THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

 

Just a couple of months to go until the biggest football event on this planet starts again.

In 2014 Germany defeated Argentina in the final 1-0, to win the tournament and secure the country’s fourth world title. Will they do it again, or, to quote Gary Lineker:  “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

Over the next 3 months OZB will give you insights into the teams, the player to watch and the odds on who is likely to win the championship.

 

By Marcel de Roode

 

Just a couple of months to go until the biggest football event on this planet will start again. In 2014 Germany defeated Argentina in the final 1-0, to win the tournament and secure the country’s fourth world title. Will they do it again, or, to quote Gary Lineker:  “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

Over the next 3 months OZB will give you insights into the teams, the player to watch and the odds on who is likely to win the championship.

 

GROUP A

RUSSIA

Russia, this year’s World Cup hosts, finished fourth in England in the 1966 World Cup. After the disappointing Euro 2016 event, they changed managers. Can Stanislav Cherchesov lead them to new heights and get them into the top 5? He’s brought in a lot of youngsters to replace Fedor Kudryashov and Sergei Ignashevich. All eyes will be on the brilliant midfielder Alan Dzagoev. He has to be the power source for the Russians.

Ranking FIFA: 65

Player to watch: Alan Dzagoev

Odds to win tournament: 40/1

 

SAUDI ARABIA

For the first time since 2006, Saudi Arabia is again present at the World Cup. The Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has lead them to this success. But because of a disagreement with the Saudi National Football Association, he will not be the coach during the championship. Juan Antonio Pizzi takes his place, to lead this inexperienced team to maybe a second round.

Ranking FIFA: 63

Player to watch: Nawaf Al Abed

Odds to win the tournament: 1500/1

 

EGYPT

The Pharaohs are making their first World Cup finals appearance since Italy 1990. They’re a very hard team to beat due to their defensive style of playing. Responsible for all this is coach Hector Cuper, the Argentinian who knows how to build an unbreakable defense. Egypt’s attacking hope, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, has to take the team by the hand and try to surprise some of their opponents.

Ranking FIFA: 31

Player to watch: Mohamed Salah

Odds to win tournament: 300/1

 

URUGUAY

La Celeste were world champions while hosting the World Cup in 1930 and again in Brazil in 1950. The team of Oscar Taberez qualified quite easily behind the Brazilian winners. Their attacking style of playing is praised the world over. Barcelona star Luis Suarez will lead the attack and, with his inspiring way of playing, the youngsters in the team will follow his example. Keep an eye on this team, for many people they are a dangerous outsider.

Ranking FIFA: 21

Player to watch: Luis Suarez

Odds to win tournament: 33/1

 

GROUP B

PORTUGAL

The European 2016 champions are of course one of the favourite teams for the title. The attack of Portugal is lead by Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo he is backed by a solid defense. These are, most of the time, the ingredients needed to get very close to a title. For Portugal to go all the way will depend largely on one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. What kind of shape will he be in after a long and tiring season with Real Madrid?

Ranking FIFA: 3

Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo

Odds to win tournament: 28/1

 

SPAIN

What is there to say about brilliant Spain. They have dominated the game for a long time and if you look at the names in the team that will possibly play in the World Championships, you can only be impressed. To name but a few: David de Gea, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba , David Silva, Fernando Isco. For sure one of the favourites.

Ranking FIFA: 6

Player to watch: Fernando Isco

Odds to win tournament: 8/1

 

MOROCCO

After 20 years, the lions of the Atlas are back on track. The heart of the team is build by players we know from Dutch football. Players like Karim El Ahmadi, M’Barek Boussoufa are bringing a lot of experience to the team. This, combined with the brilliance and intelligence of Hakim Ziyech (Star player of AJAX Amsterdam), makes this a team to look forward to. Getting to the second round will be a huge success for this team.

Ranking FIFA: 40

Player to watch: Hakim Ziyech

Odds to win tournament: 500/1

 

IRAN

The most well known name in this team is the coach, Portuguese Carlos Queiroz. He has been coach of the Portuguese National Team and Real Madrid. It doesn’t come as a surprise that this team heavily leans upon defensive tactics. But what else can you expect from a coach who’s also named “Master of Defense”? Counter attack is the name of the game. Striker Sardar Azmoun is the great attacking Iranian hope for the World Cup.

Ranking FIFA: 32

Player to watch: Sardar Azmoun

Odds to win tournament: 750/1

 

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