34, Zenit (Russia)

ST: Fedor Smolov, 28, Krasnodar (Russia)

RW: Aleksander Samedov, 33, Spartak Moscow (Russia)

Analysis: As usual, nearly every player on the Russia roster also plays in the Russian Pro League. It's also no surprise that their average starting age is 30. Igor Akinfeev is a good keeper, but he tends to make big mistakes on big stages. Fedor Smolov had a solid domestic campaign, but is unproven internationally. Russia has promising players, but just like any other tournament, we have no idea how the 11 they put on the field are going to perform together. However, with home field advantage in a relatively weak group, the World Cup hosts have good odds to advance.


Best XI:

GK: Abdullah Al-Mayouf, 31, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

LB: Yasser Al-Shahrani, 26, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

LCB: Osama Hawsawi, 34, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

RCB: Motaz Hawsawi, 26, Al-Ahli (Saudi Arabia)

RB: Mohammed Al-Burayk, 25, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

LDM: Salman Al-Faraj, 28, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

RDM: Hussein Al-Moghawi, 30, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

LAM: Salem Al-Dawsari, 26, Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

CAM: Hattan Babebri, 25, Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia)

RAM: Fahad Al-Muwallad, 23, Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)

ST: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, 31, Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia)

Analysis: No one is surprised the entire 23-man squad plays domestically in Saudi Arabia. Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and wingers Salem Al-Dawsari and Fahad Al-Muwallad will make plays attacking, but beyond those three, the Green Falcons don't have much else to offer. Don't be surprised if the Saudis finish dead-last in Group A.


Best XI:

GK: Fernando Muslera, 32, Galatasaray (Turkey)

LCB: Jose Gimenez, 23, Atletico Madrid (Spain)

CB: Diego Godin, 32, Atletico Madrid (Spain)

RCB: Sebastian Coates, 27, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)

CDM: Matias Vecino, 26, Inter Milan (Italy)

LM: Diego Laxalt, 25, Genoa (Italy)

LCM: Lucas Torreira, 22, Sampdoria (Italy)

RCM: Rodrigo Betancur, 21, Juventus (Italy)

RM: Nahitan Nandez, 22, Boca Juniors (Argentina)

LS: Luis Suarez, 31, Barcelona (Spain)

RS: Edinson Cavani, 31, Paris SG (France)

Analysis: As usual, it's hard to bet against a Uruguay squad with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up top. Unlike past Uruguay rosters, this team is filled with a good amount of young talent, highlighted by Juventus starlet Rodrigo Betancur. Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin are two of the best Center Backs in the world, and with every aspect of the game covered in their 23-man squad, Uruguay is the outright favorite to win Group A. It's on the shoulders of Suarez and Cavani as to how far Uruguay can advance this summer.