Soccer

2018 World Cup Preview

Four years have come and gone in the blink of an eye and it’s once again time for the world cup. Regardless of whether not soccer is your is favorite sport (I’m looking at you Americans), it is impossible to ignore the fact that world cup soccer has an unparalleled ability to galvanize nations and captivate millions across the world. For the next month all eyes will be on Russia so don’t let yourself fall out of the loop. If you haven’t already, check out our in depth early look at the world cup field. But before the most important sports tournament in world kicks off in Russia tomorrow, here’s everything you need to know to get you up to speed on the 2018 World Cup.

Rosters

Group A:

Egypt

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Essam El-Hadary (captain) 158 0  Al-Taawoun
2 DF Ali Gabr 21 1  West Bromwich Albion
3 DF Ahmed Elmohamady 78 2  Aston Villa
4 MF Omar Gaber 24 0  Los Angeles FC
5 MF Sam Morsy 5 0  Wigan Athletic
6 DF Ahmed Hegazi 45 1  West Bromwich Albion
7 DF Ahmed Fathy 126 3  Al Ahly
8 MF Tarek Hamed 21 0  Zamalek
9 FW Marwan Mohsen 24 4  Al Ahly
10 FW Mohamed Salah 57 33  Liverpool
11 FW Kahraba 19 3  Al-Ittihad
12 DF Ayman Ashraf 4 0  Al Ahly
13 DF Mohamed Abdel-Shafy 51 1  Al-Fateh
14 FW Ramadan Sobhi 23 1  Stoke City
15 DF Mahmoud Hamdy 0 0  Zamalek
16 GK Sherif Ekramy 22 0  Al Ahly
17 MF Mohamed Elneny 61 5  Arsenal
18 FW Shikabala 29 2  Al-Raed
19 MF Abdallah Said 36 6  KuPS
20 DF Saad Samir 11 0  Al Ahly
21 MF Trézéguet 24 2  Kasımpaşa
22 FW Amr Warda 16 0  Atromitos
23 GK Mohamed El-Shenawy 3 0  Al Ahly


Russia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Igor Akinfeev (captain) 106 0  CSKA Moscow
2 DF Mário Fernandes 5 0  CSKA Moscow
3 DF Ilya Kutepov 7 0  Spartak Moscow
4 DF Sergei Ignashevich 122 8  CSKA Moscow
5 DF Andrei Semyonov 6 0  Akhmat Grozny
6 MF Denis Cheryshev 11 0  Villarreal
7 MF Daler Kuzyayev 6 0  Zenit Saint Petersburg
8 MF Yury Gazinsky 6 0  Krasnodar
9 MF Alan Dzagoev 57 9  CSKA Moscow
10 FW Fyodor Smolov 32 12  Krasnodar
11 MF Roman Zobnin 12 0  Spartak Moscow
12 GK Andrey Lunyov 3 0  Zenit Saint Petersburg
13 DF Fyodor Kudryashov 19 0  Rubin Kazan
14 DF Vladimir Granat 12 1  Rubin Kazan
15 MF Aleksei Miranchuk 18 4  Lokomotiv Moscow
16 MF Anton Miranchuk 6 0  Lokomotiv Moscow
17 MF Aleksandr Golovin 19 2  CSKA Moscow
18 MF Yuri Zhirkov 84 2  Zenit Saint Petersburg
19 MF Aleksandr Samedov 48 7  Spartak Moscow
20 GK Vladimir Gabulov 10 0  Club Brugge
21 MF Aleksandr Yerokhin 17 0  Zenit Saint Petersburg
22 FW Artem Dzyuba 23 11  Arsenal Tula
23 DF Igor Smolnikov 27 0  Zenit Saint Petersburg

 

Saudi Arabia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Abdullah Al-Mayouf 11 0  Al-Hilal
2 DF Mansoor Al-Harbi 40 1  Al-Ahli
3 DF Osama Hawsawi (captain) 135 7  Al-Hilal
4 DF Ali Al-Bulaihi 4 0  Al-Hilal
5 DF Omar Hawsawi 42 3  Al-Nassr
6 DF Mohammed Al-Breik 11 1  Al-Hilal
7 MF Salman Al-Faraj 43 3  Al-Hilal
8 MF Yahya Al-Shehri 57 8  Leganés
9 MF Hattan Bahebri 5 0  Al-Shabab
10 FW Mohammad Al-Sahlawi 40 28  Al-Nassr
11 MF Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri 36 0  Al-Hilal
12 MF Mohamed Kanno 6 1  Al-Hilal
13 DF Yasser Al-Shahrani 37 0  Al-Hilal
14 MF Abdullah Otayf 16 1  Al-Hilal
15 MF Abdullah Al-Khaibari 5 0  Al-Shabab
16 MF Housain Al-Mogahwi 18 1  Al-Ahli
17 MF Taisir Al-Jassim 132 19  Al-Ahli
18 MF Salem Al-Dawsari 33 4  Villarreal
19 FW Fahad Al-Muwallad 45 10  Levante
20 FW Muhannad Assiri 18 4  Al-Ahli
21 GK Yasser Al-Mosailem 32 0  Al-Ahli
22 GK Mohammed Al-Owais 6 0  Al-Ahli
23 DF Motaz Hawsawi 17 0  Al-Ahli

Uruguay

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Fernando Muslera 97 0  Galatasaray
2 DF José Giménez 42 5  Atlético Madrid
3 DF Diego Godín (captain) 116 8  Atlético Madrid
4 DF Guillermo Varela 3 0  Peñarol
5 MF Carlos Sánchez 36 1  Monterrey
6 MF Rodrigo Bentancur 7 0  Juventus
7 MF Cristian Rodríguez 105 11  Peñarol
8 MF Nahitan Nández 12 0  Boca Juniors
9 FW Luis Suárez 98 51  Barcelona
10 FW Giorgian De Arrascaeta 14 2  Cruzeiro
11 FW Cristhian Stuani 41 5  Girona
12 GK Martín Campaña 1 0  Independiente
13 DF Gastón Silva 17 0  Independiente
14 MF Lucas Torreira 3 0  Sampdoria
15 MF Matías Vecino 22 1  Inter Milan
16 DF Maxi Pereira 125 3  Porto
17 MF Diego Laxalt 6 0  Genoa
18 FW Maxi Gómez 5 0  Celta Vigo
19 DF Sebastián Coates 30 1  Sporting CP
20 FW Jonathan Urretaviscaya 4 0  Monterrey
21 FW Edinson Cavani 101 42  Paris Saint-Germain
22 DF Martín Cáceres 76 4  Lazio
23 GK Martín Silva 11 0  Vasco da Gama

Group B:

