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THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO

WORLD CUP 2018

CONTENTS P60

A RG E N T I N A

P68

AU ST RA L I A

P76

CO STA R I CA

P84

M O RO CCO

PO L A N D

SW I T Z E R L A N D

PERU

P106

RUSSIA

SAU D I A RA B I A

P114

P112

P118

SW E D E N

PA N A M A

P104

SERBIA

M E X I CO

P98

PO RT U GA L

S E N EGA L

P116

JA PA N

NIGERIA

P110

P108

GERMANY

P90

P96

P102

P100

F RA NC E

I RA N

P94

DENMARK

P82

P88

ICELAND

P92

C ROAT I A

E NG L A N D

P86

B RA Z I L

P74

P80

P78

EGY P T

B E LG I U M

P72

P70

CO LO M B I A

P66

P64

P62

S O U T H KO R E A

S PA I N

P122

P120

TUNISIA

U R U GUAY


THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO

WORLD CUP2018

CONTENTS 48

40 32

18 6 18 24 46 48 130

Classic images Kits England’s greatest goals Mascots Stadiums Fixtures

STAR INTERVIEWS 20 30

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo

STAR PROFILES 22 28 40 42 54 56

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Harry Kane Neymar Antoine Griezmann Gareth Southgate Toni Kroos Isco

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HEROES 32 34 35 36 36 38 39

Pele Geoff Hurst Johan Cruyff Diego Maradona Ronaldo Franz Beckenbauer Mario Gotze

TEAM GUIDES 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80

Argentina Australia Belgium Brazil Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Denmark Egypt England France

22 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 118 120 122

Germany Iceland Iran Japan Mexico Morocco Nigeria Panama Peru Poland Portugal Russia Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland Tunisia Uruguay


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TIME INC UK Pinehurst 2, Pinehurst Road, Farnborough Business Park, Farnborough, Hants GU14 7BF Tel: +44 (0) 1252 555000

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EDITOR Gavin Hamilton ASSISTANT EDITOR Nich Hills DESIGN DIRECTOR Kevin Eason DESIGN EDITOR Jamie Latchford DEPUTY DESIGN EDITOR Daniel Franklin PICTURE EDITOR Duncan Bond CONTRIBUTORS Nick Bidwell, John Chapman, Martin Del Palacio Langer, John Duerden, Mark Gleeson, Victor Gusev, Skapti Hallgrimsson, Simon Hill, Jim Holden, Brian Homewood, Howard Johnson, Tom Kundert, Dariusz Kurowski, Sid Lowe, Debbie Millett, Vladimir Novak, Mike Plastow, Tim Vickery PHOTOGRAPHY Pictures by Getty Images & Press Association Images PRODUCTION MANAGER Nigel Davies GROUP EDITOR Michael Harris PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Gareth Beesley MANAGING DIRECTOR Oswin Grady ADVERTISING Matthew Johnston INTERNATIONAL LICENSING ENQUIRIES +44 (0) 20 314 85478 E-mail: helene.navarretimeinc.com

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Classic Images Unforgettable moments from previous tournaments that captivated the watching world

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1958 Brazil celebrate becoming the first country to win a World Cup outside their own continent after beating Sweden 5-2 in Stockholm.

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Classic Images

1966 Bobby Charlton parades the World Cup around Wembley Stadium after England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany.

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Classic Images

1986 Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal helps Argentina to beat England 2-1 in the quarter-finals in Mexico.

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Classic Images

1994 Roberto Baggio’s miss in the penalty shoot-out hands Brazil a 3-2 victory in the Final at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl in the USA.

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Classic Images

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2006 France’s Zinedine Zidane is sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest as Italy go on to win the Final on penalties in Germany.

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Classic Images

2014 Andre Schurrle (left) celebrates scoring Germany’s sixth goal in their 7-1 semi-final thrashing of hosts Brazil.

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Mexico away

South Korea

Croatia

Colombia

Russia Japan

S T I K W E N N THE O

.. . N I T S THIS JU

our sel Here’s

England

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Belgium away

ection


Argentina

Portugal

Sweden away

Spain

Saudi Arabia

K C O L B of

p o r l d Cu W t s e the b

Brazil

strips

Germany

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STAR INTERVIEW: LIONEL MESSI

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OUT OF THIS WORLD The planet’s best player opens up about his life off the pitch Is it easy being Lionel Messi? “I’m a normal person who tries to have a family life. Yes, it’s true that I’d like to go unnoticed and have a normal life without everyone watching me from time to time.”

Struggle: Qualification for Russia was tough

How has the birth of your children changed your family life? “It’s a very big change in every respect. You start to see different things, and in a different way. The truth is that being a father is the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me in all my life. In the morning I take Thiago and Mateo to school and when I come back from training I practically leave straight away to pick up Thiago.”

Do you follow any competitions or leagues in particular? “I watch everything in general. Obviously the leagues in Spain, England and Argentina, although my schedule has an impact on that. I follow a little bit of everything.”

Do the kids ask you to play football with them at home? “Thiago is already going to training, but they don’t often ask me to play.” When you get home, do you talk football with wife Antonella and the children, or are you able to leave that at the door and disconnect completely? “We talk very little about football at home. Something very big has to happen at the club or in the national team for it to be a subject at home.” What do your children ask you? Do they understand who Lionel Messi is? “Mateo finds it strange when someone comes and asks for a photo or an autograph. He doesn’t understand. Thiago is starting to understand; more or less but not quite. He likes to go to the stadium and watch games, but he doesn’t fully understand. Sometimes at home he sees me and calls me ‘Messi’ like the fans do. He doesn’t quite understand.” What will you do in the future? Will you be a coach or do you see yourself living

Normal: Football matters are rarely discussed at home

Defeat: after losing to Germany in 2014

quietly and playing golf? “I don’t know what I’ll do. We’ve spoken several times as a family about how I’ll occupy my time once my football career is over, but it’s not something that is settled. I always said that I don’t see myself as a coach, I don’t have a feeling for it. In a few years that may change, but I still have several years left and then we’ll see. When the end is near, something will be done.” A colleague of yours once revealed that you’re naturally quite hefty. Do you have to focus more on physical workouts or on your diet? “It’s nothing special. I have taken care of my diet for years. After training I strengthen my legs but I’m not really one for the gym.” Is taking an afternoon siesta still important in your routine? “No, not anymore. The truth is that I miss it. When I’m with the national team, that’s the only chance I have to take to nap. Now I don’t have time because of the kids.” Do you get to watch many matches? “Yes, I like to. I still follow football a lot.”

How do you explain the difficulties Argentina had in qualifying for the World Cup, and what do you have to do to ensure you will be competitive enough to try to win the tournament? “It was a tough period for us. We went through three coaches and it’s not easy to adapt to each of them as they all have their own footballing philosophy and ideas. Recently it’s been Jorge Sampaoli and we only played four qualifiers under him, plus some friendlies, so we will continue with that growth process. Beyond that, the qualifiers were very tough in themselves. Every day, football becomes more even and it’s difficult to qualify.” In 2014, you lost the Final to Germany. Will Germany be the favourites again in 2018 or do you see other countries mounting a challenge? “Germany will be one of the favourites, as they always are. There are other teams that are also great candidates: Brazil, Spain, France. They are stronger now and reach the World Cup in good form.” You played against Holland in the semi-finals in Brazil. Were you surprised that the Dutch side aren’t at the finals this year? “It’s a bit like what I said before with the difficulties every team faces in qualifying, either in South America or Europe. Today, football is very close and any small nation that is well organised can make life complicated. The Netherlands are missing out, as are Italy – teams that have participated in World Cups for decades and nobody expected to fail to qualify.” WORLD CUP 2018 21


STAR PROFILE: HARRY KANE

Clinical: Scoring at Wembley against Slovenia

HOME IMPROVEMENT Throughout his career the striker has worked hard, on and off the pitch, to improve his game Harry Kane is living proof that hard work pays off. Injury permitting, he will be England’s main hope for goals in Russia this summer in what will be the next stage in a flourishing career that has seen the 24-year-old striker defy his critics in spectacular style. As a skinny teenager in Tottenham Hotspur’s youth ranks, many at the club doubted he could make it as a professional. But after knuckling down and learning his craft on loan at lower-league clubs Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City, Kane returned to Spurs and edged aside established centre-forwards Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. Harry Redknapp was Spurs’ manager when Kane was first sent out on loan rather than be given a chance in the first team. “We had him as a youngster and let him go out on loan a few times because we thought that was what 22 WORLD CUP 2018

he needed,” recalls Redknapp. “He has turned out really well. He’s not a ‘big-time Charlie’, he wants to works at his game, wants to practise and wants to be a proper player.” Kane broke into the Tottenham first team

Power: Getting England’s fourth goal against Malta

during the 2014-15 campaign, scoring 21 Premier League goals, only to be dismissed as a one-season wonder. Yet he has shown persistence and strength of character to become the competition’s outstanding striker for the past three seasons. According to Tim Sherwood, the manager who gave him his Premier League debut: “Harry has a strong mentality and I’ll take that attitude over ability all day. He has had to be strong and had to fight. The fans haven’t always sung his name. He had to earn that.” In the calendar year of 2017, Kane scored 56 goals – more than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – which sparked genuine debate about his “world class” status and prompted talk of a world-record transfer to Real Madrid in the future. Kane’s progress to the pinnacle of the world game does not surprise former Tottenham striker Les Ferdinand. Having observed Kane


Determination: Kane has proved all the doubters wrong

from close quarters as a youth coach at Spurs, Ferdinand says: “He can go right to the top. I would compare his football intelligence with Teddy Sheringham and his finishing with Alan Shearer. Like Alan, Harry has real power in his shooting and heading.” Ferdinand, who has watched Kane develop into a physically imposing centre-forward, adds: “I worked with Harry when he was a young lad and I could see straightaway that he was a goalscorer – left foot, right foot, head – he could finish anyway you wanted. “The only thing that I thought might hold him back was his lack of pace at the time. We used to make comparisons with Teddy, who never had great pace but was a terrific finisher and had real football intelligence, which allowed him to play as a number 10 or a number nine. “It is the same with Harry. I call him a nineand-a-half because he can play up front or he can drop off, play deeper and make things happen. When I worked with him on the training ground, I would use Teddy as an example of how he could operate. I’d say: ‘It’s not just about scoring, but creating goals too.’ “He was a very good learner, always willing to listen and do what he needed to do to improve. He believed in the ability he had and will work on the areas that need to be worked

on. He has certainly done that with his speed, and has worked to find that extra yard of pace that he has now. Nobody could say he lacks pace now.” Kane has benefited from extra fitness work, both on the training ground with the rest of the squad doing double training sessions and alone in the gym, beefing up his physique. “I’ve done a lot of gym work, especially in pre-season, and I think I’ve just developed as I’ve got older as well,” he said last year. “My muscles have got bigger and I’ve grown a bit as well. I’ve definitely got

Auld enemy: on target at Hampden against Scotland

fitter and stronger in the last year or so and it’s helped my game.” Kane suffered an ankle injury in March that sidelined him for England’s friendly matches against Holland and Italy, but the physios are confident that he will make a full recovery in time to captain England at the World Cup. That injury has put paid to any thoughts he may have had of becoming the first player since Ronaldo in 2008 to score 40 goals or more in an English top-flight season. However, even greater success may lie just around the corner. WORLD CUP 2018 23


GREAT ENGLAND WORLD CUP GOALS Russia 2018 will be England’s 15th appearance at a World Cup finals. Here are 10 of their best goals from previous adventures...

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BOBBY CHARLTON July 26, 1966 London, England Semi-final v Portugal

Already leading through Charlton’s first-half goal, George Cohen picked out the run of Geoff Hurst, who held off a Portuguese

1

defender before laying the ball into the path of the on-running Charlton. His sweetly struck shot from the edge of the penalty area flew home to put the home side two ahead with 10 minutes remaining. Eusebio later reduced the arrears from the penalty spot, but England held on to book their place in the Final.

BOBBY CHARLTON July 16, 1966 London, England Group A v Mexico

Having drawn 0-0 with Uruguay in the opening game of the tournament, nerves were beginning to show in the hosts’ second outing, against Mexico, until Charlton picked up the ball on the halfway line. Running beyond opposition midfielders and swerving away from retreating defenders, he unleashed a shot that gave keeper Ignacio Calderon no chance and put England on their way to a 2-0 win.

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GEOFF HURST July 30, 1966 London, England Final v West Germany

With England leading 3-2 and only seconds left on the clock, captain Bobby Moore, deep inside his own half, played a 60-yard pass to the feet of the unmarked Hurst. West Germany had just one defender back as Hurst ploughed forward, with Wolfgang Overath giving chase to no avail. As some England fans ran onto the pitch, Hurst let fly, thumping the ball into the top corner with his left foot, and the World Cup belonged to England. This passage of play will always be remembered for Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous television commentary: “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over...it is now.” 24 WORLD CUP 2018


GREAT ENGLAND WORLD CUP GOALS

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BRYAN ROBSON June 16, 1982 Bilbao, Spain Group D v France

England kicked off their opening match of the tournament and immediately sent the ball out to Steve Coppell on the right wing. France left-back Maxime Bossis gave away a throw-in, which Coppell launched into the French penalty area. Terry Butcher flicked it on with his head and Robson, who was unmarked in front of goal, put the ball in the back of the net with just 27 seconds played. England went on to win 3-1.

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GARY LINEKER June 11, 1986 Monterrey, Mexico Group F v Poland

With Lineker and Peter Beardsley playing together for the first time in the tournament, England needed to win to avoid an early

tournament exit – and within 15 minutes the pair had combined to give England a 2-0 lead. The second goal came when Beardsley flicked on Kenny Sansom’s pass to Steve Hodge, who crossed for Lineker to finish from the edge of the six-yard area. Lineker went on to complete his hat-trick as England won 3-0 and progressed to the knockout stage.

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DAVID PLATT June 26, 1990 Bologna, Italy Second round v Belgium

England rode their luck against a Belgium side inspired by Enzo Scifo, but substitute Platt settled matters in the last minute of

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extra-time. With a penalty shoot-out looming, England were awarded a free-kick 50 yards from goal. Paul Gascoigne floated the ball over the Belgian defence and Platt, peeling away from his marker, let it drop over his shoulder before volleying into the far corner to secure England a 1-0 victory and a quarter-final spot against Cameroon.

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DAVID BECKHAM June 26, 1998 Lens, France Group G v Colombia

Whoever lost in the Stade Felix-Bollaert would be going home – and England were in the driving seat after Darren Anderton’s early goal. Then, approaching the half-hour mark, they were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from goal, and Beckham stepped up to curl a shot over the wall and beyond the despairing dive of goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, securing a 2-0 win for Glenn Hoddle’s team.


GREAT ENGLAND WORLD CUP GOALS

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MICHAEL OWEN June 30, 1998 Saint-Etienne, France Second round v Argentina

With the teams level at 1-1, after each had scored a penalty in the opening 10 minutes, Paul Ince won the ball just in front of England’s penalty area and fed David Beckham, who looked up and clipped a pass into the path of Owen, who was just inside the Argentinian half. Accelerating in breathtaking fashion, he held off Jose Chamot before body-swerving past Roberto Ayala and hitting an unstoppable shot across the goalkeeper, Carlos Roa. Argentina, however, would later equalise before going on to win on penalties.

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STEVEN GERRARD June 15, 2006 Nuremberg, Germany Group B v Trinidad & Tobago

England made hard work of beating World Cup debutants Trinidad & Tobago in their second group match. An 83rd-minute goal

from Peter Crouch eventually broke the deadlock before, in the final minute, Gerrard received a short pass from David Beckham just inside the right touchline. He proceeded to wrong-foot Aurtis Whitley before making space to hit a powerful left-foot shot into the far top corner that gave goalkeeper Shaka Hislop no chance.

JOE COLE June 20, 2006 Cologne, Germany Group B v Sweden

Having already qualified for the knockout stage, this 2-2 draw guaranteed England would avoid hosts Germany in the next stage. The opening goal came when Sweden could only clear Peter Crouch’s header as far as Cole, who controlled the bouncing ball on his chest and hit a firsttime dipping volley from 30 yards.

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STAR PROFILE: NEYMAR

SIX APPEAL The world’s most expensive player is hoping to lead Brazil to a record sixth World Cup A World Cup without Brazil’s biggest star, Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior, is unthinkable. However, the world’s most expensive footballer faces a race against time to be fit in for Brazil’s first game, against Switzerland in Rostov on June 17, after he injured his foot playing for Paris Saint-Germain against Marseille in February. Without Neymar, PSG crashed out of the Champions League to Real Madrid, outplayed by Cristiano Ronaldo and co. Without Neymar, Brazil are also a different team. Four years ago the Selecao were humiliated in the World Cup semi-final in front of a home crowd in Belo Horizonte, thrashed 7-1 by eventual champions Germany. Neymar, of course, did not play in that fateful game as he had been injured in the quarter-final against Colombia. After being kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga he left the pitch on a stretcher having broken a bone in his spine. Since then, Neymar has experienced extreme highs and lows with the national side. He was sent off as Brazil crashed out of the 2015 Copa America, but a year later he led his country to Olympic glory in Rio, scoring the winning penalty in the Final shoot-out against Germany as Brazil won their first Olympic title. “The Olympic gold in Rio was the most important win in my career,“ he said. Brazil coach Tite is in no doubt about Neymar’s importance to the national Painful: Neymar is stretchered off in the 2014 semi-finals

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side. “Neymar is irreplaceable,” he says. “He is a different player. He is one of the top three in the world. But a strong team should not depend on specific names.” Neymar’s talent is undeniable. World Soccer picked him out in 2009 as the revelation of the Brazilian championship when he was just 17, and over the last nine years he has conjured up some breathtaking moments. In 2011 he carried Santos to their first Libertadores Cup triumph since the heyday of Pele in 1963. At Barcelona he enjoyed Champions League success in 2015, scoring in the Final against Juventus in Berlin. Last summer he became the most expensive football player of all time when PSG paid €222million to sign him from Barcelona. Although he has the capacity to improvise at pace and glide past his marker on either side, Neymar is more than just a dribbler – he can pass as well. His right-footed crosses, curled in from the left towards the far post, set up reams of chances. And, crucially, he is a natural finisher, remaining calm, precise and direct in front of goal. Seven years ago, when the teenage Neymar was the star of the Santos side and he had been voted the South American player of the year, his coach Muricy Ramalho was insistent in claiming that Neymar was “the best player I have ever worked with”. Ramalho added: “He has an incredible

Big money: With PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi

capacity for improvisation. He makes defenders suffer because they don’t know which side he’s going to dribble. He has everything to tip the balance in Brazil’s favour.” Neymar’s reputation in Brazil has been boosted by an economic boom that has bankrolled a multitude of commercial sponsorship tie-ups, with companies queuing up to be associated with him. “He has a rebellious profile, relevant to attracting adolescents,” said former Barcelona marketing director Esteve Calzada. “He is natural and down to earth, giving him a sympathetic air. “Quite simply, he has it all.” But his advertising commitments and appearances on the celebrity circuit lay him open to accusations of becoming a tropical David Beckham – someone who is more famous for his iconic status than his football. “There is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but he seems more concerned with changing his hairstyle,” said Pele. At PSG there has been reported friction with Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, while team-mate Adrien Rabiot complained that Neymar and PSG’s other big-money signing, Kylian Mbappe, have received “privileges” with the squad. Assuming he regains his fitness, Neymar has a chance to put all the off-field fuss behind him and confirm his status as one of the all-time greats by leading the Selecao to a record sixth World Cup. The whole of Brazil will be willing him on.


STAR INTERVIEW: CRISTIANO RONALDO

WINNER TAKES ALL Portugal’s captain needs the World Cup to complete his haul of trophies You won all the individual awards last year: World Soccer’s World Player, the Ballon d’Or, UEFA’s Best Player. Is it unfair that your team-mates don’t get the credit? Or do you think: “I’m the striker, I score the goals that win the games, that win the trophies, and I deserve the awards...” Well, I don’t know if the word “unfair” is the proper word. When you go to the stadium, what do you want to see? We want to see goals… Right, you like to see goals. It’s always a challenge for us. We have to score goals. We have the skills, we make assists, we have to make entertainment for the fans. This is what we try to do. Maybe, sometimes, defenders can win the awards, but when the strikers score the goals, when they make people happy, they win important trophies. I have to defend my position, so please keep voting for me! You won your first personal award back in 2008. How has the game changed since then? It’s kind of the same. The speed is kind of the same, in my opinion. Not a lot has changed in the game, but outside the game a lot has changed – it’s crazy...the money, everything. You know, I’m happy that I can still keep winning. It means I’m young enough and hungry enough to carry on winning trophies. The only trophy that you have not yet won is the World Cup. Is that now the most important trophy for you to win? Two years ago we talked about the Portuguese national team – that after Germany and Spain, we had a chance of winning the Euros. And then we won the Euros. Now we’re talking about the World Cup – but we have to keep our feet on the ground and be humble about the World Cup. Take it step by step, that’s what I always say. Since I made my debut for the national team my dream was always to win something with the national team and I did that. I’m so proud that we won a trophy for the first time in Portugal’s history. I always say: “Feet on the ground but the dream continues.” And can Portugal win in Russia? Of course it’s possible – everything in football is possible. It will be tough, we have pressure now for the World Cup. I’m comfortable with my 30 WORLD CUP 2018

Proud: Lifting Portugal’s firstever trophy

Ambitious: At 33, he still wants to win more trophies

team-mates, our country support us, they are smart enough to know what Portugal can do. If you ask me if it’s possible, of course it’s possible. How did winning the 2016 European Championship with Portugal compare to winning with a club team? It was the first time; it’s always special when you win something for the first time. I’ve won the Champions League four times but my dream was always to win something for Portugal, with the national team, and that’s what we did. We won for the first time and the feeling is completely different. I was very emotional. I was thinking about my teammates, my family – my whole family because we were all born in Portugal. So the feeling was a little bit crazy. I cried a lot. Sad moments, emotional moments, happy moments – it all happened in the same day. So it was an unbelievable achievement, it was a special day. During the Euro Final against France you were injured but you seemed like an assistant coach to Fernando Santos on the touchline… Don’t joke, that’s my future [laughs].

Seriously, though, have you thought about becoming a coach some day? It’s not something that I think a lot about. If you ask me right now, I don’t what to be a football coach. After a few years, people might say you have the profile to be a coach, but I don’t want to, it’s too complicated. Right now I just want to focus on football. This is my passion, this is what I love to do. But in the future, nobody knows. Maybe in five, six, 10 years, I will change my mind and I will be an amazing coach! Let’s see.


Along with Lionel Messi, you have been at the top of the world game for the past decade. Which players from the next generation can be as successful? A very, very good question. In my opinion you have a few who have the potential. For the last 10 years it has been me and Messi, Messi and me. For the next generation, I see potential with a player from Real Madrid, Asensio. Then there’s Neymar, Mbappe. The player who was with Borussia [now Barcelona] Dembele. And Hazard and Rashford. I can say there’s 10, maybe 15 players, with huge potential to become the best in Europe. How do you keep motivating yourself? For me, every season is a challenge. Many people ask me how I’m going to motivate myself to win more things because you’ve won everything. But football is my passion and I’m still able to make the fans happy. People love to see me, so I try to do my best. I try to score goals, to help my team win trophies, individually and collectively. Every year is a challenge. This year will be the same as the last 10 years. To score goals at a high level, maintain my performance, that’s what I try to do. Help: On the touchline with Fernando Santos

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WORLD CUP HEROES The game’s biggest names talk about their greatest World Cup achievements

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PELE “WE WERE JUST TOO GOOD” Edison Arantes do Nascimento – or Pele – played in four World Cups, winning the famous trophy three times. Blessed with a game devoid of any weaknesses, he is widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time. Central to this legendary status is the 1970 World Cup, the first to be broadcast in colour. Pele and his Brazilian team-mates produced near-perfect performances, littered with moments of individual genius, allied to an team ethic that swept all before them. The Final against Italy saw a thrilling encounter – and Pele was at the heart of it. He opened the scoring with a header, assisted for the third and, in a move that included eight outfield players, provided the ball for Carlos Alberto to secure a 4-1 victory. The Jules Rimet Trophy was now Brazil’s to keep and Pele – in his final World Cup – saw his legend guaranteed. Italy defender Tarcisio Burgnich, who had tried to mark him during the Final, said: “I told myself before the game: ‘He’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else.’ But I was wrong.” IN PELE’S OWN WORDS “I was injured in 1966 and I thought I would not play in the World Cup again. But later on I started thinking I would have the chance to show to myself, to Brazil, and to the world one more time – this will be the moment, my opportunity to be the best in the game. So,

I started to prepare myself psychologically and physically. I think this was the principle reason why I became the one I was in 1970.”

Header Opening the scoring in the Final

ON HIS SHOT FROM THE HALF-WAY LINE AGAINST CZECHOSLOVAKIA “It was a long-range effort – a little piece of audacity which would have been all the more beautiful if the damn ball had gone in! I had noticed earlier that the Czech goalkeeper tended to drift off his line so I took my shot from 65 yards out. Journalists after the match asked me if I made this effort just to prove I wasn’t short-sighted. It was nothing to do with that! Even though it didn’t go in, it galvanized the team and from then on it was all Brazil.”

ON THE FINAL AGAINST ITALY “The side that would go on to be called the ‘beautiful team’, the best that ever played the game, was through to the World Cup Final to play Italy. The implacable force would meet the immovable object. “We were favourites, but 100,000 people in the Azteca Stadium and a TV audience of one billion were fascinated to see how it would turn out. Italy sat back and tried to soak up the pressure but we created too much. Too many of us were on form that day, me included – it was one of my best games in a Brazil shirt. We deserved the win and our last goal, with so many players involved, showed perfectly what we were about.”

ON BRAZIL’S MATCH AGAINST ENGLAND “They had a very good team and, in Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks,

Intense: Lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy

Legend In London in 2016 32 WORLD CUP 2018

three players who would have walked into pretty much any Brazil side. We respected the English greatly but I did not fear them. “We knew their defence would take some breaching and so it proved, especially with Banks’ save. It was phenomenal, the save of this and any other tournament. Eventually we got to 1-0 through a lovely team goal.”

ON WINNING THE WORLD CUP “At the final whistle there was pandemonium. People ran on to the pitch and in seconds our shirts and even our shorts had been whisked off by souvenir hunters. I was hoisted aloft on a sea of fans and it was several minutes before I was able to get to the dressing room to collect myself. “I managed a quiet moment in the shower to give thanks to God and to my family for what I had achieved. We then went back on to the pitch to collect the Jules Rimet Trophy. “The intensity of the emotion as Carlos Alberto lifted it was like nothing I had ever known. I just knew what it would mean to the people back home.”


Brazil 1970: Simply the best

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WORLD CUP HEROES

it had crossed the line and consulted linesman Tofik Bakhramov of the Soviet Union before awarding the goal. Finally, with the last kick of the game, Hurst broke forward, latching onto Bobby Moore’s long pass. As spectators streamed on to the pitch thinking the final whistle had sounded, Hurst unleashed an unstoppable drive to achieve an incredible hat-trick and seal the World Cup for England.

19 6 6 H E R O

GEOFF HURST “IT LOOKS LIKE THE BALL DIDN’T CROSS THE LINE” For the Final there were 93,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and an estimated 400million people tuned in on TV. England 4 West Germany 2 provided goals galore, a long with drama, controversy and a singular World Cup hero – Geoff Hurst, an unassuming player who had scored just once for his country before the finals and only made the starting XI due to a quirk of fate. Star striker Jimmy Greaves was injured in the third group game, against France, and Hurst took his place, scoring the winner against Argentina in the quarter-finals. Despite Greaves’ return to fitness, Hurst would keep his place right up to the Final 34 WORLD CUP 2018

and become a national icon in the process. The Germans took the lead through Helmut Haller after 16 minutes, but England struck back with a header from Hurst. Martin Peters gave England the lead in the second half, but an 89th-minute Wolfgang Weber equaliser saw the match go into extra-time. In the first period Hurst grabbed his second goal. His turn and shot saw the ball bounce down off the underside of the crossbar, land on or over the line and cleared away for a corner. Swiss ref Gottfried Dienst was uncertain if

Heroes Hurst (left) lifts his captain, Bobby Moore

IN HURST’S OWN WORDS “Alf Ramsey [the manager] had assembled a great bunch of players in terms of ability but he also brought together lots of hard-nosed professionals. In all honesty we never really felt that we were going to be beaten. “It showed itself at the end of normal time, when the Germans equalised, because a lot of normal teams would have buckled under the pressure. We didn’t. Alf’s great words were: ‘You’ve beaten them already, just go out and beat them again.’ And that’s what we did. We were much the stronger team in extra-time. “Everyone talks about my second goal. We understood the frustration felt by the Germans. They believed they had been robbed of the most prestigious prize in world football. Perhaps they were.


Penalty: brought down by Uli Hoeness in the Final

19 74 H E R O

JOHAN CRUYFF “WE WERE MORE FAMOUS FOR LOSING”

Controversial: Hurst (on ground) watches his shot hit the bar Reunited With the ball from the Final

“Having listened to all the arguments over the decades and watched the replay hundreds of times on TV, I have to admit that it looks as though the ball didn’t cross the line. “My abiding memory at the final whistle was a sense of relief. Being in the squad was a relief, being in the team was a relief, and then having scored the goals in the Final and to hear the whistle was an amazing sense of relief. “It was all a bit of a blur afterwards. But on the Monday afterwards I was back home cutting the lawn and cleaning the car. It was back to earth with a bump!”

One instance of brilliance by Dutch star Johan Cruyff in Germany at the 1974 World Cup made everyone lucky enough to witness it truly believe that the future was indeed orange. Holland’s group game against Sweden will be forever remembered for Cruyff’s turn. Faking to cross with his right foot, Cruyff instead dragged the ball behind, turned 180 degrees and accelerated away from the utterly confounded full-back, Jan Olsson. The “Cruyff turn” had reached a worldwide audience; moreover, Holland’s much-vaunted “Total Football” was indeed the real deal. It was a fluid style of play that captivated the tournament and Cruyff was the catalyst for much of the team’s scintillating football. All 15 of their goals in the tournament either started or ended with the captain. Ultimately, Holland would lose 2-1 to Germany in the Final – a result that would earn them the title of the “best team never to have won the World Cup”. As for Cruyff, he was named the tournament’s best player.

Brilliant The Dutch legend passed away in 2016, aged 68

Leader All 15 Holland goals in 1974 either started or ended with their skipper

CRUYFF, SPEAKING IN 2010 “I am surprised that team is still regarded so highly. The World Cup in 1974 made Dutch football famous – and we lost! So losing the Final, is it so bad? We were more famous than ever for losing because everyone said we should have won. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s how you play. If you win 10 games and lose the 11th, so what? It doesn’t bother me that I never became world champion. We made a great achievement. “‘Total Football’ is to do with your way of thinking, character – everything is involved. The difference of what you do with your feet is to do with your head. The Dutch team at that time was made up mostly from Ajax players. We could change position easily, and that’s “Total Football”...the first defender was the centre-forward, which was me. “We had a change of mentality on the field, where we thought we could achieve anything. Football is about having the best offensive play possible. I always like to play offensive football and nobody will convince me otherwise. “I always greatly admired [coach] Rinus Michels’ leadership. He was always very clear in what he wanted, what he expected from you, and sometimes in order to achieve that he overdid it a bit. Then when things started working, he would ease up and give you more freedom. “As a player and as a coach there is nobody who taught me as much as him. He put the Netherlands on the map in such a way that almost everybody still benefits from it. With him, as well as with me, results may have come first, but quality of soccer was number one. Just winning is not enough.” WORLD CUP 2018 35


WORLD CUP HEROES

19 8 6 H E R O

DIEGO MARADONA “THE REFEREE TOOK THE BAIT” The quarter-final between Argentina and England in Mexico already had an added edge, coming just four years after the Falklands conflict. But the events at the Estadio Azteca would elevate this match to one of the most controversial seen at an international tournament. Argentina won 2-1 courtesy of two goals from Diego Maradona: the first a notorious hand ball, the second a glorious effort that would later be voted FIFA’s Goal of the Century. Argentina would go on to win the World Cup, while England could only rue both the deception and genius of the little South American. Afterwards he described his infamous first goal as “a bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God”. IN MARADONA’S OWN WORDS “It seems to me that everyone was talking about the Falklands but we just wanted to play a football game. You’re not going to resolve anything by thinking about anything other than winning – winning that game against England. “Yes, it was my hand. This I have to admit. With this I don’t mean any disrespect for English fans. It was just the way things happened. I had scored many goals before in Argentina this way. I couldn’t reach the ball, Shilton was already there but I couldn’t get my head on it, so I went with my hand. “The ball went in the net and as I was running away I could see that Shilton hadn’t realised what I’d done. It was the defender Terry Butcher who told him – and then the complaints began. “When I saw the linesman running [back to the half-way line] I started shouting ‘goal, goal’. I looked to see if the referee took the Hand ball: Keeper Peter Shilton is beaten

Glorious Scoring the second Argentina goal

Owning up In 2017

bait – and he had! That was it. “I was waiting for my team-mates to embrace me and no one came. I told them, ‘come on, come on, hug me, let’s do it properly, let’s go the whole way so the goal is allowed’. Thank God it was. “I don’t think it’s cheating, it’s cunning. Is it cheating to handle the ball? Oh no, no, no. It’s not cheating. It’s a craftiness. Maybe we have a lot more of it in South America than in Europe, but it’s not cheating. “I said it was the hand of God because God gives us the hand. And because it’s very difficult for it not to be seen by two people, the referee and the linesman. “The second goal was a dream. Footballers always dream of scoring the best goal in history, we dream it and we have it in our heads. To score that goal, for me, was fantastic, and in the World Cup, incredible. “It was an amazing game and one people always talk to me about. I suppose if I could apologise and go back and change history I would. But the goal is still a goal, Argentina became world champions and I was the best player in the world. This is the reality.”

