2018 FIFA World Cup Preview
The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup is on our doorstep. The most publicized sporting event in the world… Yes, yes, even before the Olympic Games, will once again bring together the countries of the planet around the same passion. THIRTY-TWO nations have qualified for this great tournament, some for the first time, others are accustomed and some that… will shine by their absence. Over the next few weeks, before the start of the “beautiful game” tourney, FanPicks will cover every nation participating in the group stage. Don’t forget to enter the World Cup contests at fanpicks.com
Portugal, the reigning European Champions, will want to prove that they have the right stuff to become World Champions. They had a strong qualification campaign (almost perfect with 27 points on the possible 30) which allowed them to approach this World Cup with confidence. Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be at the center of attention, but Portugal is more than that. They showed it by winning the final of the Euro 2016, while being deprived of his star player from the first moments of the match. It will be a seventh participation for Portugal on the 21st edition of the World Cup.
Spain seems to have regained its luster after a disappointing performance at the last World Cup in Brazil. It was an average performances in the subsequent Euro, when much more was expected of a team that had passed the historical trifecta Euro-World Cup-Euro, from 2008 to 2012. A new coach in Julen Lopetegui, young players who are increasingly assertive, a qualification that will have seen them scoring 36 goals and only giving out 3, Spain may be worth more than its 8th rank FIFA. The experience of the Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos will improve the play of Isco, Marco Asensio and other young players of this rising generation. This will be the 15th participation of Spain, with an uninterrupted presence since 1978.
Morocco has high hopes with their bid to host the 2026 World Cup. They are making a comeback after a 20 years absence and will not have an easy task in this group where Portugal and Spain should compete for first place. Authors of a formidable course in qualification, finishing at the top of their group by beating Côte d’ivoire at home in the last game, Morocco will be able to count on Mehdi Milika who had a very nice campaign in Europe, especially in Italy.
Iran qualified for a second consecutive World Cup, the fourth in their history. Portuguese Carlos Queiroz has led this team since 2011 and seems to have found the winning recipe, bringing Iran to become the first qualified team in Asia for this year. But it’s not going to be enough to get out of this group. At most, Iran will fight against Morocco in an attempt to avoid fourth place in the group.