Iran

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Alireza Beiranvand 22 0  Persepolis
2 MF Mehdi Torabi 17 4  Saipa
3 DF Ehsan Hajsafi 94 6  Olympiacos
4 DF Rouzbeh Cheshmi 10 1  Esteghlal
5 DF Milad Mohammadi 19 0  Akhmat Grozny
6 MF Saeid Ezatolahi 25 1  Amkar Perm
7 MF Masoud Shojaei (captain) 74 8  AEK Athens
8 DF Morteza Pouraliganji 27 2  Al-Sadd
9 MF Omid Ebrahimi 30 0  Esteghlal
10 FW Karim Ansarifard 64 17  Olympiacos
11 MF Vahid Amiri 36 1  Persepolis
12 GK Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri 3 0  Zob Ahan
13 DF Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh 11 1  Padideh
14 FW Saman Ghoddos 8 1  Östersund
15 DF Pejman Montazeri 46 1  Esteghlal
16 FW Reza Ghoochannejhad 43 17  Heerenveen
17 FW Mehdi Taremi 26 11  Al-Gharafa
18 FW Alireza Jahanbakhsh 38 4  AZ
19 DF Majid Hosseini 1 0  Esteghlal
20 FW Sardar Azmoun 33 23  Rubin Kazan
21 FW Ashkan Dejagah 46 9  Nottingham Forest
22 GK Amir Abedzadeh 1 0  Marítimo
23 DF Ramin Rezaeian 28 2  Oostende

Morocco

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Yassine Bounou 11 0  Girona
2 DF Achraf Hakimi 10 1  Real Madrid
3 DF Hamza Mendyl 13 0  Lille
4 DF Manuel da Costa 28 1  İstanbul Başakşehir
5 DF Medhi Benatia (captain) 57 2  Juventus
6 DF Romain Saïss 24 1  Wolverhampton Wanderers
7 MF Hakim Ziyech 18 9  Ajax
8 MF Karim El Ahmadi 51 1  Feyenoord
9 FW Ayoub El Kaabi 10 11  RS Berkane
10 MF Younès Belhanda 47 5  Galatasaray
11 MF Fayçal Fajr 23 2  Getafe
12 GK Munir Mohamedi 27 0  Numancia
13 FW Khalid Boutaïb 18 7  Yeni Malatyaspor
14 MF Mbark Boussoufa 59 7  Al-Jazira
15 MF Youssef Aït Bennasser 14 0  Caen
16 MF Nordin Amrabat 44 4  Leganés
17 DF Nabil Dirar 34 3  Fenerbahçe
18 MF Amine Harit 6 0  Schalke 04
19 FW Youssef En-Nesyri 16 2  Málaga
20 FW Aziz Bouhaddouz 15 3  FC St. Pauli
21 MF Sofyan Amrabat 6 0  Feyenoord
22 GK Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti 2 0  IR Tanger
23 MF Mehdi Carcela 20 1  Standard Liège

Portugal

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Rui Patrício 69 0  Sporting CP
2 DF Bruno Alves 96 11  Rangers
3 DF Pepe 95 5  Beşiktaş
4 MF Manuel Fernandes 14 3  Lokomotiv Moscow
5 DF Raphaël Guerreiro 24 2  Borussia Dortmund
6 DF José Fonte 31 0  Dalian Yifang
7 FW Cristiano Ronaldo (captain) 150 81  Real Madrid
8 MF João Moutinho 110 7  Monaco
9 FW André Silva 23 12  Milan
10 MF João Mário 36 2  West Ham United
11 MF Bernardo Silva 25 2  Manchester City
12 GK Anthony Lopes 7 0  Lyon
13 DF Rúben Dias 1 0  Benfica
14 MF William Carvalho 43 2  Sporting CP
15 DF Ricardo Pereira 4 0  Porto
16 MF Bruno Fernandes 6 1  Sporting CP
17 FW Gonçalo Guedes 10 3  Valencia
18 FW Gelson Martins 18 0  Sporting CP
19 DF Mário Rui 4 0  Napoli
20 FW Ricardo Quaresma 77 9  Beşiktaş
21 DF Cédric 29 1  Southampton
22 GK Beto 14 0  Göztepe
23 MF Adrien Silva 23 1  Leicester City

Spain

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK David de Gea 29 0  Manchester United
2 DF Dani Carvajal 15 0  Real Madrid
3 DF Gerard Piqué 98 5  Barcelona
4 DF Nacho 17 0  Real Madrid
5 MF Sergio Busquets 103 2  Barcelona
6 MF Andrés Iniesta 127 14  Barcelona
7 MF Saúl 10 0  Atlético Madrid
8 MF Koke 40 0  Atlético Madrid
9 FW Rodrigo 6 2  Valencia
10 MF Thiago 29 2  Bayern Munich
11 FW Lucas Vázquez 7 0  Real Madrid
12 DF Álvaro Odriozola 4 1  Real Sociedad
13 GK Kepa Arrizabalaga 1 0  Athletic Bilbao
14 DF César Azpilicueta 22 0  Chelsea
15 DF Sergio Ramos (captain) 152 13  Real Madrid
16 DF Nacho Monreal 22 1  Arsenal
17 FW Iago Aspas 10 5  Celta Vigo
18 DF Jordi Alba 62 8  Barcelona
19 FW Diego Costa 20 7  Atlético Madrid
20 MF Marco Asensio 12 0  Real Madrid
21 FW David Silva 121 35  Manchester City
22 MF Isco 28 10  Real Madrid
23 GK Pepe Reina 36 0  Napoli

Group C:

Australia 

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Mathew Ryan 44 0  Brighton & Hove Albion
2 DF Milos Degenek 18 0  Yokohama F. Marinos
3 DF James Meredith 2 0  Millwall
4 FW Tim Cahill 106 50  Millwall
5 DF Mark Milligan 71 6  Al-Ahli
6 DF Matthew Jurman 4 0  Suwon Samsung Bluewings
7 FW Mathew Leckie 53 8  Hertha BSC
8 MF Massimo Luongo 36 5  Queens Park Rangers
9 FW Tomi Juric 35 8  Luzern
10 FW Robbie Kruse 64 5  VfL Bochum
11 FW Andrew Nabbout 4 1  Urawa Red Diamonds
12 GK Brad Jones 6 0  Feyenoord
13 MF Aaron Mooy 34 5  Huddersfield Town
14 FW Jamie Maclaren 6 0  Hibernian
15 MF Mile Jedinak (captain) 76 18  Aston Villa
16 DF Aziz Behich 23 2  Bursaspor
17 FW Daniel Arzani 2 1  Melbourne City
18 GK Danny Vukovic 1 0  Genk
19 DF Josh Risdon 8 0  Western Sydney Wanderers
20 DF Trent Sainsbury 35 3  Grasshoppers
21 FW Dimitri Petratos 2 0  Newcastle Jets
22 MF Jackson Irvine 19 2  Hull City
23 MF Tom Rogic 37 7  Celtic