2002 HERO

RONALDO “THE BEST TEAM I EVER PLAYED IN” Brazil went to the 1998 World Cup as keen favourites, but lost in the Final to hosts France after star striker Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit the night before the game and played well below par. Four years later, he was back. In Japan and South Korea, he was not only motivated by the disappointment of France but also keen to re-establish himself as the foremost goal-getter on the planet. The previous three years had been

36 WORLD CUP 2018


spent recovering from a serious knee injury, which not only resulted in three operations and painful rehabilitation but also led many to question whether he could recover the form that had made him a double World Player of the Year. They needn’t have worried. Ronaldo scored six goals on the way to the Final, registering against every opponent in the tournament, bar a nail-biting quarter-final against England. The Final against Germany at the International Stadium in Yokohama provided the perfect redemption. Two unanswered Ronaldo goals cemented Brazil’s fifth World Cup win, making them the most successful team in the competition’s history. On a personal note, Ronaldo’s brace gave him the Golden Boot and tied Pele’s Brazilian record of 12 career World Cup goals – a record he would break four years later. IN RONALDO’S OWN WORDS “I had endured a lot of difficulties with my knee injury and several operations. I remembered lying on my hospital bed,

Opener Scoring against Germany (above) and celebrating (inset)

In Zurich At the FIFA awards last year

when blood was pouring from my knee, and tried to take strength from that. “My family, physiotherapists and doctors all encouraged me to persevere – and it was worth it. The birth of my son, Ronald, also gave me extra strength to endure the endless torture. “I have very strong willpower. And my passion for football is insatiable. No effort is too great for me for this sport. I can suffer anything as long as I can play football again. I not only play football, I breathe football. “The goal was always to return as good as I ever was; to be the best striker in the world. Also to banish the memories of the Final four years ago. “I thought about winning the World Cup every day during the weeks and months before the tournament. Every minute I used to visualise the trophy in front of my eyes and imagine what a wonderful feeling it must be to hold it up in the air. It was a fabulous

feeling actually to hold it in my hands and kiss it. “We had a great team, the best I ever played in. Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, me – it was a team where we could find a goal in every minute in every way, and win every game. That’s why we won all seven games and that’s why we were world champions. “People ask me about my favourite career goals but I can only pick two. My choice is simple: the two goals I scored during this Final. Not only because they were good but especially for the value they had. It’s not every day you win the World Cup.” WORLD CUP 2018 37


WORLD CUP HEROES

19 74 H E R O

inspirational Beckenbauer, the Germans fought back. They won a penalty of their own, which Paul Breitner slotted home, and two minutes before half-time Gerd Muller scored the decider. At the time, this gave West Germany the distinction of being the only national team to hold both the European and World Cup titles simultaneously. Meanwhile, Beckenbauer, a genuine leader of men, became the first captain to lift the brand new World Cup trophy.

Calm: keeping cool as Johann Cruyff protests

FRANZ BECKENBAUER “THE DUTCH JUST GOT NERVOUS” With a career of true greatness – this was a player so good that he re-invented a footballing position – the sight of Franz Beckenbauer lifting the 1974 World Cup in his home city of Munich seemed like a destiny fulfilled. Until “Der Kaiser”, sweepers were simply an added layer of defence, a tactic employed to ensure a clean sheet rather than as a counter-attacking option. Beckenbauer, however, was the puppet master, standing back and pulling the strings. The obstacle for the major prize in 1974 38 WORLD CUP 2018

were Holland and their own particular brand of “Total Football”. The meeting was billed as the organisational and anticipatory brilliance of Beckenbauer versus the instinctive and artistic genius of Dutch playmaker Johan Cruyff. In the Final, Holland attacked from kick-off and Cruyff was fouled in the penalty area without West Germany even touching the ball. Johan Neeskens scored the spot-kick. But, inspired by the constant probing of an

Coach He would win again in 1990

IN BECKENBAUER’S OWN WORDS “You are always under pressure in the finals, but if you are the host team you feel it twice as much because everyone expects you to win. Also, in 1974, sport had become an entirely different world after the attacks on the Munich Olympics in 1972. “From that time on the players were not as free as they had been before. That was definitely a stress factor. “Initially we were lax in our approach and the result was defeat to East Germany. That woke us up and we finally started to work together as a team. “There were also many arguments about


2 014 H E R O

MARIO GOTZE “SOMEHOW THE BALL WAS IN THE NET”

Der Kaizer: holding aloft the trophy

the East Germany match and, of course, about bonuses. There were a lot of unpleasant scenes which I hadn’t experienced in my two previous World Cups. “As regards the Final, after Muller made it 2-1, I was relatively certain we would protect our lead. “Perhaps it was a good thing Holland took the lead in the first minute, perhaps they weren’t as focused for the rest of the match as they had been before. That gave us a chance to come back into the match. “It was a great psychological advantage for us to take the lead. Then Johan Cruyff was shown a yellow card for dissent. Those were all signs that made me think the Dutch were getting nervous and that we’d survive the second half. “Paul Breitner reckons the Dutch became arrogant after scoring the first goal and fell victim to overconfidence. I’m not sure. After taking that early lead they may have thought things were going to plan and that it was their day. They weren’t as determined after that.”

Few people thought Mario Super sub: Gotze would end up being Low had the hero of Germany’s confidence in Gotze 2014 Final triumph over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. But the striker seized his moment after being handed the opportunity as a late sub by coach Joachim Low. Low explained: “I said to Gotze: ‘OK, show the world you are better than Messi and can decide the World Cup.’ “I told him that. I always had a good feeling about Gotze. Argentina were becoming more and more tired, but we had players who could make a difference. “Gotze is a miracle boy, a boy wonder. He can play any position up front. I know he’s always able to decide a match, and it was a great winner he scored. But in extra time we had the energy to move forward. We didn’t want to go to penalties. We wanted the game decided before then and we put them under more pressure.” Gotze had begun the tournament in Germany’s starting line-up. He started his team’s first four matches, but was replaced at half-time in the round of 16 match against Algeria. But he always remained a firm fixture in Low’s plans, able to slot into a variety of positions on the pitch. And when it mattered most in the Final it was not Miroslav Klose, the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer, or Winner History made Thomas Muller, who took his tournament in South America

goal tally to 10 after adding to the five he hit at South Africa 2010, but Gotze who struck the winner as Germany became the first European team to win a World Cup in South America. IN GOTZE’S OWN WORDS “It’s an unbelievable feeling. You score the goal and you don’t really know what’s happening. “It hadn’t been a simple tournament, or year, for me and I owe a lot to my family and my girlfriend who always believed in me. “But a dream became reality here.” “Andre [Schurrle] put in a superb ball and I was able to control it on my chest. Then somehow the ball was in the net.” “You don’t really think very much when you’re in a situation like that. Everything happened so quickly but it was great to see how much of a release it gave the team and how we still fought right until the very end. “We thoroughly deserved to win it because we’re a great side. It’s an indescribable moment. It’s difficult to put it into words. I can’t describe what it’s like. “I think we played well as a team throughout the whole tournament and every one of us deserves this. “It’s a great feeling for everyone in Germany and for us as a team.”

WORLD CUP 2018 39


STAR PROFILE: ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

GRIEZ IS THE WORD Is France’s leading player on the cusp of greatness? On Antoine Griezmann’s forearm there is a tattoo in Arabic. It is a quote from a famous French writer who shares his first name with the Atletico Madrid and France striker. Author of The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery effortlessly captures life’s awesome wonder, and it is because of him that Griezmann decided to ink himself with the line “Fais de ta vie un rêve, et fais de ton rêve une réalité”, which means “make your life a dream, and make your dream a reality”. If that has been Griezmann’s mantra, then so far so good. At 27, most of his dreams have already come true. A leading light in French national coach Didier Deschamps’ squad and a hero in his adopted homeland of Spain, his talent is no longer a secret. “He always knows how to hurt the opposition,” says Diego Simeone, his coach at Atletico – and the animated Argentinian is not kidding. In front of goal, Griezmann has the kind of ice in his veins that others can only dream of and he is a player who never needs asking twice to set the net bulging. Griezmann is no physical, bullying presence smashing his way onto the goalscoring leader board, though. He relies on pace, all-round athleticism and the audacity to try his luck from anywhere. “I try to play between the lines, to get on the front foot and attack defenders like Messi,” he

Defeat: France were runners-up at Euro 2016 40 WORLD CUP 2018

says. Two years ago at Euro 2016, Griezmann emerged as the host nation’s leading talent, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals as Les Blues were edged out in the Final by Portugal. But the defeat was not the first setback for Griezmann, coming as it did just weeks after Atletico lost the Champions League Final to city rivals Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo recalled how he bumped into Griezmann a few weeks after the Euro Final – and the Frenchman would not let the defeat lie. “The funny thing was, on vacation in Miami I came across Griezmann in a restaurant,” Ronaldo recalls. “He was with his fiancée. He came up to my table and said to me with a smile: ‘I hate you!’” Griezmann agreed a bumper contract with Atletico last summer with an initial buyout clause set at €200million for the duration of the summer 2017 transfer window. That deterred would-be buyers – including Real Madrid and Manchester United – but the figure has now dropped to €100m. The rumour in Spain is that Griezmann has all but signed for Barcelona for next season, with the player said to be determined that his future is resolved before he goes to Russia for the World Cup. The list of strikers sold for substantial sums by Atletico is a long and distinguished one. In recent seasons, the sales of

Decision: He wants his club future sorted before the World Cup starts

Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao, Mario Mandzukic and Diego Costa have all boosted club coffers. Further back, Hugo Sanchez, Christian Vieri and JimmyFloyd Hasselbaink moved on, leaving the club better off – financially, at least. So, in many ways, Griezmann’s departure is inevitable. And the player himself has done little to dampen the speculation, saying: “If I have to move, it’s not a problem. It can be England, because it’s the trend, Germany, China or USA. I’m ready to go. “I want to win titles. I’ve reached a point where playing nice football and scoring goals isn’t enough anymore. That’s it. “Winning titles is what I’m looking for this summer, when deciding my future.” Griezmann is no stranger to change and upheaval. It was at the age of 13 that his luck finally turned when he was spotted by Real Sociedad playing in a tournament in Paris. Although he was wearing the colours of Montpellier that day, the Basque club’s scouts were impressed enough by what they saw and offered the teenager a two-week trial, before deciding to take a chance on him and start him out on the road to a professional career. Sociedad hail from San Sebastian, a city of 186,000 inhabitants that hugs the French border up in the north east of Spain. Aware that Griezmann was still young, and that his home town of Macon was situated in the east of France, over 500 miles away, the club placed him in a French school just over the border in Bayonne to help him acclimatise to such a big change in life. But at the start of the 2007-08 season, and after two years of hard work from the youngster, Sociedad decided Griezmann was ready to make the step up to the cub’s reserve team. He went on to perform well enough over two campaigns in the Spanish third tier to be awarded his first professional contract at the age of 18.


MANAGER PROFILE: GARETH SOUTHGATE

ONE OF OUR OWN The England boss has defied the critics throughout his career as a player and a manager You write Gareth Southgate off at your peril. Throughout his career as a player – for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough – and a manager – for Middlesbrough and now England – Southgate’s strength of character has shone through as he has defied the critics who have dismissed his chances of success. As a trainee at Palace, in a team of strong personalities, Southgate quickly rose to be captain at the age of 22. At Euro 96 he stepped up to take the fateful penalty in the semi-finals against Germany while other, better-known players backed out. And when promoted from England under-21 boss to the top job, he was dismissed as a company “yes man” before demonstrating his own leadership skills. “Nothing’s ever been given to him,” says Alan Smith, his first manager at Palace. Smith met Southgate on that first day and has been a mentor and advisor for more than 30 years. “Whatever he’s got, he’s worked hard to get it, from his first game at Palace to England. People won’t believe it because of his middleclass background, but in football he had a really hard upbringing. “Palace in the late 1980s, we were pretty close to Wimbledon as being the bad guys.” Smith continues: “You don’t captain three top clubs, win that many caps and not have a lot about you. I’m really chuffed people are

Teamwork Ahead of a friendly in France

Success Captain of Division One winners Crystal Palace

France 1998 Taking on Tunisia 42 WORLD CUP 2018

seeing the bloke I always thought he was. I’m fed up with telling people he’s not as nice as they think!” Southgate learned the hard way at Palace where, as a skinny kid from Crawley in Sussex, he realised he needed to quickly toughen up or he would not make it. He recently told the Coaches’ Voice website: “As a young player, it wasn’t easy to break into that team. I spent three or four seasons in the reserves, playing more than 100 games, which I think was a record. “At that time, more senior players would get games in the reserves if they were out of the first team. “I remember playing against people like Ossie Ardiles and Charlie Nicholas. Those experiences taught me a lot because as a young player you don’t only learn from coaches – you also learn from the games you play in, and from playing against and alongside senior players who can talk you through things while you’re playing. “But even those experiences weren’t enough to prepare me for the moment I finally broke into Palace’s first team. That dressing room was a bearpit. “You had guys who’d come through our youth system, like John Salako and Chris Powell. Guys who’d come from non league, like Stan Collymore, Ian Wright and Steve Claridge. And guys like Geoff Thomas, Alan Pardew and Chris Coleman who had come from lower divisions. “So everybody was hungry. Everybody had fought to get here and everybody had real strength of character. It was a fight – one you had to survive before you were accepted into the group. Then you could go and play. “Back then I wasn’t particularly streetwise, so it was a good grounding for me. It built in me a toughness, adaptability and resilience


WORLD CUP 2018 43


MANAGER PROFILE: GARETH SOUTHGATE

that would be so important throughout my career.” Alan Smith first encountered Southgate as a 17-year-old trainee. He told him that he needed to toughen up, otherwise he was more likely to be an estate agent than make it as a professional footballer. Within five years, Smith had seen enough to make Southgate his skipper. “It was Alan Smith who first made me captain,” says Southgate. “I was 22 years old and we’d just been relegated from the Premier League back into Division One. “We didn’t start the season well. And when we lost one of the more senior players to a long-term injury Alan called me into his office. He said he was going to make me captain. I was thinking, I’ve got some 44 WORLD CUP 2018

Focused Words of advice for Dele Alli

30-year-olds in the dressing room. How am I going to manage that? And what was their view of it going to be? “I understood why Alan had chosen me. He’d been my youth and reserve-team coach and had made me captain both times. He knew he could trust me, that I respected him completely, would fight his corner and get his messages across. “I can’t say it was a comfortable experience, but when I think about it now…well, how do we grow as people? “You get put into positions where you are out of your comfort zone and you have to adapt. You have to adjust and give it your best. “I don’t think you’re born with the capacity to become a captain or leader. As a young

Mentor Guiding Marcus Rashford

player, you probably become captain of your school or Sunday team because you’re the best player. As you get a bit older, it’s because you’re the most sensible, so you’re less likely


Determined The manager has a tough streak

to do something ridiculous. “Then, slowly, you start to have some experiences of leading that give you something to draw on. “People recognise that, actually, you’re doing this quite well, so we’ll give you a bit more responsibility in another area. And all these experiences move you forward. “So I’m not sure what other qualities I had outside of being a good player and being sensible when I was younger. But bits were added on as I progressed through my career. I came through the highs and the lows, learned how to react to them in a way that made the most of my personal qualities. “These days I can look back on all these early experiences and know that they’re a real strength. That they enable me to give

some mentorship to the players, and help them on their journey.” As a young captain, Southgate also broke the mould by writing a column for his local newspaper, the Croydon Advertiser. But unlike other players who allow their words to be “ghosted” by another writer, Southgate insisted on visiting the newspaper offices and typing the words himself. That strength of character was also apparent at Euro 96, where Southgate was taking part in his first international tournament. The night before the semifinals against Germany, manager Terry Venables asked for volunteers to take penalties. Southgate put himself forward while others, such as Paul Ince, declined. That penalty miss would be the making of Southgate as a player. He became an established England international, winning 57 caps and playing at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. But when he left Aston Villa in 2001 he moved not, as expected, to a bigger club, but to Middlesbrough, where he won the club’s first major trophy, the 2004 League Cup. His first managerial job came at the tender age of 35, succeeding England-bound Steve McClaren at Boro. After initial success, leading Boro to 12th place in the Premier League in his first season, he was sacked in October 2009 after relegation. His subsequent career moves, as a TV pundit and as the Football Association’s head of elite development, confirmed that Southgate was cut from a different cloth to most former players. As England under-21 coach he made

Miss Euro ’96 penalty shoot-out

Similar path With Joachim Low

tough decisions, dropping the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Zaha in order to promote team spirit and successfully led the team to the 2015 European Championship in Poland. His experience there was not a successful one – England lost to Portugal and Italy and finished bottom of their group – but the tournament experience proved to be a valuable learning curve. The likes of Harry Kane, Jesse Lingard, John Stones and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were all members of that squad, and have followed their manager into the senior squad. As the current England boss, Southgate is a pioneer as the first manager to be promoted from within by the Football Association. He follows the likes of Germany’s Joachim Low, who was previously assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann, and Spain’s Julen Lopetegui, who was previously the Spanish under-21 coach. If England can come anywhere close to matching Germany and Spain in future tournaments, Southgate will once again have proved the doubters wrong. WORLD CUP 2018 45


WORLD CUP MASCOTS Zabivaka, meaning “the one who scores”, is the official mascot for this year’s finals

Russia 2018: Zabivaka

1974: West Germany Tap Tip and

46 WORLD CUP 2018

Italy 1990: Ciao

Brazil 2014: Fuleco


South Africa 2010: Zakumi

England 1966: World Cup Willie Germany 2006: Goleo and Pille

USA 1994: Striker

France 1998: Footix

Mexico 1986: Pique

Argentina 1978: Gauchito

WORLD CUP 2018 47


THE THRILLING FIELDS The 64 games of the 2018 World Cup will be played in some amazing stadiums across Russia Yekaterinburg

: Yekaterinbu

696) rg Arena (35,

Saransk: a Mordovia Aren (44,442) Moscow: ium Spartak Stad 0) (45,36


Saint Petersburg: Saint Petersburg Stadium (68,134)

n: Rostov-on-Do Rostov Arena (45,000) Kaliningrad: adium Kaliningrad St 212) (35,


THE WORLD CUP STADIUMS Samara: Samara Arena (44,918)

Kazan: Kazan Arena (45,379) Sochi: Fisht Stadium (47,659)


Volgogra d Volgogra : d (45,568 Arena )

Moscow: ium Luzhniki Stad 0) (81,00 od: Nizhny Novgor od Nizhny Novgor 9) Stadium (44,89


STAR PROFILE: TONI KROOS

KROOS CONTROL The Real Madrid midfielder is at the heart of Germany’s best moves He may not be the most flamboyant of individuals, nor is he a prolific marksman. But as a director of operations, Toni Kroos is indisputably pure gold. Only the very best can hope to sit in the midfield driving seat at Real Madrid and the unassuming German certainly fits the bill. Never ruffled, he is always in total technical control and remains as reliable as a Swiss watch in his precision passing, tempo-setting and set-piece delivery. A player to co-ordinate, compliment and simplify, he combines skill, poise and vision with a tremendous work ethic. A coach’s dream, it speaks volumes that no one in the game ever seems to have a bad word to say about him – especially those who have had the pleasure of deploying his talents. His first coach in Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, paid tribute to his authority and playmaking class by dubbing him “The Professor”, while Jupp Heynckes, who was his boss at both Bayer 52 WORLD CUP 2018

Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, unhesitatingly places him among the top three midfielders in the world. German Bundestrainer Joachim Low is also a fan and says: “His consistency at the top level is remarkable. Week after week, game after game, he performs to the highest standard in La Liga, the Champions League and for our national team. “You can always rely on him to intelligently link the play. He puts his stamp on the game: calmly, confidently and staying true to his unbelievable football and strategic qualities.” Current Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is also a huge fan. “Kroos likes to arrive late in the box

Unsure: As boss of Bayern, Jurgen Klinsmann (right) was not convinced about Kroos

and we spoke about it recently,” he says. “He has the capacity to run more both defensively and attacking. He has brilliant feet and can score from those kind of positions with his powerful shot” And Kroos is quick to give credit, admitting: “With Zidane I’m in a situation where I can raise again my level. I can play better. And that is largely to his credit. The coach knows I can play deep in midfield or in a box-to-box role and a little more advanced.” Kroos may have been a World Cup winner in 2014, as well as a Champions League victor with both Bayern and Real, but his career has not been all garlands and trophies. In his early days at Bayern


On target: Scoring against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup

– who he joined at the age of 16 – there were many at the club who thought he was not mentally strong enough to make the grade. One of those was then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann who, not convinced by Kroos, was happy to let the youngster go out on loan to Leverkusen in 2009. But after blossoming into a fine schemer in the Rhineland, he would become an automatic starter on returning to Bayern 18 months later. Yet, despite picking up plenty of honours at the Allianz Arena, there was perhaps a feeling at the back of Kroos’ mind that he would always be unappreciated by Bayern’s powersthat-be. Denied wage parity with the club’s big-hitters, he refused a new deal, and in the summer of 2014 he was sold to Real for a bargain €25million. Kroos agreed a new long-term contract at Madrid in 2016 but that has not stopped talk that he will be Manchester United’s prime transfer target this summer. With Michael Carrick set to retire, Jose Mourinho is keen to reinforce his midfield options and the addition of Kroos would also allow Paul Pogba to play further forward. It has long been a source of regret for Bayern that they allowed such an inspirational player to leave the club. Will Real Madrid regret the same decision?

Versatile: In the thick of things against France

WORLD CUP 2018 53


STAR PROFILE: ISCO

54 WORLD CUP 2018


THE ISCO KID The Real Madrid ace will Spain’s midfield maestro in Russia Spain will have a new midfielder leader in Russia this summer. After Xavi and Iniesta took the country to World Cup glory in 2010 in South Africa, there is now a new kid in town: Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, aka Isco. In the Real Madrid dressing room, Isco’s nickname is “Magia” (magic) – and you’ve got to be pretty good to earn that label in a dressing that includes talents such as Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Modric. But although Isco has become a key figure for his club over the past two seasons, there was a time when it was touch or go whether he would make it as a professional. When he was young he played for Atletico Benamiel on gravel pitches not far from Malaga, where a childhood pal insists: “He was always capable of doing magic: it didn’t matter if it was on the pitch or walking back home from school, there was always a ball at his feet. “Ever since we were kids, we used to say to ourselves, ‘if he doesn’t make it, we’ll never know anyone who does’. You could see he was special. “The funny thing was, at the time there were scouts constantly watching him, but no one used to call him, people used to say because

Talent: the critics are drooling

Local hero: playing against Costa Rica in Malaga

of the bandy legs, or he’s too slow.” Isco himself has admitted “I’ve got twisted feet”, while one of the scouts that first signed him describes him as “culón”. In other words, he has a big arse. Valencia were the first club to take a punt on Isco, but he didn’t really fit their aggressive approach and they feared the fantasy was offered up in lieu of fitness. But Malaga were an attractive option: not only were they his home-town team, they were building a side to challenge Madrid and Barcelona. He joined them at 19 and coach Manuel Pellegrini was so impressed that he later did all he could to take Isco to Manchester City with him. Although that Malaga side didn’t last long – the team was soon torn down, the assets stripped and sold off – they did reach the Champions League semi-final. Playing with freedom just behind a centre-forward, Isco was superb. Malaga played with possession and patience, accumulating men inside and then giving him the ball to feet. That summer there were options. Isco was a Barcelona fan as a kid and has a Labrador called “Messi”, but when Real Madrid came for him, his mind was made. When he was a kid, he took a ball everywhere with him and he claimed that his football came from the streets, not so different as a professional as it had been when he was little. “What I want is the ball,” he said. Which was sometimes a problem – coaches wanted him

to be more serious, more dedicated, more practical – and maybe still is at times. “He’s capable of doing things that very few people can do,” says Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane – and if anyone knows a thing or do about rare talent it is Zidane. Under the Frenchman at Madrid, Isco has thrived as a confident, more complete player. “He knows that he is an important player,” says Zidane. “He plays as if he was in the street and I like that because he doesn’t worry when things don’t come off. He is very comfortable on the pitch. I’m pleased that we’re seeing a better Isco every day.” His performances for the national team have confirmed that. “His effort is clearer each day,” says Spain coach Julen Lopetegui says. “He’s no longer that kid that stands watching during games. His body and mind have changed bit by bit.” After scoring the first hat-trick of his career, in a pre-World Cup warm-up against Argentina in March, Isco praise Lopetegui, saying: “Julen shows me confidence with minutes.” Against Italy in a crucial qualifying at Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium, he ran the game, scoring twice. Then, when facing Costa Rica in his home town of Malaga, the whole stadium was chanting “Isco! Isco! Isco!” As one paper put it: “When Isco starts to play, football enters into a dimension where most of us mere mortals start drooling.” He will be Spain’s leader in Russia.


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WORLD CUP 2018

THE TEAMS A RG E N T I N A

AU ST RA L I A

CO LO M B I A

CO STA R I CA

EGY P T

M O RO CCO

PO L A N D

SW I T Z E R L A N D

PERU

P106

RUSSIA

SAU D I A RA B I A

P114

P112

P118

SW E D E N

PA N A M A

P104

SERBIA

M E X I CO

P98

PO RT U GA L

S E N EGA L

P116

JA PA N

NIGERIA

P110

P108

GERMANY

P90

P96

P102

P100

F RA NC E

I RA N

P94

DENMARK

P82

P88

ICELAND

P92

C ROAT I A

E NG L A N D

P86

P84

B RA Z I L

P74

P80

P78

P76

B E LG I U M

P72

P70

P68

P66

P64

P62

P60

S O U T H KO R E A

S PA I N

P122

P120

TUNISIA

U R U GUAY


84

118

82

64 126

70


ARGENTINA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP D June 16 v Iceland (Moscow Spartak) June 21 v Croatia (Nizhny Novgorod) June 26 v Nigeria (Saint Petersburg)

THE BETTING 9/1 to win the World Cup 4/6 to win Group D

THE QUESTIONS Do they have the players to defend in the way that Jorge Sampaoli wants? There appears to be a lack of defensive pace to push up and play a high line. Without good attacking fullbacks, Sampaoli has been using wingers instead – but the problems with such a plan were clear in November’s 4-2 loss to Nigeria and the 6-1 humiliation to Spain in March. How can the team reduce their dependence on Lionel Messi? Argentina cannot simply just give the ball to their number 10 superstar and pray that he does something special. Sampaoli must build a side that gives Messi a structure to work in – and one that gives the coach options if their main man is injured or off form. Can Paulo Dybala play in the same side as Messi? Sampaoli quickly had to abandon his initial attacking trident because Messi and Dybala were unable to 60 WORLD CUP 2018

strike up any kind of relationship – in part, perhaps, for psychological reasons but mainly for technical ones as both seek to operate in the same space. It is important that the coach finds a solution. Who is the centre-forward? Sampaoli rejected Gonzalo Higuain and went with Mauro Icardi, who he then dropped him in favour of Dario Benedetto. He could opt for Lautaro Martinez, who has been a sensation for Racing in this year’s Libertadores Cup.

THE COACH ● Jorge SAMPAOLI The 58-year-old became Argentina’s third coach of the qualifying campaign – following on from Gerardo Martino and Edgardo Bauza – and took charge for the final four games. His intense, high press, attacking game was a great success with Chile, and briefly in Spain with Sevilla, but does he have the players to make it work with Argentina?

THE KEY PLAYERS Angel Di Maria was one of only two players – the other was keeper Sergio Romero – to start in all 18 qualifying games. Although not always convincing, Nicolas Otamendi will hope to take his improved form with Manchester City into the national team.

THE ONES TO WATCH Paulo Dybala has plenty of potential and has been in great form for Juventus in Serie A. Giovani Lo Celso has been the man Argentina turn to when Messi is not available.

STAR MAN ● Lionel MESSI In the eight games of the qualifying campaign that he missed, Argentina accumulated just seven points.

In the 10 in which he played, they managed 21. Seldom has a team been so dependent on one player as Argentina are on Lionel Messi.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

Runners-up First Round First Round (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

First Round (did not qualify) Quarter-finals (did not qualify) Second round

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

WINNERS Second round WINNERS Semi-finals Second round

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Quarter-finals First round Quarter-finals Quarter-finals Runners-up

THE SQUAD ● Tagliafico

● Di Maria

● Mascherano ● Banega

● Romero

● Otamendi ● Biglia ● Bustos

GOALKEEPERS

● Willy CABALLERO Chelsea (Eng) Age 36 (28.09.81) Apps in qualifying 0

● Aguero ● Messi

● Lo Celso

Age 32 (30.01.86) Apps in qualifying 13 Goals in qualifying 1

● Manuel LANZINI

Tigres (Mex) Age 32 (10.02.86) Apps in qualifying 0

West Ham United (Eng) Age 25 (15.03.93) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Sergio ROMERO

● Giovani LO CELSO

● Nahuel GUZMAN

Manchester United (Eng) Age 31 (22.02.87) Apps in qualifying 18 DEFENDERS

● Marcos ACUNA Sporting (Por) Age 26 (18.10.91) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 0

● Fabricio BUSTOS Independiente Age 21 (28.04.96) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Federico FAZIO Roma (Ita) Age 31 (07.03.87) Apps in qualifying 3 Goals in qualifying 0

● Marcos ROJO Manchester United (Eng) Age 28 (23.03.90) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 0

● Javier MASCHERANO Hebei China Fortune (Chn) Age 33 (08.06.84) Apps in qualifying 15 Goals in qualifying 0

● Gabriel MERCADO Sevilla (Spa) Age 31 (18.03.87) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 2

● Nicolas OTAMENDI Manchester City (Eng) Age 30 (12.02.88) Apps in qualifying 15 Goals in qualifying 1

● Nicolas TAGLIAFICO Ajax (Hol) Age 25 (31.08.92) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Ever BANEGA Sevilla (Spa) Age 29 (29.06.88) Apps in qualifying 12 Goals in qualifying 0

● Luca BIGLIA Milan (Ita)

Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 22 (09.04.96) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Leandro PAREDES Zenit (Rus) Age 23 (29.06.94) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0

● Diego PEROTTI Roma (Ita) Age 29 (26.07.88) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Eduardo SALVIO Benfica (Por) Age 27 (13.07.90) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0 FORWARDS

● Sergio AGUERO Manchester City (Eng) Age 29 (02.06.88) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 0

● Angel DI MARIA Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 30 (14.02.88) Apps in qualifying 18 Goals in qualifying 2

● Paulo DYBALA Juventus (Ita) Age 24 (15.11.93) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 0

● Gonzalo HIGUAIN Juventus (Ita) Age 30 (10.12.87) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 1

● Lionel MESSI Barcelona (Spa) Age 30 (24.06.87) Apps in qualifying 10 Goals in qualifying 7

PROFILE: SERGIO AGUERO In the South American qualifying campaign for Russia 2018, Sergio Aguero started only two of Argentina’s games alongside Lionel Messi – and Argentina won both. Finding a strike partner for Messi is the major headache facing Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli. On paper, his side has an abundance of attacking options and there are so many talented strikers that the likes of Carlos Tevez and Mauro Icardi are unlikely to make the plane to Russia. But forwards who have done well in the domestic league, such as Lautaro Martinez of Racing and Boca Juniors’ Dario Benedetto, have little experience on the major international stage. Gonzalo Higuain has starred for

Juventus this campaign but has often mis-fired when he has put on the national-team shirt. And his club partner Paulo Dybala is still considered something of a rough diamond. That leaves Aguero as Argentina’s potential striking saviour this summer. He missed much of the qualifying campaign through injury but has been in excellent form in a Manchester City side that has played some dazzling football this term. The concern for Sampaoli and Argentina is that Aguero’s exertions for City over the past season may leave him tired and short of fitness when they arrive at the finals. But putting the house on Aguero may be a risk that is worth taking. WORLD CUP 2018 61


AUSTRALIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP C June 16 v France (Kazan) June 21 v Denmark (Samara) June 26 v Peru (Sochi)

THE BETTING 500/1 to win the World Cup 20/1 to win Group C

THE QUESTIONS Can the new coach impose his ideas in time? Bert Van Marwijk took over from the attack-minded Ange Postecoglou in January and has only had two friendlies in March. Who will score the goals? Australia create a lot of chances but don’t convert enough. Tomi Juric has done a reasonable job, veteran striker Tim Cahill is back in contention after his switch to England, but the promising Jamie Maclaren looks to be out of contention. Will Postecoglou’s back three be discarded? Under their previous coach, Australia adopted a three-man defensive system during the qualifiers. They leaked goals initially, but the return of Mile Jedinak helped provide more security. It worked best in the Confederations Cup against the South American champions, Chile, but in March’s friendly games, against Norway and Colombia, new boss Van Marwijk reverted back to a back four in a more conservative formation. 62 WORLD CUP 2018

Will Tom Rogic be able to live up to his reputation in Russia? Alongside Aaron Mooy, Rogic is Australia’s most gifted performer, but he has been inconsistent. Is Russia this generation’s golden chance? The average age of the starting XI against Honduras in the qualifying play-offs was 28. In four years time, they may be past their peak, so this is their World Cup. But can they emulate the 2006 team and get past the group stage?

THE COACH ● Bert VAN MARWIJK The 65-year-old steered Saudi Arabia through the World Cup qualifiers but then quit and took charge of Australia. The former Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord boss led Holland to the 2010 World Cup Final.

THE KEY PLAYERS Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak will anchor the midfield with Tom Rogic as the likely playmaker, although Massimo Luongo performed well in the March friendlies and could provide Van Marwijk with a selection headache. Tim Cahill, now back at Championship club Millwall, is preparing to play in a fourth consecutive World Cup. Even at 38, he is still a vital cog. Defender Matthew Jurman impressed when he made his senior bow in the qualifiers.

THE ONES TO WATCH Attacker Andrew Nabbout was one of the stars of the A-League before a recent move to Japan. He was given a debut by Van Marwijk in March.

