The FIFA World Cup is considered as the Mecca for all football players and fans alike. The world’s most watched sport- the FIFA World Cup 2018, happens every four years. It has been four years since the last one happened in Brazil and it is time again to wave your flags, wave your flags.
The FIFA 2018 World Cup is the 21st edition of the quadrennial event. This year, 32 countries (teams) will compete for the most coveted spot, after playing in the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers from their continents/confederations. The World Cup will be held in Russia (Eastern Europe), and all the venues are in European Russia. A total of 32 teams will be playing, in groups of 4. There are 8 groups and only the top two from every group will enter the round of 16. The winners from this round will enter the quarter-final and the winners of the quarter-finals will enter the semi-finals. The winners from the semi-finals will face each other for the trophy at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, on 15 July 2018.
SO, YOU THINK YOU KNOW FOOTBALL?
Group Stage (32 teams) —–> Round of 16(16 teams) —–> Quarter Finals (8 team) —–> Semi-Finals(4 teams) —-> Final (2 teams) —–> Winner
*drum roll* And the groups are:
GROUP A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
GROUP B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
GROUP C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
GROUP D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
GROUP E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
GROUP G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
GROUP H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Live It Up With FIFA World Cup 2018!
Official Mascot: Zabivaka- The official FIFA World Cup mascot for the 2018 tournament is a wolf named Zabivaka (Russian for “the one who scores”). He wears a brown and white wool T-shirt with the words “RUSSIA 2018” and orange sports glasses. The combination of white, blue and red T-shirt and shorts are the national colors of the Russian team.
Offical Ball: Adidas 18 Telstar
FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 SCHEDULE
|1||Russia v Saudi Arabia (A)||Thursday, June 14||8:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)||5-0|
|2||Egypt v Uruguay (A)||Friday, June 15||5:30pm||Ekaterinburg||0-1|
|3||Morocco v Iran (B)||Friday, June 15||8:30pm||St Petersburg||0-1|
|4||Portugal v Spain (B)||Saturday, June 16||11:30pm||Sochi||3-3|
|5||France v Australia (C)||Saturday, June 16||3:30pm||Kazan||2-1|
|6||Argentina v Iceland (D)||Saturday, June 16||6:30pm||Moscow (Spartak)||1-1|
|7||Peru v Denmark (C)||Saturday, June 16||9:30pm||Saransk||0-1|
|8||Croatia v Nigeria (D)||Sunday, June 17||12:30am||Kaliningrad||2-0|
|9||Costa Rica v Serbia (E)||Sunday, June 17||5:30pm||Samara||0-1|
|10||Germany v Mexico (F)||Sunday, June 17||8:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)||0-1|
|11||Brazil vs Switzerland (E)||Monday, June 18||11:30pm||Rostov-on-Don||1-1|
|12||Sweden v South Korea (F)||Monday, June 18||5:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod||1-0|
|13||Belgium v Panama (G)||Monday, June 18||8:30pm||Sochi||3-0|
|14||Tunisia v England (G)||Tuesday, June 19||11:30pm||Volgograd||1-2|
|15||Colombia v Japan (H)||Tuesday, June 19||5:30pm||Saransk||1-2|
|16||Poland v Senegal (H)||Tuesday, June 19||8:30pm||Moscow (Spartak)||1-2|
|17||Russia v Egypt (A)||Wednesday, June 20||11:30pm||St Petersburg||3-1|
|18||Portugal v Morocco (B)||Wednesday, June 20||5:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)||1-0|
|19||Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (A)||Wednesday, June 20||8:00 PM||Rostov-on-Don||1-0|
|20||Iran v Spain (B)||Thursday, June 21||11:30pm||Kazan||0-1|
|21||Denmark v Australia (C)||Thursday, June 21||5:30pm||Samara|
|22||France v Peru (C)||Thursday, June 21||8:30pm||Ekaterinburg|
|23||Argentina v Croatia (D)||Friday, June 22||11:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod|
|24||Brazil v Costa Rica (E)||Friday, June 22||5:30pm||St Petersburg|
|25||Nigeria v Iceland (D)||Friday, June 22||8:30pm||Volgograd|
|26||Serbia v Switzerland (E)||Friday, June 22||11:30pm||Kaliningrad|
|27||Belgium v Tunisia (G||Saturday, June 23||5:30pm||Moscow (Spartak)|
