Russia 2018 at last - The FIFA World Cup fever [Preview]
The time is here, the moment of truth, FIFA 2018 World Cup is upon us, who will rise above the rest of the bunch? While teams are putting final touches to their Plan A and B, a certain former champion opted to fire their head coach, obviously for the sake of the team but who is to blame?
La Roja sacked Julen Lopetegui just a day before the World Cup kick-off following the latter’s announcement as the new manager of Real Madrid. Lopetegui made comments of acceptance in a manner that explains that he values the reigning UEFA Champions league kings more than the national team, no right thinking FA would let that slide; La Roja is made up of players mainly from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with not more than six from the rest of the teams all around the world, then you ask, how awkward would things be in there if he’s allowed to continue with the team, without any doubt, sacking the man seems logical as things could get complicated.
OFFICIAL | Fernando Hierro to assume role as Spain Head Coach for the 2018 Russia World Cup https://t.co/r2vHeLAKxS pic.twitter.com/2TZjVfFypQ— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) June 13, 2018
Fernando Hierro has been a part of the set up for a while and this might just be his own moment of glory, but what lies ahead of him? It’s trickier than it appears on paper, considering how terrible the former champions were in Rio four years ago, Diego Costa must convert chances to make huge sense of the possession they will always have and the defence must stay disciplined, they won’t make it past the quarterfinals however.
Argentina laboured through the qualifying campaigns, they have a seemingly easy group but there are banana peels everywhere, the team looks good on paper but their defence isn’t as good as they think. Mascherano and Otamendi would be preferred along with Fazio if they opt for three men at the back or throw Marcos Rojo into the mix if they opt for four, these set up will be their Achilles heels with fast and intelligent opponents from Iceland and Croatia, Nigeria will be quite unpredictable as Mascherano rightly said but they will need more than Lionel Messi to beat the Super Eagles this time.
Croatia have a very rich midfield, their patience could pay off in many ways than one, absolve pressure and hit on the break, they have everything to repeat the 1998 feat. Nigeria already has a trophy, the fashion trophy, they won this long before a ball gets kicked in Moscow, from their mesmerising kits to their travel attire, they sure slayed into the tournament, now it’s time to do it on the pitch, Croatia comes first for the three-time African Champions, they can only get result if they stay disciplined, the Croatians are intelligent and compact, Modric would need to be monitored.
Most bookies have money on Brazil, but the immediate past host have weaknesses too while trying to banish the ugly ghosts of the 7:1 annihilation in the hands of eventual champions Germany.
They must name a permanent captain to serve as the inspirational figure, rotating the armband doesn’t make much sense at a time you need a leader to stand for the team when the chips need attention, under Tite, several players like have had the armband on at the start of their many games and there seem not to be an obvious candidate, can Tite fix this permanently? Neymar could be the man.
Germany have just one thing to worry about, over-confidence, this could lead to an epic complacency that wouldn’t do Joachim Low's team any good, they don’t have many proven marksmen in the team, very likely to deploy Timo Werner upfront or the usual Thomas Muller who wouldn’t mind breaking the all-time highest goal scoring record currently being held by his compatriot Miroslav Klose.
The squad is talented, rich enough to shut out one of the leading lights of the premier league last season in Leroy Sane, the stage is theirs to take but easy does it Die Mannschaft.
Apart from the British media and some misleading bookmakers, not sure anyone anywhere expects miracles from England during Russia 2018, they have a weak midfield and a defence that can be bullied by sleek oppositions, while one would agree that with a team made up of just Premier League players, they look hungrier than recent three lions squads to play at a World Cup, it still must be said that the players aren’t just good enough especially in the middle of the park where battles would be won and lost.
Belgium is primed to succeed, talent overload in the squad with Manchester United's striker Lukaku, the skilful Eden Hazard, and Kevin De Bruyne who led Pep Guardiola's Manchester City to a record-breaking Premier League victory leading the team, though the strange decision to leave out Radja Naingollan might haunt Roberto Martinez's men.
Whatever the game plan is, taking chances early must be part of the script because the Belgian Red Devils know how to crack towards the end.
Let’s talk about France, the hot and cold Le Blues must walk the talk this time, after narrowly missing out on the European championship on home soil two summers ago.
They have a very thick squad with the likes of Pogba, Kante, Griezmann, Mbape to name a few that can produce goals from everywhere, the other eleven they left out can win a tourney effortlessly, that explains why they should be favourites here, but they also know how to embarrass themselves, discipline and focus will drive them to the semi-finals where anything could happen henceforth.
Let the world cup begin!
Written by @Komptrolla