STAR MAN ● Aaron MOOY The 27-year-old Huddersfield Town midfielder is regarded as the best of Australia’s new generation. He had a big fall-

out with the previous coach after being left on the bench during the qualifiers but now looks to be back in favour under Van Marwijk.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

First round (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1974 1978 1982 1986

1990 1994 1998 2002

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

2006 Second round 2010 First round 2014 First round

THE SQUAD ● Behich ● Jurman

● Luongo ● Jedinak ● Juric

● Ryan ● Rogic ● Milligan ● Risdon

GOALKEEPERS

● Brad JONES Feyenoord (Hol) Age 36 (19.03.82) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Mat RYAN Brighton & Hove Albion (Eng) Age 26 (08.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 16

● Danny VUKOVIC Genk (Blg) Age 33 (27.03.85) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Aziz BEHICH Bursaspor (Tur) Age 27 (16.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Milos DEGENEK Yokohama F.Marinos (Jap) Age 23 (28.04.94) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Matthew JURMAN Suwon Bluewings (SKo) Age 28 (08.12.89) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● James MEREDITH Millwall (Eng) Age 29 (04.04.89) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mark MILLIGAN

● Mooy ● Leckie

● Mile JEDINAK Aston Villa (Eng) Age 33 (03.08.84) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 10

● Jackson IRVINE Hull City (Eng) Age 25 (07.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Massimo LUONGO Queens Park Rangers (Eng) Age 25 (25.09.92) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Aaron MOOY Huddersfield Town (Eng) Age 27 (15.09.90) Apps in qualifiers 19 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Tom ROGIC Celtic (Sco) Age 25 (16.12.92) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 6

● James TROISI Melbourne Victory Age 29 (03.07.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Tim CAHILL

Al Ahli (Sau) Age 32 (04.08.85) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 2

Millwall (Eng) Age 38 (06.12.79) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 11

● Josh RISDON

● Tomi JURIC

Western Sydney Wanderers Age 25 (27.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

Lucerne (Swi) Age 26 (22.07.91) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Trent SAINSBURY Jiangsu Suning (Chn) Age 26 (05.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Robbie KRUSE Bochum (Ger) Age 29 (05.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Bailey WRIGHT

● Matthew LECKIE

Bristol City (Eng) Age 25 (28.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 0

Hertha Berlin (Ger) Age 27 (04.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 19 Goals in qualifiers 4

MIDFIELDERS

● Josh BRILLANTE Sydney Age 25 (25.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Andrew NABBOUT Urawa Red Diamonds (Jap) Age 25 (17.12.92) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: MILE JEDINAK Australian sport has a habit of producing inspirational leaders – and, in Mile Jedinak, the Socceroos have a captain who leads by example. The bearded midfielder again proved his worth in the qualifying campaign with a series of battling displays. He returned from a long injury lay-off to lead his side against Honduras in the two-legged play-offs and hit a hat-trick, including a sweetly struck penalty, in the second leg to send his side to Russia. Jedinak has been a fixture for Australia since making his debut in 2008. Although he has been lauded for his rugged defensive displays, the 33year-old has also weighed in with crucial goals,

scoring 18 times in 75 appearances for Australia. “He has always been a determined footballer who fought hard his whole career. He leads from front and inspires people around him,” former Australia boss Ange Postecoglou said of Jedinak. “Everyone has their own personality but leadership is about being yourself. “When you put someone in a leadership role and they start changing their personality, people read through it pretty quickly. With Mile, what you see is what you get. “If you’ve got your captain putting their hand up in the heat of battle the other players are more likely to take a step forward as well.” WORLD CUP 2018 63


BELGIUM

THE SCHEDULE GROUP G June 18 v Panama (Sochi) June 23 v Tunisia (Moscow Spartak) June 28 v England (Kaliningrad)

THE BETTING 11/1 to win the World Cup 5/6 to win Group G

THE QUESTIONS What is their Plan B? By switching to a 3-4-2-1 set-up, Roberto Martinez has shown an element of tactical flexibility that predecessor Marc Wilmots lacked. But while this covers the paucity of quality full-backs, it also reveals a lack of a back-up – which could be essential if Belgium find themselves being overrun in midfield against some of the tournament favourites.

he is needed. He played the last half hour of the March friendly against Saudi Arabia but that may not be enough to convince Martinez. Will Kevin De Bruyne shine on the world stage? De Bruyne has openly criticised Martinez’s tactics – which is probably a sign of his frustration at the fact that he has rarely looked happy on the international stage. He thrives on responsibility and it could be that this has been in short supply when he has worn a Belgium shirt.

THE COACH ● Roberto MARTINEZ The 44-year-old Spaniard was something of a surprise choice when he was appointed in August 2016. However, he has extensive knowledge of the Premier League, which is home to half of the Belgian squad.

THE KEY PLAYERS Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are the top dogs, but De Bruyne has rarely reproduced his club form and remains an international enigma. Romelu Lukaku scored regularly throughout the campaign. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are the linchpins of the defence, in front of keeper Thibaut Courtois. Axel Witsel offers stability in front of a back thee. Captain Vincent Kompany missed most of the qualifying campaign through injury.

ONE TO WATCH Can Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen be relied upon in Russia? The success of Martinez’s back three depends on the form and fitness of Kompany or, as back-up, Vermaelen. Other candidates, such as Laurent Ciman and Dedryck Boyata, are short of international quality. Will Radja Nainggolan return? Martinez has never had a smooth relationship with Nainggolan, who offers a physicality that’s lacking in Belgium’s midfield. After injury forced him out of the autumn friendlies against Japan and Mexico, Nainggolan has little time to convince Martinez that 64 WORLD CUP 2018

Promising Club Brugge midfielder Anthony Limbombe made his debut in the March friendly against Saudi Arabia.

STAR MAN ● Eden HAZARD The Chelsea number 10 has been Roberto Martinez’s choice as captain in the absence of the injured Vincent

Kompany. The Spanish coach has also granted the 27year-old far more freedom to roam with Belgium than he gets with his club side.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1954 1958

First round First round First round Group stage (did not qualify)

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1982 Second group stage 1986 Fourth place 1990 Second round 1994 Second round

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Second round (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Quarter-finals

THE SQUAD ● Carrasco ● Vertonghen

● Mertens ● De Bruyne

● Courtois ● Kompany

● Lukaku ● Witsel

● Alderweireld

● E Hazard

● Meunier

GOALKEEPERS

● Koen CASTEELS Wolfsburg (Ger) Age 25 (25.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Thibaut COURTOIS Chelsea (Eng) Age 25 (11.05.92) Apps in qualifiers 10

● Simon MIGNOLET Liverpool (Eng) Age 30 (06.03.88) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Toby ALDERWEIRELD Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 29 (02.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Laurent CIMAN Los Angeles FC (USA) Age 32 (05.08.85) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Leander DENDONCKER Anderlecht Age 23 (15.04.95) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Vincent KOMPANY Manchester City (Eng) Age 32 (10.04.86) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Thomas VERMAELEN Barcelona (Spa) Age 32 (14.11.85) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Marouane FELLAINI Manchester United (Eng) Age 30 (22.11.87) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Thorgan HAZARD Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger) Age 25 (29.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Anthony LIMBOMBE Club Brugge Age 23 (15.07.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Thomas MEUNIER Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 26 (12.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Radja NAINGGOLAN Roma (Ita) Age 29 (04.05.88) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Youri TIELEMANS Monaco (Fra) Age 20 (07.05.97) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Axel WITSEL Tianjin Quanjian (Chn) Age 29 (12.01.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2 FORWARDS

● Jan VERTONGHEN

● Michy BATSHUAYI

Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 30 (24.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 2

Chelsea (Eng) Age 24 (02.10.93) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

MIDFIELDERS

● Yannick CARRASCO Dalian Yifang (Chn) Age 24 (04.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Kevin DE BRUYNE Manchester City (Eng) Age 26 (28.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mousa DEMBELE Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 30 (16.07.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Eden HAZARD Chelsea (Eng) Age 27 (07.01.91) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 6

● Romelu LUKAKU Manchester United (Eng) Age 24 (13.05.93) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 11

● Dries MERTENS Napoli (Ita) Age 30 (06.05.87) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 5

PROFILE: ROMELU LUKAKU For a team that finished their qualifying campaign as Europe’s joint-top scorers – managing 43, along with Germany – Belgium have a problem with finding the net. The big question facing coach Roberto Martinez is who will get the goals if Romelu Lukaku is injured? There is no obvious answer. Christian Benteke has been struggling all season with injuries and poor form for Crystal Palace, Michy Batshuayi was neglected at Chelsea, while Divock Origi took time to settle in at Wolfsburg. Lukaku weighed in with 11 goals during the qualifiers – which was five more than captain Eden Hazard – and he has retained the confidence

of Martinez, who signed him from Chelsea when he was Everton manager. He believes Lukaku has developed since joining Manchester United and says: “I have seen a big difference in terms of his maturity when he comes to international camps. “From the young player I signed, it is the same goalscorer but with an incredible maturity. “That is great to see, and he still has many, many years to develop. “Everyone who plays with him or works with him realises very quickly that he has an elite brain. “When he went to Manchester United, he was solely focused on starting well and making a big impact – and that is what he has done.” WORLD CUP 2018 65


BRAZIL

THE SCHEDULE GROUP E June 17 v Switzerland (Rostov) June 23 v Costa Rica (Saint Petersburg) June 27 v Serbia (Moscow Spartak)

THE BETTING 9/2 to win the World Cup 2/9 to win Group E

THE QUESTIONS Have they been truly tested yet? Tite’s team were magnificent against a disappointing crop of South American rivals but stiffer tests lie ahead. That point was illustrated by the collapse of Argentina’s defence against Nigeria on the same day Brazil were held by an inexperienced England side. Would the side benefit from appointing a permanent captain? Without a natural candidate for the role of on-field leader, Tite has chosen a different skipper for every match. Brazil sides have often been at their best with a vocal leader. Can they cover the vulnerable space behind the full-backs? Both Dani Alves and Marcelo are rampaging attacking full-backs but neither is great defensively. Who is the reserve centre-forward? Gabriel Jesus has stepped up in magnificent style. But what if he is injured, or jaded after his first full 66 WORLD CUP 2018

season in the Premier League? Many in Brazil do not see Roberto Firmino as a convincing replacement. Can the team – and especially the star man – stay in control of the emotional tone? At home to Ecuador, they played a poor first half. Neymar was over concerned with drawing fouls and a routine game turned into a tense occasion. Neymar lost control and picked up a yellow card for a crude foul – and he missed four games through suspension. Will he or others explode under pressure?

THE COACH ● TITE The 56-year-old, who was appointed in June 2016, is an intelligent and charismatic figure who won domestic, continental and world titles with Corinthians before taking time off to carry out an in-depth study of top-class European football.

THE KEY PLAYERS Gabriel Jesus was by far the most significant debutant in the qualifiers for Brazil – a teenage gamble who immediately solved Brazil’s centreforward problem. He was the team’s top scorer in qualification with seven goals – and he only started half the games. Midfielder Paulinho was an inspired selection by Tite, while centre-back Marquinhos has quietly established himself as a vital ingredient in the team.

ONE TO WATCH Real Socieded striker Willian Jose was called up for the March friendlies against Russia and Germany.

STAR MAN ● NEYMAR The PSG star is coming into his peak years, full of dazzling improvisation at pace and always a threat to the

opposing goal. Providing he can recover from a broken bone in his foot – and if he can keep his head – the World Cup could be his tournament.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

Group stage First round Third place Runners-up Quarter-finals

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

WINNERS WINNERS Group stage WINNERS Fourth place

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

Third place Second round Quarter-finals Second round WINNERS

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Runners-up WINNERS Quarter-finals Quarter-finals Fourth place

THE SQUAD ● Marcelo ● Paulinho ● Marquinhos ● Fernandinho ● Neymar ● Alisson ● Jesus

● Miranda ● Augusto

● Willian ● Dani Alves

GOALKEEPERS

● ALISSON Roma (Ita) Age 25 (02.10.92) Apps in qualifiers 16

● CASSIO Corinthians Age 30 (06.06.87) Apps in qualifiers 0

● EDERSON Manchester City (Eng) Age 24 (17.08.93) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● ALEX SANDRO Juventus (Ita) Age 27 (16.01.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● DANI ALVES Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 34 (06.05.83) Apps in qualifiers 17 Goals in qualifiers 1

● FAGNER Corinthians Age 28 (11.06.89) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Pedro GEROMEL Gremio Age 32 (21.09.85) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● MARCELO Real Madrid (Spa) Age 29 (12.05.88) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● MARQUINHOS Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 23 (14.05.94) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 0

● MIRANDA Internazionale (Ita) Age 33 (07.09.84) Apps in qualifiers 17 Goals in qualifiers 1

● THIAGO SILVA Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 33 (22.09.84) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Renato AUGUSTO Beijing Guoan (Chn) Age 30 (08.02.88) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 3

● CASEMIRO Real Madrid (Spa) Age 26 (23.02.92)

Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Philippe COUTINHO Barcelona (Spa) Age 25 (12.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 4

● DOUGLAS COSTA Juventus (Ita) Age 27 (14.09.90) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 2

● FERNANDINHO Manchester City (Eng) Age 32 (04.05.85) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

● FRED Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) Age 25 (05.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● PAULINHO Barcelona (Spa) Age 29 (25.07.88) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 6

● WILLIAN Chelsea (Eng) Age 29 (09.08.88) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 4 POSITION

● Roberto FIRMINO Liverpool (Eng) Age 26 (02.01.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Gabriel JESUS Manchester City (Eng) Age 21 (03.04.97) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 7

● NEYMAR Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 26 (05.02.92) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 6

● TAISON Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) Age 30 (13.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: PAULINHO Paulinho is living proof of the changing nature of the global game. Dismissed as a has-been after he was sold by Tottenham to Guangzhou Evergrande in 2015, the central midfielder was determined to use his time in the Chinese Super League to press his case for a Brazil recall. China may be seen by many as a graveyard for famous players but Paulinho was a great success, winning the domestic title and Asian Champions League with Guangzhou. His performances caught the eye of Brazil boss Tite, who invited him back to the national team. It was a controversial recall but Tite is well aware of his virtues from their time together at

Corinthians, where the pair won the Libertadores Cup and Club World Cup. Paulinho was a roaring success in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring six goals, providing a dynamic presence in midfield and earning a transfer to Barcelona last summer. “Paulinho is evolving and he is raising his level,” Tite said last autumn as Brazil prepared to play their final World Cup qualifiers. “From my point of view, the reason for that is he’s playing in Barcelona’s system of support and collaboration. “He is a box-to-box player, but he has good intuition and perception of play, which are among the best features of his game, so he will do very well for Barcelona.” WORLD CUP 2018 67


COLOMBIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP H June 19 v Japan (Saransk) June 24 v Poland (Kazan) June 28 v Senegal (Samara)

THE BETTING 33/1 to win the World Cup 15/8 to reach the quarter-finals

THE QUESTIONS Can they trust David Ospina? With the exception of a meaningless Copa Centenario group game, it is more than six years since anyone but Ospina has started a competitive match in goal for Colombia. However, inactivity at Arsenal may have taken its toll. How will Radamel Falcao be used? Jose Pekerman has rarely trusted Falcao to play up front on his own, with Duvan Zapata playing alongside him in the final qualifier. If they are to play two up front, a creative midfielder will be sacrificed. Will past experience count? Several of the squad played their way through to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, the 2015 Copa America quarter-finals and the 2016 Copa Centenario semi-finals. Experience might just help them hang in there and grind out results. Does Pekerman know his best team? Colombia used 45 players in qualification – a huge 68 WORLD CUP 2018

amount for a team that did not change coach – and during the campaign there were doubts over whether Pekerman was really sure about his line-up or tactics. Can a promising generation make the step up? Yerry Mina and fellow centre-back Davinson Sanchez, defensive midfielder Wilmar Barrios and attacking midfielder Edwin Cardona are just some of the promising members of Pekerman’s squad. But there is a giant step between promise and reality, which many bright Colombians have failed to bridge.

THE COACH ● Jose PEKERMAN Made his name as a highly successful coach of the under-20s in his native Argentina at the turn of the century, and took the senior side to the 2006 World Cup. Appointed to the Colombia post at the start of 2012.

THE KEY PLAYERS Defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez is a manmarking specialist whose positional sense and timing in the tackle balance out the side. Striker Radamel Falcao reclaimed his place at centre-forward after injury. Gifted but wayward attacking midfielder Edwin Cardona was the most important of the post-2014 intake, along with Yerry Mina, the giant centre-half who is quick on the ground, dominant in the air and came into the side for the second half of the qualifying campaign.

ONE TO WATCH Attacker Duvan Zapata has been in great form for Sampdoria in Serie A this season.

STAR MAN ● James RODRIGUEZ The big star of the 2014 World Cup has had an uneasy time at club level since his golden tournament but relishes being

the focal point of his national side. Colombia’s top scorer in qualification, he is currently on a two-year loan at Bayern Munich from Real Madrid.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1950 1954 1958 1962 1966

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify)

1970 1974 1978 1982 1986

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1990 1994 1998 2002 2006

Second round Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify

2010 (did not qualify) 2014 Quarter-finals

THE SQUAD ● Fabra

● Muriel

● Falcao ● C Sanchez ● Rodriguez ● Aguilar ● D Sanchez

● Mina ● Ospina

● Cardona ● Arias

GOALKEEPERS

● Jose CUADRADO Once Caldas Age 32 (01.06.85) Apps in qualifiers 18

● David OSPINA Arsenal (Eng) Age 29 (31.08.88) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Camilo VARGAS Atletico Nacional Age 29 (09.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Santiago ARIAS PSV (Hol) Age 26 (13.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Frank FABRA Boca Juniors (Arg) Age 27 (22.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jefferson LERMA Levante (Spa) Age 23 (25.10.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Yerry MINA Barcelona (Spa) Age 23 (23.09.94) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Juan CUADRADO Juventus (Ita) Age 29 (26.05.88) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 1

● James RODRIGUEZ Real Madrid (Spa) Age 26 (12.07.91) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 6

● Juan QUINTERO Porto (Por) Age 25 (18.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Carlos SANCHEZ Fiorentina (Ita) Age 32 (06.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mateus URIBE America (Mex) Age 27 (21.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Oscar MURILLO

● Carlos BACCA

Pachuca (Mex) Age 30 (18.04.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

Milan (Ita) Age 31 (08.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Davinson SANCHEZ Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 21 (12.05.96) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cristian ZAPATA Milan (Ita) Age 31 (30.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Abel AGUILAR Deportivo Cali Age 33 (06.01.85) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Wilmar BARRIOS Boca Juniors (Arg) Age 24 (16.10.93) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Edwin CARDONA Monterrey (Mex) Age 25 (08.12.92)

● Miguel BORJA Palmeiras (Bra) Age 25 (26.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Radamel FALCAO Monaco (Fra) Age 32 (10.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Luis MURIEL Sevilla (Spa) Age 27 (16.04.91) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Duvan ZAPATA Napoli (Ita) Age 27 (01.04.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: EDWIN CARDONA Edwin Cardona is arguably Colombia’s most talented footballer. Unfortunately, he is also their most controversial. The 25-year-old Boca Juniors midfield ace emerged as one of the stars of the South American side’s qualifying campaign, but he also seemed to encounter controversy around every corner. Cardona caused outrage last year when he insulted South Korea players during a friendly by making a racist, “slanty-eyed” gesture at his opponents during the match. The incident earned him a ban and was the latest unprofessional setback in a career that has been dogged by indiscipline.

Over the past year, he has found a degree of stability on loan at Argentinian powerhouse Boca Juniors after a turbulent period in Mexico, where he fell out with coaches and officials on a regular basis. His time in Argentina has not been without problems – he has been sent off on average once every 10 games – but Colombia coach Jose Pekerman is reluctant to drop Cardona, who reminds him of James Rodriguez. “Cardona’s youth and his start in the game remind me of the early days of James,” Pekerman says. “You cannot compare their games by the way he moves, but in the technical and conceptual aspects of football they are very similar.” WORLD CUP 2018 69


COSTA RICA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP E June 17 v Serbia (Samara) June 22 v Brazil (Saint Petersburg) June 27 v Switzerland (Nizhny Novgorod)

THE BETTING 300/1 to win the World Cup 16/1 to reach quarter-finals

THE QUESTIONS Will the stars be back in time? Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz were both going through rough patches of form before getting injuries. The pair have been instrumental for Costa Rica in recent years. Where is the generational change? It was hoped that players such as Jimmy Marin, Randall Leal and Gerson Torres, all aged 20, would make the step up to the senior team, but they do not appear to be remotely close to doing so. Kevin Briceno, Yendrick Ruiz, Josue Mitchell, Wilmer Azofeifa, Ian Smith and Ulises Segura were called up for the March friendlies against Scotland. Will it be possible to reverse the recent run of bad form? Although no one expected Costa Rica to perform as well as they did in Brazil, it was clear that the team had a positive momentum in the build-up to the tournament, which is not the case this time. They have not played well in recent matches and the 70 WORLD CUP 2018

friendly defeats against Spain (5-0) and Hungary (1-0) are worrying. March’s victory in Scotland (1-0) was followed by defeat to Tunisia (1-0). Is Oscar Ramirez a good coach? Those friendly defeats have intensified the doubts regarding Ramirez. A good part of the press and many fans blame him for being too defensive and not being able to make the right adjustments during games. His position does not seem in danger but he is far from a unifying figure.

THE COACH ● Oscar RAMIREZ The 52-year-old was appointed in 2015 after Paulo Wanchope resigned. “El Machillo” (the blonde) was a standout midfielder and part of the Costa Rica side that took part in the 1990 World Cup. After his retirement he was technical assistant at Saprissa and the national team, and coach of Santos de Guapiles and Alajuelense, with whom he won five league titles.

THE KEY PLAYERS Of their three stars in Europe – Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell – only Navas is a starter in an elite team. Many of the players who surprised the world in Brazil have kept a place in the squad. Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Christian Bolanos and Marco Urena form a experienced backbone.

ONES TO WATCH This is a team with lots of experience and therefore no newcomers of note.

STAR MAN ● Keylor NAVAS Genuine world-class keeper who was the star of Costa Rica’s run to the quarter-finals in 2014 and is the most

successful Costa Rican in European football, having won back-to-back Champions League titles with Real Madrid in 2016 and 2017.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1950

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round (did not qualify)

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) Quarter-finals

THE SQUAD ● Gamboa

● Wallace

● Gonzalez ● Guzman

● Navas

● Urena

● Duarte ● Borges ● Acosta ● Oviedo

GOALKEEPERS

● Leonel MOREIRA Herediano Age 28 (02.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Keylor NAVAS Real Madrid (Spa) Age 31 (15.12.86) Apps in qualifiers 11

● Patrick PEMBERTON Alajuelense Age 35 (24.05.82) Apps in qualifiers 4 DEFENDERS

● Johnny ACOSTA Rionegro Aguilas (Col) Age 34 (21.07.83) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Francisco CALVO Minnesota United (USA) Age 25 (08.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Oscar DUARTE Espanyol (Spa) Age 28 (03.06.89) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cristian GAMBOA Celtic (Sco) Age 28 (24.10.89) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Giancarlo GONZALEZ Bologna (Ita) Age 30 (08.02.88) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ronald MATARRITA New York City (USA) Age 23 (09.07.84) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Bryan OVIEDO Sunderland (Eng) Age 28 (18.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jose SALVATIERRA Alajuelense Age 28 (10.10.89) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Michael UMANA Cartagines Age 35 (16.07.82) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Kendall WASTON Vancouver Whitecaps (USA)

● Ruiz

Age 30 (01.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 2 MIDFIELDERS

● Christian BOLANOS Saprissa Age 33 (17.05.84) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Celso BORGES Deportivo La Coruna (Spa) Age 29 (27.05.88) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 1

● David GUZMAN Portland Timbers (USA) Age 28 (18.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ulises SEGURA DC United (USA) Age 24 (26.06.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Yeltsin TEJEDA Lausanne-Sport (Swi) Age 26 (17.03.92) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Rodney WALLACE New York City (USA) Age 29 (17.06.88) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Joel CAMPBELL Arsenal (Eng) Age 25 (26.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Bryan RUIZ Sporting (Por) Age 32 (18.08.85) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Marco URENA Los Angeles (USA) Age 28 (05.03.90) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Johan VENEGAS Minnesota United (USA) Age 29 (27.11.88) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: JOEL CAMPBELL Costa Rica’s amazing and unexpected run to the quarter-finals in Brazil was undoubtedly the greatest moment in the country’s footballing history, eclipsing their participation in the 1990, 2002 and 2006 finals. Campbell was one of the stars of that campaign four years ago. Unfortunately since that memorable run of games in Brazil, Campbell’s career has not taken off in the way that many predicted. Born in the Costa Rican capital San Jose 25 years ago, Campbell came to prominence at local club Saprissa. He was spotted by Arsenal’s scouting network and signed by the Premier League side in 2011. Arsenal’s failure to obtain a UK work permit

led to him being loaned out to a series of clubs in Europe: Lorient (France), Real Betis (Spain), Olympiakos (Greece), Villarreal (Spain) and Sporting (Portugal). His performances for Oympiakos and Villarreal prompted Arsenal to give him opportunities in the first team in the 2015-16 season, but just as it looked as if he would make the breakthrough it was decided to loan him out again, to Sporting, where he made a promising start before a knee injury playing for his country at the CONCACAF Gold Cup halted his progress. Now at Betis in Spain, he is struggling to get back to fitness in time for the World Cup. WORLD CUP 2018 71


CROATIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP D June 16 v Nigeria (Kaliningrad) June 21 v Argentina (Nizhny Novgorod) June 26 v Iceland (Rostov-on-Don)

Which areas of the pitch should concern coach Zlatko Dalic the most? Ivan Perisic is the squad’s only classic winger. Centreforward Andrej Kramaric can do a job on the right, where Mario Mandzukic also plays, but both are much more of a threat through the middle.

THE BETTING 28/1 to win the World Cup 7/4 to win Group D

THE QUESTIONS Could Luka Modric be affected by his loss of popularity back home? Many Croat fans were unimpressed when he sensationally retracted his original testimony at the corruption trial of one-time Dinamo Zagreb chief Zdravko Mamic. The latter is very much a hate figure in the country and, with Modric appearing to side with him, abuse of the Real Madrid midfielder has been considerable.

Which uncapped players have a chance of going to the World Cup? Defenders Antonio Milic and Duje Caleta-Car are in with a shout.

THE COACH ● Zlatko DALIC Appointed caretaker boss in October 2017, he was given the national job on a permanent basis in November 2017. Prior to that he spent five years – from 2006 to 2011 – on the under-21 back-room staff under Drazen Ladic. As head coach in his own right, he has been in charge of Croat outfits Varteks Varazdin, Rijeka and Slaven Belupo, plus clubs in Albania (Dinamo Tirana) and the Gulf (Al Faisaly Harmah, Al Hilal and Al Ain).

THE KEY PLAYERS The incomparable Luka Modric took over as skipper from Darijo Srna at the start of last season. As headstrong as he is talented, Mario Mandzukic is an all-day headache for defenders. Ivan Rakitic is an industrious, creative midfielder.

ONE TO WATCH After creating havoc at Euro 2016, have the Croatia fans calmed down? Far from it. Their hardcore supporters remain fiercely opposed to the powers-that-be at the football federation and are adamant that president Davor Suker – once a prolific international striker – and his cohorts are corrupt. Who is the side’s unsung hero? Defensive midfielder Milan Badelj is the one who takes care of the dirty work and allows the likes of Modric and Ivan Rakitic to play. 72 WORLD CUP 2018

Schalke’s Marko Pjaca has impressed in the Bundesliga this season.

STAR MAN ● Luka MODRIC Arguably the world’s best midfielder, having won three Champions League titles in the four years with Real

Madrid since moving from Tottenham in 2010. A brilliant schemer who can also play in a deeper, more defensive role when required.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930-1990 Part of Yugoslavia 1994 (did not enter) 1998 Third place 2002 Group stage

2006 Group stage 2010 (did not qualify) 2014 Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Strinic ● Perisic ● Corluka

● Rakitic

● Subasic ● Badelj

● Modric

● Kalinic

● Lovren ● Mandzukic ● Vrsaljko

GOALKEEPERS

● Lovre KALINIC Gent (Blg) Age 23 (09 01.95) Apps in qualifiers 2

● Dominik LIVAKOVIC Dinamo Zagreb Age 28 (03.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Danijel SUBASIC Monaco (Fra) Age 23 (27.10.84) Apps in qualifiers 10 DEFENDERS

● Vedran CORLUKA Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus) Age 32 (05.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Tin JEDVAJ Bayer Leverkusen (Ger) Age 22 (28.11.95) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Dejan LOVREN Liverpool (Eng) Age 28 (05.07.89) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Zoran NIZIC Hajduk Split Age 28 (11.10.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Marcelo BROZOVIC Internazionale (Ita) Age 25 (16.11.92) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Mateo KOVACIC Real Madrid (Spa) Age 23 (06.05.94) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Luka MODRIC Real Madrid (Spa) Age 32 (09.09.85) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Ivan PERISIC Internazionale (Ita) Age 29 (02.02.89) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Ivan RAKITIC Barcelona (Spa) Age 30 (10.03.88) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Marko ROG Napoli (Ita) Age 22 (19.07.95) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Josip PIVARIC

● Duje COP

Dynamo Kiev (Ukr) Age 29 (30.01.89) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

Standard Liege (Blg) Age 28 (01.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ivan STRINIC

● Nikola KALINIC

Sampdoria (Ita) Age 30 (17.10.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Domagoj VIDA Besiktas (Tur) Age 28 (29.04.89) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Sime VRSALJKO Atletico Madrid (Spa) Age 26 (10.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Milan BADELJ Fiorentina (Ita) Age 29 (25.02.89) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

Fiorentina (Ita) Age 30 (05.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: IVAN RAKITIC

● Andrej KRAMARIC Hoffenheim (Ger) Age 26 (19.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Mario MANDZUKIC Juventus (Ita) Age 31 (21.05.86) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Marko PJACA Juventus (Ita) Age 22 (06.05.95) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

Many of Croatia’s top players are spread across Europe – and not just because they play for some of the continent’s leading clubs. Quite a few Croatians were born outside of the country after their families fled the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. For example, Mateo Kovacevic was born in Austria, while Dejan Lovren was brought up in Germany after his family fled to Munich when he was three years old. Ivan Rakitic was born and raised in Switzerland after his family fled their former home to avoid the bloodshed. Rakitic even played for Switzerland’s under-21s before accepting the call to play for Croatia’s seniors. His upbringing has given him

extra motivation to play for the country of his parents’ birth. Now 30, Rakitic’s career progression is the perfect example of how hard work and dedication can earn the highest rewards. Far from starting in the academy of a major league club, Rakitic began at Swiss side Basle, earning a move to Bundesliga outfit Schalke and then on to Sevilla, where his performances, especially when winning the Europa League, brought a move to Barcelona in 2014. For Croatia, his midfield partnership with captain Luka Modric has been the bedrock of the national team for the past few seasons, with vice-captain Rakitic often deputising for Modric. WORLD CUP 2018 73


DENMARK

THE SCHEDULE GROUP C June 16 v Peru (Saransk) June 21 v Australia (Samara) June 26 v France (Moscow Luzhniki)

THE BETTING 100/1 to win the World Cup 6/1 to win Group C

THE QUESTIONS Which system will get the best out of star man Christian Eriksen? Age Hareide prefers a 4-3-3 formation that allows Eriksen the space to operate behind a main striker and two wide men. However, it’s a different system to the 4-2-3-1 formation at Tottenham, where Eriksen has thrived this season. Can defender Andreas Christensen become a regular starter at Chelsea? If so he will surely become one of the central defenders for Denmark in Russia, rather than filling in at right-back. So far this season Christensen has benefited from injuries to David Luiz and the poor form of Gary Cahill. Can striker Kasper Dolberg recover his form of last season and make a late bid for Russia? The 20-year-old is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Denmark. If he can find form with Ajax again he could overtake Andreas Cornelius and Niklas Bendtner in the pecking order. 74 WORLD CUP 2018

Who will score the goals if Eriksen is absent through injury? The obvious weakness is a lack of goals and the over-reliance on Eriksen, who contributed crucial goals in qualifying, including the winner in the 1-0 away victory in Montenegro and a spectacular hat-trick against Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. Yussuf Poulsen is one player who needs to become more prolific, while Cornelius missed a number of chances in March’s goalless friendly against Chile in Aalborg.

THE COACH ● Age HAREIDE The 64-year-old was a surprise choice to replace long-serving Morten Olsen in March 2016, not only because he is Norwegian but also given his relative lack of success as coach of his homeland a decade ago. Widespread scepticism among the army of high-profile Danish pundits from the “Dynamite” years has been washed away by a superb run of results in 2017, culminating in qualification. Nobody doubts now that he is worth his contract until July 2020.

THE KEY PLAYERS Christian Eriksen is now happy and able to accept the responsibility of inspiring the team. Keeper Kasper Schmeichel is following in the footsteps of his famous father, Peter, while midfielder William Kvist remains a valuable operator.

THE ONES TO WATCH Strapping centre-forward Nicolai Jorgensen has been in brilliant form for Dutch side Feyenoord.

STAR MAN ● Christian ERIKSEN Denmark’s talisman scored an incredible 11 goals in the qualifying campaign, including a hat-trick in the final play-off

match. He has blossomed into a world-class performer under the guidance of club manager Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1958 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

(did not qualify) Second round (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Quarter-finals

2002 2006 2010 2014

Second round (did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Boilesen ● Kvist ● Christensen ● Schmeichel

● Sisto

● Eriksen ● N Jorgensen

● Kjaer ● Delaney

● Poulsen

● Larsen

GOALKEEPERS

● Jonas LOSSL Huddersfield Town (Eng) Age 29 (01.02.89) Apps in qualifying 0

● Frederik RONNOW Brondby Age 25 (04.09.92) Apps in qualifying 3

● Kasper SCHMEICHEL Leicester City (Eng) Age 31 (05.11.86) Apps in qualifying 9 DEFENDERS

● Peter ANKERSEN Copenhagen Age 27 (22.09.90) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 1

● Nicolai BOILESEN Copenhagen Age 26 (16.02.92) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Andreas CHRISTENSEN Chelsea (Eng) Age 22 (10.04.96) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 1

● Henrik DALSGAARD Brentford (Eng) Age 28 (27.07.89) Apps in qualifying 5 Goals in qualifying 0

● Riza DURMISI Real Betis (Spa) Age 24 (08.01.94) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 0

● Mathias JORGENSEN Huddersfield Town (Eng) Age 27 (23.04.90) Apps in qualifying 2 Goals in qualifying 0

● Simon KJAER Sevilla (Spa) Age 29 (26.03.89) Apps in qualifying 12 Goals in qualifying 0

● Jens LARSEN Udinese (Ita) Age 27 (21.02.91) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Thomas DELANEY Werder Bremen (Ger) Age 26 (03.09.91) Apps in qualifying 12 Goals in qualifying 4

● Christian ERIKSEN Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 26 (14.02.92) Apps in qualifying 12 Goals in qualifying 11

● Mike JENSEN Rosenborg (Nor) Age 30 (19.02.88) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0

● William KVIST Copenhagen Age 33 (24.02.85) Apps in qualifying 11 Goals in qualifying 0

● Lukas LERAGER Bordeaux (Fra) Age 24 (12.07.93) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0

● Lasse SCHONE Ajax (Hol) Age 31 (27.05.86) Apps in qualifying 4 Goals in qualifying 0

● Pione SISTO Celta Vigo (Spa) Age 23 (04.02.95) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 0 FORWARDS

● Nicklas BENDTNER Rosenborg (Nor) Age 30 (16.01.88) Apps in qualifying 5 Goals in qualifying 1

● Martin BRAITHWAITE Middlesbrough (Eng) Age 26 (05.06.91) Apps in qualifying 2 Goals in qualifying 0

● Andreas CORNELIUS Atalanta (Ita) Age 25 (16.03.93) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 2

● Nicolai JORGENSEN Feyenoord (Hol) Age 27 (15.01.91) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 2

● Yussuf POULSEN RB Leipzig (Ger) Age 23 (15.06.94) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 1

PROFILE: PIONE SISTO Denmark have had many dazzling wingers down the years, with Jesper Olsen starring for the “Danish Dynamite” side of the 1980s and Brian Laudrup proving his brilliance with Rangers and others during the 1990s. Pione Sisto has all the attributes to follow in their illustrious footsteps. The Ugandan-born left-winger was one of the emerging stars of the World Cup qualifying campaign, setting up a number of his side’s goals in their 5-1 play-off rout of Republic of Ireland. In March, the 23-year-old scored his first senior goal for Denmark in the friendly victory over Panama, and his performance sealed his place

in the World Cup squad, following a series of impressive displays for Spain’s Celta Vigo. Born in Kampala to South Sudanese parents, he moved to Denmark at the age of two and helped modest Midtjylland to a surprise first Danish league title in 2015. Fast-tracked to Danish citizenship in 2015, he was immediately called up to the Danish squad for the European Under-21 Championship, where scouts from a number of big European clubs took a keen interest. Despite being heavily linked with Arsenal, he was snapped up by Celta for €5million in 2016 and has continued his progress in La Liga. WORLD CUP 2018 75


EGYPT

THE SCHEDULE GROUP A June 15 v Uruguay (Yekaterinburg) June 19 v Russia (Saint Petersburg) June 25 v Saudi Arabia (Volgograd)

THE BETTING 150/1 to win the World Cup 11/2 to win Group A

THE QUESTIONS What targets will Egypt be setting themselves this summer? Hector Cuper says a place in the last 16 is the ambition, but a lack of experience may count against his side. Egypt, however, will point to the fact that they reached the Final of last year’s Nations Cup after missing three successive African championships.