|28||South Korea v Mexico (F)||Saturday, June 23||11:30pm||Rostov-on-Don|
|29||Germany v Sweden (F)||Saturday, June 23||11:30pm||Sochi|
|30||England v Panama (G)||Sunday, June 24||5:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod|
|31||Japan v Senegal (H)||Sunday, June 24||8:30pm||Ekaterinburg|
|32||Poland v Colombia (H)||Monday, June 25||11:30pm||Kazan|
|33||Saudi Arabia v Egypt (A)||Monday, June 25||7:30pm||Volgograd|
|34||Uruguay v Russia (A)||Monday, June 25||7:30pm||Samara|
|35||Iran v Portugal (B)||Tuesday, June 25||11:30pm||Saransk|
|36||Spain v Morocco (B)||Tuesday, June 25||11:30pm||Kaliningrad|
|37||Australia v Peru (C)||Tuesday, June 26||7:30pm||Sochi|
|38||Denmark v France (C)||Tuesday, June 26||7:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|39||Nigeria v Argentina (D)||Tuesday, June 26||11:30pm||St Petersburg|
|40||Iceland v Croatia (D)||Tuesday, June 26||11:30pm||Rostov-on-Don|
|41||South Korea v Germany (F)||Wednesday, June 27||7:30pm||Kazan|
|42||Mexico v Sweden (F)||Wednesday, June 27||7:30pm||Ekaterinburg|
|43||Switzerland v Costa Rica (E)||Wednesday, June 27||11:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod|
|44||Serbia v Brazil (E)||Wednesday, June 27||11:30pm||Moscow (Spartak)|
|45||Senegal v Colombia (H)||Thursday, June 28||7:30pm||Samara|
|46||Japan v Poland||Thursday, June 28||7:30pm||Volgograd|
|47||England v Belgium (G)||Thursday, June 28||11:30pm||Kaliningrad|
|48||Panama v Tunisia (G)||Thursday, June 28||11:30pm||Saransk|
ROUND OF 16
|49||1C vs 2D||Saturday, June 30||7:30pm||Kazan|
|50||1A vs 2B||Saturday, June 30||11:30pm||Sochi|
|51||1B vs 2A||Sunday, July 1||7:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|52||1D vs 2C||Sunday, July 1||11:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod|
|53||1G vs 2H||Monday, July 2||7:30pm||Samara|
|54||1F vs 2E||Monday, July 2||11:30pm||Rostov-on-Don|
|55||1F vs 2E||Tuesday, July 3||7:30pm||St. Petersburg|
|56||1H vs 2G||Tuesday, July 3||11:30pm||Rostov-on-Don|
|57||W49 vs W50||Friday, July 6||7:30pm||Nizhny Novgorod|
|58||W53 vs W54||Friday, July 6||11:30pm||Kazan|
|59||W55 vs W56||Saturday, July 7||7:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)|
|60||W51 vs W52||Saturday, July 7||11:30pm||Sochi|
|61||W57 vs W58||Tuesday, July 10||11:30pm||St Petersburg|
|62||W59 vs W60||Wednesday, July 11||11:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)|
THIRD PLACE MATCH
|63||L61 vs L62||Tuesday, July 10||7:30pm||St Petersburg|
|64||W61 vs W62||Saturday, July 15||8:30pm||Moscow (Luzhniki)|
The Battlefields – FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Venues
1. Luzhniki Stadium (Moscow)
- Largest stadium in Russia
- Venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, opening match and the finals.
- Hosted big sporting events viz. 1980 Olympic games, 1999 UEFA Cup final, UEFA Champions League Final in 2008.
- Main stadium of FIFA 2018 World Cup.
- It is one of the few stadiums in the world to host the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League Final and the Summer Olympics.
- 14 June – Russia vs Saudi Arabia (Group A)
- 17 June – Germany vs Mexico (Group F)
- 20 June – Portugal vs Morocco (Group B)
- 26 June – Denmark vs France (Group C)
- 1 July – 1B vs 2A (Round of 16)
- 11 July – W59 vs W60 (Semifinal)
- 15 July – W61 vs W62 (Final)
2. Saint Petersburg Stadium (Saint Petersburg)
- One of the most expensive stadiums ever built, it holds claim as the second most important venue for this World Cup.
- It was opened in 2017 for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
- It cost around 1.1 billion USD, and was 518% late and 548% over budget.
- The stadium is also known as the Krestovsky Stadium and is home ground for FC Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Matches to be played:
- 15 June – Morocco vs Iran (Group B)
- 19 June – Russia vs Egypt (Group A)
- 22 June – Brazil vs Croatia (Group E)
- 26 June – Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D)
- 3 July – 1F vs 2E (Round of 16)
- 10 July – W57 vs W58 (Semifinal)
- 14 July – L61 vs L62 (Third place)
3. Fisht Stadium (Sochi)
- Named after Mount Fisht, it was originally built as an enclosed stadium but the roofs were later removed to comply with FIFA regulations.
