World Cup Hype (Follow Up)

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With the 2018 Russia World Cup rapidly approaching, soccer fans across the world are excitedly anticipating the showdown in Russia. After fighting through tough qualifying preliminary matches, 32 teams have been selected to participate in the World Cup and on December 1st were divided into 8 groups, labeled A-H based on random chance. Unfortunately, of these 32 teams neither the USA nor Israel are present as they were both eliminated in the earlier segments of the cup, however the anticipated matches between the teams of different groups should still be fairly exciting.

Group A consists of Russia (the host), Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt in which Uruguay will most likely be able to snatch the first place for the group with Russia close behind, leaving just Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which FIFA ranks as the worst teams in the Cup (FIFA).

Group B consists of Portugal, Spain, Iran, and Morocco in which Spain and Portugal are projected to win (Portugal recently won the 2014 European Cup), although it would not be surprising if Morocco or Iran manages to replace one of these teams, as both countries have good teams (nytimes).

Group C consists of France, Peru, Denmark, and Australia in which France is head and shoulders above the rest as Peru is ranked very low, Australia is left without a coach, and Denmark hasn’t been too successful lately (FIFA).

Group D consists of Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, and Nigeria and is projected to be one of the most interesting groups of the competition. In the past, Argentina and Croatia have been the strongest teams, however this year Argentina barely managed to qualify and all the other teams are fairly strong (FIFA).

Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia. Brazil, ranked second in the world by FIFA, is expected to easily sweep the group and take first, while Switzerland ranked ninth in the world by FIFA, is expected to take second place. However the battle for second is not a foregone conclusion as Costa Rica was very successful in 2014, and Serbia is always willing to put up a good fight (FIFA).

Group F consists of Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea with Germany ranked the number one team in the world and expected to easily take the first place. The battle for second will take place mainly between Mexico, who finished comfortably in the qualifiers and Sweden, who are also looking fairly strong. South Korea however is expected to finish last as their game has not been at the same quality as in previous years (nytimes).

Group G consists of Belgium, England, Tunisia, and Panama and is expected to grant an easy pathway for Belgium and England to reach the playoffs. The most interesting game of the group will occur in the final match of the group between Belgium and England which will determine who will take the first place (eurosport).

Group H consists of Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan and is the only group in which none of the teams have ever been past champions. Columbia, with players James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, is expected to place first in the group, but the second spot is up for grabs. Poland most likely will take the second place with top scorer of Europe’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers Robert Lewandowski, although Senegal and Japan do pose prominent threats. Japan has managed to top the Asian qualifiers and despite Senegal’s single appearance in the World Cup in 2002, in which they made it all the way to the quarter finals and even defeated the defending world cup champion France (eurosport).

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