Why have Egypt failed to turn dominance of the African game into regular World Cup qualification? Egypt last participated at the World Cup in 1990 and – although they won four African Nations Cups in that time – have suffered the agony of several close misses, including a rare play-off game after finishing tied with Algeria in the 2010 preliminaries. Over the years they have employed a myriad of coaches to take them to the promised land, including Ruud Krol, Marco Tardelli and Bob Bradley.

THE COACH ● Hector CUPER The 61-year-old Argentinian, who was once coach of Georgia’s national team, was appointed by Egypt in March 2015 on a three-year contract. His past successes include taking Mallorca to the European Cup-winners Cup Final and Valencia to two successive Champions League Finals. Voted the Confederation of African Football’s coach of the year in January.

THE KEY PLAYERS Mohamed Salah is very much the talisman of the team. Keeper Essam El Hadary, who turned 45 in January, could become the oldest player ever at the World Cup. Ahmed Fathy has won more than 120 caps for his country.

ONE TO WATCH Can Mohamed Salah rise to the challenge on the world stage? Since he joined Liverpool, Salah has become a major star, not only in Africa but worldwide. These days he is under immense pressure to deliver every time he plays for Egypt and he might find the pressure too much to deliver consistently in the finals. Who will make a late push for the squad? Zamalek striker Basem Morsy might be forgiven for his tantrums as Egypt seek a reliable target man, while Walid Soliman is also due to return after previously criticising the coach for leaving him out of the squad for a friendly game. 76 WORLD CUP 2018

Amr Marey, a striker who plays for Etoile Sahel in Tunisia, received his first call-up last year. Mercurial midfield talent Shikabala recently returned to the national set-up after a three-year absence.

STAR MAN ● Mohamed SALAH The Liverpool forward scored the crucial goal – a last-gasp penalty – that sealed Egypt’s qualification for the World Cup

finals for the first time in 28 years. After his extraordinary first season at Liverpool, will he have enough energy left when he arrives in Russia?


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1950 1954 1970

(did not enter) First round (did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not enter)

1974 1978 1982 1986 1990

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage

1994 1998 2002 2006 2010

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

2014 (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Abdelshafi

● Hamed

● Trezeguet

● Gabr ● El Hadary

● Kouka ● Elneny

● Hegazi ● Salah ● Fathy

● Said

GOALKEEPERS

Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mohamed AWAD

● Mohamed ELNENY

Ismaili Age 25 (06.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 0

Arsenal (Eng) Age 25 (11.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Essam EL HADARY Al Tawoon (Sau) Age 45 (15.01.73) Apps in qualifiers 5

● Mohamed EL SHENAWY Al Ahly Age 29 (18.12.88) Apps in qualifiers 2 DEFENDERS

● Mohamed ABDELSHAFI Al Ahli Saudi (Sau) Age 32 (01.07.85) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ahmed ELMOHAMADY Aston Villa (Eng) Age 30 (09.09.87) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ahmed FATHY Al Ahly Age 33 (10.11.84) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Omar GABER Basle (Swi) Age 26 (30.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ali GABR Zamalek Age 29 (10.01.89) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ahmed HEGAZI West Bromwich Albion (Eng) Age 27 (25.01.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Saad SAMIR Al Ahly Age 29 (01.04.89) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Tarek HAMED Zamalek Age 29 (24.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mohamed MAGDI ENPPI Age 22 (01.01.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Abdallah SAID Al Ahly Age 32 (13.07.85) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 3

● TREZEGUET Anderlecht (Blg) Age 23 (01.10.94) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● KAHRABA Zamalek Age 24 (13.04.94) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● KOUKA Braga (Por) Age 25 (05.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Marwan MOHSEN Al Ahly Age 29 (26.02.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mohamed SALAH Liverpool (Eng) Age 25 (15.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Ramadan SOBHI MIDFIELDERS

● Hossam ASHOUR Al Ahly Age 32 (09.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Hussein EL SHAHAT Al Ain (UAE) Age 26 (06.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 0

Stoke City (Eng) Age 21 (23.01.97) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Momen ZAKARIA Al Ahly Age 30 (12.04.88) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 5

PROFILE: ESSAM EL HADARY A number of Egypt’s squad were not born when Essam El Hadary made his international debut in 1996. Now, 22 years later, he could become the oldest player to appear at a World Cup. The 45-year-old goalkeeper is already the oldest player to appear at the African Nations Cup. He has won the African continental title four times but he has never played at a World Cup. If he appears for Egypt in Russia this summer, he will beat such veterans as Faryd Mondragon (Colombia, aged 43), Roger Milla (Cameroon, 42), Pat Jennings (Northern Ireland, 41), Peter Shilton (England, 40) and Dino Zoff (Italy 40). El Hadary kept goal in five of Egypt’s six

qualifying games but was left out of the squad for last autumn’s friendly matches by coach Hector Cuper and has since moved to play for a club in Saudi Arabia, where he might not get the competitive training that Cuper requires for him to stay him in shape for Russia. However, Cuper is on record as saying: “I am not worried about calling up El Hadary as his age is not a problem for me at all. He is a very good keeper and he proved that in recent league games.” El Hadary was one of the heroes of Egypt’s run to the Final of the 2107 African Nations Cup, making crucial saves in penalty shoot-out semifinal victory over Burkina Faso. WORLD CUP 2018 77


ENGLAND

THE SCHEDULE GROUP G FIXTURES June 18 v Tunisia (Volgograd) June 24 v Panama (Nizhny Novgorod) June 28 v Belgium (Kaliningrad)

THE BETTING 16/1 to win the World Cup 8/11 to reach quarter-finals

THE QUESTIONS Who will score the necessary goals if Harry Kane is injured? Kane was top scorer in the qualifiers, while Jamie Vardy has struggled for Leicester City at times this season and record scorer Wayne Rooney has retired. Who will be first-choice keeper? Joe Hart was criticised for conceding two free-kicks against Scotland in the qualifiers and has lost his place at West Ham United. Jordan Pickford of Everton, Stoke City’s Jack Butland and Burnley pair Tom Heaton and Nick Pope are all exciting long-term prospects but lack big-match experience. Which players could make a late push for inclusion in the squad? Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks looks an accomplished prospect, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin – a star of England’s Under-20 triumph – needs game time at Everton. Midfielder Ruben LoftusCheek was the star of last November’s friendly against Germany but has been injured. 78 WORLD CUP 2018

Can Jack Wilshere provide the midfield creativity that appears to be lacking? England lacked spark in the qualifiers and Wilshere has played himself back into contention with some strong performances for Arsenal. Will Southgate opt for a back three? When he became England manager Southgate encouraged all England teams, from under-17s upwards, to play 4-2-3-1 but he has recently experimented with a 3-4-3.

THE COACH ● Gareth SOUTHGATE Gareth Southgate stepped up from the under-21s following Sam Allardyce’s surprise exit in September 2016. The 47-year-old played in the 1998 World Cup finals as a centre-back and missed a crucial penalty in England’s Euro ’96 semi-final penalties defeat to Germany.

THE KEY PLAYERS Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli makes clever runs from midfield, while Jordan Henderson of Liverpool was Southgate’s preferred choice to anchor the midfield, with Alli’s club-mate Eric Dier. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is a vibrant attacking right-back. Striker Marcus Rashford of Manchester United as been used as a wide attacker or from the bench.

ONES TO WATCH Manchester United attacker Jesse Lingard has been in fine form for his club. Centre-back Harry Maguire and right-back Kieran Trippier made their debuts during qualifying.

STAR MAN ● Harry KANE The Tottenham Hotspur striker rescued the side on a number of occasions with crucial goals in qualifying and was made

captain by Gareth Southgate in October 2017. An ankle injury sidelined him for a few weeks in March and April but he is expected to be fit.


1950 1954 1958 1962 1966

WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

First round Quarter-finals First round Quarter-finals WINNERS

1970 1974 1978 1982 1986

Quarter-finals (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second group stage Quarter-finals

1990 1994 1998 2002 2006

Semi-finals (did not qualify) Second round Quarter-finals Quarter-finals

2010 Second round 2014 Group stage

THE TEAM ● Rose ● Alli

● Maguire ● Butland

● Dier ● Stones

● Kane ● Henderson

● Jones ● Sterling ● Walker

GOALKEEPERS

● Jack BUTLAND Stoke City Age 25 (10.03.93) Apps in qualifying 1

● Jordan PICKFORD Everton Age 24 (07.03.94) Apps in qualifying 0

● Nick POPE Burnley Age 26 (19.04.92) Apps in qualifying 0 DEFENDERS

Age 22 (11.04.96) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 1

● Eric DIER Tottenham Hotspur Age 24 (21.01.94) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 1

● Jordan HENDERSON Liverpool Age 27 (17.06.90) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 0

● Ryan BERTRAND

● Jesse LINGARD

Southampton Age 28 (05.08.89) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 1

Manchester United Age 25 (15.12.92) Apps in qualifying 4 Goals in qualifying 0

● Joe GOMEZ Liverpool Age 20 (23.05.97) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Phil JONES Manchester United Age 26 (21.02.92) Apps in qualifying 2 Goals in qualifying 0

● Harry MAGUIRE Leicester City Age 25 (05.03.93) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0

● Danny ROSE Tottenham Hotspur Age 27 (02.07.90) Apps in qualifying 4 Goals in qualifying 0

● John STONES Manchester City Age 23 (28.05.94) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 0

● Kieran TRIPPIER Tottenham Hotspur Age 27 (19.09.90) Apps in qualifying 1 Goals in qualifying 0

● Kyle WALKER Manchester City Age 27 (28.05.90) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 0

● Ashley YOUNG Manchester United Age 32 (09.07.85) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Dele ALLI Tottenham Hotspur

● Ruben LOFTUSCHEEK Chelsea Age 22 (23.02.96) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Alex OXLADECHAMBERLAIN Liverpool Age 24 (15.08.93) Apps in qualifying 5 Goals in qualifying 1

● Jack WILSHERE Arsenal Age 26 (01.01.92) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0 FORWARDS

● Harry KANE Tottenham Hotspur Age 24 (28.07.93) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 5

● Marcus RASHFORD Manchester United Age 20 (31.10.97) Apps in qualifying 8 Goals in qualifying 1

● Raheem STERLING Manchester City Age 23 (08.12.94) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 0

● Jamie VARDY Leicester City Age 31 (11.01.87) Apps in qualifying 4 Goals in qualifying 1

PROFILE: ERIC DIER For many years England lacked a dominant figure in central midfield to perform the crucial defensive duties. Successive managers found space for both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the starting line-up but neither was keen on playing the holding role in midfield. Eric Dier is different. As a former central defender he is entirely comfortable with the defensive side of the game. His versatility gives manager Gareth Southgate extra options as he tries to move England to a more possession-based game. Dier is different in other ways, too. Although none of the current England squad play outside the Premier League, he was brought up in Portugal

when his mum went there to work as a volunteer at Euro 2004. He joined Sporting’s academy in Lisbon and made his debut in the Portuguese league in November 2012. Tottenham Hotspur paid £4million to bring him back to England in 2014 and he has thrived under manager Mauricio Pochettino. “Eric is an established player in the side now,” says Southgate says. “He plays with maturity and intelligence. He understands the game really well. “He has the respect of everybody because of the way he is. “He connects well with the whole group. He is a really top professional.” WORLD CUP 2018 79


FRANCE

THE SCHEDULE GROUP C June 16 v Australia (Kazan) June 21 v Peru (Yekaterinburg) June 26 v Denmark (Moscow Luzniki)

THE BETTING 11/2 to win the World Cup 1/5 to win Group C

THE QUESTIONS Will Didier Deschamps stick to his preferred 4-3-3 system? Having dabbled with 4-4-2, will he be daring and flexible enough to employ other systems? With the defensive talent at his disposal, three at the back isn’t unimaginable. Les Bleus played 4-4-2 in a 3-2 friendly defeat to Colombia in Paris in March. Can Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante establish himself as a world star? Acknowledged as the Premier League’s best midfielder last season, the 27-year-old now needs to make his mark at international level. Will this be the World Cup that sees the best of midfielder Paul Pogba? The Manchester United star has all the attributes to become a world star, but he’s not there yet. Russia could be the stage on which that all changes. Will there be any surprise selections? France have so much talent it’s frightening. Defender 80 WORLD CUP 2018

Aymeric Laporte, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, and attackers Kingsley Coman and Moussa Dembele are among those pushing for a place. Is today’s France side better than the team that made it to the Final of Euro 2016? Quite possibly, plus they have more athletic full-backs to call on and some audacious youngsters emerging up front. Deschamps has tons of talent at his disposal but needs to make the team gel sufficiently to go all the way.

THE COACH ● Didier DESCHAMPS The 49-year-old former France captain won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 as a player before taking over as the country’s coach in 2012. Known for his no-nonsense style, his mistrust of the press and an ability to make tough decisions, he signed a contract extension that will keep him in charge until 2020.

THE KEY PLAYERS Antoine Griezmann is one of the most coveted attackers in the game. Teen striker Kylian Mbappe is being hailed as one of the world’s most exciting talents. Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris is fast closing in on a century of appearances. Rafael Varane brings calm and authority to the centre of defence, while Blaise Matuidi remains a Deschamps favourite in midfield.

ONE TO WATCH In-form Sevilla striker Wissam Ben Yedder was a surprise call-up for the March friendlies.

STAR MAN ● Antoine GRIEZMANN The star of France’s run to the Final of Euro 2016 will be the main man in Russia. Unsettled at Atletico Madrid, he hopes to

have a major transfer sorted before the World Cup kicks off, with Barcelona strongly rumoured to have secured his signature.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1954 1958

Group stage First round Quarter-finals Group stage 3rd place

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) Group stage

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

4th place 3rd place (did not qualify) (did not qualify) WINNERS

2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Runners-up Group stage Quarter-finals

THE SQUAD ● Mendy ● Matuidi

● Griezmann

● Kante

● Mbappe

● Umtiti ● Lloris ● Varane ● Sidibe

● Pogba

GOALKEEPERS

● Alphonse AREOLA Paris Saint-Germain Age 25 (17.02.93) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Hugo LLORIS Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 31 (26.12.86) Apps in qualifiers 11

● Steve MANDANDA Marseille Age 33 (28.03.85) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● Lucas DIGNE

● Dembele

Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Blaise MATUIDI Juventus (Ita) Age 31 (09.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Paul POGBA Manchester United (Eng) Age 25 (15.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Adrien RABIOT

Barcelona (Spa) Age 24 (20.07.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

Paris Saint-Germain Age 23 (03.04.95) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Presnel KIMPEMBE

● Corentin TOLISSO

Paris Saint-Germain Age 22 (13.08.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

Bayern Munich (Ger) Age 23 (03.08.94) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Laurent KOSCIELNY Arsenal (Eng) Age 32 (10.09.85) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Benjamin MENDY

FORWARDS

● Wissam BEN YEDDER

Manchester City (Eng) Age 23 (17.07.94) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

Sevilla (Spa) Age 27 (12.08.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Benjamin PAVARD

● Ousmane DEMBELE

Stuttgart (Ger) Age 22 (28.03.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

Barcelona (Spa) Age 20 (15.05.97) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Djibril SIDIBE Monaco Age 25 (29.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Samuel UMTITI Barcelona (Spa) Age 24 (14.11.93) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Raphael VARANE Real Madrid (Spa) Age 24 (25.04.93) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● N’Golo KANTE Chelsea (Eng) Age 27 (29.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Thomas LEMAR Monaco Age 22 (12.11.95)

● Olivier GIROUD Chelsea (Eng) Age 31 (30.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Antoine GRIEZMANN Atletico Madrid (Spa) Age 27 (21.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Kylian MBAPPE Paris Saint-Germain Age 19 (20.12.98) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Florian THAUVIN Marseille Age 25 (26.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: KYLIAN MBAPPE France have the most exciting set of youngsters at this summer’s World Cup, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Lemar and Corentin Tolisso all starring for major European clubs. And the biggest talent of all, Kylian Mbappe, is only 19 years old. In the space of 12 months he has exploded on to the global football stage, starring in Monaco’s run to the Champions League semi-final and winning the French league last season, and then joining Paris Saint-Germain in what was reported to be the second-most expensive transfer of all time. In Paris, Mbappe has proved that he is no oneseason wonder, playing alongside world-record

signing Neymar and often out-shining his more illustrious team-mate as PSG have swept all before them domestically. Comparisons have been made by many pundits between Mbappe and another former Monaco teenager: Thierry Henry, the star of France’s European Championship triumph in 2000. “Mbappe has similarities to Thierry Henry,” agrees Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. “He is a huge talent.” Henry, meanwhile, is reluctant to make the comparison. “I don’t like comparing players – Mbappe has to become Mbappe and that is all,” says Henry. “But my word, he is good. Ooh la la. l really like watching him play.” WORLD CUP 2018 81


GERMANY

THE SCHEDULE GROUP F June 17 v Mexico (Moscow Luzhniki) June 23 v Sweden (Sochi) June 27 v South Korea (Kazan)

THE BETTING 9/2 to win the World Cup 3/10 to win Group F

THE QUESTIONS

– who has been troubled by an ankle problem this season – has his limitations. RB Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg, who made his debut against England at Wembley in November, has been ruled out for the rest of the season after damaging knee ligaments. False nine or target man? Low has options, with either Sandro Wagner or Mario Gomez as a traditional centre-forward, or Timo Werner, Lars Stindl or Mario Gotze as the crafty freewheeler. Nor is a strike duo out of the question.

THE COACH ● Joachim LOW The 58-year-old was appointed in July 2006, is under contract until 2020 and is currently Europe’s longest-serving national coach. “Jogi” has done a remarkable job as Bundestrainer, steering his side to the world title in 2014 and countless near-misses in other tournaments.

THE KEY PLAYERS

How predictable will Germany’s squad be? Anything but. Joachim Low has never had a deeper pool of talent at his disposal and hard choices will have to be made. He used 37 players in qualifying – and in the wake of recent German triumphs at the Confederations Cup and Euro Under-21s he has even more candidates to sift through.

MIdfield ace Toni Kroos sets the strategic tone, while centre-back Mats Hummels provides immaculate leadership. Joshua Kimmich was Germany’s only ever present on the road to Russia. Keeper Manuel Neuer sat out the bulk of the campaign with a broken foot but should be back in time.

Who could pay the price for a lack of playing time at club level? Low has to be concerned that a number of his squad are either bench fodder or struggling with injuries, not least keeper Kevin Trapp and midfielder Julian Draxler at PSG, Dortmund wide-man Andre Schurrle and Juventus’ Benedikt Howedes. Dortmund winger Marco Reus has only just returned from a cruciate knee ligament injury .

Germany have discovered yet another ace schemer in Leon Goretzka. Striker Timo Werner made an immediate impact on the side, netting three goals in just two starts in qualifying.

ONES TO WATCH

Does Low have a full-back problem? There is no real alternative to Joshua Kimmich at right-back and there is cause for concern on the other flank too as the usual incumbent, Jonas Hector 82 WORLD CUP 2018

STAR MAN ● Toni KROOS With his 20/20 vision, exceptional distribution and icy composure, the Real Madrid midfielder is the dependable

operator who coaches can always rely upon. After four seasons in Madrid, Kroos is rumoured to be considering offers to leave Spain.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1954 1958

(did not enter) Third place First round WINNERS Fourth place

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

Quarter-finals Runners-up Third place WINNERS Second round

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

Runners-up Runners-up WINNERS Quarter-finals Quarter-finals

2002 2006 2010 2014

Runners-up Third place Third place WINNERS

THE SQUAD ● Hector

● Sane

● Hummels ● Neuer

● Werner

● Kroos

● Ozil

● Boateng ● Gundogan ● Kimmich

GOALKEEPERS

● Bernd LENO Bayer Leverkusen Age 26 (04.03.92) Apps in qualifiers 2

● Manuel NEUER Bayern Munich Age 32 (27.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 3

● Marc-Andre TER STEGEN Barcelona (Spa) Age 25 (30.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 DEFENDERS

● Jerome BOATENG Bayern Munich Age 29 (03.09.88) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jonas HECTOR Cologne Age 27 (27.05.90) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Mats HUMMELS Bayern Munich Age 29 (16.12.88) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Joshua KIMMICH Bayern Munich Age 23 (08.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Shkodran MUSTAFI Arsenal (Eng) Age 25 (17.12.92) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Marvin PLATTENHARDT

● Muller

● Leon GORETZKA Schalke Age 23 (06.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Ilkay GUNDOGAN Manchester City (Eng) Age 27 (24.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sami KHEDIRA Juventus (Ita) Age 31 (04.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Toni KROOS Real Madrid (Spa) Age 28 (04.01.90) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Thomas MULLER Bayern Munich Age 28 (13.09.89) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Mesut OZIL Arsenal (Eng) Age 29 (15.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Sebastian RUDY Bayern Munich Age 28 (28.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 1 FORWARDS

● Marco REUS

Hertha Berlin Age 26 (26.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 28 (31.05.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Antonio RUDIGER

● Leroy SANE

Chelsea (Eng) Age 25 (03.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Niklas SULE Bayern Munich Age 22 (03.09.95) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Julian DRAXLER Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 24 (20.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 3

Manchester City (Eng) Age 22 (11.01.96) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sandro WAGNER Bayern Munich Age 30 (29.11.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Timo WERNER RB Leipzig Age 22 (06.03.96) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: THOMAS MULLER No other country at the 2018 World Cup will have as much attacking talent as Germany. The wealth of options open to coach Joachim Low was apparent in the World Cup qualifiers when a record 22 different players were on the scoresheet for the 10 games played by the Nationalmannshaft. Last summer Low rested several key players when he selected his squad for the Confederations Cup, while he also avoided selecting several upand-coming youngsters who instead joined up with the European Under-21 Championship squad. Both teams won their respective tournaments – leaving Low with major selection dilemmas ahead of this summer’s World Cup.

One player who Low will have no hesitation in picking is Thomas Muller. The Bayern Munich allrounder is only 28 but is closing in on 100 caps for his country, having made his senior Germany debut aged 20. He is also on the verge of making World Cup history, having already scored 10 goals for Germany in his two previous World Cup appearances in 2010 and 2014. After a spell on the sidelines with injury, Muller bounced back with a vengeance in the 2018 qualifiers, scoring five goals and making seven others as Germany cruised through to Russia. “Muller is a natural talent, never seriously injured and physically always in good shape,” says Low. WORLD CUP 2018 83


ICELAND

THE SCHEDULE GROUP D June 16 v Argentina (Moscow Spartak) June 22 v Nigeria (Volgograd June 26 v Croatia (Rostov-on-Don)

THE BETTING 250/1 to win the World Cup 14/1 to win Group D

THE QUESTIONS How can such a small nation qualify for the World Cup? The recent generation of players is strong, both physically and mentally, with all of them playing professionally abroad – although few are with big teams in strong leagues. How have Iceland climbed the FIFA ranking list so quickly? The transition can be traced back 15 years, to when the country started building indoor football arenas. Before then, adverse weather conditions meant players could not train properly during the winter. Another reason is a high standard of coaches. Has Iceland got enough strength in depth if key players get injured? If players such as captain Aron Gunnarsson or Gylfi Sigurdsson are not available, their replacements would not be of the same quality even though Iceland has a pretty strong squad of 20 to 25 players. Experiments in recent friendlies would 84 WORLD CUP 2018

suggest that, at this moment in time, others are not ready to step up. Will Heimir Hallgrimsson stick to his tried and tested 4-4-2 formation? Iceland usually play 4-4-2 but during the qualifiers they sometimes used a 4-5-1 set-up, with Gylfi Sigurdsson in the hole behind a lone striker. In a friendly last autumn they even experimented with three centre-backs in a five-man defensive line. That could possibly be used in the summer.

THE COACH ● Heimir HALLGRIMSSON A qualified dentist who still runs a clinic in his native Westmann Islands, he was appointed assistant to Lars Lagerback, when the Icelandic Football Federation hired the Swede as national coach in 2011. Shortly after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, Hallgrimsson and Lagerback signed contracts as joint managers, and when his co-coach called it a day after Euro 2016, Hallgrimsson became the sole boss.

THE KEY PLAYERS Captain Aron Gunnarsson is the heart of the team, with Gylfi Sigurdsson the brains. Centre-backs Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kari Arnason are an important pairing. keeper Hannes Halldorsson is another essential piece in the puzzle.

ONE TO WATCH PSV winger Albert Gudmundsson, the son of Iceland’s world-famous commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson, made his senior debut last year.

STAR MAN ● Gylfi SIGURDSSON Although he is having a very quiet start to his Everton career follow a big-money move from Swansea last

summer, free-kick specialist Sigurdsson was Iceland’s top scorer during the qualifiers and will be the main hope for goals in Russia.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1954 1958

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not qualify)

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Magnusson ● B Bjarnason ● R Sigurdsson ● Halldorsson ● Arnason

● Bodvarsson ● Gunnarsson ● G Sigurdsson ● Finnbogason

● Saevarsson

● J B Gudmundsson

GOALKEEPERS

● Hannes HALLDORSSON Randers (Den) Age 34 (17.04.84) Apps in qualifiers 9

● Runar RUNARSSON Nordsjaelland (Den) Age 23 (18.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Frederik SCHRAM Roskilde (Den) Age 23 (19.01.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Kari ARNASON Aberdeen (Sco) Age 35 (13.10.82) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Holmar Orn EYJOLFSSON Levski Sofia (Bul) Age 27 (06.08.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jon FJOLUSON Norrkoping (Swe) Age 29 (10.04.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sverrir Ingi INGASON Rostov (Rus) Age 24 (05.08.93) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Hordur MAGNUSSON Bristol City (Eng) Age 25 (11.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Birkir SAEVARSSON Valur Age 33 (11.11.84) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ragnar SIGURDSSON Rostov (Rus) Age 31 (19.06.86) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Ari SKULASON Lokeren (Blg) Age 30 (14.05.87) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Birkir BJARNASON Aston Villa (Eng) Age 29 (27.05.88)

Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Theodor BJARNASON Elazigspor (Tur) Age 31 (04.03.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Rurik GISLASON Sandhausen (Ger) Age 30 (25.02.88) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Johann Berg GUDMUNDSSON Burnley (Eng) Age 27 (27.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Aron GUNNARSSON Cardiff City (Eng) Age 28 (22.04.89) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Emil HALLFREDSSON Udinese (Ita) Age 33 (29.06.84) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gylfi SIGURDSSON Everton (Eng) Age 28 (08.09.89) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Olafur SKULASON Karabukspor (Tur) Age 35 (01.01.83) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Jon Dadi BODVARSSON Reading (Eng) Age 25 (25.05.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Alfred FINNBOGASON Augsburg (Ger) Age 29 (01.02.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Albert GUDMUNDSSON PSV (Hol) Age 20 (15.06.97) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Bjorn Bergmann SIGUDARSON Rostov (Rus) Age 27 (26.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

PROFILE: JOHANN BERG GUDMUNDSSON Iceland were one of the great stories of the 2016 European Championship in France, beating England in a memorable match in Nice before losing to France in the quarter-finals A number of the squad were tipped to move on to bigger clubs, but few actually made the move to top-flight European football. Captain Aron Gunnarsson stayed at Cardiff City, centre-back Ragnar Sigurdsson joined Fulham – since moving to the Russian league – while Birkir Bjarnason left Swiss champions Basle for Aston Villa. Johann Berg Gudmundsson was one of the few players from the class of 2016 who did make the step up, leaving League One side Charlton Athletic

in a £2.5million deal to join newly-promoted Burnley, where he has been one of the stars in the push for the Premier League top six by Sean Dyche’s side this season. His first campaign at Turf Moor proved frustrating, with the winger restricted to 10 league starts and a further 10 appearances from the bench because of injury. This season, though, Gudmundsson has been a revelation as Burnley have punched above the weight to stay above the relegation battle and instead challenge for a place in Europe. “Johann’s maturing into a very good player,” says Dyche. “His game is improving all round. There’s a lot of good signs.” WORLD CUP 2018 85


IRAN

THE SCHEDULE GROUP B June 15 v Morocco (Saint Petersburg) June 20 v Spain (Kazan) June 25 v Portugal (Saransk)

THE BETTING 500/1 to win the World Cup 25/1 to win Group B

THE QUESTIONS Will Iran be able to score goals? Despite having such a talented attacker such as Sardar Azmoun, goals did not exactly flow freely in qualification. To get out of the group he is going to need support. Who will step up when the pressure is on? Iran has long had powerful midfielders, both physically and mentally, but the present crop is younger and more technical. With the team’s stroll to the World Cup it remains to be seen who will emerge as a leader when the pressure is really on. Will preparation help or hinder? While Japan and South Korea regularly play some of the world’s biggest sides, Iran struggle to attract the same calibre of friendly opposition. Carlos Queiroz has openly called upon the national federation to pull out all the stops to get the team ready. Can Queiroz’s tactical acumen make a difference? The former Real Madrid boss has few peers in Asia 86 WORLD CUP 2018

when it comes to organising a team and coming up with the right tactics. However, he will be pitting his wits against a higher class of coach and opposition in Russia. Will expectations be a problem? Iran have had talented teams before, such as in 2006, but this is the first time they are widely accepted as Asia’s best and first time that there are genuine expectations that they can get to the knockout stage. It could have an unpredictable effect.

THE COACH ● Carlos QUEIROZ The 65-year-old Portuguese veteran has been in place for six years and has used his vast experience to get the team where it is today. Has qualified three different nations for four World Cups: South Africa, Portugal and now Iran, where he is beloved by fans. This summer could be his biggest test.

THE KEY PLAYERS Sardar Azmoun can lay claim to be the best striker in Asia at the moment, while Reza Ghoochannejhad has been scoring goals for fun in Holland. Striker Mehdi Taremi has his critics at home but often pops up with a goal when needed, and veteran defender Jalal Hosseini has over a century of appearances and is still going strong.

ONES TO WATCH Just 21, Saeid Ezatolahi is being called “the Persian Pogba” and the Russian-based midfielder has all the attributes to become a real star.

STAR MAN ● Sardar AZMOUN Iran’s top scorer in qualifying with 11 goals, he has long been hailed as the greatest talent to come out of the

Middle East. A star in Russia for Rostov and Rubin Kazan, the 23-year-old has been heavily linked with a transfer to Liverpool.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1974 1978 1990 1994 1998

(did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage

2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Shojaei

● Hajsafi ● J Hosseini ● Beiranvand

● Taremi ● Ansarifard

● Ezatolahi ● Montazeri

● Azmoun

● Jahanbakhsh ● Ghafouri

GOALKEEPERS

● Alireza BEIRANVAND Persepolis Age 25 (21.09.92) Apps in qualifying 12

● Hossein HOSSEINI Esteghlal Age 25 (30.06.92) Apps in qualifying 0

● Mohammad MAZAHERI Zob Ahan Age 28 (18.05.89) Apps in qualifying 1 DEFENDERS

● Rouzbeh CHESHMI Esteghlal Age 24 (24.07.93) Apps in qualifying 2 Goals in qualifying 0

● Vouria GHAFOURI Esteghlal Age 30 (20.09.87) Apps in qualifying 5 Goals in qualifying 0

● Jalal HOSSEINI Persepolis Age 36 (03.02.82) Apps in qualifying 11 Goals in qualifying 2

● Milad MOHAMMADI Akhmat Grozny (Rus) Age 24 (29.09.93) Apps in qualifying 10 Goals in qualifying 0

● Pejman MONTAZERI Esteghlal Age 34 (06.09.83) Apps in qualifying 10 Goals in qualifying 0

● Morteza POURALIGANJI Al Sadd (Qat) Age 26 (19.04.92) Apps in qualifying 12 Goals in qualifying 1

● Ramin REZAEIAN Oostende (Blg) Age 28 (21.03.90) Apps in qualifying 14 Goals in qualifying 1 MIDFIELDERS

● Vahid AMIRI Persepolis Age 30 (02.04.88) Apps in qualifying 17 Goals in qualifying 0

● Omid EBRAHIMI Esteghlal Age 30 (16.09.87) Apps in qualifying 10 Goals in qualifying 0

● Saeid EZATOLAHI Rostov (Rus) Age 21 (01.10.96) Apps in qualifying 13 Goals in qualifying 1

● Saman GHODDOS Ostersund (Swe) Age 24 (06.09.93) Apps in qualifying 0 Goals in qualifying 0

● Ehsan HAJSAFI Olympiakos (Gre) Age 28 (25.02.90) Apps in qualifying 13 Goals in qualifying 2

● Alireza JAHANBAKHSH AZ (Hol) Age 24 (11.08.93) Apps in qualifying 14 Goals in qualifying 2

● Masoud SHOJAEI AEK (Gre) Age 33 (09.06.84) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 1

● Mehdi TORABI Saipa Age 23 (10.09.94) Apps in qualifying 7 Goals in qualifying 1 FORWARDS

● Karim ANSARIFARD Olympiakos (Gre) Age 28 (03.04.90) Apps in qualifying 6 Goals in qualifying 1

● Sardar AZMOUN Rubin Kazan (Rus) Age 23 (01.01.95) Apps in qualifying 16 Goals in qualifying 11

● Reza GHOOCHANNEJHAD Heerenveen (Hol) Age 30 (20.09.87) Apps in qualifying 9 Goals in qualifying 1

● Kaveh REZAEI Charleroi (Blg) Age 26 (05.04.92) Apps in qualifying 3 Goals in qualifying 0

● Mehdi TAREMI Al Gharafa (Qat) Age 25 (18.07.92) Apps in qualifying 16 Goals in qualifying 8

PROFILE: ALIREZA JAHANBAKHSH Asian teams often struggle at World Cups because their players lack European experience – but that should not be a problem for Iran. Star man Sardar Azmoun has played in Russia since 2013, while exciting winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh has been one of the outstanding performers in the Dutch league this season with AZ. “I want to become Iran’s Johan Cruyff,” he said on arriving in Holland in 2013. Whether he will surpass former Iranian stars like Ali Daei, Ali Karimi or his idol Mehdi Mahdavikia remains to be seen, but the 24-year-old is certainly having the best campaign of his career. Jahanbakhsh is a vital cog in AZ’s success this

term in the Eredivisie and no other player in the league has had more shots on target (41 by the end of February) or more ball possession in the box (158). But what really makes him tick are his crosses and goals, and no other wide man in the Dutch top flight has delivered more (eight assists and 14 goals). His performances in Europe have raised the prospect of a move to a bigger club. Brighton & Hove Albion tried to sign him in the January transfer window and there are strong rumours that he could move to the Bundesliga for next season. A strong World Cup with Iran would help that move become reality. WORLD CUP 2018 87


JAPAN

THE SCHEDULE GROUP H June 19 v Colombia (Saransk) June 24 v Senegal (Yekaterinburg) June 28 v Poland (Volgograd)

THE BETTING 250/1 to win the World Cup 9/1 to win Group H

THE QUESTIONS Who are the strikers? The midfield formation varies but new coach Akira Nishino is likely to stick with a three-man front line. Yuya Osako is the first-choice centre-forward but all three positions are still up for grabs. The likes of Shinji Okazaki, Takumo Asano, Keisuke Honda, Yuya Kubo, Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Inui, Shinzo Koroki and Kenyu Sugimoto are all very much in contention.