Denmark

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Kasper Schmeichel 35 0  Leicester City
2 MF Michael Krohn-Dehli 59 6  Deportivo La Coruña
3 DF Jannik Vestergaard 16 1  Borussia Mönchengladbach
4 DF Simon Kjær (captain) 78 3  Sevilla
5 DF Jonas Knudsen 3 0  Ipswich Town
6 DF Andreas Christensen 16 1  Chelsea
7 MF William Kvist 80 2  Copenhagen
8 MF Thomas Delaney 27 4  Werder Bremen
9 FW Nicolai Jørgensen 31 8  Feyenoord
10 MF Christian Eriksen 78 22  Tottenham Hotspur
11 FW Martin Braithwaite 20 1  Bordeaux
12 FW Kasper Dolberg 6 1  Ajax
13 DF Mathias Jørgensen 12 0  Huddersfield Town
14 DF Henrik Dalsgaard 11 0  Brentford
15 FW Viktor Fischer 19 3  Copenhagen
16 GK Jonas Lössl 1 0  Huddersfield Town
17 DF Jens Stryger Larsen 13 1  Udinese
18 MF Lukas Lerager 4 0  Bordeaux
19 MF Lasse Schöne 36 3  Ajax
20 FW Yussuf Poulsen 28 4  RB Leipzig
21 FW Andreas Cornelius 18 4  Atalanta
22 GK Frederik Rønnow 6 0  Brøndby
23 FW Pione Sisto 14 1  Celta Vigo

France

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Hugo Lloris (captain) 98 0  Tottenham Hotspur
2 DF Benjamin Pavard 6 0  VfB Stuttgart
3 DF Presnel Kimpembe 2 0  Paris Saint-Germain
4 DF Raphaël Varane 42 2  Real Madrid
5 DF Samuel Umtiti 19 2  Barcelona
6 MF Paul Pogba 54 9  Manchester United
7 FW Antoine Griezmann 54 20  Atlético Madrid
8 FW Thomas Lemar 12 3  Monaco
9 FW Olivier Giroud 74 31  Chelsea
10 FW Kylian Mbappé 15 4  Paris Saint-Germain
11 FW Ousmane Dembélé 12 2  Barcelona
12 MF Corentin Tolisso 9 0  Bayern Munich
13 MF N’Golo Kanté 24 1  Chelsea
14 MF Blaise Matuidi 67 9  Juventus
15 MF Steven Nzonzi 4 0  Sevilla
16 GK Steve Mandanda 27 0  Marseille
17 DF Adil Rami 35 1  Marseille
18 FW Nabil Fekir 12 2  Lyon
19 DF Djibril Sidibé 17 1  Monaco
20 FW Florian Thauvin 4 0  Marseille
21 DF Lucas Hernández 5 0  Atlético Madrid
22 DF Benjamin Mendy 7 0  Manchester City
23 GK Alphonse Areola 0 0 Paris Saint-Germain

Peru

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Pedro Gallese 38 0  Veracruz
2 DF Alberto Rodríguez 59 0  Atlético Junior
3 DF Aldo Corzo 25 0  Universitario
4 DF Anderson Santamaría 4 0  Puebla
5 DF Miguel Araujo 7 0  Alianza Lima
6 DF Miguel Trauco 27 0  Flamengo
7 MF Paolo Hurtado 31 3  Vitória de Guimarães
8 MF Christian Cueva 44 8  São Paulo
9 FW Paolo Guerrero (captain) 88 34  Flamengo
10 FW Jefferson Farfán 84 25  Lokomotiv Moscow
11 FW Raúl Ruidíaz 30 4  Morelia
12 GK Carlos Cáceda 4 0  Deportivo Municipal
13 MF Renato Tapia 23 1  Feyenoord
14 MF Andy Polo 17 1  Portland Timbers
15 DF Christian Ramos 66 3  Veracruz
16 MF Wilder Cartagena 3 0  Veracruz
17 DF Luis Advíncula 65 0  Lobos BUAP
18 FW André Carrillo 45 5  Watford
19 MF Yoshimar Yotún 73 2  Orlando City
20 FW Edison Flores 29 9  AaB
21 GK José Carvallo 6 0  UTC
22 DF Nilson Loyola 3 0  Melgar
23 MF Pedro Aquino 13 0  Lobos BUAP

Group D:

Argentina

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Nahuel Guzmán 6 0  UANL
2 DF Gabriel Mercado 20 3  Sevilla
3 DF Nicolás Tagliafico 4 0  Ajax
4 DF Cristian Ansaldi 5 0  Torino
5 MF Lucas Biglia 57 1  Milan
6 DF Federico Fazio 9 1  Roma
7 MF Éver Banega 62 6  Sevilla
8 DF Marcos Acuña 10 0  Sporting CP
9 FW Gonzalo Higuaín 71 31  Juventus
10 FW Lionel Messi (captain) 124 64  Barcelona
11 MF Ángel Di María 94 19  Paris Saint-Germain
12 GK Franco Armani 0 0  River Plate
13 MF Maximiliano Meza 2 0  Independiente
14 DF Javier Mascherano 143 3  Hebei China Fortune
15 MF Enzo Pérez 23 1  River Plate
16 DF Marcos Rojo 56 2  Manchester United
17 DF Nicolás Otamendi 54 4  Manchester City
18 DF Eduardo Salvio 9 0  Benfica
19 FW Sergio Agüero 85 37  Manchester City
20 MF Giovani Lo Celso 5 0  Paris Saint-Germain
21 FW Paulo Dybala 12 0  Juventus
22 MF Cristian Pavón 5 0  Boca Juniors
23 GK Willy Caballero 3 0  Chelsea

Croatia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Dominik Livaković 1 0  Dinamo Zagreb
2 DF Šime Vrsaljko 35 0  Atlético Madrid
3 DF Ivan Strinić 43 0  Sampdoria
4 FW Ivan Perišić 66 18  Inter Milan
5 DF Vedran Ćorluka 99 4  Lokomotiv Moscow
6 DF Dejan Lovren 39 2  Liverpool
7 MF Ivan Rakitić 92 14  Barcelona
8 MF Mateo Kovačić 41 1  Real Madrid
9 FW Andrej Kramarić 31 9  1899 Hoffenheim
10 MF Luka Modrić (captain) 106 12  Real Madrid
11 MF Marcelo Brozović 35 6  Inter Milan
12 GK Lovre Kalinić 11 0  Gent
13 DF Tin Jedvaj 12 0  Bayer Leverkusen
14 MF Filip Bradarić 4 0  Rijeka
15 DF Duje Ćaleta-Car 1 0  Red Bull Salzburg
16 FW Nikola Kalinić 42 15  Milan
17 FW Mario Mandžukić 83 30  Juventus
18 FW Ante Rebić 16 1  Eintracht Frankfurt
19 MF Milan Badelj 38 1  Fiorentina
20 FW Marko Pjaca 16 1  Schalke 04
21 DF Domagoj Vida 59 2  Beşiktaş
22 DF Josip Pivarić 19 0  Dynamo Kyiv
23 GK Danijel Subašić 38 0  Monaco