- A stadium originally for the Winter Olympics 2014, it was re-opened in 2016 as an open-air stadium.
- It has hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
- It later hosted the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Matches to be played:
- 15 June – Portugal vs Spain (Group B)
- 18 June – Belgium vs Panama (Group G)
- 23 June – Germany vs Sweden (Group F)
- 26 June – Australia vs Peru (group C)
- 30 June – 1A vs 2B (Round of 16)
- 7 July – W51 vs W52 (Quarterfinal)
4. Ekaterinburg Arena (Yekaterinburg)
- The easternmost of all the World Cup venues, it is the only World Cup venue that is situated in Asian Russia.
- It will be a tall task for those fans who want to catch matches between Yekaterinburg and Moscow. The free World Cup train journey is about 26 hours. Best of luck!
Matches to be played:
- 15 June – Egypt vs Uruguay (Group A)
- 21 June – France vs Peru (Group C)
- 24 June – Japan vs Senegal (Group H)
- 27 June – Mexico vs Sweden (Group F)
4. Kazan Arena (Kazan)
- It has the largest outside screen in Europe and will be home to Rubin Kazan post the World Cup.
- The stadium was built for the World University Games in 2013.
- It was designed by the same architectural firm that built the Wembley and Emirates Stadium.
Matches to be played:
- 16 June – France vs Australia (Group C)
- 20 June – Iran vs Spain (Group B)
- 24 June – Poland vs Colombia (Group H)
- 27 June – Korea Republic vs Germany (Group F)
- 30 June – 1C vs 2D (Round of 16)
- 6 July – W53 vs W54 (Quarterfinal)
5. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium (Nizhny Novgorod)
- A new construction, the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is built on hills, which overlooks the Volga river.
- The area was earlier a port for cargo ships.
- Post the World Cup, it will be home to Olympiets Nizhny Novgorod.
Matches to be played:
- 18 June – Sweden vs Korea Republic (Group F)
- 21 June – Argentina vs Croatia (Group D)
- 24 June – England vs Panama (Group G)
- 27 June – Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E)
- 1 July – 1D vs 2C (Round of 16)
- 6 July – W49 vs W50 – (Quarterfinal)
6. Rostov Arena (Rostov-on-Don)
- Famous for its showcasing of Cossack culture, Rostov-on-Don is over 3,000 km from Moscow.
- After the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the stadium will be home to FC Rostov.
Matches to be played:
- 17 June – Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E)
- 20 June – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (Group A)
- 23 June – Korea Republic vs Mexico (Group F)
- 26 June – Iceland vs Croatia (Group D)
- 2 July – 1G vs 2H (Round of 16)
7. Cosmos Arena (Samara)
- The stadium features a space-like theme, reflecting Samara’s well-known aerospace industry.
- The venue has been renamed to Samara Arena for the 2018 World Cup.
- Post the tournament, it will be home to the local club―Krylya Sovetov.
Matches to be played:
- 17 June – Costa Rica vs Serbia (Group E)
- 21 June – Denmark vs Australia (Group C)
- 25 June – Uruguay vs Russia (Group A)
- 28 June – Senegal vs Colombia (Group H)
- 2 July – 1E vs 2F (Round of 16)
- 7 July – W55 vs W56 (Quarterfinal)
8. Mordovia Arena (Saransk)
- Situated in Saransk, the Mordovia Arena was embroiled in a controversy for its resemblance to South Africa’s FNB Stadium.
- Post World Cup, the seating capacity will be cut to 28,000.
- It will also be the host stadium for FC Mordovia Saransk in the Russian Premier League.
Matches to be played:
- 16 June – Peru vs Denmark (Group C)
- 19 June – Colombia vs Japan (Group H)
- 25 June – Iran vs Portugal (Group B)
- 28 June – Panama vs Tunisia (Group G)
9. Volgograd Stadium (Volgograd)
- The city was formerly known as Stalingrad.
- A light installation will be shown to all visitors for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and it will feature the Russian perspective of major events of World War II.
- The Soviet Union winning the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, was one of the most decisive victories over Germany and its allies in February 1943.
Matches to be played:
- 18 June – Tunisia vs England (Group G)
- 22 June – Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D)
- 25 June – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (Group A)
- 28 June – Japan vs Poland (Group H)
10. Spartak Stadium (Moscow)
- Originally called Otkritie Arena, it is the home ground to FC Spartak Moscow.
- The exterior design of the stadium has over hundreds of diamonds, reminiscent of a chainmail. It can change colors depending on the teams that are playing.