Can Japan defend? It’s the same old question that just won’t go away. The organisation is there but there are too many covering errors for success at the very top level. Will Japan turn to youth? Several younger players are now making their mark, including Kubo and Asano in attack, Ideguchi in midfield, defensive midfielder Wataru Endo and centre-back Gen Shoji. A lot of other new blood is now coming into the squad.

THE COACH ● Akira NISHINO Previously the Japanese FA’s technical director, the 63-year-old took charge in April following the shock sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic after poor friendly results against Mali and Ukraine. Halilhodzic oversaw Japan’s successful qualifying campaign but was an abrasive character. Nishino is seen as a safe pair of hands. shin

THE KEY PLAYERS Stars Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Okazaki and Yuto Nagatomo should all be in Russia, but their playing time has been sharply reduced. Maya Yoshida is a rock at the heart of defence. Hotaru Yamaguchi is now the key holding player in midfield, while Eiji Kawashima is back as the first choice in goal. Influential captain Makoto Hasebe was missing for much of 2017 through injury.

ONES TO WATCH

Who will be able to provide the ammunition for the front three? Makoto Hasebe, if fit, but watch out for new faces here, notably Yosuke Ideguchi, a 21-year-old with a superb long-range shot. Ideguchi set up Japan’s first goal and cracked in the second in a 2-0 win over Australia that secured automatic qualification.

STAR MAN

Who will keep goal? Eiji Kawashima was back as first choice in the final qualifiers but former coach Halilhodzic liked to play mind games and recalled former number on Shusaku Nishikawa to the squad.

● Shinji OKAZAKI Leicester City’s energetic striker was a key figure in his club’s dramatic Premier League victory in 2016,

88 WORLD CUP 2018

Forward Shoya Nakajima has been a revelation in Portugal this season, on loan at Portimonense.

stretching defences with his hard-running style. The former Mainz hit man is the most capped player in the Japanese squad, with 110 caps.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1954 1962 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1982 1986 1990 1990 1998

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage

2002 2006 2010 2014

Second round Group stage Second round Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Nagatomo ● Makino

● Okazaki

● Hasebe

● Kawashima ● Yoshida

● Ideguchi

● Osako

● Yamaguchi

● H Sakai

GOALKEEPERS

● Eiji KAWASHIMA Metz (Fra) Age 35 (25.03.83) Apps in qualifiers 6

● Kosuke NAKAMURA Kashiwa Reysol Age 23 (27.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Shusaku NISHIKAWA Urawa Red Diamonds Age 31 (18.06.86) Apps in qualifiers 11 DEFENDERS

● Tomoaki MAKINO Urawa Red Diamonds Age 30 (11.05.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Masato MORISHIGE Tokyo Age 30 (21.05.87) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Yuto NAGATOMO Internazionale (Ita) Age 31 (12.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gotoku SAKAI Hamburg (Ger) Age 27 (14.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Hiroki SAKAI

● Kubo

● Makoto HASEBE Eintracht Frankfurt Age 34 (18.01.84) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Yosuke IDEGUCHI Leeds United (Eng) Age 21 (23.08.96) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Shinji KAGAWA Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 29 (17.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 6

● Hotaru YAMAGUCHI Cerezo Osaka Age 27 (06.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 1 FORWARDS

● Genki HARAGUCHI Hertha Berlin (Ger) Age 26 (09.05.91) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Keisuke HONDA Pachuca (Mex) Age 31 (13.06.86) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 7

● Takashi INUI

Marseille (Fra) Age 28 (12.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 0

Eibar (Spa) Age 29 (02.06.86) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gen SHOJI

● Yuya KUBO

Kashima Antlers Age 25 (11.12.92) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

Gent (Blg) Age 24 (24.12.93) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Naomichi UEDA Kashima Antlers Age 23 (24.10.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Maya YOSHIDA Southampton (Eng) Age 29 (24.08.86) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 5 MIDFIELDERS

● Wataru ENDO Urawa Red Diamonds Age 25 (09.02.93) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: MAKOTO HASEBE

● Shoya NAKAJIMA Tokyo Age 23 (23.08.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Shinji OKAZAKI Leicester City (Eng) Age 32 (16.04.86) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Yuya OSAKO Cologne (Ger) Age 27 (18.05.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

Japanese players who signed for European clubs used to be dismissed as commercial signings who would be more useful off the pitch – selling merchandise for their new clubs – than on it. Makoto Hasebe has helped to smash that stereotype into smithereens. The 34-year-old has been a regular in the Bundesliga for almost a decade and has become the archetypal model professional for Wolfsburg, Nuremburg and now Eintracht Frankfurt. “Hasebe is a one-off and a pro through and through,” said his Bayern Munich-born Eintracht coach Niko Kovac, who has deployed the Japan star as a sweeper and at right-back as well as in his

traditional role in defensive midfield. “I feel good playing at sweeper because I can help the team with my experience,” says Hasebe. “You’re under less pressure than in midfield, so you have more time on the ball. I’m happy that the coach has found this role for me.” Hasebe is also a crucial figure in the holding midfield role for Japan and their World Cup qualifying campaign stalled badly when he was sidelined through injury. “I had a player called Tsuneyasu Miyamoto when I was at Salzburg,” says Kovac. “He was the long-time captain of Japan and an icon in his homeland. I’ve told Hasi [Hasebe], ‘Now you’re the icon’.” WORLD CUP 2018 89


MEXICO

THE SCHEDULE GROUP F June 17 v Germany (Moscow Luzhniki) June 23 v South Korea (Rostov) June 27 v Sweden (Yekaterinburg)

THE BETTING 100/1 to win the World Cup 11/2 to win Group F

THE QUESTIONS Where does the team’s biggest weakness lie? When analysing Mexico’s squad you can find an abundance of riches in attack, but they remain vulnerable at the back. El Tri like to keep possession and dictate the rhythm of games, but they suffer when put under pressure and attacked. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio must find a way to balance the team. How good is Hirving Lozano? The PSV winger has had a brilliant start in the Dutch Eredivisie, distributing goals and assists equally, and Mexican fans will expect him to be the player who makes a difference in Russia. However, at 22 years of age, that is a big ask. Will Rafa Marquez play in a fifth World Cup at the age of 39? He seemed on track for another finals until a US government report accused him of being a “front man” for organised crime. Marquez is now back home playing for Atlas but has not been called up by Osorio since the incident. 90 WORLD CUP 2018

Can Mexico compete with the big boys? Despite his great results in the qualifiers, Osorio is far from generating unanimity in Mexico. The main reason is related to two defeats suffered in the knockout rounds of major tournaments against high-quality rivals: 7-0 against Chile in the Copa America and 4-1 against Germany in the Confederations Cup. Two good results in away friendlies at Belgium (3-3) and Poland (1-0) have reassured public opinion a little, but doubts about the team in important matches persist.

THE COACH ● Juan Carlos OSORIO The 56-year-old, who was appointed in October 2015, was assistant to Stuart Pearce at Manchester City before starting a coaching career in his native Colombia and then moving on to Mexico, Brazil and the United States. He won the Colombian league title when in charge of Once Caldas and three more with Atletico Nacional.

THE KEY PLAYERS Captain Andres Guardado provides calm leadership in midfield. The same can also be said of Hector Moreno at the back. Hector Herrera, Jesus Corona and Miguel Layun have been regulars in recent years, as has keeper Guillermo Ochoa. Russia 2018 will be a first World Cup for winger Hirving Lozano who is an exciting new talent.

ONE TO WATCH American-born midfield talent Jonathan Gonzalez recently opted to play for Mexico ahead of the USA.

STAR MAN ● Javier HERNANDEZ Although he has not had the best of club campaigns this season, battling relegation from the Premier League

with West Ham United, “Chicharito” is his country’s all-time top goalscorer and remains the team’s most recognisable face.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

Group stage (did not qualify) (did not enter) Group stage Group stage

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

Group stage Group stage Group stage Quarter-finals (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

Group stage (did not qualify) Quarter-finals (banned) Second round

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Second round Second round Second round Second round Second round

THE SQUAD ● Layun ● Reyes ● Ochoa

● Lozano ● Herrera

● Hernandez ● G Dos Santos

● Moreno ● Guardado ● Salcedo

GOALKEEPERS

● Jesus CORONA Cruz Azul Age 37 (28.01.81) Apps in qualifiers 11

● Guillermo OCHOA Standard Liege (Blg) Age 32 (13.07.85) Apps in qualifiers 8

● Alfredo TALAVERA Toluca Age 35 (18.05.82) Apps in qualifiers 5 DEFENDERS

● Edson ALVAREZ America Age 20 (24.10.97) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nestor ARAUJO Santos Laguna Age 26 (21.08.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Hugo AYALA Tigres Age 31 (31.03.87) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jesus GALLARDO Pumas Age 23 (14.08.94) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Miguel LAYUN Porto (Por) Age 29 (25.06.88) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Hector MORENO Real Sociedad (Spa) Age 30 (17.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Diego REYES Porto (Por) Age 25 (19.09.92) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Carlos SALCEDO Guadalajara Age 24 (29.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Corona

● Giovani DOS SANTOS LA Galaxy (USA) Age 28 (11.05.89) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jonathan DOS SANTOS LA Galaxy (USA) Age 27 (26.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Marco FABIAN Eintracht Frankfurt (Ger) Age 28 (21.07.89) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Andres GUARDADO Real Betis (Spa) Age 31 (28.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Hector HERRERA Porto (Por) Age 28 (19.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 2 FORWARDS

● Jesus CORONA Porto (Por) Age 25 (06.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Javier HERNANDEZ West Ham United (Eng) Age 29 (01.06.88) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Raul JIMENEZ Benfica (Por) Age 26 (05.05.91) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Hirving LOZANO PSV (Hol) Age 22 (30.07.95) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Oribe PERALTA America Age 34 (12.01.84) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Javier AQUINO

● Carlos VELA

Tigres Age 28 (11.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

Los Angeles (USA) Age 29 (01.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: ANDRES GUARDADO Traditionally, Mexican players do not travel well in Europe. The popularity of the domestic Mexican league means that wages are high and most – even the top internationals – can afford to play out their careers at home. Andres Guardado is one of the exceptions. Mexico’s captain has played in Europe for more than a decade, first at Deportivo La Coruna and Valencia, and then Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen and PSV in Holland. More recently, he has returned to Spain to star for Real Betis. With 144 international caps yet still only 31 years of age, Guardado provides calm leadership in midfield for the national side. He is already Mexico’s

fourth-most capped player of all time and has Pavel Pardo and Gerardo Torrado (both on 146) in his sights. His target is all-time top appearanceholder Claudio Saurez (177 caps). “To be honest, I never think about it,” he said when asked about the caps record. “I was told about it and I wasn’t aware I’d played that many games. It’s a statistic that motivates me, of course, and you can say: ‘How nice that when I retire, I’ll go down in history as one of my national team’s mostcapped players.’ “But I’m not obsessed with catching those who are ahead of me. As long as my legs and body allow me, I’ll try to play as many matches as I can.” WORLD CUP 2018 91


MOROCCO

THE SCHEDULE GROUP B June 15 v Iran (Saint Petersburg) June 20 v Portugal (Moscow Luzhniki) June 25 v Spain (Kaliningrad)

THE BETTING 300/1 to win the World Cup 16/1 to win Group B

THE QUESTIONS Will Morocco manage to retain their new-found unity this summer? There are many disparate elements in a squad that has a French-born contingent, a Dutch-born colony and a few from Morocco itself. It has not always been harmonious, but a return to the World Cup has been built on team spirit.

target man. He has now lost his starting place – and ever since then Morocco have had little physical presence in attack. Will Renard make more changes to keep the regulars on their toes? As a man who likes to have an edgy camp, and a coach who tries to keep his players on their toes, he often springs a surprise with some his selections and handed Amiens defender Oualid El Hajjam a first cap against Uzbekistan in March.

THE COACH ● Herve RENARD After a limited playing career, the 49year-old got his break as Claude Le Roy’s assistant with Ghana in 2008 and went on to win African Nations Cup titles with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015).

THE KEY PLAYERS Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia enjoys the highest profile of the Moroccan exports, while the midfield duo of Mbark Boussoufa and Younes Belhanda have a star quality that energises the team. Dutch-born Karim El Ahmadi is the anchor of the side. Sofiane Boufal has established himself as a key player and Hakim Ziyech on the wing is a creative force. Feyenoord’s Sofyan Amrabat has chosen to play for Morocco over Holland, just as Ziyech did two years earlier.

Is Karim El Ahmadi past his sell-by date at international level? The former Aston Villa midfielder, who is now 33, played a major role in the qualifying campaign and was also integral to Feyenoord winning the Dutch Eredivisie title last season. However, his legs look to be growing a little weary and he could struggle next summer.

STAR MAN

Could Herve Renard’s side be a little lightweight in attack? At the 2017 African Nations Cup in January, the gangly Aziz Bouhaddouz – who plays for St Pauli in the German second division – was the team’s

● Mehdi BENATIA Morocco’s French-born captain is one of the most successful African players in European club football, having

92 WORLD CUP 2018

ONE TO WATCH Ayoub El Kaabi was the star of Morocco’s win in the African Nations Championship for homegrown players.

won league titles in Germany (with Bayern Munich) and Italy (with Juventus). A highly accomplished defender who leads by example.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1934

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not enter) Group stage (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round (did not qualify) Group stage

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Mendyl

● Ziyech

● Benatia ● Boussoufa ● Mohamedi ● Boutaib ● Belhanda ● Saiss ● El Ahmadi ● Dirar

GOALKEEPERS

● Yassine BOUNOU Girona (Spa) Age 27 (05.04.91) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Munir MOHAMEDI Numancia (Spa) Age 28 (10.05.89) Apps in qualifiers 8

● Ahmed Reda TAGNAOUTI Wydad Age 22 (05.04.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Badr BANOUN Raja Age 24 (30.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Medhi BENATIA Juventus (Ita) Age 30 (17.04.88) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Manuel DA COSTA Istanbul Basaksehir (Tur) Age 31 (06.05.86) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nabil DIRAR Fenerbahce (Tur) Age 32 (25.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Oualid EL HAJJAM Amiens (Fra) Age 27 (19.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Achraf HAKIMI Real Madrid (Spa) Age 19 (04.11.98) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Hamza MENDYL Lille (Fra) Age 20 (21.10.97) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Romain SAISS Wolverhampton Wanderers (Eng) Age 28 (26.03.90) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Youssef AIT BENNASSER Monaco (Fra) Age 21 (07.07.96) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● N Amrabat

● Nordin AMRABAT Watford (Eng) Age 31 (31.03.87) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sofyan AMRABAT Feyenoord (Hol) Age 21 (21.08.96) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Younes BELHANDA Galatasaray (Tur) Age 28 (25.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sofiane BOUFAL Southampton (Eng) Age 24 (17.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Mbark BOUSSOUFA Al Jazira (UAE) Age 33 (15.08.84) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Karim EL AHMADI Feyenoord (Hol) Age 33 (17.01.85) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Hakim ZIYECH Ajax (Hol) Age 25 (19.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 3 FORWARDS

● Yacine BAMMOU Nantes (Fra) Age 26 (11.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 1

PROFILE: HAKIM ZIYECH

● Aziz BOUHADDOUZ St Pauli (Ger) Age 31 (29.01.87) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Khalid BOUTAIB Yeni Malatyaspor Age 30 (24.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Ayoub EL KAABI RS Berkane Age 24 (26.06.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

A number of factors are behind Morocco’s first World Cup qualification in 20 years. Coach Herve Renard has the knack of getting the best from his players, but the biggest factor has been the ability of the Moroccan football federation to persuade players born in Europe to Moroccan families to opt to play for their “mother country”. Winger Hakim Ziyech was born and raised in Holland and played for the Dutch at under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels before opting to play his senior international football for Morocco, the country of his parents. He made his Morocco debut in 2015 but, much to the surprise of many Lions of Atlas fans, coach

Renard left him out of his squad for last year’s African Nations Cup. “I know that a selector never stays in place for long, so I’ll be patient,” responded Ziyech. Since then Ziyech’s form for Ajax has persuaded Renard to make him a fixture in the team. Ziyech has been one of the most impressive creative players in the Dutch League over the past few seasons. An outstanding total package of technical virtuosity, vision, intelligent movement and substantial goal threat, his decision making is excellent, he is agile and lively, and he has a good feel for mixing up the styles, knowing exactly when to play it simple and when to take on and beat a man. WORLD CUP 2018 93


NIGERIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP D June 16 v Croatia (Nizhny Novgorod) June 22 v Iceland (Volgograd) June 26 v Argentina (Saint Petersburg)

THE BETTING 150/1 to win the World Cup 9/1 to win Group D

THE QUESTIONS Could Nigeria go further than any other African country and reach the semi-finals? No African team has made the last four at a World Cup and it has always been supposed that Nigeria, with its population of some 190million, would be strong contenders to be the first. This squad, however, will probably not be the one to do so.

CAF to postpone their 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier in the Seychelles in March so that they could get themselves some more testing preparation before their campaign gets under way. Who could make a late push for inclusion for this summer’s squad? Strikers Emmanuel Dennis of Club Brugge and Midtjylland’s Paul Onuachu are among the top scorers in the league in Belgium and Denmark this season.

THE COACH ● Gernot ROHR Appointed in August 2016 on a twoyear contract, the 64-year-old began his African coaching career at Etoile Sahel and led the national teams of Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso before his appointment by Nigeria.

THE KEY PLAYERS John Obi Mikel is still the orchestrator in midfield, playing a more advanced midfield role than he did at club level. Leon Balogun has not been around long but he already captains the side and is the defensive bulwark in a relatively inexperienced back four. Former Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi sits in front of the back four.

ONES TO WATCH Exciting young English-based players Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi are yet to deliver on the impact that has been expected of them, although Iwobi did get the goal that ensured qualification as they beat Zambia.

Will Nigeria change their goalkeeper before the World Cup? Carl Ikeme’s absence after being diagnosed with acute leukemia left a void which Ikechuku Ezenwa did not look capable of filling in the later stages of qualifying. This could see a return for Vincent Enyeama, who retired from the national team after a spat with previous coach Sunday Oliseh.

STAR MAN

Will the team be properly prepared? For the first time at a World Cup finals, Nigeria look to have a proactive administration. They have already had a friendly game in Russia, where they beat Argentina, and they also managed to persuade

● Victor MOSES After three seasons out on loan, the one-time winger has successfully re-established himself at Chelsea and is

94 WORLD CUP 2018

now employed as a wingback. He proved during the qualifying campaign that Nigeria are a level up on their ability when he plays.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Second round Group stage (did not qualify) Group stage Second round

THE SQUAD ● Aina

● Iwobi

● Troost-Ekong ● Ezenwa ● Onazi ● Balogun

● Mikel

● Ighalo

● Ndidi

● Abdullahi

GOALKEEPERS

● Daniel AKPEYI Chippa United (SAf) Age 31 (03.08.86) Apps in qualifiers 1

● Vincent ENYEAMA Lille (Fra) Age 35 (29.08.82) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Ikechukwu EZENWA Enyimba Age 29 (16.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 4 DEFENDERS

● Shehu ABDULLAHI Bursaspor (Tur) Age 25 (12.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ola AINA Chelsea (Eng) Age 21 (08.10.96) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Chidozie AWAZIEM Porto (Por) Age 21 (01.01.97) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Leon BALOGUN Mainz (Ger) Age 28 (28.06.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Moses

l John Obi MIKEL Tianjin TEDA (Chn) Age 30 (22.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Wilfred NDIDI Leicester City (Eng) Age 21 (16.12.96) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Joel OBI Torino (Ita) Age 26 (22.05.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● John OGU Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Isr) Age 30 (20.04.88) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Ogenyi ONAZI Trabzonspor (Tur) Age 25 (25.12.92) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Moses SIMON Gent (Blg) Age 22 (12.07.95) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2 FORWARDS

● Elderson ECHIEJILE

● Odion IGHALO

Cercle Brugge (Blg) Age 30 (20.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

Changchun Yatai (Chn) Age 28 (16.06.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Stephen EZE Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Bul) Age 24 (08.03.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Kenneth OMERUO Chelsea (Eng) Age 24 (17.10.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● William TROOSTEKONG Bursaspor (Tur) Age 24 (01.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Oghenekaro ETEBO Feirense (Por) Age 22 (09.11.95) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Kelechi IHEANACHO Leicester City (Eng) Age 21 (03.10.96) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2

PROFILE: JON OBI MIKEL

● Alex IWOBI Arsenal (Eng) Age 21 (03.05.96) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Victor MOSES Chelsea (Eng) Age 27 (12.12.90) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Ahmed MUSA Leicester City (Eng) Age 25 (14.10.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

For more than a decade, Jon Obi Mikel was a combative defensive midfielder at Chelsea, performing the disciplined duties that enabled the club’s attacking stars to do what they did best. Yet with Nigeria, Mikel takes on a different role as the team’s main creative midfielder. Mikel may have traded the Premier League for the Chinese League, following last January’s move to Tianjin Teda, but he has retained the confidence of national coach Gernot Rohr who says: “John Obi Mikel is our uncontested leader.” At Chelsea, Mikel struggled to get first-team action after Antonio Conte became manager in summer 2016, especially with the arrival of N’Golo

Kante. Rohr actually encouraged Mikel to move to China last year because he did not want his captain and most experienced player – Mikel has more than 80 caps – to be languishing on the sidelines at Chelsea. Rohr said at the time: “He cannot stay in a club he is not playing. So he has to move.” The player himself admits: “I could easily have stayed in Chelsea for the remaining six months of my contract but it won’t be in the best interest of my nation, as they need me match fit. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I seriously need matches to stay fit for Nigeria. “Nigerians don’t deserve to miss out.” WORLD CUP 2018 95


PANAMA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP G June 18 v Belgium (Sochi) June 24 v England (Nizhny Novgorod) June 28 v Tunisia (Saransk)

THE BETTING 1,000/1 to win the World Cup 20/1 to win Group G

THE QUESTIONS Will the coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, dare to make changes? Of the team that started the decisive match against Costa Rica, only three – Fidel Escobar, Edgar Barcenas and Anibal Godoy – were under 29. But while the coach’s commitment to experience may have paid off against regional opponents, a lack of pace could be a handicap against more powerful opposition. What to do with Felipe Baloy? For years he has undoubtedly been the best player in the team and a rock at the heart of the defence. However, in the last qualifying matches he seemed to have lost his way a bit, and he had a strong verbal confrontation with the press after the defeat against the USA. Relegated to the bench for the Costa Rica game, it is pertinent to ask whether, at 37, he can still contribute. Will the team be able to compete in Russia? After booking their ticket, the prevalent feeling is that 96 WORLD CUP 2018

the team have done the hard part. The hope now is that they arrive in Russia with sufficient motivation to pull off an upset like Costa Rica did four years ago. Who will stand out from the new generation? If Gomez feels that he needs to make a change, the younger talents of the team must take a step forward. While there are several promising newcomers in and around the squad, 23-year-old defender Escobar, who started against Costa Rica, is the only one close to breaking into the starting XI.

THE COACH ● Hernan Dario GOMEZ Appointed in February 2014, the 62-year-old Colombian has become an expert in South American and CONCACAF qualification, having previously booked a ticket with Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002. His record in the tournament is less successful, having been twice eliminated in the first round.

THE KEY PLAYERS The base of the Panamanian team has been the same for at least eight years. Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, defender Felipe Baloy, midfielders Gabriel Gomez and Armando Cooper, and strikers Blas Perez and Luis Tejada form the backbone of a team that knows each other by heart.

ONES TO WATCH A 20-year-old striker with Deportivo Fabril, who are Deportivo La Caruna’s reserve side, Ismael Diaz could make the squad, along with 21-year-old midfielder Ricardo Avila of Gent.

STAR MAN ● Roman TORRES Panama’s captain scored the goal that qualified the team for the finals. Nicknamed “Mazinger” because of a body

that resembles a wrestler more than a footballer, he embodies the team virtues of determination and discipline rather than skill.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Davis ● Cooper

● Escobar

● Gomez ● Penedo

● Perez

● R Torres ● Godoy ● Machado ● Tejada ● Murillo

GOALKEEPERS

● Jose CALDERON Chorrillo Age 32 (14.08.85) Apps in qualifiers 4

● Jaime PENEDO Dinamo Bucharest (Rom) Age 36 (26.09.81) Apps in qualifiers 12

● Alex RODRIGUEZ San Francisco Age 27 (05.08.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Felipe BALOY Municipal (Gtm) Age 37 (24.02.81) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Harold CUMMINGS San Jose Earthquakes (USA) Age 26 (01.03.92) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Erick DAVIS DAC Dunajska Streda (Slk) Age 27 (31.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Fidel ESCOBAR Sporting San Miguelito Age 23 (09.01.95) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Adolfo MACHADO Houston Dynamo (USA) Age 33 (14.02.85) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Michael Amir MURILLO New York Red Bulls (USA) Age 22 (15.02.96) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Luis OVALLE Olimpia (Hnd) Age 29 (07.09.88) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Roman TORRES Seattle Sounders (USA) Age 32 (20.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 2 MIDFIELDERS

● Ricardo AVILA Gent (Blg) Age 21 (04.01.97) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Edgar BARCENAS Arabe Unido Age 24 (23.10.93) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Miguel CAMARGO Universidad San Martin (Per) Age 24 (05.09.93) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Armando COOPER Universidad de Chile (Chl) Age 30 (26.11.87) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Anibal GODOY San Jose Earthquakes (USA) Age 28 (10.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gabriel GOMEZ Atletico Bucaramanga (Col) Age 33 (29.05.84) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Valentin PIMENTEL Plaza Amador Age 26 (30.05.91) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Alberto QUINTERO Universitario (Per) Age 30 (18.12.87) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Abdiel ARROYO Arabe Unido Age 24 (12.12.93) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Blas PEREZ Municipal (Gtm) Age 37 (13.03.81) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Luis TEJADA Sport Boys (Per) Age 36 (28.03.82) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Gabriel TORRES Huachipato (Chl) Age 29 (31.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: LUIS TEJADA Luis Tejada is typical of so many of the Panama squad that will go to Russia this summer. Tejada has played more than 100 times for his country but his club career has been patchy and disjointed, with time spent at clubs in Peru, Colombia and Mexico, as well as a brief spells in MLS and in the United Arab Emirates, without ever getting a chance in Europe. Of the current squad, only keeper Jaime Penedo, full-back Erick Davis and the inexperienced Ricardo Avila play for clubs in Europe. But the trio play in Romania, Slovakia and Belgium respectively, rather than any of the continent’s top leagues. The rest of their team-mates are spread around North,

South and Central America – in Peru, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras and the United States. Tejada, nicknamed “El Matador”, looked like he had made a breakthrough in 2005 when he was named the best player of the CONCACAF Gold Cup as Panama lost to the United States in the Final. But he could not reproduce his international form for UAE club Al Ain and returned to Panama after just a few months. Despite his chequered club career, he has been a mainstay of the Panama national side, with his 43 goals in 104 internationals making him Panama’s all-time top scorer. WORLD CUP 2018 97


PERU

THE SCHEDULE GROUP C June 16 v Denmark (Saransk) June 21 v France (Yekaterinburg) June 26 v Australia (Sochi)

THE BETTING 200/1 to win the World Cup 9/1 to win Group C

THE QUESTIONS How will the return of skipper Paolo Guerrero boost the team? Peru’s centre-forward, all-time top scorer and only world-class player missed November’s play-offs after failing a drugs test. But while his initial one-year ban was halved, freeing him to play in Russia, there are fears that he will lack match fitness. Will 39-year-old Claudio Pizarro be recalled? With the uncertainty over Guerrero following his drugs ban, and with no other proven target man to play up front, Peru may be tempted to recall their former captain, who was on standby for the play-off second leg against New Zealand. Will the squad’s lack of World Cup experience tell in Russia? None of the current squad were born the last time Peru played at a finals. In the past, several Latin American teams with limited experience in this situation have been overawed, starting slowly and then waiting until it was too late to show their best. 98 WORLD CUP 2018

Can they defend in the air? Physically imposing centre-forwards are likely to cause problems, with big New Zealand striker Chris Wood causing panic in the play-offs. Are they short of genuine quality? In 20 qualifying games there were just two victories by a margin bigger than one goal – the clinching 2-0 win over New Zealand and a shock 4-1 triumph in Paraguay. Most wins, and many draws, appeared to be achieved with the team operating at its limit.

THE COACH ● Ricardo GARECA The 60-year-old Argentinian took over from Pablo Bengoechea in February 2015 and his greatest virtue has been an ability to bring calm to an environment prone to despair. He has identified a young group of players with potential and stuck by them until poor results turned to good ones.

THE KEY PLAYERS Edison Flores is a versatile performer, while Paolo Guerrero is the most experience member of the squad. Pedro Gallese was impressive when called upon and signals the end of the days when Peru needs to nationalise Argentinian goalkeepers. Veteran striker Jefferson Farfan stepped up well to cover the absence of Guerrero in the play-offs.

ONE TO WATCH Holding midfielder Renato Tapia made his senior bow in Gareca’s first game in charge and grew in stature during the campaign.

STAR MAN ● Paolo GUERRERO Captain and centre-forward, Guerrero is his country’s alltime record goalscorer but sat out the World Cup qualifying

play-offs after failing a drugs test, though the Brazil-based forward insists he did not take cocaine, claiming he was “a victim of injustice”.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

Group stage (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Quarter-finals (did not qualify) Second round

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Trauco

● Flores

● Rodriguez ● Yotun ● Gallese ● Ramos

● Cueva ● Guerrero

● Tapia

● Advincula

GOALKEEPERS

● Carlos CACEDA Deportivo Municipal Age 26 (17.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 2

● Jose CARVALLO UTC Age 32 (01.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Pedro GALLESE Veracruz (Mex) Age 28 (23.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 16 DEFENDERS

● Luis ABRAM Velez Sarsfield (Arg) Age 22 (27.02.96) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Luis ADVINCULA Tigres (Mex) Age 28 (02.03.90) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Miguel ARAUJO Alianza Lima Age 23 (24.10.94) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Aldo CORZO Universitario Age 28 (20.05.89) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Christian RAMOS Veracruz (Mex) Age 29 (04.11.98) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Alberto RODRIGUEZ Atletico Junior (Col) Age 34 (31.03.84) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Anderson SANTAMARIA Puebla (Mex) Age 26 (10.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Miguel TRAUCO Flamengo (Bra) Age 25 (25.08.92) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Pedro AQUINO Monterrey (Mex) Age 23 (13.04.95) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Carillo

● Andre CARRILLO Benfica (Por) Age 26 (14.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Christian CUEVA Sao Paulo (Bra) Age 26 (23.11.91) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Edison FLORES AaB (Den) Age 23 (15.05.94) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Paolo HURTADO Guimaraes (Por) Age 27 (27.07.90) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Sergio PENA Granada (Spa) Age 22 (28.09.95) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Renato TAPIA Feyenoord (Hol) Age 22 (28.07.95) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Yoshimar YOTUN Orlando City (USA) Age 28 (07.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Jefferson FARFAN Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus) Age 33 (26.10.84) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 4

PROFILE: EDISON FLORES

● Paolo GUERRERO Flamengo (Bra) Age 34 (01.01.84) Apps in qualifiers 17 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Andy POLO Morelia (Mex) Age 23 (29.09.94) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Raul RUIDIAZ Morelia (Mex) Age 27 (25.07.90) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 1

Unlike the other South American sides at the finals, whose star players all earn their living in Europe’s top leagues, few of Peru’s players have experience of playing outside of their own region. There are some exceptions. Captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero is back in South America after a decade in Germany. Jefferson Farfan starred for PSV and Schalke before his current spell at Lokomotiv Moscow. And Andre Carillo was a regular in Portugal for Sporting and Benfica before a switch on loan to Watford last year. Now Edison Flores has joined the small band of Europe-based Peruvians – albeit at the unlikely outpost of AaB in Aalborg. The Lima-born attacking

midfielder has been one of the stars of the Danish league for the past two seasons, establishing himself in the AaB side and attracting interest from a number of clubs in bigger, wealthier leagues. Flores – who is affectionate nickname “Oreja” (big ears) needs little explanation – was also the big success story of Peru’s qualifying campaign. He finished as the side’s joint-top scorer with five goals, including a fine strike against Ecuador which put Peru on the verge of qualification with two games remaining. He was most influential on the left wing but also proved highly effective when cutting inside and finding space behind the main strikers. WORLD CUP 2018 99


POLAND

THE SCHEDULE GROUP H June 19 v Senegal (Moscow Spartak) June 24 v Colombia (Kazan) June 28 v Japan (Volgograd)

THE BETTING 50/1 to win the World Cup 6/4 to win Group H

THE QUESTIONS Who replaces Robert Lewandowski if he gets injured during the finals? Quite simply, there is no such player. The Bayern Munich striker was out with a muscle injury in October but this was later found to be due to exhaustion. Poland will need him fully fit in Russia after he scored 16 goals in qualifying. Who will play at left-back? Like his predecessors as coach, Adam Nawalka is still looking for a natural left-footed player for what has been a problem position for some time. The likeliest candidate at the moment would seem to be Sampdoria’s right-back Bartosz Bereszynski. Will Nawalka introduce a new playing system? Instead of going with his favoured 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 set-up, he tried out a new 3-5-2 formation in November’s friendlies against Uruguay and Mexico and a 3-4-3 set-up against Nigeria in March. It is, however, too early to say whether he will use either of these systems in Russia. 100 WORLD CUP 2018

Are there likely to be any late additions to the squad for Russia? After the last qualifying game, against Macedonia, Lewandowski said “the team needs new blood”. But, despite the coaching staff regularly monitoring a few dozen potential candidates, there is a big problem with finding real replacements who are ready to play at international level. One of the stars of the domestic league, Taras Romanczuk impressed on his debut in March but the squad’s lack of depth may be the team’s biggest problem.

THE COACH ● Adam NAWALKA Appointed in October 2013 and on a contract until the end of the finals. Leo Beenhakker’s assistant for a year when the national team qualified for Euro 2008, his biggest solo successes have been winning the Polish title with Wisla Krakow and guiding the national side to the knockout stage of Euro 2016. A former midfielder, he played for Poland at the 1978 finals.