Iceland

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Hannes Þór Halldórsson 49 0  Randers
2 DF Birkir Már Sævarsson 79 1  Valur
3 MF Samúel Friðjónsson 4 0  Vålerenga
4 MF Albert Guðmundsson 5 3  PSV Eindhoven
5 DF Sverrir Ingi Ingason 20 3  Rostov
6 DF Ragnar Sigurðsson 77 3  Rostov
7 MF Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson 67 7  Burnley
8 MF Birkir Bjarnason 67 9  Aston Villa
9 FW Björn Bergmann Sigurðarson 12 1  Rostov
10 MF Gylfi Sigurðsson 57 19  Everton
11 FW Alfreð Finnbogason 47 13  FC Augsburg
12 GK Frederik Schram 4 0  Roskilde
13 GK Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson 3 0  Nordsjælland
14 DF Kári Árnason 67 5  Aberdeen
15 DF Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson 10 1  Levski Sofia
16 MF Ólafur Ingi Skúlason 36 1  Kardemir Karabükspor
17 MF Aron Gunnarsson (captain) 77 2  Cardiff City
18 DF Hörður Björgvin Magnússon 16 2  Bristol City
19 MF Rúrik Gíslason 47 3  SV Sandhausen
20 MF Emil Hallfreðsson 64 1  Udinese
21 MF Arnór Ingvi Traustason 19 5  Malmö
22 FW Jón Daði Böðvarsson 38 2  Reading
23 DF Ari Freyr Skúlason 56 0  Lokeren

Nigeria

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Ikechukwu Ezenwa 24 0  Enyimba
2 DF Brian Idowu 5 1  Amkar Perm
3 DF Elderson Echiéjilé 62 3  Cercle Brugge
4 MF Wilfred Ndidi 17 0  Leicester City
5 DF William Troost-Ekong 22 1  Bursaspor
6 DF Leon Balogun 19 0  Mainz 05
7 FW Ahmed Musa 72 13  CSKA Moscow
8 MF Oghenekaro Etebo 14 1  Las Palmas
9 FW Odion Ighalo 19 4  Changchun Yatai
10 MF John Obi Mikel (captain) 85 6  Tianjin TEDA
11 FW Victor Moses 34 11  Chelsea
12 DF Shehu Abdullahi 25 0  Bursaspor
13 FW Simeon Nwankwo 2 0  Crotone
14 FW Kelechi Iheanacho 18 8  Leicester City
15 MF Joel Obi 17 0  Torino
16 GK Daniel Akpeyi 7 0  Chippa United
17 MF Ogenyi Onazi 52 1  Trabzonspor
18 FW Alex Iwobi 19 5  Arsenal
19 MF John Ogu 20 2  Hapoel Be’er Sheva
20 DF Chidozie Awaziem 4 0  Nantes
21 DF Tyronne Ebuehi 7 0  ADO Den Haag
22 DF Kenneth Omeruo 39 0  Kasımpaşa
23 GK Francis Uzoho 6 0  Deportivo La Coruña

 

Group E:

Brazil

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Alisson 26 0  Roma
2 DF Thiago Silva 71 5  Paris Saint-Germain
3 DF Miranda 47 2  Inter Milan
4 DF Pedro Geromel 2 0  Grêmio
5 MF Casemiro 24 0  Real Madrid
6 DF Filipe Luís 33 2  Atlético Madrid
7 FW Douglas Costa 25 3  Juventus
8 MF Renato Augusto 28 5  Beijing Sinobo Guoan
9 FW Gabriel Jesus 17 10  Manchester City
10 FW Neymar (captain) 85 55  Paris Saint-Germain
11 MF Philippe Coutinho 37 10  Barcelona
12 DF Marcelo 54 6  Real Madrid
13 DF Marquinhos 26 0  Paris Saint-Germain
14 DF Danilo 18 0  Manchester City
15 MF Paulinho 50 12  Barcelona
16 GK Cássio 1 0  Corinthians
17 MF Fernandinho 44 2  Manchester City
18 MF Fred 8 0  Shakhtar Donetsk
19 MF Willian 57 8  Chelsea
20 FW Roberto Firmino 21 6  Liverpool
21 FW Taison 8 1  Shakhtar Donetsk
22 DF Fagner 4 0  Corinthians
23 GK Ederson 1 0  Manchester City

Costa Rica

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Keylor Navas 81 0  Real Madrid
2 DF Johnny Acosta 69 2  Águilas Doradas
3 DF Giancarlo González 70 2  Bologna
4 DF Ian Smith 4 0  Norrköping
5 MF Celso Borges 113 21  Deportivo La Coruña
6 DF Óscar Duarte 39 2  Espanyol
7 MF Christian Bolaños 81 6  Saprissa
8 DF Bryan Oviedo 44 1  Sunderland
9 MF Daniel Colindres 11 0  Saprissa
10 MF Bryan Ruiz (captain) 110 24  Sporting CP
11 FW Johan Venegas 47 10  Saprissa
12 FW Joel Campbell 77 15  Real Betis
13 MF Rodney Wallace 30 4  New York City FC
14 MF Randall Azofeifa 58 3  Herediano
15 DF Francisco Calvo 38 4  Minnesota United
16 DF Cristian Gamboa 68 3  Celtic
17 MF Yeltsin Tejeda 51 0  Lausanne
18 GK Patrick Pemberton 39 0  Alajuelense
19 DF Kendall Waston 26 3  Vancouver Whitecaps FC
20 MF David Guzmán 43 0  Portland Timbers
21 FW Marco Ureña 64 15  Los Angeles FC
22 DF Rónald Matarrita 23 2  New York City FC
23 GK Leonel Moreira 9 0  Herediano

 

Serbia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Vladimir Stojković 81 0  Partizan
2 DF Antonio Rukavina 47 0  Villarreal
3 DF Duško Tošić 24 1  Beşiktaş
4 MF Luka Milivojević 28 1  Crystal Palace
5 DF Uroš Spajić 5 0  Anderlecht
6 DF Branislav Ivanović 103 13  Zenit Saint Petersburg
7 MF Andrija Živković 10 0  Benfica
8 FW Aleksandar Prijović 9 1  PAOK
9 FW Aleksandar Mitrović 37 16  Fulham
10 MF Dušan Tadić 53 13  Southampton
11 DF Aleksandar Kolarov (captain) 76 10  Roma
12 GK Predrag Rajković 8 0  Maccabi Tel Aviv
13 DF Miloš Veljković 2 0  Werder Bremen
14 DF Milan Rodić 1 0  Red Star Belgrade
15 DF Nikola Milenković 3 0  Fiorentina
16 MF Marko Grujić 8 0  Cardiff City
17 MF Filip Kostić 23 2  Hamburger SV
18 FW Nemanja Radonjić 3 0  Red Star Belgrade
19 FW Luka Jović 1 0  Eintracht Frankfurt
20 MF Sergej Milinković-Savić 4 0  Lazio
21 MF Nemanja Matić 40 2  Manchester United
22 MF Adem Ljajić 29 6  Torino
23 GK Marko Dmitrović 2 0  Eibar

 

