Nominations for a possible winner of the 2018 World Cup in Russia are increasing with the approach of the globe’s most-watched football championship.
Former World Cup winners who will compete in Russia are always topping the nominations.
Only eight national teams won the last 20 World Cups: Brazil five, four for each of Germany and Italy, two for each of Uruguay and Argentina, and one for each of England, France and Spain.
Brazil, the record holder, wanted to compensate its humiliated elimination at the last World Cup. The team includes many key players including their captain Neymar, the world’s most expensive player who moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros (USD 260 million).
Neymar is backed by Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool’s Firmino, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Willian of Chelsea.
Brazil’s defense is solid namely Marcelo (Real Madrid) and Thiago Silva (PSG). They are guarded by Rome goalkeeper Alisson.
Germany, the defending champions, are always a favorite to win the World Cup.
Germany’s coach Joachim Low has been managing the team for 12 years, and considered one of the most successful coaches.
Low’s squad is full of talents, starting with Bayern Munich veteran Manuel Neuer and Marc-Adnre terstegen (Barcelona) in goalkeeping.
Low also picked Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels from Bayern Munich in his defense line-up.
Germany’s midfield are led by Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Ilkay Gundogan (Man. City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain) and Leon Goretska (Schalke).
The offense will be led by Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) and Leroy Sane (Manchester United).
France is a possible contender with coach Didier Deschamps putting on a strong and talented squad.
Although Deschamps dropped many key players, he still has key players like Atletico Madrid’s striker Antonio Griezmann, and the world’s second most expensive player, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba. PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Leone), Raphael Varange (Real Madrid) and Tottenham’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris are also in the squad.
Spain has a dominating force in the field. It overwhelmed European and international football between 2008 and 2012, winning the European champion twice and the World Cup one time.
Spain is led by one of the world’s best goalkeepers, David de Gea (Manchester United) with Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Cesar Azpiliceuta (Chelsea) and Nacho Monrea (Arsenal).
But Spain midfield is tough, spearheaded by veteran Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Man. City) Koke (Atletica Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquests (Barcelona), Isco and Marco Asensio (Real Madrid.
This midfield line-up is more than capable of pushing the ball to Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, who is at the helm of the strikers.
Argentina, which includes Lionel Messi, one of the world’s best players, was below ambitions and its advancement to the upcoming World Cup faced many obstacles.
Argentina hardly qualified for the Russia’s competition although the team consists of many key players.
Team coach Jorge Sampoali was about to remove Paulo Dybala (Juventus) from the team, and the squad has weaknesses in goalkeeping and defense.
But it remains to be seen whether the midfielders can compensate the defense weakness, amidst injuries of PSG’s Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.
England, meanwhile, has been suffering repeated setbacks in major championships including the World Cup despite the fact the team encompasses talented players.
Coach Gareth Southgate, 47, could try to get the best of his squad during fierce competitions at the World Cup.
With the exception of Gary Cahill, the Chelsea defender, England does not have any experienced player to depend on. But with Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ashley Young (Man. United), Harry Kane (Tottenham) and Raheem Sterling (Man. City).
There will be two other teams that might make surprises in Russia: one is Belgium, which ranked 3rd in the FIFA national teams’ standing following Germany and Brazil.
Belgium squad consists of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) who is supported by defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), midfielders Kevin de Bruyne (Man. City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Marouane Fellaini (Man. United).
Belgium’s forwards will be Romelu Lukaku (Man. United) and Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea).
Portugal, for its part, will capitalize on its European Cup of Nations’ victory to continue its performance throughout the World Cup.
Coach Fernando Santos aspire to push his squad, led by Real Madrid’s striker Cristiano Ronaldo, to advanced stages.
Ronaldo, the 2017 world’s football of the year, is accompanied by defender Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), midfielders Joao Moutinho (Monaco), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), and strikers Andre Silva and Ricardo Quaresma.
Discipline, dedication and the desire will determine which team will advance to further stages of the World Cup.
Source: Kuwait News Agency