THE KEY PLAYERS Poland are heavily reliant on Robert Lewandowski for goals. Kamil Glik a rock at the heart of the defence, while right-back Lukasz Piszczek showed his potential in attack by scoring the winner against Montenegro in March 2017. Playmaker Piotr Zielinski has become a key performer for the team.

ONE TO WATCH Napoli attacker Arkadiusz Milik missed much of the qualifying campaign through injury but will be useful addition to the squad in Russia.

STAR MAN ● Robert LEWANDOWSKI The Bayern Munich striker confirmed his world-class ability as Europe’s top scorer in qualifying. Although he has

not been angling for a move away from the Bundesliga, he has been heavily linked with a summer transfer to Real Madrid.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1934 1938 1950 1954 1958

(did not qualify) First round (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not qualify)

1962 1966 1970 1974 1978

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Third place Second round

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

Third place Second round (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Bereszynski ● Glik ● Szczesny

● Grosicki

● Maczynski

● Lewandowski

● Zielinski ● Pazdan

● Krychowiak

● Piszczek

GOALKEEPERS

● Lukasz FABIANSKI Swansea City (Eng) Age 33 (18.04.85) Apps in qualifiers 9

● Lukasz SKORUPSKI Roma (Ita) Age 26 (05.05.91) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Wojciech SZCZESNY Juventus (Ita) Age 28 (18.04.90) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● Bartosz BERESZYNSKI Sampdoria (Ita) Age 25 (12.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Thiago CIONEK SPAL (Ita) Age 32 (21.04.86) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Kamil GLIK Monaco (Fra) Age 30 (03.02.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Artur JEDRZEJCZYK Legia Warsaw Age 30 (04.11.87) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Marcin KAMINSKI Stuttgart (Ger) Age 26 (15.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Michal PAZDAN Legia Warsaw Age 30 (21.09.87) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Lukasz PISZCZEK Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 32 (03.06.85) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1 MIDFIELDERS

● Jakub BLASZCZYKOWSKI Wolfsburg (Ger) Age 32 (14.12.85) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Jacek GORALSKI Ludogorets (Bul) Age 25 (21.09.92) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Blaszczykowski

● Kamil GROSICKI Hull City (Eng) Age 29 (08.06.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Grzegorz KRYCHOWIAK Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 28 (29.01.90) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Rafal KURZAWA Gornik Zabrze Age 25 (29.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Karol LINETTY Sampdoria (Ita) Age 23 (02.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Krzysztof MACZYNSKI Legia Warsaw Age 30 (23.05.1987) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Taras ROMANCZUK Jagiellonia Bialystok Age 26 (14.11.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Maciej RYBUS Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus) Age 28 (19.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers

● Piotr ZIELINSKI Napoli (Ita) Age 23 (20.05.94) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

PROFILE: PIOTR ZIELINSKI

● Dawid KOWNACKI Sampdoria (Ita) Age 21 (14.03.97) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Robert LEWANDOWSKI Bayern Munich (Ger) Age 29 (21.08.88) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 16

● Arkadiusz MILIK Napoli (Ita) Age 24 (28.02.94) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

While Poland are pinning their World Cup hopes on Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski, not everybody will be feeling the same way about a player who has enjoyed a brilliant season in Italy’s Serie A Liverpool will be hoping that Zielinski does not carry his club form for Napoli into the World Cup. The Premier League club had an £11.5million bid rejected when he was with Udinese and they are widely tipped to return with an increased offer. If he performs well for Poland in Russia this summer, his price will continue to rise. One Italian newspaper, Corriere dello Sport, has already reported that Napoli will be asking potential buyers for a fee in the region of £57m.

Zielinski’s playmaking talents have been well know in Poland for some time. “Zielinski already has more quality than De Bruyne,” Polish FA president Zbigniew Boniek has said. Zielinski first came to wider attention in 2015 while at Empoli, on loan from Udinese. Napoli swooped and gazumped Liverpool with a £14m bid in 2016 and he has played a crucial role in their title challenge this season. He was an ever-present in the qualifying campaign, providing the supply line to Robert Lewandowski, as Poland finished as the jointtop scorers in Europe, along with reigning world champions Germany. WORLD CUP 2018 101


PORTUGAL

THE SCHEDULE GROUP B June 15 v Spain (Sochi) June 20 v Morocco (Moscow Luzhniki) June 25 v Iran (Saransk)

THE BETTING 25/1 to win the World Cup 2/1 to win Group B

THE QUESTIONS Have enough of the side had sufficient playing time this term? While the current crop of young Portuguese talent has undoubtedly got potential, few can be considered regular starters for their club sides. What will time spent on the bench do for the match fitness and confidence levels of Andre Silva (Milan), Joao Mario (on loan at West Ham from Internazionale) and Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)? Will a lethal strike force take its qualifying form to Russia? For years Portugal struggled to find a reliable goalscoring centre-forward, but that search looks to be over as Andre Silva has started his international career in spectacular fashion. He also has great chemistry with Cristano Ronaldo, with the pair sharing 24 goals in qualifying. How will Fernando Santos use Bernardo Silva? Silva is widely acknowledged as the biggest talent to come out of Portugal since Ronaldo, but Santos has 102 WORLD CUP 2018

struggled to get the best out of him. Wide right in a flat and narrow 4-4-2 is his usual position, but many are calling for the coach to implement a diamond formation with Silva at the attacking tip. Can Goncalo Guedes force his way into the side? The 21-year-old has been sensational form on loan at Valencia this season after failing to make an impact at Paris Saint-German. He adds interesting options for Santos, either as a left-sided attacking midfielder, a winger or centrally as a support striker.

THE COACH ● Fernando SANTOS Having replaced Paulo Bento, it is now three years at the helm for a man who can rightly be considered as the best coach in Portugal’s history. His current contract runs until 2020. He previously steered Greece to Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.

THE KEY PLAYERS Andre Silva announced himself in style, scoring nine goals in qualifying and forming a lethal partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo. Pepe remains the bedrock of Portugal’s defence, while Ricardo Quaresma and Joao Moutinho continue to make key contributions. For all three, Russia will be their final chance of World Cup glory.

ONE TO WATCH Napoli full-back Mario Rui made his debut in a March friendly against Holland. Portugal lost 3-0 but the 26-year-old was one of the few who made a positive impression and could sneak into the squad.

STAR MAN ● Cristiano RONALDO Now 33, Russia 2018 is his last realistic chance of World Cup glory. Portugal’s top scorer in qualifying has been

conserving his energy this season, starring in the Champions League but limiting his league appearances for Real Madrid.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

(did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Third place (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Group stage Fourth place Second round Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Guerreiro

● Joao Mario ● Ronaldo

● Pepe ● Carvalho ● Patricio ● Moutinho ● Rolando ● Soares

GOALKEEPERS

● BETO Goztepe (Tur) Age 35 (01.06.82) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Andre Silva

● B Silva

Age 23 (08.09.94) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● JOAO MARIO

Lyon (Fra) Age 27 (01.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 0

Internazionale (Ita) Age 25 (19.01.93) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Rui PATRICIO

● Joao MOUTINHO

● Anthony LOPES

Sporting Age 30 (15.02.88) Apps in qualifiers 10 DEFENDERS

Monaco (Fra) Age 31 (08.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Bruno ALVES

● Ruben NEVES

Rangers (Sco) Age 36 (27.11.81) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 1

Wolverhampton Wanderers (Eng) Age 21 (13.03.97) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Fabio COENTRAO Real Madrid (Spa) Age 30 (11.0.3.88) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Jose FONTE Dalian Yifang (Chn) Age 34 (22.12.83) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Raphael GUERREIRO Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 24 (22.12.93) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Adrien SILVA Leicester City (Eng) Age 29 (15.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Bernardo SILVA Manchester City (Eng) Age 23 (10.08.94) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● PEPE

● Goncalo GUEDES

Besiktas (Tur) Age 35 (26.02.83) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 21 (29.11.96) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● RICARDO Porto Age 24 (06.10.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● ROLANDO Marseille (Fra) Age 32 (31.08.85) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cedric SOARES Southampton (Eng) Age 26 (31.08.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● William CARVALHO Sporting Age 26 (07.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Bruno FERNANDES Sporting

● Gelson MARTINS Sporting Age 22 (11.05.95) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ricardo QUARESMA Besiktas (Tur) Age 34 (26.09.83) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cristiano RONALDO Real Madrid (Spa) Age 33 (05.02.85) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 15

● Andre SILVA Milan (Ita) Age 22 (06.11.95) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 9

PROFILE: ANDRE SILVA Over the years, Portugal have struggled to find goalscoring centre-forwards. Talented midfielders like Luis Figo and Rui Costa thrilled crowds at tournaments such as Euro 96 and Euro 2004, but Portugal lacked the natural striker to finish the chances created by the midfield maestros. Even at Euro 2016, when Portugal triumphed against the odds, they were heavily reliant on wide man Cristiano Ronaldo. Eder, the striker who scored the winning goal in the Final against France, has since lost form and is preparing to head back to his parent club Lille after a disappointing season on loan at Lokomotiv Moscow. But Portugal now have a new goalscoring hero in

Andre Silva. The 22-year-old notched nine goals in the qualifying campaign and earned a transfer last summer from Porto to Milan, who paid £35m for his services. The price tag has weighed heavily on him in his first season in Italy, but since January he has started to rediscover the form that persuaded the former European champions to pay such a hefty fee. In March, he finally opened his account for Milan, “I’m happy that Andre Silva scored his first Serie A goal,” said Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso. “It’s already hard to carry this prestigious jersey, even more so when you are young.” With Portugal, however, he cannot stop scoring. WORLD CUP 2018 103


RUSSIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP A June 14 v Saudi Arabia (Moscow Luzhniki) June 19 v Egypt (Saint Petersburg) June 25 v Uruguay (Samara)

THE BETTING 50/1 to win the World Cup 7/4 to win Group A

THE QUESTIONS Will injuries derail Russia’s World Cup? Key defender Victor Vasin and first-choice striker Alexander Kokorin, last season’s top scorer in the Russian league, recently suffered serious knee injuries, and another important defender Georgi Dzhikiya faces a race to fit in time for the finals. Can the new defence cope? Since Euro 2016, veteran defenders Sergei Ignashevich, along with Vasili and Alexei Berezutskiy, have quit international football, forcing coach Stanislav Cherchesov to totally replace his back three. Injuries to Vasin and possibly Dzhikiya have added to his problems. Could Andrei Arshavin be recalled? The 36-year-old is now at Kairat in Kazakhstan. Good recent performance prompted Cherchesov to say he does not rule out a recall. Will Igor Denisiov make a comeback? As coach of Dynamo, Cherchesov had a run-in with 104 WORLD CUP 2018

the defensive midfielder which led to Denisov being banished to the reserves. Since becoming coach of the national side, Cherchesov has not considered calling up Denisov. Can the domestic league’s top strikers take their chances in top international games? With Kokorin injured, the pressure is on the Premier League’s top scorer in 2016, Fedor Smolov of Krasnodar, to lead the line this summer. But he has not shone at international level.

THE COACH ● Stanislav CHERCHESOV Appointed in August 2016 on a twoyear contract, the former USSR and Russia goalkeeper is a four-time winner of the national championship as a player. He coached Moscow sides Spartak and Dynamo before moving to Poland in 2015 and leading Legia Warsaw to the double.

THE KEY PLAYERS Igor Akinfeev remains the first-choice keeper while the experienced Alan Dzagoev is also a key figure. Fedor Smolov is likely to take an important role as the lone striker.

ONES TO WATCH Born in Russia, Konstantin Rausch emigrated to Germany as a boy but after caps at under-21 level for his adopted homeland the winger opted to play for Russia. Identical twins Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk, both of Lokomotiv Moscow, could feature this summer.

STAR MAN ● Alan DZAGOEV Although prone to injuries, the versatile box-to-box midfielder has been Russia’s best player for almost a decade. He

emerged on the international stage at Euro 2012 and has also been a key figure for CSKA, where he has won the Russian league three times.


1930 -1990 As Soviet Union 1994 Group stage 1998 (did not qualify) 2002 Group stage

WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

2006 (did not qualify) 2010 (did not qualify) 2014 Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Zhirkov ● Golovin ● Kudryashov ● Akinfeev

● Granat

● Smolov ● Glushakov

● Aleksei Miranchuk ● Dzagoev ● Smolnikov

● Rausch

GOALKEEPERS

MIDFIELDERS

● Igor AKINFEEV

● Alan DZAGOEV

CSKA Moscow

CSKA Moscow

Age 32

Age 27

(08.04.86)

● Vladimir GABULOV Club Brugge (Blg) Age 34 (19.10.83)

● Andrey LUNYOV

(17.06.90)

● Denis GLUSHAKOV Spartak Moscow Age 31 (27.01.87)

Zenit

● Aleksandr GOLOVIN

Age 26

CSKA Moscow

(13.11.91)

Age 21 (30.05.96)

DEFENDERS

● Daler KUZYAYEV

● Georgi DZHIKIYA

Zenit

Spartak Moscow

Age 25

Age 24 (21.11.93)

● Mario FERNANDES CSKA Moscow

(15.01.93)

● Aleksei MIRANCHUK

Age 27

Lokomotiv Moscow

(19.09.90)

Age 22

● Vladimir GRANAT

(17.10.95)

Rubin Kazan

● Anton MIRANCHUK

Age 30

Lokomotiv Moscow

(22.05.87)

Age 22

● Dmitri KOMBAROV

(17.10.95)

Spartak Moscow

● Oleg SHATOV

Age 31 (22.01.87)

● Fyodor KUDRYASHOV Rubin Kazan

Zenit Age 27 (29.07.90)

● Roman ZOBNIN

Age 31

Spartak Moscow

(05.04.87)

Age 24

● Ilya KUTEPOV

(11.02.94)

Spartak Moscow Age 24

FORWARDS

(29.07.93)

● Fyodor SMOLOV

● Konstantin RAUSCH

Krasnodar

Dynamo Moscow

Age 28

Age 28

(05.02.90)

(15.03.90)

● Igor SMOLNIKOV Zenit Age 29 (08.08.88)

● Artem DZYUBA Zenit Age 29 (22.08.88)

● Yuri ZHIRKOV

● Anton ZABOLOTNY

Zenit

Zenit

Age 34

Age 26

(20.08.83)

(13.06.91)

PROFILE: IGOR AKINFEEV Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov knows a fair bit about goalkeeping and captaincy. During a playing career in which he starred between the sticks for Spartak Moscow, he was also the first captain of the newly independent Russia team following the break-up of the Soviet Union. So Cherchesov had no hesitation in naming Igor Akinfeev as Russia’s captain ahead of last summer’s Confederations Cup, the eight-team tournament that acted as trial run for the World Cup. Akinfeev has been Russia’s first-choice keeper since he made his debut as a precocious 18-yearold in 2004. He has retained the confidence of his national bosses despite a series of high-profile

mistakes, such as the goal conceded to South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, when he fumbled a long-range shot from Lee Keun-ho in a match that Russia should have won. Then, in their final group game, Akinfeev conceded an equaliser from an Algeria free-kick when a laser was shone in his eyes from the stands. The 1-1 draw sent Russia home. He recently ended an unwanted record by keeping a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League for the first time in 11 years – a run of 43 games. Despite the setbacks, he retains the confidence of Cherchesov and this summer he should collect further caps as he closes in on Sergei Ignashevich’s national record of 120 appearances. WORLD CUP 2018 105


SAUDI ARABIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP A June 14 v Russia (Moscow Luzhniki) June 20 v Uruguay (Rostov) June 25 v Egypt (Volgograd)

THE BETTING 1,000/1 to win the World Cup 20/1 to win Group A

THE QUESTIONS What effect will the change of coaches have? Losing the experienced Dutchman Bert Van Marwijk, who took his homeland to the 2010 Final and has since been appointed as coach of Australia, was huge. Not only did he know the players, they knew him and his system. Edgardo Bauza, the Argentinian who replaced Van Marwijk, barely had time to get to know the squad, but friendly performances against Portugal and Bulgaria ended with much criticism and his departure proved that there are few seats as hot as that of Saudi Arabia’s coach. Is Osama Hawsawi up to the job? At 34, the centre-back and captain came into the team just after the 2006 World Cup, but his ageing legs have been showing a little of late and there are concerns as to whether he can last the pace in Russia this summer. Can Nawaf Al Abed show his potential? The Al Hilal man came into his own during qualification and, at the moment, there are few, if any, 106 WORLD CUP 2018

better playmakers in the whole of Asia. If he can take his Asian form on the global stage this could be a good tournament for him. What about international exposure? Traditionally, the biggest problem facing the Saudis has been that they all play at home. In an attempt to tackle this problem, the Saudi federation agreed a deal with La Liga to loan players, including Fahad Al Muwallad, to Spanish clubs for the second half of the European season.

JUAN COACH ● Juan Antonio PIZZI The former Spain striker was the choice of the Saudi federation to replace Argentina’s Edgardo Bauza in November’s latest round of musical chairs. Bauza had only been in charge for a few months when he was sacked. The 40-year-old Pizza was in charge of Chile at last year’s Confederations Cup.

THE KEY PLAYERS Nawaf Al Abed was cool and composed throughout the final stage and he scores as well as creates. When given the opportunity Fahad Al Muwallad is exciting. Osama Hawsawi has been in the centre of the defence for a long time – although some feel for too long. Striker Mohammad Al Sahlawi was the top scorer in qualifying.

THE ONES TO WATCH Winger Yahia Al Shehri was one of the players sent on loan to Spain in the spring, although he had yet to appear for La Liga side Leganes.

STAR MAN ● Nawaf AL ABED Al Hilal’s skilful attacking schemer stepped up when it mattered most in the final Asian World Cup qualifying

round, scoring five goals, including four penalties. His calmness under pressure earned him the nickname “The Brave One”.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter) (did not enter)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Al Harbi

● Al Abed ● Al Mogahwi ● Osama Hawsawi ● Abdullah ● Al Sahlawi ● Al Faraj ● M Hawsawi ● Al Jassim ● Al Shahrani

GOALKEEPERS

● Waleed ABDULLAH Al Nassr Age 32 (19.04.86) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Yasser AL MOSAILEM Al Ahli Age 34 (27.02.84) Apps in qualifiers 7

● Mohammed AL OWAIS Al Ahli Age 26 (10.10.91) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● Mansoor AL HARBI Al Ahli Age 30 (19.10.87) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Saeed AL MOWALAD Al Ahli Age 27 (09.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Yasser AL SHAHRANI Al Hilal Age 25 (25.05.92) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Motaz HAWSAWI Al Ahli Age 26 (17.02.92) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Omar HAWSAWI Al Nassr Age 32 (27.09.85) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Osama HAWSAWI Al Hilal Age 34 (31.03.84) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Mohammed JAHFALI Al Hilal Age 27 (24.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Al Muwallad

Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Salem AL DAWSARI Al Hilal Age 26 (19.08.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 1 ● Salman AL FARAJ Al Hilal Age 28 (01.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 17 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Taisir AL JASSIM Al Ahli Age 33 (25.07.84) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 6

● Abdulmalek AL KHAIBRI Al Hilal Age 32 (13.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 17 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Salman AL MOASHER Al Ahli Age 29 (05.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Housain AL MOGAHWI Al Ahli Age 30 (28.01.88) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Fahad AL MUWALLAD Al Ittihad Age 23 (14.09.94) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Yahya AL SHEHRI Al Nassr Age 27 (26.06.90) Apps in qualifiers 18 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Abdulfattah ASIRI Al Ahli Age 24 (26.02.94) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Hassan MUATH

● Mohammad AL SAHLAWI

Al Fayha Age 32 (27.01.86) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 0

Al Nassr Age age 31 (10.01.87) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 16

● Muhannad ASSIRI MIDFIELDERS

● Nawaf AL ABED Al Hilal Age 28 (26.01.90)

Al Ahli Age 31 (14.10.86) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

PROFILE: FAHAD AL MUWALLAD Saudi Arabian footballers are notoriously poor travellers. The Saudi government used to discourage players from moving abroad, insisting that they stay and play in the domestic league. The downside of this policy was that, when the Saudis qualified for the World Cup, they had no experience of top-level international football. It was hoped things would be different this time after an agreement between the Saudi football federation and La Liga to send Saudi players on loan to Spain. Leading the way was one of Saudi Arabia’s skilful players, Fahad Al Muwallad, the man dubbed the ”Saudi Messi”, who joined Levante. The 23-year-old

has long been seen as one of the rising talents of Saudi football after breaking through for Al Ittihad in his home city of Jeddah. Unfortunately by April, Al Muwallad had yet to appear for Levante and was growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of opportunities. “I’ve been here for two-and-a-half months and learning the Spanish language has been very difficult,” he says. “I try to connect with them using English and had I been here since the start of the season, things would have been different. “Football is different in Spain and I have learnt a lot from the training style. Of course it is very hard not to play but I’m fighting to make my debut.” WORLD CUP 2018 107


SENEGAL

THE SCHEDULE GROUP H June 19 v Poland (Moscow Spartak) June 24 v Japan (Yekaterinburg) June 28 v Colombia (Samara)

THE BETTING 150/1 to win World Cup 11/2 to win Group H

THE QUESTIONS Will striker Sadio Mane’s hamstring hold out in the finals? If it does not, it will be a big blow to Senegal. However, Liverpool have had a physio travelling with the striker for several recent internationals in Africa to help him to keep properly in shape. Can Senegal upset some big names, as they did in 2002? They are the one African side with the potential to shake things up in Russia, in much the same way they did in Seoul when they beat France before going on to reach the quarter-finals. Will any locally based players make Aliou Cisse’s final squad? The last time Senegal went to the World Cup, 21 of the 23-man squad were based at French clubs, with one in Morocco and the other at Dakar-based Jeanne d’Arc. This time the players are spread out across Europe, the Middle East and even the USA, but there are no candidates from the domestic league. 108 WORLD CUP 2018

Will the team’s physical strength be an advantage in Russia? While the pace and finishing prowess of Sadio Mane is Senegal’s biggest threat, they also scored several goals from set-pieces in the qualifying campaign and will look to capitalise on such situations again. Towering Centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is a giant presence at the back, and he and other defenders will flood the opposition penalty area at every opportunity to try to capitalise on their height and strength.

THE COACH ● Aliou CISSE The 42-year-old took over from Alain Giresse as coach in March 2015, having been captain of the team for Senegal’s previous World Cup appearance in 2002. After finishing his playing career, which included spells at Birmingham City and Portsmouth, he went home to work with the Senegal Football Federation and was on the staff of the under-23 side that participated at the men’s football tournament at the London Olympics.

THE KEY PLAYERS Stars Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly are among the best African players in Europe and are crucial to the Senegal cause. Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyate are midfielders who provide the backbone of the team.

ONE TO WATCH Former French under-21 international Mbaye Niang has now won three caps for Senegal.

STAR MAN ● Sadio MANE The wide attacker with electric pace has been outstanding in Liverpool’s run in this season’s Champions League. Injuries

restricted his appearances for Senegal in the qualifying campaign but he played a talismanic role in the final game against South Africa.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1970 1974 1978 1982 1986

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1990 1994 1998 2002 2006

(did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Quarter-finals (did not qualify)

2010 (did not qualify) 2014 (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Sabaly

● Mane ● Gueye

● Koulibaly ● Diallo

● Kouyate

● Sakho

● Sane ● N’doye

● Niang

● Wague

GOALKEEPERS

● Abdoulaye DIALLO Rennes (Fra) Age 26 (30.03.92) Apps in qualifiers 3

● Khadim N’DIAYE Horoya (Gui) Age 33 (30.11.84) Apps in qualifiers 4

● Pape Seydou N’DIAYE Niarry Tally Age 25 (11.02.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Fallou DIAGNE Metz (Fra) Age 28 (14.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Papy DJILOBODJI Dijon (Fra) Age 29 (01.12.88) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Lamine GASSAMA Alanyaspor (Tur) Age 28 (20.10.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Kalidou KOULIBALY

● Cheikhou KOUYATE West Ham United (Eng) Age 28 (21.12.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Alfred N’DIAYE Wolverhampton Wanderers (Eng) Age 28 (06.03.90) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Badou N’DIAYE Stoke City (Eng) Age 27 (27.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cheikh N’DOYE Birmingham City (Eng) Age 32 (29.03.86) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Henri SAIVET Sivasspor (Tur) Age 27 (26.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Keita BALDE

Napoli (Ita) Age 26 (20.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

Monaco (Fra) Age 23 (08.03.95) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Youssouf SABALY

● Sadio MANE

Bordeaux (Fra) Age 25 (05.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

Liverpool (Eng) Age 26 (10.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Salif SANE

● M’Baye NIANG

Hanover (Ger) Age 27 (25.08.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Pape SOUARE Crystal Palace (Eng) Age 27 (06.06.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Moussa WAGUE Eupen (Blg) Age 19 (04.10.98) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Idrissa GUEYE Everton (Eng) Age 28 (26.09.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

Torino (Ita) Age 23 (19.012.94) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Diafra SAKHO Rennes (Fra) Age 28 (24.12.89) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Ismaila SARR Rennes (Fra) Age 20 (25.02.98) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Moussa SOW Bursaspor (Tur) Age 32 (19.01.86) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 1

PROFILE: KALIDOU KOULIBALY Senegal have an abundance of attacking quality - from the likes of Sadio Mane, Keita Balde, Diafro Sakho and M’Baye Niang to players such as Oumar Niasse and Mame Biram Diouf, who are unlikely to make the World Cup squad. But arguably their most important player is a defender. Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of the outstanding performers in Italy’s Serie A in recent years. Physically imposing – he stands at 6ft 5in tall – and with a delicate touch, Koulibaly has been at the heart of a Napoli defence which has been one of the tightest in Italy. Koulibaly’s physical and footballing qualities have

made him an obvious target for a host of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton. However, Napoli are desperate to keep him and are prepared to offer him an improved contract. “For my family and the fans, and if the contract was good, I wouldn’t have a problem signing and staying forever,” says Koulibaly. “I am really happy at Napoli. The city and the team have given me everything. I want to give back to the Neapolitans; I want to give them the Scudetto. “I’ve grown a lot so far. When I first came to Italy I needed a year to adapt, and that was not easy. Back then I told myself that I deserved this great team. I started to work hard.” WORLD CUP 2018 109


SERBIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP E June 17 v Costa Rica (Samara) June 22 v Switzerland (Kaliningrad) June 27 v Brazil (Moscow Spartak)

Can Serbia overcome the mental blocks of their teams in the past? The fear is that the big stage will prove too much for Serbia once again this summer. If they want to enjoy a good World Cup they must avoid freezing when it matters most.

THE BETTING 150/1 to win the World Cup 9/1 to win Group E

THE QUESTIONS Who will score the goals if Aleksandar Mitrovic is injured? Serbia’s first-choice striker moved to Championship club Fulham on loan from Newcastle United in January in a bid to be ready in time for the World Cup. Aleksandar Prijovic scored the winning goal against Georgia but he is still a newcomer in this team, while Andrija Pavlovic would probably be punching above his weight. Can the defence become more solid? Ignoring the games against an inferior Moldova side, Serbia conceded 10 goals in eight games – almost all of which came after defensive errors. Is there a plan B? Far too often Serbia seem over reliant on Dusan Tadic and they can look clueless when opponents manage to shackle him. Coach Mladen Krstajic has given creative players Adem Ljajic and Sergej MilinkovicSavic their chance and their inclusion could resolve this problem. 110 WORLD CUP 2018

Is Krstajic the right man for the job? Serbia’s recently appointed boss was assistant to former national coach Slavoljub Muslin but has no previous experience as a top-level manager.

THE COACH ● Mladen KRSTAJIC Assistant coach who was promoted to caretaker following Muslin’s dismissal last autumn, the 44-year-old former centre-back played for Serbia & Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup.

THE KEY PLAYERS The goals of Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic and the ability of goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic were vital in qualifying. Skipper Branislav Ivanovic showed true leadership despite some ups and downs in his performances. Nemanja Matic is the central figure in midfield.

ONES TO WATCH Talented midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who has been starring for Lazio in Serie A, was ignored by previous coach Muslin, who claimed he didn’t fit into his 3-4-3 system. Former Tottenham youngster Milos Veljkovic is a highly-rated centre-back or defensive midfielder.

STAR MAN ● Dusan TADIC Although his form dropped in the second part of the qualifying campaign, the Southampton midfielder

remained key for the national side and made a crucial contribution by scoring the winner in the vital 3-2 victory over Austria.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

As Yugoslavia 1930 Fourth place 1934-38 (did not qualify) 1950 Group stage 1954 Quarter-finals

1958 Quarter-finals 1962 Fourth place 1966-70 (did not qualify) 1974 Second round 1978 (did not qualify)

1982 Group stage 1986 (did not qualify) 1990 Quarter-finals As Serbia & Montenegro 1998 Second round

2002 (did not qualify) 2006 Group stage As Serbia 2010 Group stage 2014 (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Kolarov

● Kostic ● Ivanovic ● Matic ● Ljajic ● Mitrovic ● Stojkovic ● Milivojevic ● Nastasic ● Rukavina

GOALKEEPERS

● Tadic

MIDFIELDERS

● Marko DMITROVIC

● Marko GRUJIC

Eibar (Spa) Age 26 (24.02.92) Apps in qualifiers 0

Liverpool (Eng) Age 22 (13.04.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Predrag RAJKOVIC Maccabi Tel Aviv (Isr) Age 22 (31.10.95) Apps in qualifiers 2

● Vladimir STOJKOVIC Partizan Age 34 (28.07.83) Apps in qualifiers 8 DEFENDERS

● Dusan BASTA Lazio (Ita) Age 33 (18.08.84) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Branislav IVANOVIC Zenit (Rus) Age 34 (22.02.84) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Aleksandar KOLAROV Roma (Ita) Age 32 (10.11.85) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Nikola MAKSIMOVIC Napoli (Ita) Age 26 (25.11.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Matija NASTASIC Schalke (Ger) Age 25 (28.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ivan OBRADOVIC Anderlecht (Blg) Age 29 (25.07.88) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Filip KOSTIC Hamburg (Ger) Age 25 (01.11.92) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Adem LJAJIC Torino (Ita) Age 26 (29.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nemanja MAKSIMOVIC Valencia (Spa) Age 23 (26.01.95) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nemanja MATIC Manchester United (Eng) Age 29 (01.08.88) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Luka MILIVOJEVIC Crystal Palace (Eng) Age 27 (07.04.91) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sergej MILINKOVICSAVIC Lazio (Ita) Age 23 (27.02.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Dusan TADIC Southampton (Eng) Age 29 (20.11.88) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Andrija ZIVKOVIC

● Antonio RUKAVINA

Benfica (Por) Age 21 (11.07.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

Villarreal (Spa) Age 34 (26.01.84) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Aleksandar MITROVIC

● Dusko TOSIC Besiktas (Tur) Age 33 (19.01.85) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

FORWARDS

Newcastle United (Eng) Age 23 (16.09.94) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 6

● Milos VELJKOVIC

● Aleksandar PRIJOVIC

Werder Bremen (Ger) Age 22 (26.09.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

PAOK (Gre) Age 27 (21.07.90) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 1

PROFILE: ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC Few players can have been as successful for their country while not playing for their club as Aleksandar Mitrovic. The striker was only a reserve at Newcastle United, but in the World Cup qualifiers he scored six times, including two crucial equalisers in the two draws with Wales that proved vital in securing a place in Russia. There were plenty of concerns throughout Serbia when Mitrovic joined Championship side Fulham on loan in January – the move would give the fiery centre-forward the chance to stay in shape ahead of the World Cup, but would he be ready to face the world’s best this summer? It’s been so far, so good at Fulham for the

23-year-old who joined Newcastle from Anderlecht in July 2015 for £13million. Playing for a fellow countryman in manager Slavisa Jokanovic, Mitrovic has been firing on all cylinders. He scored eight goals in his first 11 matches for the second-tier side, earning rave reviews for his performances. “Mitrovic is good player,” says Jokanovic. “He’s made a great job for us, I repeat many times: he’s an important signing for us and worked in the offensive and defensive set pieces. “He can hold the ball, he made important things. And at the end what is important is we start our striker and he scores the goals.” Everybody in Serbia will agree with that. WORLD CUP 2018 111


SOUTH KOREA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP F June 18 v Sweden (Nizhny Novgorad) June 23 v Mexico (Rostov-on-Don) June 27 v Germany (Kazan)

THE BETTING 300/1 to win the World Cup 16/1 to win Group F

THE QUESTIONS Can the team reverse poor results? Just one victory and a lack of good performances in 2017 has drained confidence in the team. Before the World Cup gets too close, the players need to get a win or two – otherwise the build-up is going to be full of dread rather than excitement. Can Son score the goals? South Korea gets excited watching Son Heung-min’s exploits in England but he has not always had the same success with the national team. Too much pressure and not enough supply has sometimes been the problem. Is a lack of playing time a problem? Lee Chung-yung at Crystal Palace and Ji Dong-won at Augsburg have not appeared much this season and they will need more playing time with their club sides if they are to make the plane to Russia. Will Toni Grande make a difference? With many thinking there was a need for some 112 WORLD CUP 2018

foreign knowhow, former Spain and Real Madrid number two Grande was appointed as assistant in November. And he has much work to do. Who will be in charge? Ever since qualification was achieved there have been rumours of Guus Hiddink making a return – and they have been favourably received by most of the public. However, while the Dutchman is highly unlikely to return, but Shin Tae-yong will be under pressure if poor results continue.

THE COACH ● SHIN Tae-yong A tough-tackling midfielder who led Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma to victory in the 2010 Asian Champions League after retiring. Was in charge of South Korea’s team at the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 Under-20 World Cup – tournaments that started well before ending in disappointment. The 49-year-old replaced German coach Uli Stielike, who was fired following a defeat to Qatar during the qualifying campaign that left South Korea in danger of missing out on Russia

THE KEY PLAYERS Star Son Heung-min is the focus of the team’s attacking efforts. Approaching 100 caps, midfielder Ki Sung-yueng is a calming influence. Koo Ja-cheol offers aggression and goals from midfield when fit.

THE ONES TO WATCH There are high hopes for busy striker Hwang Hee-chan who has settled into life in Europe with Red Bull Salzburg.