Switzerland

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Yann Sommer 35 0  Borussia Mönchengladbach
2 DF Stephan Lichtsteiner (captain) 100 8  Juventus
3 DF François Moubandje 18 0  Toulouse
4 DF Nico Elvedi 6 0  Borussia Mönchengladbach
5 DF Manuel Akanji 7 0  Borussia Dortmund
6 DF Michael Lang 24 2  Basel
7 FW Breel Embolo 25 3  Schalke 04
8 MF Remo Freuler 10 0  Atalanta
9 FW Haris Seferović 51 12  Benfica
10 MF Granit Xhaka 62 9  Arsenal
11 MF Valon Behrami 79 2  Udinese
12 GK Yvon Mvogo 0 0  RB Leipzig
13 DF Ricardo Rodríguez 53 5  Milan
14 MF Steven Zuber 12 3  1899 Hoffenheim
15 MF Blerim Džemaili 65 9  Bologna
16 MF Gelson Fernandes 67 2  Eintracht Frankfurt
17 MF Denis Zakaria 10 0  Borussia Mönchengladbach
18 FW Mario Gavranović 14 5  Dinamo Zagreb
19 FW Josip Drmić 29 9  Borussia Mönchengladbach
20 DF Johan Djourou 74 2  Antalyaspor
21 GK Roman Bürki 9 0  Borussia Dortmund
22 DF Fabian Schär 39 7  Deportivo La Coruña
23 MF Xherdan Shaqiri 70 20  Stoke City

 

Group F:

Germany

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Manuel Neuer (captain) 76 0  Bayern Munich
2 DF Marvin Plattenhardt 6 0  Hertha BSC
3 DF Jonas Hector 38 3  1. FC Köln
4 DF Matthias Ginter 18 0  Borussia Mönchengladbach
5 DF Mats Hummels 64 5  Bayern Munich
6 MF Sami Khedira 75 7  Juventus
7 MF Julian Draxler 44 6  Paris Saint-Germain
8 MF Toni Kroos 83 12  Real Madrid
9 FW Timo Werner 14 8  RB Leipzig
10 MF Mesut Özil 90 23  Arsenal
11 FW Marco Reus 31 9  Borussia Dortmund
12 GK Kevin Trapp 3 0  Paris Saint-Germain
13 MF Thomas Müller 91 38  Bayern Munich
14 MF Leon Goretzka 15 6  Schalke 04
15 DF Niklas Süle 11 0  Bayern Munich
16 DF Antonio Rüdiger 24 1  Chelsea
17 DF Jérôme Boateng 71 1  Bayern Munich
18 DF Joshua Kimmich 29 3  Bayern Munich
19 MF Sebastian Rudy 25 1  Bayern Munich
20 MF Julian Brandt 16 1  Bayer Leverkusen
21 MF İlkay Gündoğan 26 4  Manchester City
22 GK Marc-André ter Stegen 20 0  Barcelona
23 FW Mario Gómez 75 31  VfB Stuttgart

 

Mexico

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK José de Jesús Corona 52 0  Cruz Azul
2 DF Hugo Ayala 43 1  UANL
3 DF Carlos Salcedo 21 0  Eintracht Frankfurt
4 DF Rafael Márquez 145 18  Atlas
5 MF Érick Gutiérrez 9 0  Pachuca
6 MF Jonathan dos Santos 32 0  LA Galaxy
7 MF Miguel Layún 64 6  Sevilla
8 FW Marco Fabián 39 9  Eintracht Frankfurt
9 FW Raúl Jiménez 63 13  Benfica
10 MF Giovani dos Santos 105 19  LA Galaxy
11 FW Carlos Vela 68 18  Los Angeles FC
12 GK Alfredo Talavera 27 0  Toluca
13 GK Guillermo Ochoa 94 0  Standard Liège
14 FW Javier Hernández 102 49  West Ham United
15 DF Héctor Moreno 92 3  Real Sociedad
16 DF Héctor Herrera 66 5  Porto
17 MF Jesús Manuel Corona 36 7  Porto
18 MF Andrés Guardado (captain) 145 25  Real Betis
19 FW Oribe Peralta 67 26  América
20 MF Javier Aquino 53 0  UANL
21 DF Edson Álvarez 13 1  América
22 FW Hirving Lozano 28 7  PSV Eindhoven
23 MF Jesús Gallardo 23 0  UNAM

South Korea

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Kim Seung-gyu 33 0  Vissel Kobe
2 DF Lee Yong 28 0  Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
3 DF Jung Seung-hyun 6 0  Sagan Tosu
4 DF Oh Ban-suk 2 0  Jeju United
5 DF Yun Young-sun 6 0  Seongnam FC
6 DF Park Joo-ho 36 0  Ulsan Hyundai
7 FW Son Heung-min 67 21  Tottenham Hotspur
8 MF Ju Se-jong 11 1  Asan Mugunghwa
9 FW Kim Shin-wook 50 10  Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
10 MF Lee Seung-woo 4 0  Hellas Verona
11 FW Hwang Hee-chan 14 2  Red Bull Salzburg
12 DF Kim Min-woo 20 1  Sangju Sangmu
13 MF Koo Ja-cheol 68 19  FC Augsburg
14 DF Hong Chul 14 0  Sangju Sangmu
15 MF Jung Woo-young 30 1  Vissel Kobe
16 MF Ki Sung-yueng (captain) 102 10  Swansea City
17 MF Lee Jae-sung 35 6  Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
18 MF Moon Seon-min 3 1  Incheon United
19 DF Kim Young-gwon 53 2  Guangzhou Evergrande
20 DF Jang Hyun-soo 51 3  FC Tokyo
21 GK Kim Jin-hyeon 15 0  Cerezo Osaka
22 DF Go Yo-han 20 0  FC Seoul
23 GK Cho Hyun-woo 6 0  Daegu FC

Sweden

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Robin Olsen 18 0  Copenhagen
2 DF Mikael Lustig 66 6  Celtic
3 DF Victor Lindelöf 21 1  Manchester United
4 DF Andreas Granqvist (captain) 72 6  Krasnodar
5 DF Martin Olsson 43 5  Swansea City
6 DF Ludwig Augustinsson 15 0  Werder Bremen
7 MF Sebastian Larsson 100 6  Hull City
8 MF Albin Ekdal 34 0  Hamburger SV
9 FW Marcus Berg 57 18  Al Ain
10 MF Emil Forsberg 36 6  RB Leipzig
11 FW John Guidetti 20 1  Alavés
12 GK Karl-Johan Johnsson 5 0  Guingamp
13 MF Gustav Svensson 13 0  Seattle Sounders FC
14 DF Filip Helander 4 0  Bologna
15 MF Oscar Hiljemark 22 2  Genoa
16 DF Emil Krafth 13 0  Bologna
17 MF Viktor Claesson 22 3  Krasnodar
18 DF Pontus Jansson 15 0  Leeds United
19 MF Marcus Rohdén 12 1  Crotone
20 FW Ola Toivonen 59 13  Toulouse
21 MF Jimmy Durmaz 45 3  Toulouse
22 FW Isaac Kiese Thelin 20 2  Waasland-Beveren
23 GK Kristoffer Nordfeldt 8 0  Swansea City

 

