- Winners: Egypt
Egypt coming in to this world cup qualifying campaign hadn’t been in the world cup since Itaila 1990. Egypt have made it back to the big time largely due to Liverpool’s Mouhamed Salah without him Egypt would not have made it point blank. In Egypt’s second to last game of qualifying Mouhamed Salah gave the Egyptians the early lead before Congo scored a late equalizer as Egypt’s World cup chances were slipping out of grasps all the hard work of getting to that point was falling beneath the cracks. However they would get their moment as a penalty was given in stoppage time Mouhamed Salah with the entire country counting on him he scored the penalty to send them through to their first world cup since 1990. Mouhamed Salah scored 5 out of their eight goals in qualifying. After playing three years in Italy two with Roma one with Fiorentina. He developed with Roma into the superstar we have seen him become at Liverpool. This season I see them as a dark horse they have proven they can deliver in tournaments Egypt made the final of the African cup about a year ago despite losing they have shown they have what it takes. With Russia, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia in this group I see no reason why Egypt cant win this group if Mohamed Salah stays heathy and coming into the tournament in great form I see them topping the group Salah has scored 32 goals in 56 games for his national team if he delivers for them they will win this group however I feel in the latter stages of this world cup they will struggle.
Manager: Hector Cúper
Qualifying Place: CAF Top of Group C
Key Player: Mouhamed Salah, Liverpool
Last World Cup: 1990 Itaila (Group Stage)
2. Runners up: Uruguay
The Next two teams here are very difficult to figure out between the Hosts Russia and Uruguay. However I am going to give the edge to Uruguay Russia will have the fans behind them and lets not kid our self here that’s a huge advantage but the quality of Uruguay is much higher. With the strike force of Edison Cavani and Luiz Suarez it give them a massive edge over the Russians. On paper Uruguay look great but it reality some time its a different story Uruguay failed to get out of the group in the Copa America as we saw the United States and Peru go further in the competition teams with significantly less quality. Also four years ago Uruguay had a disappointing world cup despite going through to the round of 16 they were poor losing to an unproven Costa Rica. On paper advancing though should be no problem they certainly have the ability to do it the question remains whether they will show up. In the south America qualifying group Uruguay finished 2nd in the group only brazil had more points in the group. Eddison Cavani was the top scorer in the group with 10 goals and has been a scoring machine for PSG all year he has scored 24 goals this season not to mention his 40 goals in 98 appearances for his country he is the key player for their chances in this world cup. If they can play up to their standards Uruguay will beat Russia to get through the group. They have a potential to even go deep in this world cup. Sadly it could come down to whether Luiz Suarez will behave the Barcelona striker has had controversial moments in the last two world cup his bite against Italy in 2014 and his intentional hand ball against Ghana in 2010. I feel Uruguay’s chances will rest on Cavani as I see Suarez as an issue he has not scored very much lately despite being the countries top goal scorer and you just never know what he could do. Uruguay could bottle it but they also could go far.
Manager: Óscar Tabárez
Qualifying Place: Second (CONMEBOL)
Key Player: Eddison Cavani, PSG
Last World Cup: 2014 Brazil, Round of 16 (Loss to Holland)
3. Russia (Elimination)
Sadly I feel that the hosts will be heading out of the competition after just three games. They have not needed to qualify due to the fact they were selected to host the world cup this has some what been their down fall. Russia have played 11 matches in 2017 a lot of friendly and there very brief time in the Confederation cup over 11 matches this year they have won just thee of them and those came against New Zeeland a team not in the world cup Hungary another team not in the world cup and South Korea. Russia as failed to impress in any of the last few major tournaments. Two summer ago Russia finished bottom of their group at the euros in France. In the world cup in 2014 they failed to get out of the group couldn’t get out of the group at Euro 2012 either. Russia has not gotten out of the group at a major tournament in ages. I don’t see that changing here in the slightest there massive advantage will be the home advantage the crowd will play a major effect in how they perform Russia has not had to go through a qualifying campaign which means they have been untested for in two years. Aleksandr Kokorin is really the only player that I see as a threat he is their best player and he has only scored 12 times for his country he is their top scorer at the moment scoring goals will be a problem. Their home atmosphere is their best chance at going through but I simply just don’t see it happening.
Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov
Qualifying Place: N/A Hosting World Cup
Key Player: Aleksandr Kokorin, Zeint
Last World Cup: 2014 Brazil, Group Stage
4. Saudi Arabia (Elimination)
Saudi Arabia make their return to the world cup after missing out in 2014 and 2010. Saudi Arabia finished 2nd in their qualifying group only behind Japan to make their return to the world cup an amazing moment for their country. In 2006 last time they were in the world cup they struggled to get many points in fact they finished bottom with only one point in their group and four years earlier in 2002 they were unable to even get one point. Its a good story but I don’t see them doing much better I see maybe one point from them. I feel like they are just happy to be involved once again but their time here will be short lived. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi is a decent player and will be the key as he has scored 28 goals for his country but again I think scoring goals will be very hard not one player on Saudi Arabia had multiple goal scorers during qualifying a 0-0 draw with Russia is probably the best they can hope for no the less I wish them all the best and welcome back
Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Qualifying Place: Second AFC Third Round
Key Player: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, Al-Nassr FC
Last World Cup: 2006 Germany ,Group Stage