STAR MAN ● SON Heung-min The Tottenham attacker was a crucial figure in the qualifying campaign, finishing as South Korea’s top scorer despite

missing a number of games through injury. Still only 25 but already has the highest profile of any South Korea playing in European club football.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1950 1954 1958 1962 1966

(did not enter) Group stage (did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not enter)

1970 1974 1978 1982 1986

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage

1990 1994 1998 2002 2006

Group stage Group stage Group stage Fourth place Group stage

2010 Second round 2014 Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Kim J-s

● Son

● Koo ● Jang ● Kim S-g

● Lee J-s ● Hwang

● Ki ● Hong ● Lee K-h ● Choi

GOALKEEPERS

● CHO Hyun-woo Daegu Age 26 (25.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 0

● KIM Jin-hyeon Cerezo Osaka (Jap) Age 30 (06.07.87) Apps in qualifiers 1

● KIM Seung-gyu Vissel Kobe (Jap) Age 27 (30.09.90) Apps in qualifiers 9 DEFENDERS

● CHOI Chul-soon Jeonbuk Motors Age 31 (18.02.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● HONG Jeong-ho Jiangsu Suning (Chn) Age 28 (12.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● JANG Hyun-soo Tokyo (Jap) Age 26 (28.09.91) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 2

● KIM Jin-su Jeonbuk Motors Age 25 (13.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 2

● KIM Min-jae Jeonbuk Motors Age 21 (15.11.96) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● KIM Min-woo Suwon Bluewings Age 28 (25.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● LEE Yong Jeonbuk Motors Age 31 (24.12.86) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● YUN Young-sun Seongnam Age 29 (04.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● JUNG Woo-young Vissel Kobe (Jap) Age 28 (14.12.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● KI Sung-yueng Swansea City (Eng) Age 29 (24.01.89) Apps in qualifiers 14 Goals in qualifiers 4

● KOO Ja-cheol Augsburg (Ger) Age 29 (27.02.89) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 4

● KWON Chang-hoon Dijon (Fra) Age 23 (30.06.94) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 3

● LEE Chang-min Jeju United Age 24 (20.01.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● LEE Jae-sung Jeonbuk Motors Age 25 (10.08.92) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● PARK Joo-ho Ulsan Age 31 (16.01.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● YEOM Ki-hun Suwon Bluewings Age 35 (30.03.83) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● HWANG Hee-chan Red Bull Salzburg (Aut) Age 22 (26.01.96) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

PROFILE: KI SUNG-YUENG

● KIM Shin-wook Jeonbuk Motors Age 30 (14.04.88) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● LEE Keun-ho Gangwon Age 33 (11.04.85) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● SON Heung-min Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) Age 25 (08.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 7

Midfielder Ki Sung-yueng has not had an easy time at club level recently. Swansea City have been embroiled in a relegation battle for the past few seasons, with managers coming and going on a regular basis. Yet despite these problems, Ki has been a regular for the South Korean national side, providing both midfield creativity and leadership. Ki is South Korea’s most experienced player; he currently has 99 caps and will most likely reach 100 caps on the eve of the World Cup. Koo Ja-cheol was captain at the 2014 World Cup but Ki was given the armband by new coach Shin Tae-yong when he replaced Uli Stielike last year. Even when a knee injury prevented Ki from playing

in the World Cup qualifiers against Iran and Uzbekistan, Shin insisted on Ki captaining the team from the sidelines. “I want to give Ki the captain’s armband even if he can’t play,” Shin said. “Ki has been serving a central role well in the national team.” South Korea had a terrible first half of the qualifying campaign, culminating in Stielike’s departure and his replacement by local man Shin. Team spirit had plummeted under the German and the appointment of Shin, who had previously been the assistant coach, was designed to turn things around. WORLD CUP 2018 113


SPAIN

THE SCHEDULE GROUP B June 15 v Portugal (Sochi) June 20 v Iran (Kazan) June 25 v Morocco (Kaliningrad)

BETTING 6/1 to win the World Cup 4/9 to win Group B

THE QUESTIONS Can they keep up their current form? After a friendly last autumn, in which Spain had won 5-0, Costa Rica’s coach said of Spain: “They move the ball with one touch and at devilish speed.” That will be the key to their game next summer – if they can maintain that speed of circulation at the end of a long season.

has also been willing to look beyond those. Even David Villa got a recall. One midfield “pivot” or two? While the essence of the team’s approach remains the same, Lopetegui made tactical tweaks throughout qualification. Usually, Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets has played alongside another midfielder – usually Koke, sometimes Saul, occasionally Thiago Alcantara – but at times Busquets plays alone with two “interiors” ahead of him to either side.

THE COACH ● Julen LOPETEGUI Appointed after the last World Cup, the former under-21 coach has quietly made changes to the national team and introduced new variants while reinforcing its essence. He has demonstrated a willingness to open his mind to alternatives and bring in unexpected players, both young and old, and has so far sidestepped the inevitable and often affected “controversies”.

THE KEY PLAYERS Isco has been outstanding this year and will be the creative heart of the side in Russia. David Silva has always been there, even if he perhaps didn’t get the recognition he deserved. And Jordi Alba is still around as well, flying up and down the wing, head back and legs whirring.

Who starts up front? The short answer is, of course, Alvaro Morata. But Diego Costa is back in contention after his return to Atletico Madrid. And then there’s Rodrigo, who is scoring goals for Valencia and Spain. Against Italy, they played without a fixed striker – something that even Morata, the “victim” of the tactic, said was a good idea.

STAR MAN

Is there room for someone new? Julen Lopetegui has been very open minded about bringing players in, some call-ups coming seemingly out of the blue. And while the coach has been swift to call on those he worked with at under-21 level, he

● ISCO Watching the Real Madrid midfielder take Italy apart in the crucial qualifier – which Spain won 3-0 in Madrid –

114 WORLD CUP 2018

ONE TO WATCH Right-back Alvaro Odriozola is rumoured to be on Real Madrid’s wanted list.

and then glide around in Malaga in Spain’s penultimate game of 2017, it’s incredible to think that he didn’t make the squad in 2014 or 2016.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

(did not enter) Quarter-finals (did not enter) Fourth place (did not qualify)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not qualify) Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

Group stage Second round Quarter-finals Second round Quarter-finals

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Quarter-finals Second round WINNERS Group stage

THE SQUAD ● Alba

● Aspas ● Isco

● Ramos ● De Gea

● Busquets

● Morata

● Pique ● Koke

● Silva

● Carvajal

GOALKEEPERS

● Kepa ARRIZABALAGA Athletic Bilbao Age 23 (03.10.94) Apps in qualifiers 0

● David DE GEA Manchester United (Eng) Age 27 (07.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 9

● Pepe REINA Napoli (Ita) Age 35 (31.08.82) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● Jordi ALBA

Age 29 (16.07.88) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Andres INIESTA Barcelona Age 33 (11.05.84) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● ISCO Real Madrid Age 25 (21.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 5

● KOKE

Barcelona Age 29 (21.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

Atletico Madrid Age 26 (08.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Marcos ALONSO

● SAUL

Chelsea (Eng) Age 27 (28.12.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cesar AZPILICUETA Chelsea (Eng) Age 28 (28.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Dani CARVAJAL Real Madrid Age 26 (11.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● NACHO Real Madrid Age 28 (18.01.90) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Alvaro ODRIOZOLA Real Sociedad Age 22 (14.12.95) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gerard PIQUE Barcelona Age 31 (02.02.87) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sergio RAMOS Real Madrid Age 32 (30.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1 MIDFIELDERS

● Marco ASENSIO Real Madrid Age 22 (21.01.96) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sergio BUSQUETS Barcelona

Atletico Madrid Age 23 (21.11.94) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● David SILVA Manchester City (Eng) Age 32 (08.01.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 5

● THIAGO Alcantara Bayern Munich (Spa) Age 27 (11.04.91) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1 FORWARDS

● Iago ASPAS Celta Vigo Age 30 (01.08.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Diego COSTA Atletico Madrid Age 29 (07.10.88) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Alvaro MORATA Chelsea (Eng) Age 25 (23.10.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 5

● Lucas VAZQUEZ Real Madrid Age 26 (01.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers

PROFILE: DAVID SILVA For club and country, David Silva is his team’s secret weapon. Others have grabbed the headlines as Spain have dominated the international football landscape in recent years, but Silva is now one of his country’s most-capped players, with 119 appearances by the end of March. Only Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos, in the current squad, have played more matches. Kevin De Bruyne gets most of the headlines for his performances at Manchester City but the stats don’t lie: when David Silva plays, City win. “That’s why he’s playing every time!” says City boss Pep Guardiola. “It’s a good record, normally when David plays you know you are a good team. He’s

a special guy. David is so important but we try to make all the players feel they are so important. “But he knows, alone, he cannot do it. So we try to make a good team, a good team spirit with everyone involved, knowing with and without the ball what we have to do. For Guardiola , Silva’s experience is vital, saying: “We cannot deny, David has had seven or eight years here – that’s a lot of games, a lot of experience. He has a huge personality to play, especially in the bad moments. “The difference in the top players is, in the difficult games, they make a step forward and David is one of them.” WORLD CUP 2018 115


SWEDEN

THE SCHEDULE GROUP F June 18 v South Korea (Nizhny Novgorod) June 23 v Germany (Sochi) June 27 v Mexico (Yekaterinburg)

THE BETTING 150/1 to win the World Cup 13/2 to win Group F

THE QUESTIONS Would Janne Andersson ever be tempted with a back three? Hell might freeze over first. A 4-4-2 system is embedded within the soul of the Swedes. It’s the system in which they feel the most comfortable and secure. Is there a risk of first-choice striker Marcus Berg becoming rusty now that he no longer plays his club football in Europe? Despite moving from Panathinaikos to Al Ain in the UAE in the summer he was impressive against Italy. Andersson loves the front line blend of Berg and Ola Toivonen, with the former as the forward threat and the latter more likely to come deeper. Could Zlatan Ibrahimovic make a World Cup comeback this summer? Most improbable. Sweden and Andersson have moved on. They have a new style of play and completely different ethic in the camp. He is likely to be staying in Los Angeles this summer. 116 WORLD CUP 2018

Who will play in goal? First-choice keeper Robin Olsson, who played in all 12 qualifying matches, is struggling with a knee injury. Swansea’s Kristoffer Nordfeldt played in the March friendly defeat to Chile. If Emil Forsberg was injured, could Sweden cope without him? No one else is available with his speed and eye for a killer through ball. The only alternative would be winger Sam Larsson.

THE COACH ● Janne ANDERSSON The 55-year-old was appointed in June 2016, on a three-year contract, brought in to replace Eric Hamren at the end of Sweden’s Euro 2016 campaign. He began his coaching career at fourth-tier Alets IK, then took charge at Laholms FK, Halmstads, Orgryte and Norrkoping, leading the latter to the Swedish title in 2015.

THE KEY PLAYERS Emil Forsberg is by far the team’s most imaginative creative element, nominally lining up on the left side but constantly looking to cut inside and cause havoc. Back-four organiser and skipper Andreas Granqvist has been a national-team warrior for a decade. The flair of Ola Toivonen can produce game-changing moments.

THE ONES TO WATCH Winger Sam Larsson has enjoyed an impressive season in Holland.

STAR MAN ● Emil FORSBERG Sweden’s main attacking influence has played a huge part in the rise of RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga over the

past few seasons. In the postIbrahimovic era, Forsberg is the man Sweden turn to for the creation of scoring opportunities.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

(did not enter) Quarter-finals Fourth place Third place (did not qualify)

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

Runners-up (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage Second round

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Group stage Third place

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Second round Second round (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Olsson ● Lindelof ● Nordfeldt

● Forsberg ● Seb Larsson ● Svensson

● Toivonen

● Berg

● Granqvist ● Claesson ● Lustig

GOALKEEPERS

● Jimmy DURMAZ

● Karl-Johan JOHNSSON

Toulouse (Fra) Age 29 (22.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 1

Guingamp (Fra) Age 28 (28.01.90) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Kristoffer NORDFELDT Swansea City (Eng) Age 28 (23.06.89) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Jacob RINNE AaB (Den) Age 24 (20.06.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 DEFENDERS

● Andreas GRANQVIST Krasnodar (Swe) Age 33 (16.04.85) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Filip HELANDER Bologna (Ita) Age 24 (22.04.93) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Niklas HULT AEK (Gre) Age 28 (13.02.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Pontus JANSSON Leeds United (Eng) Age 27 (13.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Johan LARSSON Brondby (Den) Age 27 (05.05.90) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Victor LINDELOF

● Emil FORSBERG RB Leipzig (Ger) Age 26 (23.10.91) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 4

● Alexander FRANSSON Basle (Swi) Age 24 (02.04.94) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Oscar HILJEMARK Genoa (Ita) Age 25 (28.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Sebastian LARSSON Hull City (Eng) Age 32 (06.06.85) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Sam LARSSON Feyenoord (Hol) Age 24 (10.05.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gustav SVENSSON Seattle Sounders (USA) Age 31 (07.02.87) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Marcus BERG

Manchester United (Eng) Age 23 (17.07.94) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 1

Al Ain (UAE) Age 31 (17.08.86) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 8

● Mikael LUSTIG

● John GUIDETTI

Celtic (Sco) Age 31 (13.12.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Martin OLSSON Swansea City (Eng) Age 29 (17.05.88) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Viktor CLAESSON Krasnodar (Rus) Age 26 (02.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

Celta Vigo (Spa) Age 26 (15.04.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Isaac KIESE THELIN Anderlecht (Blg) Age 25 (24.06.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Ola TOIVONEN Toulouse (Fra) Age 31 (03.07.86) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: ANDREAS GRANQVIST Four-times world champions Italy will be absent from this summer’s World Cup – the first time the Azzurri have failed to qualify for the World Cup since 1958. They were beaten in the qualifying play-offs by a Sweden side whose defence was expertly marshalled by captain Andreas Granqvist. Sweden took a slender 1-0 lead to Milan for the second leg. Against all the odds, they held for a goalless draw. Granqvist’s man-of-the-man performances in both games were instrumental in Sweden’s triumph. Granqvist, who collapsed to the ground in tears on the final whistle in Italy, was named Sweden’s player of the year a few weeks after the victory,

ending Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s decade of dominance of the award. “This is the biggest thing that has happened to me,” admits 33-year-old Granqvist. “For those of us that are older, this is probably the last chance to play at a World Cup, so to succeed in these circumstances is an unbelievable joy.” Granqvist has come a long way since he was signed by Wigan Athletic as a raw 21-year-old. He struggled to adapt to life in England and moved on to Dutch side Groningen. From there he joined Genoa in Italy. For the past five years he has thrived at Russian side Krasnodar – an experience that should stand him in good stead this summer. WORLD CUP 2018 117


SWITZERLAND

THE SCHEDULE GROUP E June 17 v Brazil (Rostov) June 22 v Serbia (Kaliningrad) June 27 v Costa Rica (Nizhny Novgorod)

THE BETTING 100/1 to win the World Cup 6/1 to win Group E

THE QUESTIONS

Are Switzerland as good as their line-up on paper suggests? With nearly all of their players based at clubs in Europe’s so-called “big five” leagues, and in the Bundesliga especially, the Swiss squad looks to be potentially one of the strongest at the World Cup. But when they faced their stiffest test in the qualifiers they were found wanting, beaten comfortably away by European champions Portugal. And in the playoffs they needed a fortunate penalty, awarded for a dubious handball, to overcome Northern Ireland.

THE COACH ● Vladimir PETKOVIC The 54-year-old replaced Ottmar Hitzfeld following the 2014 World Cup and led the Swiss to the last 16 at Euro 2016. Before that he coached several Swiss clubs, as well as Lazio in Serie A. Born in the former Yugoslavia, he spent most of his playing career as a midfielder in Switzerland.

THE KEY PLAYERS

Who will score the goals? Haris Seferovic started as the lone striker in all but one of Switzerland’s qualifiers and managed to score four goals. However, his shooting can be erratic at times, and following his performance against Northern Ireland – particularly after he was jeered during the home game – there now appears to be a question mark over his place in the team.

Yann Sommer has replaced Diego Benaglio in goal. Captain Stephan Lichtsteiner provides an attacking option from right-back, while on the other side Ricardo Rodriguez is the dead-ball specialist. Breel Embolo had to sit out most of the campaign after suffering a serious injury during a Bundesliga match with Schalke in October 2016.

Is Granit Xhaka the real deal? While Xherdan Shaqiri is the team’s star turn, it is the defensive midfielder who makes them tick. Xhaka pulls the strings with his passing and his anticipation of dangerous situations, although he is also prone to defensive mistakes and giving the ball away.

Defender Manuel Akanji, and midfielders Remo Freuler and Steven Zuber all came into the side during the qualifiers.

STAR MAN

Who will play alongside Xhaka? Denis Zakaria was thrown into the two-leg play-off tie against Northern Ireland and made an immediate impression. They can also call on the veteran Valon Behrami or a relative newcomer in Remo Freuler.

● Xherdan SHAQIRI His career has not quite lived up to early expectations – fighting relegation this season with Stoke City – but there is

THE ONES TO WATCH

118 WORLD CUP 2018

always danger when he gets the ball onto his left foot and he is the Swiss player most likely to conjure up something from nothing.


1934 1938 1950 1954 1958

WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

Quarter-finals Quarter-finals Group stage Quarter-finals (did not qualify)

1962 1960 1970 1974 1978

Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1982 1986 1990 1994 1998

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round (did not qualify)

2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Second round Group stage Second round

THE SQUAD ● Rodriguez

● Zuber

● Akanji ● Sommer

● Seferovic

● Xhaka

● Dzemaili

● Schar ● Behrami

● Lichtsteiner

GOALKEEPERS

● Roman BURKI Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 27 (14.11.90) Apps in qualifiers 1

● Marwin HITZ Augsburg (Ger) Age 30 (18.09.87) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Yann SOMMER Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger) Age 29 (17.12.88) Apps in qualifiers 11 DEFENDERS

● Manuel AKANJI Borussia Dortmund (Ger) Age 22 (19.07.95) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Johan DJOUROU Antalyaspor (Tur) Age 31 (19.01.87) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nico ELVEDI Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger) Age 21 (20.09.96) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Michael LANG Basle Age 27 (08.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Stephan LICHTSTEINER Juventus (Ita) Age 34 (16.01.84) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Francois MOUBANDJE

● Shaqiri

Age 33 (19.04.85) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Blerim DZEMAILI Bologna (Ita) Age 32 (12.04.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Gelson FERNANDES Eintracht Frankfurt (Ger) Age 31 (02.09.86) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Remo FREULER Atalanta (Ita) Age 26 (15.02.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Xherdan SHAQIRI Stoke City (Eng) Age 26 (10.10.91) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Granit XHAKA Arsenal (Eng) Age 25 (27.09.92) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Denis ZAKARIA Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger) Age 21 (20.10.96) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Steven ZUBER Hoffenheim (Ger) Age 26 (17.08.91) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 2 FORWARDS

● Josip DRMIC

Toulouse (Fra) Age 27 (21.06.90) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger) Age 25 (08.08.92) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ricardo RODRIGUEZ

● Breel EMBOLO

Milan (Ita) Age 25 (25.08.92) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Fabian SCHAR Deportivo La Coruna (Spa) Age 26 (20.12.91) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 1 MIDFIELDERS

● Valon BEHRAMI Udinese (Ita)

Schalke (Ger) Age 21 (14.02.97) Apps in qualifiers 7 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Admir MEHMEDI Wolfsburg (Ger) Age 27 (16.03.91) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Haris SEFEROVIC Benfica (Por) Age 26 (22.02.92) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 4

PROFILE: STEPHAN LICHTSTEINER Switzerland go into the World Cup with a core group of highly experienced players. First-teamers such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Velon Behrami, Granit Xhaka, Blerim Dzemaili, Admir Mehmedi and Ricardo Rodriguez have all played well in excess of 50 times for their country. Stephan Lichtsteiner is the most experienced of them all, having played in the past two World Cups and collected almost 100 caps. If all goes to plan he will reach his century in Switzerland’s pre-tournament friendly against Japan. Switzerland’s captain is already his country’s fourth-most capped player of all time. And if he plays in all three group games in Russia, he could

draw level with Stephan Chapuisat as the third-most capped Swiss player ever with 103 appearances. He would then have Alan Geiger (112) and Heinz Hermann (118) in his sights. Lichtsteiner’s achievements are all the more remarkable because in 2015 he underwent surgery to correct a heart problem. Many players would have called it a day, but he has recovered to win a sixth Serie A title with Juventus and lead Switzerland to a third successive World Cup. “I feared the worst,” he recalls. “It wasn’t an easy time for me. A heart operation isn’t something you take lightly. But, thankfully, friends, family and fans gave me a lot of support.” WORLD CUP 2018 119


TUNISIA

THE SCHEDULE GROUP G June 18 v England (Volgograd) June 23 v Belgium (Moscow Spartak) June 28 v Panama (Saransk)

THE BETTING 750/1 to win the World Cup 14/1 to win Group G

THE QUESTIONS Is there enough experience in the current team? There are only a handful of members of the squad who play for teams in Europe, and although club football in Tunisia is among the strongest on the African continent, the lack of depth is a major concern for coach Nabil Maaloul. Will Maaloul keep his job? It is not uncommon for local coaches to be dismissed and replaced by high-profile foreign imports in the search for a Midas touch in the build-up to a World Cup. Friendly victories over Iran and Costa Rica in March helped Maaloul held on to his post. Do they have the requisite ambition? Qualifying is often the zenith of ambition for countries such as Tunisia and they are happy just to be along for the ride. Tunisia were the first African country to win a World Cup finals game, beating Mexico in Rosario in 1978 on their debut, but in 11 ties since, they have drawn four and lost seven. 120 WORLD CUP 2018

Which French-born players might be tempted to switch nationality? Tunisia failed to persuade French-born Sevilla striker Wissam Ben Yedder – who played for the French under-21s but has Tunisian parents – to switch to the Tunisian cause. However, Yohan Benalouane, the Leicester City defender, accepted a call-up at the age of 30 after years of rejecting invitations from the Tunisian federation. Another French-born player, Dylan Bronn, also accepted a first call from the Tunisians.

THE COACH ● Nabil MAALOUL Appointed in March 2017 on a threeyear contract, he is in his second spell as national coach, having quit during the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. The 55year-old worked as assistant to the former France boss Roger Lemerre when Tunisia last appeared at the World Cup, in Germany in 2006. A former Tunisia international, he was his country’s youngest player at the 1988 Olympics.

THE KEY PLAYERS Keeper Aymen Mathlouthi, known better as Balbouli, often rescues a plodding defence. The runs of Ali Maaloul runs down the left are key, while Naim Sliti and Ferjani Sassi are stout midfield workers. Wahbi Khazri is a set-piece specialist.

ONES TO WATCH The French-born, Belgian-based centre-back Dylan Bronn could break through in the next few months.

STAR MAN ● Youssef MSAKNI The 27-year-old attacking midfielder is the team’s main creative force and a key goalscorer. However, he faces

a race to be fit in time for the World Cup after damaging knee ligaments in April. He travelled to the USA for specialist surgery.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not enter) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

Group stage Group stage Group stage (did not qualify) (did not qualify)

THE SQUAD ● Maaloul

● Msakni

● Benalouane ● Sliti ● Mathlouthi

● Badri

● Khenissi

● Sassi ● Bronn ● Khazri ● Nagguez

GOALKEEPERS

● Moez BEN CHERIFIA Esperance Age 26 (24.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Farouk BEN MUSTAPHA Al Shabab (Sau) Age 28 (01.07.89) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Aymen MATHLOUTHI Al Batin (Sau) Age 33 (14.09.84) Apps in qualifiers 8 DEFENDERS

● Aymen ABDENNOUR Valencia (Spa) Age 28 (06.08.89) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Syam BEN YOUSSEF Kasimpasa (Tur) Age 29 (31.03.89) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Yohan BENALOUANE Leicester City (Eng) Age 31 (28.03.87) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Dylan BRONN Gent (Blg) Age 22 (19.06.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Oussama HADDADI Dijon (Fra) Age 26 (28.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 1 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Yassine MERIAH CS Sfaxien Age 24 (02.07.93) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ali MAALOUL

● Mohamed Amine BEN AMOR Etoile du Sahel Age 26 (01.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Ahmed KHALIL Club Africain Age 23 (21.12.94) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Saif-Eddine KHAOUI Marseille (Fra) Age 22 (27.04.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Wahbi KHAZRI Sunderland (Eng) Age 27 (08.02.91) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Ferjani SASSI Al Nassr (Sau) Age 26 (18.03.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Ellyes SKHIRI Montpellier (Fra) Age 22 (10.05.95) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Naim SLITI Lille (Fra) Age 25 (27.07.92) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Anice BADRI Esperance Age 27 (18.08.90) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Fakhreddine BEN YOUSSEF

Al Ahly (Egy) Age 28 (01.01.90) Apps in qualifiers 8 Goals in qualifiers 0

Al Ettifaq (Sau) Age 26 (21.06.91) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Hamdi NAGGUEZ

● Taha Yassine KHENISSI

Zamalek (Egy) Age 25 (28.10.92) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Karim AOUADHI CS Sfaxien Age 31 (02.05.86) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

Esperance Age 26 (06.01.92) Apps in qualifiers 6 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Youssef MSAKNI Al Duhail (Qat) Age 27 (28.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 4 Goals in qualifiers 3

PROFILE: AYMEN ABDENNOUR Very few of Tunisia’s leading players earn their living with European clubs. Star man Youssef Msakni turned his back on offers from European clubs to earn big bucks in Qatar, while many of the squad play their club football for traditional Tunisian powerhouses Esperance and CS Sfaxien, who are both regulars in the knockout stages of the African club competitions. Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul has tried to add more experience by making a late bid to recruit European-born players with Tunisian roots, such as Leicester City defender Yohan Benalouane and Gent’s Dylan Bronn. One man who has bucked the trend is

centre-back Aymen Abdennour. The 28-year-old former captain of Tunisia’s under-21 side already has a long career in Europe behind him, having played in Germany for Werder Bremen, in France for Toulouse, Monaco and Marseille, and in Spain for Valencia. He is currently on loan at Marseille but has been sidelined by a serious hamstring injury. He missed four of Tunisia’s six World Cup qualifying games and now faces a race to be fit in time for the World Cup in Russia. Despite his recent injuries, Abdennour has been a mainstay of Tunisia’s defence since making his senior international debut back in 2009. WORLD CUP 2018 121


URUGUAY

THE SCHEDULE GROUP A June 15 v Egypt (Yakaterinburg) June 20 v Saudi Arabia (Rostov) June 25 v Russia (Samara)

THE BETTING 25/1 to win the World Cup 5/6 to win Group A

THE QUESTIONS Are the newcomers ready? Over the last few months Uruguay have changed the balance of their midfield, looking for controlled possession from the likes of Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur, from this year’s under-20 side, and Nahitan Nandez, a 2015 graduate. The transformation has been striking, and the promise undeniable – but are these players ready to protect the defence, keep the ball and support the strikers on the global stage? Who will supply the strike force of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani? Oscar Tabarez finally seems to have given up on Gaston Ramirez as the side’s playmaker so it could fall to current favourite Giorgian De Arrascaeta to open up opposing defences. Does the defensive unit lack pace? There is certainly a fear that if Tabarez’s team push up then the defence can be bypassed all too easily. A 4-1 home defeat by Brazil in March last year saw the 122 WORLD CUP 2018

coach ditch the idea of playing Sebastian Coates alongside Diego Godin, while he also dropped holding midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios. Can Suarez get through a World Cup without picking up a suspension? In 2010 he missed the semi-finals after being sent off for handball against Ghana. Four years later he rushed back from injury to help Uruguay into the knockout stage but was thrown out of the competition for biting.

THE COACH ● Oscar TABAREZ Appointed for a second spell in charge in March 2006 and, aged 71, he is approaching the end of what will surely be the last job of his career. Has put Uruguay back on the map, with his greatest achievement probably overseeing an enormously successful under-20 project.

THE KEY PLAYERS Edinson Cavani was South America’s top scorer in qualification, leading the attacking line when Luis Suarez was missing or playing alongside him and dropping deeper. Captain Diego Godin is the organiser of the defensive line who, although he may be losing a little pace, remains a vital figure.

ONES TO WATCH Midfielder Federico Valverde was promoted from the under-20 side, bringing quality and controlled possession. Along with Rodrigo Bentancur, he represents the start of a generational change.

STAR MAN ● Luis SUAREZ Skilful, dynamic and often controversial, Suarez is the team’s main attacking weapon and their biggest hope of

glory. The country’s all-time top goalscorer is preparing for his third World Cup – and the last that he will play close to his peak years.


WORLD CUP FINALS HISTORY

1930 1934 1938 1950 1954

WINNERS (did not enter) (did not enter) WINNERS Fourth place

1958 1962 1966 1970 1974

(did not qualify) Group stage Quarter-finals Fourth place Group stage

1978 1982 1986 1990 1994

(did not qualify) (did not qualify) Second round Second round (did not qualify)

1998 2002 2006 2010 2014

(did not qualify) Group stage (did not qualify) Fourth place Second round

THE SQUAD ● Laxalt

● Bentancur

● Cavani ● Gimenez ● De Arrascaeta ● Muslera ● Godin ● Suarez ● Vecino ● Varela

● Sanchez

GOALKEEPERS

● Martin CAMPANA Independiente (Arg) Age 28 (29.05.89) Apps in qualifiers 0

● Fernando MUSLERA Galatasaray (Tur) Age 31 (16.06.86) Apps in qualifiers 17

● Martin SILVA Vasco da Gama (Bra) Age 35 (23.03.83) Apps in qualifiers 1 DEFENDERS

● Martin CACERES Lazio (Ita) Age 31 (07.04.87) Apps in qualifiers 10 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Sebastian COATES Sporting (Por) Age 27 (07.10.90) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Jose Maria GIMENEZ Atletico Madrid (Spa) Age 23 (20.01.95) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Diego GODIN Atletico Madrid (Spa) Age 32 (16.02.86) Apps in qualifiers 16 Goals in qualifiers 3

● Maxi PEREIRA Porto (Por) Age 33 (08.06.84) Apps in qualifiers 11 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Gaston SILVA Independiente (Arg) Age 24 (05.03.94) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Guillermo VARELA Penarol Age 25 (24.03.93) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0 MIDFIELDERS

● Rodrigo BENTANCUR Juventus (Ita) Age 20 (05.06.97) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Giorgian DE ARRASCAETA Cruzeiro (Bra) Age 23 (01.05.94) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Diego LAXALT Genoa (Ita) Age 25 (07.02.93) Apps in qualifiers 2 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Nahitan NANDEZ Boca Juniors (Arg) Age 22 (28.12.95) Apps in qualifiers 5 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cristian RODRIGUEZ Penarol Age 32 (30.09.85) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 2

● Carlos SANCHEZ Monterrey (Mex) Age 33 (02.12.84) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 1

● Lucas TORREIRA Sampdoria (Ita) Age 22 (11.02.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Federico VALVERDE Real Madrid (Spa) Age 19 (22.07.98) Apps in qualifiers 3 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Matias VECINO Internazionale (Ita) Age 26 (24.08.91) Apps in qualifiers 12 Goals in qualifiers 0 FORWARDS

● Edinson CAVANI Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Age 31 (14.02.87) Apps in qualifiers 15 Goals in qualifiers 10

● Maxi GOMEZ Celta Vigo (Spa) Age 21 (14.08.96) Apps in qualifiers 0 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Cristhian STUANI Girona (Spa) Age 31 (10.12.86) Apps in qualifiers 9 Goals in qualifiers 0

● Luis SUAREZ Barcelona (Spa) Age 31 (24.01.87) Apps in qualifiers 13 Goals in qualifiers 5

PROFILE: EDINSON CAVANI You write off Edinson Cavani at your peril. The Uruguayan was South America’s leading goalscorer in the qualifying campaign, finishing ahead of such world-class finishers as Lionel Messi, Gabriel Jesus, Radamel Falcao and his own international team-mate Luis Suarez. Few people can match Cavani’s scoring record of 42 goals in 100 games. Only one man – Suarez, with 50 goals in 97 internationals – has scored more for Uruguay. Cavani, now 31, is approaching the end of a career in which he has been written off many times. He’s been mocked in the past by fans for his clumsy playing style, but his effort and non-stop

commitment have silenced his critics. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to Paris Saint-Germain, most assumed Cavani would make way for the Swede. And when Neymar arrived in the French capital last summer, as the world’s most expensive footballer, Cavani was the man who people predicted would step aside for the Brazilian. Instead, Cavani has risen to the challenge. He was often been played out of position to accommodate Ibrahimovic and then Neymar. However, in January this year he entered the PSG record books after leapfrogging Ibrahimovic to become the French club’s all-time record scorer with 157 goals. WORLD CUP 2018 123


WORLD CUP 2018: QUALIFYING RESULTS

ARGENTINA Group Brazil Uruguay Argentina Colombia Peru Chile Paraguay Ecuador Bolivia Venezuela 08.10.15 13.10.15 13.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 10.11.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 31.08.17 05.09.17 05.10.17 10.10.17

P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 Argentina 0 Paraguay 0 Argentina 1 Colombia 0 Chile 1 Argentina 2 Argentina 1 Venezuela 2 Peru 2 Argentina 0 Brazil 3 Argentina 3 Argentina 1 Bolivia 2 Uruguay 0 Argentina 1 Argentina 0 Ecuador 1

W 12 9 7 7 7 8 7 6 4 2

BELGIUM D L F A 5 1 41 11 4 5 32 20 7 4 19 16 6 5 21 19 5 6 27 26 2 8 26 27 3 8 19 25 2 10 26 29 2 12 16 38 6 10 19 35

Pts 41 31 28 27 26 26 24 20 14 12

2 Ecuador 0 Argentina 1 Brazil 1 Argentina 2 Argentina 0 Bolivia 0 Uruguay 2 Argentina 2 Argentina 1 Paraguay 0 Argentina 0 Colombia 0 Chile 0 Argentina 0 Argentina 1 Venezuela 0 Peru 3 Argentina

16.16.15 03.09.15 08.09.15 08.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16

Kyrgyzstan 1 Australia 5 Tajikistan 0 Jordan 2 Australia 3 Bangladesh 0 Australia 7 Australia 5

3rd rd, Group B Japan Saudi Arabia Australia UAE Iraq Thailand 01.09.16 Australia 2 06.09.16 UAE 0 06.10.16 Saudi Arabia 2 Australia 1 11.10.16 15.11.16 Thailand 2 23.03.17 Iraq 1 28.03.17 Australia 2 08.06.17 Australia 3 31.08.17 Japan 2 05.09.17 Australia 2 ASIA PLAY-OFF 05.10.17 Syria 1 10.10.17 Australia 2 ASIA-CONCACAF PLAY-OFF 10.11.17 Honduras 0 Australia 3 15.11.17

P W D 8 7 0 8 5 1 8 4 2 8 1 2 8 0 1

L F A Pts 1 29 4 21 2 21 7 16 2 10 8 14 5 9 20 5 7 2 32 1

2 Australia 0 Bangladesh 3 Australia 0 Australia 0 Kyrgyzstan 4 Australia 0 Tajikistan 1 Jordan P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 6 5 4 3 0

D 2 1 4 1 2 2

L 2 3 1 5 5 8

F 17 17 16 10 11 6

A 7 10 11 13 12 24

0 Iraq 1 Australia 2 Australia 1 Japan 2 Australia 1 Australia 0 UAE 2 Saudi Arabia 0 Australia 1 Thailand 1 Australia 1 Syria 0 Australia 0 Honduras

Play-off: Australia score against Honduras

124 WORLD CUP 2018

06.09.16 07.10.16 10.10.16 13.11.16 25.03.17 09.06.17 31.08.17 03.09.17 07.10.17 10.10.17

