With less than a week to go for the World Cup to begin, we take a look at teams who are favourites for the trophy.
World Cup begins on June 14, and most of the teams are done with their warm-ups for the tournament. All the 32 teams have announced their squads, and they will reach Russia with the biggest prize in international football on their aim. As the teams prepare for world cup glory, theSportsRush takes a look at the top-5 contenders at the tournament.
After a 7-1 humiliation at home to Germany in last world cup’s semifinal, Brazil are set for redemption. Brazil will eye their sixth world cup trophy, and look a dangerous force going into the tournament.
The arrival of Neymar comes at a perfect time for Brazil, as their star forward has recovered from injury in February which ruled him out for the rest of the season. Although, even without him, Brazil overcame Germany in March, and are in excellent form at the moment. They beat Croatia 2-0 in their first warm-up game in prelude to the world cup, with Neymar announcing his comeback with an emphatic solo goal.
A terrific attacking lineup in Neymar, Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Firmino, Brazil also boasts of solid defensive core in Marcelo, Fernandinho, Marquinhos and Casemiro. Brazil’s coach Tite possesses excellent tactical abilities and has an immensely talented squad to execute them. All the factors could lead to Brazil doing a repeat of 1958 world cup – lifting the trophy on European soil.
Brazil have one more warm-up game remaining against Austria, before they arrive in Russia. Their first match will be against Switzerland on June 17.
The defending champions, on paper, are one of the strongest contenders for the trophy. However, their recent form is a worry. They are without a win in their last four games, drawing with Spain and England, and losing to Brazil and Austria.
The loss to Austria has been the most recent, with the match being a part of world cup warm-ups. The World No.1 played far below their best, and conceded twice to the Austrians. The return of Manuel Neuer, however, has been a huge boost to the German squad.
Another concern for Germany is a lack of a bankable striker, like Miroslav Klose. Timo Werner has been in a good run of form throughout the 2017-18 season for RB Leipzig, although he is without a goal this year for Germany.
The world cup holders have one more game remaining in their warm-ups against Saudi Arabia, and they would prefer to have things back on track going into the tournament.
After the Euro 2012, things have only gone downhill for Spain. After a shock exit in the group stages of World Cup 2014, Spain lost to Italy in the RO-16 match in Euro 2016. But one cannot count Spain out, as their squad has players with massive experience and technical excellence.
The Spanish side boasts of (arguably) world’s best goalkeeper David de Gea, a reliable centre-back pairing in Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, excellent defensive midfielder in Sergio Busquets, master technician Andres Iniesta, and an attack comprising of David Silva, Isco and Diego Costa.
The omissions in Spain’s squad may raise certain eyebrows, but it signifies the depth of talent in the team. Players like Fabregas, Marcus Alonso and Pedro failed to make it into the team for the world cup.
Spain drew their first warm-up game 1-1 against Switzerland, and will play Tunisia in their final match. They face Portugal in their first world cup group game on June 15.
France, like Spain have an excellent squad when it comes to technical abilities. Antoine Griezmann was the leading goalscorer for them in Euro 2016, and might be a decent bet in this year’s world cup as well. Brilliant young talents in Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, energetic midfielder in Ngolo Kane, with centre-back partnership of Varane and Samuel Umtiti will all be crucial for France.
Paul Pogba will continue to be the main man on the midfield. The French star may have had an uneasy time this season at Manchester United, but with his talent and abilities, he will still be the man to lead France to world cup glory.
France won both of their warm-ups against Ireland and Italy with comfortable ease, and will play United States in their final match before the world cup.
Lionel Messi is fit? Yes. Lionel Messi is in form? Yes, again.
Argentina are one of the favourites.
On a serious note, Argentina’s attack, comprising of Lionel Messi, a fully fit Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala could spit fire in the cold of Russia. Their main issue is the injury to first-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who is out of the world cup.
Argentina’s another problem is their lack of warm-up. Two of their warm-up games, against Nicaragua and Israel were cancelled. The only game they played was against 104th ranked Haiti, which they won 4-0, largely thanks to Messi’s hattrick.
Argentina’s defensive concerns are largely a worry for the side. The team only scraped through the world cup qualification, and the absence of first-choice goalkeeper further deepens their defensive woes.
However, Argentina can safely rely on their star-studded attacking prowess. In order to attain the world cup glory, Messi and co. need to deliver with consistency.