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Flags draped from windows. Fans frantically searching up what a metatarsal injury is. The star player wrapped in bubble wrap. It can only mean one thing. It’s a World Cup year. With only fifteen days remaining till the greatest football tournament on the planet kicks off in Russia, we can finally start playing Baddiel and Skinner on repeat. 32 teams divided into 8 groups are going to battle on the football field in the name of glory. This year it seems to be special as well, as countries seem loaded with a wealth of talent. The national teams represented have more depth and quality than ever before. So without much ado, we look at five National Teams to watch out for at the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Any team that contains the little magician, Lionel Messi is going to have a real chance of winning any tournament they go into. Messi is their best player and very much single-handedly took Argentina to the FIFA World Cup 2018 via qualifiers. However, it must be noted the team has many other deadly players as well. The crop of forwards which Argentina has right now is arguably better than any other National Team’s right now. Though they don’t have as much depth as other teams in departments such as midfield and defence. If they successfully manage to get the likes of Messi, Dybala, Aguero, Higuain, and Di Maria to link up their play, no team in the world can stop them. Controversially, the chief destroyer in Serie A Mauro Icardi was not even selected!
Jorge Sampaoli has the role of attempting to lose the tag of ‘international chockers’ as this Argentinian side has lost its last three finals in a row. He uses a man-oriented, high press to disrupt the ability of the opposition to build from the back. Though the toughest task may be to find a position from where he can get the best out of Messi. Sampaoli has mainly used the talisman so far as a ‘number 10’ who collects the ball from deep and runs at the opposition. If I was the manager I would simply deploy the tactic of pass the ball to Messi at all cost, then they may have a chance of bettering 2014 result.
After enjoying unprecedented success on the international stage, with two back to back European championship wins and a World Cup in between, things haven’t gone well for the Spanish national team since then. They were humiliated by the Dutch in the 2014 World Cup opening match, a 5-1 defeat. They were knocked out of the tournament in the group stage. However, whisper it quietly something is brewing for the La Roja. A recent 6-1 pummeling of Argentina in Madrid shows signs of a team to fear once again.
They have a plethora of world-class players and resilience in the ranks. Their defence has been as solid as ever, with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique at their peak. In goal, they have David De Gea who on current form is probably the best goalkeeper in the world. Their fullbacks Jordi Alba and Carvajal are both excellent in attack as well as defence. La Roja’s midfield comprises of Isco, Thiago, Iniesta, David Silva and Koke. Their forward line is being led by the dynamic Diego Costa. The managerial change from Vicente del Bosque to Julen Lopetegui has rejuvenated the side. Under Lopetegui the Spanish national team was unbeaten in the qualifiers. Furthermore, the current squad does not include Chelsea quartet Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro but they are more than capable of handling things without them.
France is may experts team to watch out for this summer in Russia. The kind of talent they have at their disposal right now is hard to fathom. Didier Deschamps’ team is filled with so many world-class players, it’s frightening. Not only are they the favourites right now, but they should be the favourites in the 2022 tournament as well considering the average age of players they can call upon.
Deschamps issue is that due to so much talent available he is yet to select any particular style of play. He could use the pace of the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele or he could use the technical ability of the likes of Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann. But whatever style of play, he uses, it promises to be explosive. What France must do quickly, is bury the pain of losing Euro 2016 on home soil. If they can do that they will more then certainly be enough to clinch there second FIFA World Cup.
Whenever there is a World Cup, Brazil is always one of the favourites. They have all the necessary attributes required to be champions and they will be looking for redemption in Russia since the humiliating 1-7 defeat at home to Germany. Furthermore, they will play with more freedom than four years ago when they had the eyes of a nation looking down on them.
They have an abundance of attacking talent at their disposals such as Neymar, Coutinho, Willian, Firminho and Jesus. Midfield also looks strong with Casemiro, Paulinho, and Fernandinho. Their defence combines defensive toughness coupled with attacking flair with the likes of Marcelo, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Miranda. They also have two world-class and in form goalkeepers Ederson and Alisson. Tite at the helm, Brazil has once again regained its elite status. The Seleção have quality, depth, experience, a strong back-line and a glorious history which should motivate them to be champions again. A sixth World Cup could be beckoning.
2014: 🇩🇪🏆Mario Götze vs Argentina.
Ah yes, we all remember it. Mario Götze sunk Argentina hearts in extra-time of the 2014 World Cup final with this well-taken goal. The composure in front of net in the most intimidating of occasions was exceptional from Götze! pic.twitter.com/6dxfmArF6t
— Mahith Gamage (@BulletHeaderEN) May 27, 2018
In recent times the German national team has not only performed exceptionally well on the international stage but extremely consistent. Since 2002 they have finished either third or better in every World Cup, oh, and the current reigning Champions. The most common characteristics of the Germans national team has been that they are always able to have a perfect mix of youth and experience in their squad. Defending the World Cup is never going to be an easy task, but with Joachim Löw as their manager and the kind of squad they have, Die Mannschaft certainly look up to the task.
The German team is so good that in last year’s Confederation Cup they sent their B team and they still managed to win the tournament. Young players such as Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner and Julian Draxler are already top players in their respective clubs, playing each week. They also have experienced players such as Toni Kroos, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil. If Neuer, despite missing a majority of the season gets fit in time like many believe he will, they have one of the worlds best between the posts. Again with the perfect blend of youth and experience. Germany looks deadlier than ever and will definitely look to defend their trophy in Russia.
BY - George Tipper
30 May 2018