The host nation will kick off the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and you can be sure people from around the world will be tuning in to see Russia square off against Saudi Arabia. Russia and Uruguay are considered the favorites in this group because of both their talent and their track record, but this might be the most talented Egyptian team yet, and Saudi Arabia has pulled off surprises at the World Cup before. This should be an interesting group to watch.
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World Cup Group A Betting Odds
Saudi Arabia +3188
This might be one of the smaller countries in South America, but they have always made an outsized impact at the World Cup. Uruguay won two of the first four World Cups and has remained competitive on this stage since then. They made it to the semifinals back in 2010 and are looking for more this time around.
No team has more talented forwards than Uruguay in this group. Luis Suarez is one of the best strikers in the world, in spite of his antics, and can take over a game. He will be joined up top by Edinson Cavani, who is having a banner year at PSG thanks to the French club’s offseason acquisitions.
Host nations have a fantastic track record at the World Cup. The host nation has gone on to win the World Cup six times, and every host country at least made it to the knockout round with the exception of South Africa in 2010.
No one is expecting Russia to actually win the World Cup, but this team can do what no other Russian team has been able to do in advancing to the knockout stages. Russia has made it to the World Cup three times before, but they haven’t made it out of the Group Stage since they were the Soviet Union.
Players from domestic powers like CSKA, Spartak, Lokomotiv, and Zenit make up the majority of the World Cup roster. This team has stability in net with Igor Akinfeev notching over 100 caps, but there aren’t many goal scoring threats.
There was jubilation in the Land of the Nile when Egypt qualified for its first World Cup in 28 years, and this will be the best team they have ever fielded. Egypt might still be looking for its first win at the World Cup, but this team is good enough to get out of the group.
Few players are performing at the same level that Mo Salah is right now. Salah was signed by Liverpool during the summer transfer window and has led the club’s resurgence in the Premier League. He recently became the second fastest player to reach 20 goals in club history and has scored in over half of his matches for the national team. He could be one of the stars of the World Cup.
Saudi Arabia burst onto the scene at the 1994 World Cup, winning two matches and making it to the knockout stage in its first appearance. Three subsequent appearances failed to net a single win, but at least Saudi Arabia is back for the first time since 2006.
Even though this isn’t the toughest group, the Green Falcons still have an uphill climb ahead of them. They have not looked good in friendlies in the leadup to the World Cup, losing by multiple goals to Ghana, Portugal, and Oman.
This is a veteran team with quite a bit of experience playing together though, so they will be competitive.
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Uruguay is in a class of its own and will win the group. As for the second spot, I’m going to call for Egypt to finish ahead of Russia thanks to some inspired play from Salah. Although Russia is playing at home, this team has a lot of questions to answer regarding its talent level, and has not performed well in international play.
2018 FIFA World Cup Teams to Advance: Uruguay and Egypt
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