COSTA RICA P 10 10 10 10 10 10

Cyprus 0 Belgium 4 Gibraltar 0 Belgium 8 Belgium 1 Estonia 0 Belgium 9 Greece 1 Bosnia 3 Belgium 4

W 9 5 5 3 3 0

D L 1 0 4 1 2 3 2 5 1 6 0 10

F 43 17 24 13 9 3

A 6 6 13 19 18 47

Pts 28 19 17 11 10 0

3 Belgium 0 Bosnia 6 Belgium 1 Estonia 1 Greece 2 Belgium 0 Gibraltar 2 Belgium 4 Belgium 0 Cyprus

Pts 20 19 19 13 11 2

P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18

Brazil Uruguay Argentina Colombia Peru Chile Paraguay Ecuador Bolivia Venezuela 08.10.15 13.10.15 13.11.15 17.11.15 25.03.16 29.03.16 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 10.11.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 31.08.17 05.09.17 05.10.17 10.10.17

Chile 2 Brazil 3 Argentina 1 Brazil 3 Brazil 2 Paraguay 2 Ecuador 0 Brazil 2 Brazil 5 Venezuela 0 Brazil 3 Peru 0 Uruguay 1 Brazil 3 Brazil 2 Colombia 1 Bolivia 0 Brazil 3

W 12 9 7 7 7 8 7 6 4 2

4th rd, Group B Costa Rica Panama Haiti Jamaica 13.11.15 17.11.15 25.03.16 29.03.16 02.09.16 06.09.16

P W D 6 5 1 6 3 1 6 1 1 6 1 1

Costa Rica 1 Panama 1 Jamaica 1 Costa Rica 3 Haiti 0 Costa Rica 3

D L F A 5 1 41 11 4 5 32 20 7 4 19 16 6 5 21 19 5 6 27 26 2 8 26 27 3 8 19 25 2 10 26 29 2 12 16 38 6 10 19 35

Pts 41 31 28 27 26 26 24 20 14 12

0 Brazil 1 Venezuela 1 Brazil 0 Peru 2 Uruguay 2 Brazil 3 Brazil 1 Colombia 0 Bolivia 2 Brazil 0 Argentina 2 Brazil 4 Brazil 0 Paraguay 0 Ecuador 1 Brazil 0 Brazil 0 Chile

11.11.16 15.11.16 24.03.17 28.03.17 08.06.17 13.06.17 01.09.17 05.09.17 07.10.17 10.10.17

Trinidad & T 0 Costa Rica 4 Mexico 2 Honduras 1 Costa Rica 0 Costa Rica 2 USA 0 Costa Rica 1 Costa Rica 1 Panama 2

L F 0 11 2 7 4 2 4 2

A 3 5 4 10

Pts 16 10 4 4

L 1 2 3 3 4 8

F 16 14 9 13 17 7

A 7 8 10 19 13 19

Pts 21 16 13 13 12 6

L 2 2 3 3 5 9

F 16 15 13 14 9 3

A 7 4 9 13 13 24

Pts 22 20 17 15 9 1

0 Haiti 2 Costa Rica 1 Costa Rica 0 Jamaica 1 Costa Rica 1 Panama

Fifth Round Mexico Costa Rica Panama Honduras USA Trinidad & Tobago

BRAZIL

AUSTRALIA 2nd rd, Group B Australia Jordan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Bangladesh

Group H Belgium Greece Bosnia Estonia Cyprus Gibraltar

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 4 3 3 3 2

D 3 4 4 4 3 0

2 Costa Rica 0 USA 0 Costa Rica 1 Costa Rica 0 Panama 1 Trinidad & T 2 Costa Rica 1 Mexico 1 Honduras 1 Costa Rica

Battle: Mexico’s Nestor Araujo (in green) and Joel Campbell of Costa Rica

COLOMBIA P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18

Brazil Uruguay Argentina Colombia Peru Chile Paraguay Ecuador Bolivia Venezuela 08.10.15 13.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 10.11.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 31.08.17 05.09.17 05.10.17 10.10.17

Colombia 2 Uruguay 3 Chile 1 Colombia 0 Bolivia 2 Colombia 3 Colombia 2 Brazil 2 Paraguay 0 Colombia 2 Colombia 0 Argentina 3 Colombia 1 Ecuador 0 Venezuela 0 Colombia 1 Colombia 1 Peru 1

W 12 9 7 7 7 8 7 6 4 2

D L F A 5 1 41 11 4 5 32 20 7 4 19 16 6 5 21 19 5 6 27 26 2 8 26 27 3 8 19 25 2 10 26 29 2 12 16 38 6 10 19 35

0 Peru 0 Colombia 1 Colombia 1 Argentina 3 Colombia 1 Ecuador 0 Venezuela 1 Colombia 1 Colombia 2 Uruguay 0 Chile 0 Colombia 0 Bolivia 2 Colombia 0 Colombia 1 Brazil 2 Paraguay 1 Colombia

Pts 41 31 28 27 26 26 24 20 14 12

CROATIA Group I Iceland Croatia Ukraine Turkey Finland Kosovo 05.09.16 06.10.16 09.10.16 12.11.16 24.03.17 11.06.17 02.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 09.10.17 PLAY-OFFS 09.11.17 12.11.17

P 10 10 10 10 10 10 Croatia 1 Kosovo 0 Finland 0 Croatia 2 Croatia 1 Iceland 1 Croatia 1 Turkey 1 Croatia 1 Ukraine 0

W 7 6 5 4 2 0

1 Turkey 6 Croatia 1 Croatia 0 Iceland 0 Ukraine 0 Croatia 0 Kosovo 0 Croatia 1 Finland 2 Croatia

Croatia 4 1 Greece Greece 0 0 Croatia

D 1 2 2 3 3 1


ICELAND

FRANCE

Through: Andreas Bjelland of Denmark

Group A France Sweden Holland Bulgaria Luxembourg Belarus 06.09.16 07.10.16 10.10.16 11.11.16 25.03.17 09.06.17 31.08.17 03.09.17 07.10.17 10.10.17

P 10 10 10 10 10 10 Belarus 0 France 4 Holland 0 France 2 Luxembourg 1 Sweden 2 France 4 France 0 Bulgaria 0 France 2

W 7 6 6 4 1 1

D 2 1 1 1 3 2

L 1 3 3 5 6 7

F 18 26 21 14 8 6

A 6 9 12 19 26 21

Pts 23 19 19 13 6 5

Group I Iceland Croatia Ukraine Turkey Finland Kosovo

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

05.09.16 06.10.16 09.10.16 12.11.16 24.03.17 11.06.17 02.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 09.10.17

0 France 1 Bulgaria 1 France 1 Sweden 3 France 1 France 0 Holland 0 Luxembourg 1 France 1 Belarus

Ukraine 1 Iceland 3 Iceland 2 Croatia 2 Kosovo 1 Iceland 1 Finland 1 Iceland 2 Turkey 0 Iceland 2

W 7 6 5 4 2 0

D 1 2 2 3 3 1

L 2 2 3 3 5 9

F 16 15 13 14 9 3

A 7 4 9 13 13 24

Pts 22 20 17 15 9 1

1 Iceland 2 Finland 0 Turkey 0 Iceland 2 Iceland 0 Croatia 0 Iceland 0 Ukraine 3 Iceland 0 Kosovo

IRAN 2nd Rd, Group D Iran Oman Turkmenistan Guam India

DENMARK Group E Poland Denmark Montenegro Romania Armenia Kazakhstan

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 8 6 5 3 2 0

D 1 2 1 4 1 3

L 1 2 4 3 7 7

F 28 20 20 12 10 6

A 14 8 12 10 26 26

Pts 25 20 16 13 7 3

04.09.16 Denmark 1 0 Armenia 08.10.16 Poland 3 2 Denmark 11.10.16 Denmark 0 1 Montenegro 11.11.16 Denmark 4 1 Kazakhstan 26.03.17 Romania 0 0 Denmark 10.06.17 Kazakhstan 1 3 Denmark 01.09.17 Denmark 4 0 Poland 04.09.17 Armenia 1 4 Denmark 05.10.17 Montenegro 0 1 Denmark 11.10.17 Denmark 1 1 Romania PLAY-OFFS 11.11.17 Denmark 0 0 Rep Ireland 14.11.17 Rep Ireland 1 5 Denmark

GERMANY Germany N Ireland Czech Rep Norway Azerbaijan San Marino

EGYPT PRELIMINARY ROUND 14.11.15 Chad 1 0 Egypt 17.11.15 Egypt 4 0 Chad Group E Egypt Uganda Ghana Congo 09.10.16 13.11.16 31.08.17 05.09.17 08.10.17 12.11.17

P W D 6 4 1 6 2 3 6 1 4 6 0 2 Congo 1 Egypt 2 Uganda 1 Egypt 1 Egypt 2 Ghana 1

16.06.15 03.09.15 08.09.15 08.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16

Strong: Oliver Giroud of France (right)

L 1 1 1 4

F A 8 4 3 2 7 5 5 12

Pts 13 9 7 2

L 0 4 2 3 6 9

F 18 17 17 12 7 3

Pts 26 18 18 15 6 1

04.09.16 08.10.16 11.10.16 11.11.16 26.03.17 10.06.17 01.09.17 04.09.17 05.10.17 08.10.17

10 10 10 10 10 10 Norway 0 Germany 3 Germany 2 San Marino 0 Azerbaijan 1 Germany 7 Czech Rep 1 Germany 6 N Ireland 1 Germany 5

10 6 4 4 3 0

0 0 1 3 3 3 1 5 1 6 0 10

3 Germany 0 Czech Rep 0 N Ireland 8 Germany 4 Germany 0 San Marino 2 Germany 0 Norway 3 Germany 1 Azerbaijan

43 17 17 17 10 2

4 6 10 16 19 51

30 19 15 13 10 0

Turkmenistan 1 Iran 6 India 0 Oman 1 Iran 3 Guam 0 Iran 4 Iran 2

3rd Rd, Group A Iran South Korea Syria Uzbekistan China Qatar 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.11.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 12.06.17 31.08.17 05.09.17

Iran 2 China 0 Uzbekistan 0 Iran 1 Syria 0 Qatar 0 Iran 1 Iran 2 South Korea 0 Iran 2

P W D 8 6 2 8 4 2 8 4 1 8 2 1 8 1 0

L F A Pts 0 26 3 20 2 11 7 14 3 10 11 13 5 3 16 7 7 5 18 3

1 Iran 0 Guam 3 Iran 1 Iran 1 Turkmenistan 6 Iran 0 India 0 Oman P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 4 3 4 3 2

D 4 3 4 1 3 1

L F A Pts 0 10 2 22 3 11 10 15 3 9 8 13 5 6 7 13 4 8 10 12 7 8 15 7

0 Qatar 0 Iran 1 Iran 0 South Korea 0 Iran 1 Iran 0 China 0 Uzbekistan 0 Iran 2 Syria

Race: South Korea’s Lee Jae-sung (left) and Milad Mohammadi of Iran

2 Egypt 0 Ghana 0 Egypt 0 Uganda 1 Congo 1 Egypt

ENGLAND Group F England Slovakia Scotland Slovenia Lithuania Malta 04.09.16 08.10.16 11.10.16 11.11.16 26.03.17 10.06.17 01.09.17 04.09.17 05.10.17 08.10.17

P 10 10 10 10 10 10 Slovakia 0 England 2 Slovenia 0 England 3 England 2 Scotland 2 Malta 0 England 2 England 1 Lithuania 0

W 8 6 5 4 1 0

D 2 0 3 3 3 1

A 3 7 12 7 20 25

1 England 0 Malta 0 England 0 Scotland 0 Lithuania 2 England 4 England 1 Slovakia 0 Slovenia 1 England

WORLD CUP 2018 125


WORLD CUP 2018: QUALIFYING RESULTS

JAPAN 2nd Rd: Group E Japan Syria Singapore Afghanistan Cambodia 16.06.15 03.09.15 08.09.15 08.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16

Japan 0 Japan 3 Afghanistan 0 Syria 0 Singapore 0 Cambodia 0 Japan 5 Japan 5

3rd Rd: Group B Japan Saudi Arabia Australia UAE Iraq Thailand 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 13.06.17 31.08.17 05.09.11

Japan 1 Thailand 0 Japan 2 Australia 1 Japan 2 UAE 0 Japan 4 Iraq 1 Japan 2 Saudi Arabia 1

MOROCCO P W D 8 7 1 8 6 0 8 3 1 8 3 0 8 0 0

L F A 0 27 0 2 26 11 4 9 9 5 8 24 8 1 27

Pts 22 18 10 9 0

0 Singapore 0 Cambodia 6 Japan 3 Japan 3 Japan 2 Japan 0 Afghanistan 0 Syria P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 6 5 4 3 0

D 2 1 4 1 2 2

ROUND 2 12.11.15 Morocco 2 0 Equatorial Guinea 15.11.15 Equatorial Guinea 1 1 Morocco Group C Morocco Ivory Coast Gabon Mali 08.10.16 12.11.16 01.09.17 05.09.17 07.10.17 11.11.17

L 2 3 1 5 5 8

F 17 17 16 10 11 6

A 7 10 11 13 12 24

Pts 20 19 19 13 11 2

P W D 6 3 3 6 2 2 6 1 3 6 0 4 Gabon 0 Morocco 0 Morocco 6 Mali 0 Morocco 3 Ivory Coast 0

NIGERIA

Zambia 1 Nigeria 3 Nigeria 4 Cameroon 1 Nigeria 1 Algeria 1

13.11.15 17.11.15 25.03.16 29.03.16 02.09.16 06.09.16

MEXICO

13.11.15 17.11.15 25.03.16 29.03.16 02.09.16 06.09.16

Mexico 3 Honduras 0 Canada 0 Mexico 2 El Salvador 1 Mexico 0

Fifth Round Mexico Costa Rica Panama Honduras USA Trinidad & Tobago 11.11.16 15.11.16 24.03.17 28.03.17 08.06.17 11.06.17 01.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 10.10.17

USA 1 Panama 0 Mexico 2 Trinidad & T 0 Mexico 3 Mexico 1 Mexico 1 Costa Rica 1 Mexico 3 Honduras 3

126 WORLD CUP 2018

L F A 0 12 4 2 8 7 1 7 9 4 4 11

Pts 14 8 7 2

L F 0 11 2 7 4 2 4 2

Pts 16 10 4 4

2 Nigeria 1 Algeria 0 Cameroon 1 Nigeria 0 Zambia 1 Nigeria

PANAMA 4th rd, Group B Costa Rica Panama Haiti Jamaica

4th Rd Group A Mexico Honduras Canada El Salvador

P W D 6 4 2 6 2 2 6 1 4 6 0 2

P W D 6 5 1 6 2 2 6 2 1 6 0 2

L F A 0 13 1 2 6 6 3 5 8 4 4 13

Pts 16 8 7 2

L 1 2 3 3 4 8

Pts 21 16 13 13 12 6

0 El Salvador 2 Mexico 3 Mexico 0 Canada 3 Mexico 0 Honduras P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 4 3 3 3 2

D 3 4 4 4 3 0

2 Mexico 0 Mexico 0 Costa Rica 1 Mexico 0 Honduras 1 USA 0 Panama 1 Mexico 1 Trinidad & T 2 Mexico

F 16 14 9 13 17 7

A 7 8 10 19 13 19

Jamaica 0 Panama 1 Haiti 0 Panama 1 Panama 2 Costa Rica 3

5th Round Mexico Costa Rica Panama Honduras USA Trinidad & T 11.11.16 15.11.16 24.03.17 28.03.17 08.06.17 13.06.17 01.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 10.10.17

P W D 6 5 1 6 3 1 6 1 1 6 1 1

Honduras 0 Panama 2 Trinidad & T 1 Panama 2 Costa Rica 0 Panama 2 Mexico 1 Panama 3 USA 4 Panama 2

A 3 5 4 10

2 Panama 2 Costa Rica 0 Panama 0 Haiti 0 Jamaica 1 Panama P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 4 3 3 3 2

D 3 4 4 4 3 0

Joy: Peru

PERU

SECOND ROUND 13.11.15 Swaziland 0 0 Nigeria 17.11.15 Nigeria 2 0 Swaziland

09.10.16 12.11.16 01.09.17 04.09.17 07.10.17 10.11.17

Close: Iraq and Japan

A Pts 0 12 5 8 7 6 9 4

0 Morocco 0 Ivory Coast 0 Mali 0 Morocco 0 Gabon 2 Morocco

3rd rd, Group B Nigeria Zambia Cameroon Algeria

2 UAE 2 Japan 1 Iraq 1 Japan 1 Saudi Arabia 2 Japan 0 Thailand 1 Japan 0 Australia 0 Japan

L F 0 11 2 7 2 2 2 1

Group Brazil Uruguay Argentina Colombia Peru Chile Paraguay Ecuador Bolivia Venezuela

P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18

08.10.15 Colombia 2 13.10.15 Peru 3 Peru 1 13.11.15 17.11.15 Brazil 3 24.03.16 Peru 2 29.03.16 Uruguay 1 01.09.16 Bolivia 0 06.09.16 Peru 2 06.10.16 Peru 2 11.10.16 Chile 2 10.11.16 Paraguay 1 15.11.16 Peru 0 23.03.17 Venezuela 2 28.03.17 Peru 2 Peru 2 31.08.17 05.09.17 Ecuador 1 05.10.17 Argentina 0 Peru 1 10.10.17 PLAY-OFFS 11.11.17 New Zealand 0 15.11.17 Peru 2

W 12 9 7 7 7 8 7 6 4 2

D L F A 5 1 41 11 4 5 32 20 7 4 19 16 6 5 21 19 5 6 27 26 2 8 26 27 3 8 19 25 2 10 26 29 2 12 16 38 6 10 19 35

Pts 41 31 28 27 26 26 24 20 14 12

0 Peru 4 Chile 0 Paraguay 0 Peru 2 Venezuela 0 Peru 3 Peru 1 Ecuador 2 Argentina 1 Peru 4 Peru 2 Brazil 2 Peru 1 Uruguay 1 Bolivia 2 Peru 0 Peru 1 Colombia 0 Peru 0 New Zealand

POLAND L 1 2 3 3 4 8

F 16 14 9 13 17 7

A 7 8 10 19 13 19

1 Panama 0 Mexico 0 Panama 1 USA 0 Panama 2 Honduras 0 Panama 0 Trinidad & T 0 Panama 1 Costa Rica

In front: Panama’s Luis Tejada (right)

Pts 21 16 13 13 12 6

Group E Poland Denmark Montenegro Romania Armenia Kazakhstan

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

04.09.16 08.10.16 11.10.16 11.11.16 26.03.17 10.06.17 01.09.17 04.09.17 05.10.17 08.10.17

Kazakhstan 2 Poland 3 Poland 2 Romania 0 Montenegro 1 Poland 3 Denmark 4 Poland 3 Armenia 1 Poland 4

W 8 6 5 3 2 0

D 1 2 1 4 1 3

L 1 2 4 3 7 7

F 28 20 20 12 10 6

A 14 8 12 10 26 26

Pts 25 20 16 13 7 3

2 Poland 2 Denmark 1 Armenia 3 Poland 2 Poland 1 Romania 0 Poland 0 Kazakhstan 6 Poland 2 Montenegro

PORTUGAL Group B Portugal Switzerland Hungary Faroe Islands Latvia Andorra 06.09.16 07.10.16 10.10.16 13.11.16 25.03.17 09.06.17 31.08.17 03.09.17 07.10.17 10.10.17

Switzerland 2 Portugal 6 Faroe Islands 0 Portugal 4 Portugal 3 Latvia 0 Portugal 5 Hungary 0 Andorra 0 Portugal 2

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 9 9 4 2 2 1

D 0 0 1 3 1 1

0 Portugal 0 Andorra 6 Portugal 1 Latvia 0 Hungary 3 Portugal 1 Faroe Islands 1 Portugal 2 Portugal 0 Switzerland

L F A Pts 1 32 4 27 1 23 7 27 5 14 14 13 5 4 16 9 7 7 18 7 8 2 23 4


SAUDI ARABIA 2nd rd, Group A Saudi Arabia UAE Palestine Malaysia Timor-Leste 11.06.15 03.09.15 08.09.15 08.10.15 09.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 29.03.16

Saudi Arabia 3 Saudi Arabia 7 Malaysia 0 Saudi Arabia 2 Palestine 0 Timor-Leste 0 Saudi Arabia 2 UAE 1

P W D 8 6 2 8 5 2 8 3 3 8 1 1 8 0 2

2 Palestine 0 Timor-Leste 3 Saudi Arabia 1 UAE 0 Saudi Arabia 10 Saudi Arabia 0 Malaysia 1 Saudi Arabia

3rd rd, Group B Japan Saudi Arabia Australia UAE Iraq Thailand 01.09.16 06.09.16 10.10.16 11.10.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 08.06.17 29.08.17 05.09.17

Saudi Arabia 1 Iraq 1 Saudi Arabia 2 Saudi Arabia 3 Japan 2 Thailand 0 Saudi Arabia 1 Australia 3 UAE 2 Saudi Arabia 1

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

W 6 6 5 4 3 0

D 2 1 4 1 2 2

L 2 3 1 5 5 8

F 17 17 16 10 11 6

A 7 10 11 13 12 24

Pts 20 19 19 13 11 2

0 Thailand 2 Saudi Arabia 2 Australia 0 UAE 1 Saudi Arabia 3 Saudi Arabia 0 Iraq 2 Saudi Arabia 1 Saudi Arabia 0 Japan

SECOND ROUND 13.11.15 Madagascar 2 2 Senegal 17.11.15 Senegal 3 0 Madagascar

08.10.16 02.09.17 05.09.17 07.10.17 11.11.17 14.11.17

P W D 6 4 2 6 2 3 6 2 0 6 1 1

Senegal 2 Senegal 0 Burkina Faso 2 Cape Verde 0 South Africa 0 Senegal 2

L F A 0 10 3 1 10 6 4 4 12 4 7 10

Pts 14 9 6 4

0 Cape Verde 0 Burkina Faso 2 Senegal 2 Senegal 2 Senegal 1 South Africa

SERBIA Group D Serbia Rep Ireland Wales Austria Georgia Moldova 05.09.16 06.10.16 09.10.16 12.11.16 24.03.17 11.06.17 02.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 09.10.17

P 10 10 10 10 10 10 Serbia 2 Moldova 0 Serbia 3 Wales 1 Georgia 1 Serbia 1 Serbia 3 Rep Ireland 0 Austria 3 Serbia 1

W 6 5 4 4 0 0

D 3 4 5 3 5 2

2nd Rd: Group G South Korea Lebanon Kuwait Myanmar Laos 16.06.15 03.09.15 08.09.15 08.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 24.03.16 -

L 1 1 1 3 5 8

F 20 12 13 14 8 4

A 10 6 6 12 14 23

Rep Ireland 2 Serbia 3 Austria 2 Serbia 1 Serbia 3 Wales 1 Moldova 0 Serbia 1 Serbia 2 Georgia 0

Dominant: Serbia’s Aleksandar Prijovic (in red)

Pts 21 19 17 15 5 2

P W D 8 8 0 8 3 2 8 3 1 8 2 2 8 1 1

L F A Pts 0 27 0 24 3 12 6 11 4 12 10 10 4 9 21 8 6 6 29 4

Myanmar 0 2 South Korea South Korea 8 0 Laos Lebanon 0 3 South Korea Kuwait 0 1 South Korea South Korea 4 0 Myanmar Laos 0 5 South Korea South Korea 1 0 Lebanon South Korea v Kuwait (not played; South Korea awarded a 3-0 victory)

3rd Rd: Group A Iran South Korea Syria Uzbekistan China Qatar 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 13.06.17 31.08.17 05.09.17

SENEGAL Group D Senegal Burkina Faso Cape Verde South Africa

SWITZERLAND

SOUTH KOREA

L F A Pts 0 28 4 20 1 25 4 17 2 22 6 12 6 3 30 4 6 2 36 2

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

South Korea 3 Syria 0 South Korea 3 Iran 1 South Korea 2 China 1 South Korea 1 Qatar 3 South Korea 0 Uzbekistan 0

W 6 4 3 4 3 2

D 4 3 4 1 3 1

L F A Pts 0 10 2 22 3 11 10 15 3 9 8 13 5 6 7 13 4 8 10 12 7 8 15 7

2 China 0 South Korea 2 Qatar 0 South Korea 1 Uzbekistan 0 South Korea 0 Syria 2 South Korea 0 Iran 0 South Korea

05.09.16 06.10.16 09.10.16 12.11.16 24.03.17 11.06.17 02.09.17 05.09.17 06.10.17 09.10.17

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

Spain 8 Italy 1 Albania 0 Spain 4 Spain 4 Macedonia 1 Spain 3 Liechtenstein 0 Spain 3 Israel 0

W 9 7 4 4 3 0

D L 1 0 2 1 1 5 0 6 2 5 0 10

F 36 21 10 10 15 1

A 3 8 13 15 15 39

06.09.16 07.10.16 10.10.16 11.11.16 25.03.17 09.06.17 31.08.17 03.09.17 07.10.17 10.10.17 PLAY-OFF 10.11.17 13.11.17

Sweden 1 Luxembourg 0 Sweden 3 France 2 Sweden 4 Sweden 2 Bulgaria 3 Belarus 0 Sweden 8 Holland 2

W 7 6 6 4 1 1

D 2 1 1 1 3 2

1 Holland 1 Sweden 0 Bulgaria 1 Sweden 0 Belarus 1 France 2 Sweden 4 Sweden 0 Luxembourg 0 Sweden

Sweden 1 0 Italy Italy 0 0 Sweden

W 9 9 4 2 2 1

D 0 0 1 3 1 1

L F A Pts 1 32 4 27 1 23 7 27 5 14 14 13 5 4 16 9 7 7 18 7 8 2 23 4

0 Portugal 3 Switzerland 2 Switzerland 0 Faroe Islands 0 Latvia 2 Switzerland 0 Andorra 3 Switzerland 2 Hungary 0 Switzerland 1 Switzerland 0 Northern Ireland

TUNISIA SECOND ROUND 13.11.15 Mauritania 1 2 Tunisia 17.11.15 Tunisia 2 1 Mauritania P W D 6 4 2 6 4 1 6 1 1 6 1 0 Tunisia 2 Libya 0 Tunisia 2 Congo DR 2 Guinea 1 Tunisia 0

L F 0 11 1 14 4 4 5 6

A 4 7 10 14

Pts 14 13 4 3

D L F A 5 1 41 11 4 5 32 20 7 4 19 16 6 5 21 19 5 6 27 26 2 8 26 27 3 8 19 25 2 10 26 29 2 12 16 38 6 10 19 35

Pts 41 31 28 27 26 26 24 20 14 12

0 Guinea 1 Tunisia 1 Congo DR 2 Tunisia 4 Tunisia 0 Libya

Pts 28 23 13 12 11 0

0 Liechtenstein 1 Spain 2 Spain 0 Macedonia 1 Israel 2 Spain 0 Italy 8 Spain 0 Albania 1 Spain

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

06.09.16 Switzerland 2 07.10.16 Hungary 2 10.10.16 Andorra 1 13.11.16 Switzerland 2 Switzerland 1 25.03.17 09.06.17 Faroe Islands 0 31.08.17 Switzerland 3 03.09.17 Latvia 0 07.10.17 Switzerland 5 10.10.17 Portugal 2 PLAY-OFFS 09.11.17 Northern Ireland 0 12.11.17 Switzerland 0

09.10.16 11.11.16 01.09.17 05.09.17 07.10.17 11.11.17

Handful: Yassine Chikhaoui of Tunisia

URUGUAY

SWEDEN Group A France Sweden Holland Bulgaria Luxembourg Belarus

P 10 10 10 10 10 10

Group A Tunisia DR Congo Libya Guinea

SPAIN Group G Spain Italy Albania Israel Macedonia Liechtenstein

Group B Portugal Switzerland Hungary Faroe Islands Latvia Andorra

L 1 3 3 5 6 7

F 18 26 21 14 8 6

A 6 9 12 19 26 21

Pts 23 19 19 13 6 5

Group Brazil Uruguay Argentina Colombia Peru Chile Paraguay Ecuador Bolivia Venezuela 08.10.15 13.10.15 12.11.15 17.11.15 25.03.16 29.03.16 01.09.16 06.09.16 06.10.16 11.10.16 10.11.16 15.11.16 23.03.17 28.03.17 31.08.17 05.09.17 05.10.17 10.10.17

P 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 Bolivia 0 Uruguay 3 Ecuador 2 Uruguay 3 Brazil 2 Uruguay 1 Argentina 1 Uruguay 4 Uruguay 3 Colombia 2 Uruguay 2 Chile 3 Uruguay 1 Peru 2 Uruguay 0 Paraguay 1 Venezuela 0 Uruguay 4

W 12 9 7 7 7 8 7 6 4 2

2 Uruguay 0 Colombia 1 Uruguay 0 Chile 2 Uruguay 0 Peru 0 Uruguay 0 Paraguay 0 Venezuela 2 Uruguay 1 Ecuador 1 Uruguay 4 Brazil 1 Uruguay 0 Argentina 2 Uruguay 0 Uruguay 2 Bolivia

WORLD CUP 2018 127


WORLD CUP 2018: THE MATCHES

G RO U P

G RO U P

G RO U P

G RO U P

A

B

C

D

EGYPT RUSSIA SAUDI ARABIA URUGUAY

IRAN MOROCCO PORTUGAL SPAIN

AUSTRALIA DENMARK FRANCE PERU

ARGENTINA CROATIA ICELAND NIGERIA

J U N E 14 Russia v Saudi Arabia (Moscow Luzhniki, 7.45pm)

J U N E 15 Morocco v Iran (Saint Petersburg, 4pm)

J U N E 16 France v Australia (Kazan, 11am)

J U N E 16 Argentina v Iceland (Moscow Spartak, 2pm)

J U N E 15 Egypt v Uruguay (Yekaterinburg, 1pm)

J U N E 15 Portugal v Spain (Sochi, 7pm)

J U N E 16 Peru v Denmark (Saransk, 5pm)

J U N E 16 Croatia v Nigeria (Kaliningrad, 8pm)

J U N E 19 Russia v Egypt (Saint Petersburg, 7pm)

JUNE 20 Portugal v Morocco (Moscow Luzhniki, 1pm)

J U N E 21 France v Peru (Yekaterinburg, 1pm)

J U N E 21 Argentina v Croatia (Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm)

JUNE 20 Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (Rostov-on-Don, 4pm)

JUNE 20 Iran v Spain (Kazan, 7pm)

J U N E 21 Denmark v Australia (Samara, 4pm)

JU N E 22 Nigeria v Iceland (Volgograd, 4pm)

JUNE 25 Saudi Arabia v Egypt (Volgograd, 3pm)

JUNE 25 Iran v Portugal (Saransk, 7pm)

JUNE 26 Australia v Peru (Sochi, 3pm)

JUNE 26 Iceland v Croatia (Rostov-on-Don, 7pm)

JUNE 25 Uruguay v Russia (Samara, 3pm)

JUNE 25 Spain v Morocco (Kaliningrad, 7pm)

JUNE 26 Denmark v France (Moscow Luzhniki, 3pm)

JUNE 26 Nigeria v Argentina (Saint Petersburg, 7pm)

G RO U P

G RO U P

G RO U P

G RO U P

E

F

G

H

BRAZIL COSTA RICA SERBIA SWITZERLAND

GERMANY MEXICO SOUTH KORES SWEDEN

BELGIUM ENGLAND PANAMA TUNISIA

COLOMBIA JAPAN POLAND SENEGAL

J U N E 17 Costa Rica v Serbia (Samara, 1pm)

J U N E 17 Germany v Mexico (Moscow Luzhniki, 4pm)

J U N E 18 Belgium v Panama (Sochi, 4pm)

J U N E 19 Poland v Senegal (Moscow Spartak, 1pm)

J U N E 17 Brazil v Switzerland (Rostov-on-Don, 7pm)

J U N E 18 Sweden v South Korea (Nizhny Novgorod, 1pm)

J U N E 18 Tunisia v England (Volgograd, 7pm)

J U N E 19 Colombia v Japan (Saransk, 4p,)

JU N E 22 Brazil v Costa Rica (Saint Petersburg, 1pm)

JUNE 23 Germany v Sweden (Sochi, 4pm)

JUNE 23 Belgium v Tunisia (Moscow Spartak, 1pm)

JUNE 24 Japan v Senegal (Yekaterinburg, 4pm)

JU N E 22 Serbia v Switzerland (Kaliningrad, 7pm)

JUNE 23 South Korea v Mexico (Rostov-on-Don, 7pm)

JUNE 24 England v Panama (Nizhny Novgorod, 1pm)

JUNE 24 Poland v Colombia (Kazan, 7pm)

JUNE 27 Serbia v Brazil (Moscow Spartak, 7pm)

JUNE 27 South Korea v Germany (Kazan, 3pm)

JUNE 28 England v Belgium (Kaliningrad, 7pm)

JUNE 28 Japan v Poland (Volgograd, 3pm)

JUNE 27 Switzerland v Costa Rica (Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm)

JUNE 27 Mexico v Sweden (Yekaterinburg, 3pm)

JUNE 28 Panama v Tunisia (Saransk, 7pm)

JUNE 28 Senegal v Colombia (Samara, 3pm)

*all kick-off times are GMT 128 WORLD CUP 2018


RO U N D O F 16 JUNE 30 C1 v D2 (Kazan, 3pm) (1) JUNE 30 A1 v B2 (Sochi, 7pm) (2) J U LY 1 B1 v A2 (Moscow Luzhniki, 3pm) (3) J U LY 1 D1 v C2 (Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm) (4) J U LY 2 E1 v F2 (Samara, 3pm) (5) J U LY 2 G1 v H2 (Rostov, 7pm) (6) J U LY 3 F1 v E2 (Saint Petersburg, 3pm) (7) J U LY 3 H1 v G2 (Moscow Spartak, 7pm) (8)

Q UA RT E R- F I N A L S J U LY 6 Winner 6 v Winner 2 (Nizhny Novgorod, 3pm) (1) J U LY 6 Winner 5 v Winner 6 (Kazan, 7pm) (2) J U LY 7 Winner 7 v Winner 8 (Samara, 1pm) (3) J U LY 7 Winner 3 v Winner 4 (Sochi, 7pm) (4)

SEMI-FINALS The prize Final venue

J U LY 1 0 Winner QF1 v Winner QF 2 (Saint Petersburg, 7pm) J U LY 11 Winner QF3 v Winner QF 4 (Moscow Luzhniki, 7pm)

T H I R D - P L AC E P L AY- O F F J U LY 14 Saint Petersburg, 3pm

FINAL J U LY 15 Moscow Luzhniki, 4pm WORLD CUP 2018 129


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World Soccer - The Complete Guide to World Cup 2018  

World Soccer - The Complete Guide to World Cup 2018

World Soccer - The Complete Guide to World Cup 2018  

World Soccer - The Complete Guide to World Cup 2018

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