Group G

Belgium

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Thibaut Courtois 58 0  Chelsea
2 DF Toby Alderweireld 74 3  Tottenham Hotspur
3 DF Thomas Vermaelen 64 1  Barcelona
4 DF Vincent Kompany 74 4  Manchester City
5 DF Jan Vertonghen 102 8  Tottenham Hotspur
6 MF Axel Witsel 87 9  Tianjin Quanjian
7 MF Kevin De Bruyne 59 13  Manchester City
8 MF Marouane Fellaini 80 17  Manchester United
9 FW Romelu Lukaku 66 33  Manchester United
10 FW Eden Hazard (captain) 84 22  Chelsea
11 MF Yannick Carrasco 25 5  Dalian Yifang
12 GK Simon Mignolet 21 0  Liverpool
13 GK Koen Casteels 0 0  VfL Wolfsburg
14 FW Dries Mertens 67 14  Napoli
15 DF Thomas Meunier 25 5  Paris Saint-Germain
16 MF Thorgan Hazard 10 1  Borussia Mönchengladbach
17 MF Youri Tielemans 8 0  Monaco
18 FW Adnan Januzaj 8 0  Real Sociedad
19 MF Mousa Dembélé 75 5  Tottenham Hotspur
20 DF Dedryck Boyata 7 0  Celtic
21 FW Michy Batshuayi 15 6  Borussia Dortmund
22 MF Nacer Chadli 43 4  West Bromwich Albion
23 DF Leander Dendoncker 5 0  Anderlecht

 

England

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Jordan Pickford 3 0  Everton
2 DF Kyle Walker 35 0  Manchester City
3 DF Danny Rose 18 0  Tottenham Hotspur
4 MF Eric Dier 26 3  Tottenham Hotspur
5 DF John Stones 26 0  Manchester City
6 DF Harry Maguire 5 0  Leicester City
7 MF Jesse Lingard 12 1  Manchester United
8 MF Jordan Henderson 39 0  Liverpool
9 FW Harry Kane (captain) 24 13  Tottenham Hotspur
10 FW Raheem Sterling 38 2  Manchester City
11 FW Jamie Vardy 22 7  Leicester City
12 DF Kieran Trippier 7 0  Tottenham Hotspur
13 GK Jack Butland 8 0  Stoke City
14 FW Danny Welbeck 39 16  Arsenal
15 DF Gary Cahill 60 5  Chelsea
16 DF Phil Jones 25 0  Manchester United
17 DF Fabian Delph 11 0  Manchester City
18 DF Ashley Young 34 7  Manchester United
19 FW Marcus Rashford 19 3  Manchester United
20 MF Dele Alli 25 2  Tottenham Hotspur
21 MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek 4 0  Crystal Palace
22 DF Trent Alexander-Arnold 1 0  Liverpool
23 GK Nick Pope 1 0  Burnley

Panama

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Jaime Penedo 131 0  Dinamo București
2 DF Michael Amir Murillo 22 2  New York Red Bulls
3 DF Harold Cummings 52 0  San Jose Earthquakes
4 DF Fidel Escobar 23 1  New York Red Bulls
5 DF Román Torres 111 10  Seattle Sounders FC
6 MF Gabriel Gómez 144 12  Atlético Bucaramanga
7 FW Blas Pérez 118 43  Municipal
8 MF Édgar Bárcenas 29 0  Tapachula
9 FW Gabriel Torres 72 14  Huachipato
10 FW Ismael Díaz 11 2  Deportivo Fabril
11 MF Armando Cooper 98 7  Universidad de Chile
12 GK José Calderón 31 0  Chorrillo
13 DF Adolfo Machado 76 1  Houston Dynamo
14 MF Valentín Pimentel 23 1  Plaza Amador
15 DF Erick Davis 38 0  Dunajská Streda
16 FW Abdiel Arroyo 33 5  Alajuelense
17 DF Luis Ovalle 25 0  CD Olimpia
18 FW Luis Tejada 105 43  Sport Boys
19 MF Ricardo Ávila 5 0  Gent
20 MF Aníbal Godoy 59 2  San Jose Earthquakes
21 MF José Luis Rodríguez 2 0  Gent
22 GK Álex Rodríguez 6 0  San Francisco
23 DF Felipe Baloy (captain) 102 3  Municipal

 

Tunisia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Farouk Ben Mustapha 15 0  Al-Shabab
2 DF Syam Ben Youssef 42 1  Kasımpaşa
3 DF Yohan Benalouane 4 0  Leicester City
4 DF Yassine Meriah 16 1  CS Sfaxien
5 DF Oussama Haddadi 9 0  Dijon
6 DF Rami Bedoui 8 0  Étoile du Sahel
7 FW Saîf-Eddine Khaoui 5 0  Troyes
8 FW Fakhreddine Ben Youssef 39 5  Al-Ettifaq
9 MF Anice Badri 7 2  Espérance
10 FW Wahbi Khazri 35 12  Rennes
11 DF Dylan Bronn 5 0  Gent
12 DF Ali Maâloul 46 0  Al Ahly
13 MF Ferjani Sassi 39 3  Al-Nassr
14 MF Mohamed Amine Ben Amor 26 1  Al-Ahli
15 FW Ahmed Khalil 3 0  Club Africain
16 GK Aymen Mathlouthi (captain) 70 0  Al-Batin
17 MF Ellyes Skhiri 5 0  Montpellier
18 FW Bassem Srarfi 5 0  Nice
19 FW Saber Khalifa 44 7  Club Africain
20 FW Ghailene Chaalali 6 1  Espérance
21 DF Hamdi Nagguez 15 0  Zamalek
22 GK Mouez Hassen 3 0  Châteauroux
23 FW Naïm Sliti 17 3  Dijon

 

Group H

Colombia

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK David Ospina 86 0  Arsenal
2 DF Cristián Zapata 55 2  Milan
3 DF Óscar Murillo 13 0  Pachuca
4 DF Santiago Arias 41 0  PSV Eindhoven
5 MF Wílmar Barrios 10 0  Boca Juniors
6 MF Carlos Sánchez 85 0  Espanyol
7 FW Carlos Bacca 45 14  Villarreal
8 MF Abel Aguilar 70 7  Deportivo Cali
9 FW Radamel Falcao (captain) 73 29  Monaco
10 MF James Rodríguez 63 21  Bayern Munich
11 MF Juan Cuadrado 70 7  Juventus
12 GK Camilo Vargas 5 0  Deportivo Cali
13 DF Yerry Mina 12 3  Barcelona
14 FW Luis Muriel 18 2  Sevilla
15 MF Mateus Uribe 8 0  América
16 MF Jefferson Lerma 5 0  Levante
17 DF Johan Mojica 4 1  Girona
18 DF Farid Díaz 13 0  Olimpia
19 FW Miguel Borja 7 2  Palmeiras
20 MF Juan Fernando Quintero 15 2  River Plate
21 FW José Izquierdo 5 1  Brighton & Hove Albion
22 GK José Fernando Cuadrado 1 0  Once Caldas
23 DF Dávinson Sánchez 9 0  Tottenham Hotspur

 

Japan

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Eiji Kawashima 84 0  Metz
2 DF Naomichi Ueda 4 0  Kashima Antlers
3 DF Gen Shoji 11 1  Kashima Antlers
4 MF Keisuke Honda 95 36  Pachuca
5 DF Yuto Nagatomo 105 3  Galatasaray
6 DF Wataru Endo 12 0  Urawa Red Diamonds
7 MF Gaku Shibasaki 18 3  Getafe
8 MF Genki Haraguchi 33 6  Fortuna Düsseldorf
9 FW Shinji Okazaki 113 50  Leicester City
10 MF Shinji Kagawa 92 30  Borussia Dortmund
11 MF Takashi Usami 24 3  Fortuna Düsseldorf
12 GK Masaaki Higashiguchi 5 0  Gamba Osaka
13 FW Yoshinori Muto 24 2  Mainz 05
14 MF Takashi Inui 27 4  Eibar
15 FW Yuya Osako 29 7  1. FC Köln
16 MF Hotaru Yamaguchi 42 2  Cerezo Osaka
17 MF Makoto Hasebe (captain) 110 2  Eintracht Frankfurt
18 MF Ryota Oshima 5 0  Kawasaki Frontale
19 DF Hiroki Sakai 43 0  Marseille
20 DF Tomoaki Makino 32 4  Urawa Red Diamonds
21 DF Gōtoku Sakai 41 0  Hamburger SV
22 DF Maya Yoshida 82 10  Southampton
23 GK Kosuke Nakamura 4 0  Kashiwa Reysol

 

Poland

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Wojciech Szczęsny 35 0  Juventus
2 DF Michał Pazdan 33 0  Legia Warsaw
3 DF Artur Jędrzejczyk 36 3  Legia Warsaw
4 DF Thiago Cionek 19 0  SPAL
5 DF Jan Bednarek 3 0  Southampton
6 MF Jacek Góralski 5 0  Ludogorets Razgrad
7 FW Arkadiusz Milik 40 12  Napoli
8 MF Karol Linetty 20 1  Sampdoria
9 FW Robert Lewandowski (captain) 95 55  Bayern Munich
10 MF Grzegorz Krychowiak 51 2  West Bromwich Albion
11 MF Kamil Grosicki 57 12  Hull City
12 GK Bartosz Białkowski 1 0  Ipswich Town
13 MF Maciej Rybus 51 2  Lokomotiv Moscow
14 FW Łukasz Teodorczyk 17 4  Anderlecht
15 DF Kamil Glik 57 4  Monaco
16 MF Jakub Błaszczykowski 99 20  VfL Wolfsburg
17 MF Sławomir Peszko 43 2  Lechia Gdańsk
18 DF Bartosz Bereszyński 8 0  Sampdoria
19 MF Piotr Zieliński 33 5  Napoli
20 DF Łukasz Piszczek 63 3  Borussia Dortmund
21 MF Rafał Kurzawa 3 0  Górnik Zabrze
22 GK Łukasz Fabiański 45 0  Swansea City
23 FW Dawid Kownacki 2 1  Sampdoria

Senegal

No. Pos. Player Caps Goals Club
1 GK Abdoulaye Diallo 17 0  Rennes
2 DF Saliou Ciss 18 0  Valenciennes
3 DF Kalidou Koulibaly 26 0  Napoli
4 DF Kara Mbodji 52 5  Anderlecht
5 MF Idrissa Gueye 61 1  Everton
6 MF Salif Sané 22 0  Hannover 96
7 FW Moussa Sow 51 18  Bursaspor
8 MF Cheikhou Kouyaté (captain) 48 2  West Ham United
9 FW Mame Biram Diouf 49 10  Stoke City
10 FW Sadio Mané 53 14  Liverpool
11 MF Cheikh N’Doye 26 3  Birmingham City
12 DF Youssouf Sabaly 5 0  Bordeaux
13 MF Alfred N’Diaye 21 0  Wolverhampton Wanderers
14 FW Moussa Konaté 28 10  Amiens
15 FW Diafra Sakho 12 3  Rennes
16 GK Khadim N’Diaye 26 0  Horoya
17 MF Badou Ndiaye 20 1  Stoke City
18 FW Ismaïla Sarr 16 3  Rennes
19 FW M’Baye Niang 7 0  Torino
20 FW Keita Baldé 19 3  Monaco
21 DF Lamine Gassama 36 0  Alanyaspor
22 DF Moussa Wagué 10 0  Eupen
23 GK Alfred Gomis 1 0  SPAL

*Notable exclusions: Italy, Netherlands, USA, Chile, Ireland

Frontruners:

Brazil, France, Argentina, Germany

This year’s champion likely figures to be one of the usual suspects. However, the balance of power has shifted noticeably from years past. The 2018 favorites are a conglomerate of the regular elites across Europe and South America, but four teams in particular stick out as potential champions. In no particular order, Germany, Argentina, France, and Brazil seems to make up the upper echelon. That is not to say that no other team has any chance, but rather most if not all of these four should find their way later knockout rounds. All of the aforementioned squads bring more than enough talent to the table to get the job done (although that isn’t exactly a hot take, given the fact that all are perennial powerhouses on the landscape of international soccer). However, looking beyond their star studded rosters, it is how these squads fared throughout world cup qualifying and other international tournaments (Copa America, Euros, etc.) that establish them as the safest bets.

France

France in particular will arrive in Russia under the pressure of lofty expectations following an amazing run in the Euros in which they fell just short to an inferior Portugal team in extra time. However, France’s form in the last few months may be cause for worry as they seem to have lost some of that momentum from 2016. Some of that may come down the fact that Coach Deschamps has been fiddling with the team sheet following lackluster seasons from some of the country’s talismans. As strong the French National Team appears on paper, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that France will be playing in this tournament without household names like Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery, as well as young stars Alexander Lacazette and Anthony Martial. But when you’re as deep as France and can field a team with players the caliber of Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, those exclusions become less worrisome.  France isn’t short on talent in any part of the field bring one of the most well rounded squads in all of the tournament to Russia. The French should find their in the creativity of their attacking players, while their only chink in the armor is a decidedly young defense.

Brazil

Brazil is another very popular pick to win the whole thing and it’s easy to see why. Given the skill of players on the roster like Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, and Roberto Firmino, I would have a hard time betting against them. But big names aren’t the only reason to keep an eye on the Selecao. Rather, Brazil attracts so many eyeballs because of their style of play. With “Jogo Bonito”, the Brazilians bring to the table perhaps the most exciting brand of soccer in this entire tournament. Whether or not that style will translate to World Cup glory remains to be seen. Brazil entered 2014 with the same high hopes that they will this year in Russia. We all remember how that turned out as Brazil was dismantled in the semifinals by Germany 7-1. So whats different about this team? And why is everybody placing such expectations on a team that will not have the advantage of a home crowd this time around? For the answer, we needn’t look any further than their dominant performance throughout qualifying. Brazil finished a whopping 10 points ahead of the next competitor in their group, which was comprised of the likes of Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile etc. Throughout the entire process, Brazil lost only one of its 18 games to the tune of an unreal +30 goal differential to cement itself as the favorite coming out of South America.  Everyone knows about their flair and skill on offense, but the team’s defense also looks significantly more formidable than it has in years past. Goldman Sachs also recently concluded that Brazil should be the betting favorite heading into the tournament, but what do those idiots know?

Argentina

Lionel Messi and Argentina came oh so close to the trophy in 2014 but ultimately fell short in extra time of what must have truly been a heartbreaking defeat. “Los Albicelestes” will look to make their way back to the final and set things right in 2018, but the road will not be easy. Argentina’s strength as a team is no secret. Their stable of forwards is the most threatening of anyone in this tournament by a long shot. Their attack includes top strikers across Europe’s strongest leagues including Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, not to mention some guy named Lionel Messi. Messi alone could potentially be enough to propel a team to a world cup, and when you add names like those mentioned to the mix it’s not hard to see why Argentina is a force to be reckoned with in the final third. However, it is worth mentioning that some of the others in this forward group haven’t been nearly as prolific in international play as they have proven in club play. That begs the question of how well this group really meshes, having to defer to Messi and conform to a style a play that sees him at the forefront. But attack is not the problem for the Argentines anyway. Their midfield is less inspiring although they will field top players like Angel Di Maria and Lucas Biglia. The real point of concern for me is their defense and goaltending. Their defense is much thinner than other positions with Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi being the only real star deserving of trust. While that line is made of solid players across the world’s top leagues as well, it looks noticeably weaker in comparison with other powerhouse nations. Argentina also looked relatively shabby in qualifying play only really stumbling to a world cup berth. Nevertheless, Lionel Messi and their strength up front could make them an appealing option for a gambler.

Germany

The reigning champions are deservedly the most trustworthy team in world football. The German’s style of play might be best described as a well oiled machine. The style of this squad is entirely different from other frontrunners we mentioned as their strenght seems to come from the back. Manuel Neuer has been a fixture between the sticks for Germany for years and has long been one of it not the best goalkeeper in the game. Similarly the Germans hold one of the most reliable defenses in this tournament, headlined by Bayern Munich pairing, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. Their midfield will also bring back world winners as well in Mesut Ozil, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos, and Sami Khedira. Likewise, Germany brings familiar faces up top in Marco Reus (Missed 2014 due to injury), Thomas Muller, and Mario Gomez. As the old Adage goes, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” Much of Germany’s core remains the same and for good reason. The Germans have made at least the semifinals in each of the last four world cups. As defending champions, I’d say its safe to pencil them in for at least the same in Russia. They may not be the sexy pick, but they certainly are the safest pick in the entire field.

Contenders:

Spain, Belgium, Portugal

Only a handful of teams have any real chance at taking all the glory. The frontrunners we mentioned above will likely be betting favorites, but there a plenty of of other teams capable piecing together a run at the trophy.

Spain

Once the class of European and world football, Spains’s golden generation has come and gone. They still have boatloads of top level talent but the days of dominating international competitions are gone for now. Spain may not be the most popular pick but they are certainly capable of beating anyone on their day and pass the ball better than anyone in the world. Isco, Thiago, Davis Silva, and Marco Asensio (among others) make up what may just be the best midfield in the tournament. They also have an experienced defense and boast one of the best goalkeepers in the world and David De Gea. The only problem is that Spain has lacked a true number 9 to finish off it’s build up play since the days of David.  Diego Costa seems the best candidate to fill that role, otherwise “La Roja” will have to rely on inexperienced forwards Rodrigo and Lucas Vasquez.

Belgium

On talent alone, Belgium belongs in the top flight. The issue is they have beaten anyone of note on an international scale. We have been hearing tale of Belgium’s golden generation for years now and rightfully so. However, they have never been able to piece together a major tournament run or make the noise they’ve been expected to. As such it is very difficult to trust them in this tournament. But look at their roster: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens etc. All of whom are players of the highest caliber who should well equip the Belgians to hang with anyone in this tournament. Their defensive core is aging, but with the attacking quality they possess, Belgium can pose a problem for anyone in this tournament.

Portugal

Will Ronaldo ever actually will this team a world cup? I would say probably not. But then again I would never have thought Portugal would stumble their way to a European Championship in 2016, and we all know what happened there. Throughout the entire tournament, the Portuguese never really looked threatening but managed to sneak their way into finals and eek out an extra time victory. Now trudging your way to a world cup victory would be far less feasible, but Portugal certainly has enough quality to make a run. Besides arguably the best player of all time, Portugal also feature a number of quality players including Bernardo Silva, Joao Moutinho. Additionally, many young talents have risen through the ranks and will have a chance to prove themselves this world cup including Goncalo Guedes, William Carvalho, and Andre Silva. Aging centerbacks could pose a problem, Portugal feature a number of attacking wing backs who will look to get involved in the offense. Defensively they leave a bit to be desired, and I personally wouldn’t trust them, but Portugal like many of the teams on this list can beat anyone in the world on any given day.

Other Potential Picks:

England

Every four years England fans will go on and on about how their squad is talented enough to bring home the world cup. Time and time again they fail to live up to expectations and typically exit the tournament around the first knockout stage in disappointing fashion. Admittedly, this team may be a bit different than those of the past given the fact they possess one of the strikers in the world in Harry Kane. Additionally, they boast a plethora of young talents like Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford. A look at their roster would tell you they are good enough to contend, but history would indicate otherwise. When it comes to England I’ll believe it when I see it.

Colombia

Colombia put together a memorable run in Brazil on the back of superstar and golden boot winner James Rodriguez. James will look to relive that success this year, but this time around the Colombians will also have star striker Radamel Falcao at their disposal. Falcao, who’s found his form again, missed 2014 with an injury. Carlos Bacca also gives colombia another goalscorer to work with. They should have no problem advancing past the group stage, but expecting anything further may be asking too much. Apart from a few stars, Colombia doesn’t have the firepower of the other nations. They should still be an fun outfit to watch, and prove capable playing with the best in the world

Uruguay

Uruguay finished second brazil in South American world cup qualifying, ahead of both Argentina and Colombia. “La Celeste” will enter this tournament as they do every tournament: a very capable sleeper. They boast two of the worlds best strikers in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani and as such will always be a threat to score. Atletico Madrid star Diego Godin is also a stalwart at centerback. This squad should have no trouble advancing past the group stage but will likely find themselves outmatched against the world’s truly elite teams, especially in the midfield. Neverthless,the Uruguayans are known for being particularly dogged, so they likely won’t be exiting this tournament without a fight.

Deep Sleepers:

The following teams aren’t exactly candidates to win anything this year, but possess more than enough talent to make some noise. If you like an underdog, heres a list of your most likely candidates.

Croatia, Sengal, Poland, Mexico, Switzerland

Croatia sneakily bring to the table one of the best midfields in the tournament with Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, and Ivan Perisic, while Mario Mandzukic gives them one of the world’s preeminent aerial threats. Unfortunately, a first knockout stage meeting with France is forecasted.

Senegal is very quietly well equipped across every position, particularly on attack with Sadio Mane, Keita Balde, and Moussa Sow. Their midfield is also composed entirely of premier league players.

Poland’s hopes will rest largely on Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. However, they have some low key depth and array of players plying their trades in Europe’s top leagues. Specifically, their defense should competent with players like Kamil Glik and Lukasz Pizszczek.

Mexico is a team that lacks any true stars but possesses a number of good players across all positions, and plenty of depth. Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, and Giovanni Dos Santos will headline the attack. Mexico will also look to get attack minded wingbacks involved. Overall, Mexico brings a very solid side to Russia. Anything less than berth in the knockout rounds would be a disappointment.

Bracket

*(Assuming Group Stage Winners)

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 6.33.19 PM.png

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