- The gladiator statue of Spartacus is definitely going to be an attraction for most of the fans.
Matches to be played:
- 16 June – Argentina vs Iceland (Group D)
- 19 June – Poland vs Senegal (Group H)
- 23 June – Belgium vs Tunisia (Group B)
- 26 June – Serbia vs Brazil (Group C)
- 3 July – 1H vs 2G (Round of 16)
11. Kaliningrad Stadium (Kaliningrad)
- Kaliningrad is the most westerly city to host the games.
- Its design is loosely based on the design of Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.
- It was initially planned that it will be a 45,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof. However, this plan had to be turned down, and the more modest, roofless 35,000-seater venue was finalized.
Matches to be played:
- 16 June – Croatia vs Nigeria (Group D)
- 22 June – Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E)
- 25 June – Spain vs Morocco (Group B)
- 28 June – England vs Belgium (Group G)
Teams For FIFA World Cup 2018
Russia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge), Andrey Lunev (Zenit St Petersburg)
Defenders: Vladimir Granat (Rubin Kazan), Fedor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Akhmat Grozny), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg)
Midfielders: Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Alexsandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Erokhin (Zenit St Petersburg), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit St Petersburg), Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Alexsandr Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal)
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Aleksey Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar)
Key player: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow)- The team’s captain-goalkeeper will also be one of the key players for the team.
Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Saudi Arabia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Alowais (Al Ahli), Yasser Almosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Almuaiouf (Al Hilal)
Defenders: Mansoor Alharbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Alshahrani (Al Hilal), Mohammed Alburyak (Al Hilal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Othman (Al Nassr), Ali Albulayhi (Al Hilal)
Midfielders: Abdullah Alkhaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Alkhaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Aljassam (Al Ahli), Hussain Almoqahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Alfaraj (Al Hilal), Mohamed Kanno (Al Hilal), Hatan Bahbir (Al Shabab), Salem Aldawsari (Al Hilal), Yahia Alshehri (Al Nassr)
Forwards: Mohammed Alsahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Asiri (Al Ahli), Fahad Almuwallad (Al Ittihad)
Star player: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr)- Having scored 16 goals in the qualifiers, this 30-year-old will have to keep up his form to get the team in the competition.
Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Egypt’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Essam El Hadary (Al Taawoun), Mohamed El-Shennawy (Al Ahly), Sherif Ekramy (Al Ahly)
Defenders: Ahmed Fathi (Al Ahly), Saad Samir (Al Ahly), Ayman Ashraf (Al Ahly), Mahmoud Hamdy (Zamalek), Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Al Fateh), Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom), Ali Gabr (Zamalek), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Omar Gaber (Los Angeles FC)
Midfielders: Tarek Hamed, (Zamalek), Abdallah Said (Al Ahli), Sam Morsy (Wigan Athletic), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Mahmoud Hassan (Kasimpasa)
Forwards: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Shikabala (Zamalek), Amr Warda (Atromitos), Mahmoud Kahraba (Al Ittihad)
Key player: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)- This name needs no introduction this season. Having scored 42 goals this season across all club competitions, the only concern right now is about his shoulder injury.
Coach: Hector Cuper
Uruguay’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Martin Campana (Independiente)
Defenders: Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Martin Caceres (Lazio), Guillermo Varela (Penarol)
Midfielders: Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria), Matias Vecino (Inter Milan), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Diego Laxalt (Genoa), Cristian Rodriguez (Penarol), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Monterrey)
Forwards: Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Maximiliano Gomez (Celta Vigo), Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Key player: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain) – Being the top goalscorer of the South American qualifiers (10 goals in 18 matches), Cavani has been clinical for Uruguay than Luis Suarez.
Coach: Oscar Tabarez
Portugal’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Goztepe), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Rangers), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang), Mario Rui (Napoli), Pepe (Besiktas), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Ricardo Pereira (Porto), Ruben Dias (Benfica)
Midfielders: Adrien Silva (Leicester), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon), Joao Mario (West Ham), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow), William Carvalho (Sporting)
Forwards: Andre Silva (AC Milan), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon), Goncalo Guedes (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas)
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)- Does this name really need an introduction?
Coach: Fernando Santos
Spain’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Pepe Reina (Napoli), David de Gea (Manchester United), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao)
Defenders: Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Alvaro Odriozola (Real Sociedad), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Isco (Real Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City)
Forwards: Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Rodrigo (Valencia), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Vazquez (Real Madrid)
Key player: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) – The maestro is still the player who pulls the strings in the midfield.
Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Morocco’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia), Yassine Bounou (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger)
Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolves), Manuel Da Costa (Istanbul Basaksehir), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (Lille)
Midfielders: M’barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Amine Harit (Schalke)
Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), Youssef En Nesyri (Malaga)
Key player: Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce)- He has been brilliant for Monaco, and will hopefully be brilliant for the World Cup as well.
Coach: Herve Renard
Iran’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)
Defenders: Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)
Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Haji Safi (Olympiacos), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis)
Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Mehdi Taremi (Al Gharafa), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest)
Key player: Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan)- With 22 International goals to his name, he is definitely a threat to watch out for.
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
France’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris St-Germain)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Key player: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)- Dominates the midfield whenever he plays. One of the best players of the English Premier League. Paul Pogba is another key player for France.
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Australia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones (Feyenoord), Mat Ryan (Brighton), Danny Vukovic (Genk)
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Samsung Blue Wings), James Meredith (Millwall), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshopper Zurich)
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Mark Milligan (Al-Ahli), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Tim Cahill (Millwall)
Forwards: Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian)
Key player: Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa)- back from his injury, Jedinak has a point to prove after his last hattrick against Honduras.
Coach: Bert van Marwijk
Peru’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Carlos Caceda (Deportivo Municipal), Jose Carvallo (UTC)
Defenders: Aldo Corzo (Universitario), Luis Advincula (Lobos Buap), Christian Ramos (Veracruz), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Alberto Rodriguez (Atletico Junior), Anderson Santamaria (Puebla), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo), Nilson Loyola (Melgar)
Midfielders: Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Pedro Aquino (Leon), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City), Paolo Hurtado (Vitoria Guimaraes), Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo), Edison Flores (Aalborg), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers), Wilder Cartagena (Veracruz)
Forwards: Andre Carrillo (Benfica), Raul Ruidiaz (Morelia), Jefferson Farfan (Lokomotiv Moscow), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo)
Key player: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo)- Has 34 goals for Peru.
Coach: Ricardo Gareca
Denmark’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Frederik Ronnow (Brondby), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield)
Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich)
Midfielders: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), William Kvist (FC Copenhagen), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux)
Forwards: Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Martin Braithwaite (Middlesbrough), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Viktor Fischer (FC Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig)
Key player: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)- One of the best midfielders in the EPL, Eriksen is currently in his prime form.
Coach: Age Hareide
Argentina’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres)
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino)
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria (Paris St-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris St-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Key player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)- The man, the myth, the living legend. Single-handedly took Argentina to the 2014 World Cup.
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Iceland’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Hannes Thor Halldorsson (Randers FC), Runar Alex Runarsson (FC Nordsjælland), Frederik Schram (FC Roskilde)
Defenders: Kari Arnason (Vikingur), Ari Freyr Skulason (Lokeren), Birkir Mar Saevarsson (Valur), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (FC Rostov), Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson (Levski Sofia), Ragnar Sigurdsson (FC Rostov)
Midfielders: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Malmo FF), Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Olafur Ingi Skulason (Kardemir Karabukspor), Rurik Gislason (SV Sandhausen), Samuel Fridjonsson (Valerenga), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City)
Forwards: Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson (FC Rostov), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading), Albert Gudmundsson (PSV Eindhoven)
Key player: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)- A threat to any team, watch out for the Everton midfielder.
Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Croatia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb)
Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Milan), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka)
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Juventus), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)
Key player: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)- The man who pulls the strings for Real Madrid will be the key player for Croatia.
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Nigeria’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong (Bursaspor), Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Benfica), Elderson Echiejile (Cercle Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Porto), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Tianjin Teda), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone)
Key player: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda, China)- Even though Nigeria has plenty in their attack in the form of Iwobi and Victor Moses, Mikel is a veteran and his experience will be crucial for Nigeria.
Coach: Gernot Rohr
Brazil’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City), Cassio (Corinthians)
Defenders: Danilo (Manchester City), Fagner (Corinthians), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan) Pedro Geromel (Gremio)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Barcelona), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Willian (Chelsea), Douglas Costa (Juventus)
Forwards: Neymar Jr (Paris St-Germain), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Key player: Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)- In the form of his life, he will be trying to make a statement, after his injury crushed his hopes for this club season.
Coach: Adenor Bacchi (Tite)
Switzerland’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Roman Buerki (Borussia Dortmund), Yvon Mvogo (Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund), Johan Djourou (Antalyaspor), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Jacques-Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodriguez (Milan), Fabian Schaer (Deportivo La Coruna)
Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Udinese), Blerim Dzemaili (Bologna), Gelson Fernandes (Eintracht Frankfurt), Remo Freuler (Atalanta), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Steven Zuber (1899 Hoffenheim), Denis Zakaria (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Forwards: Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Mario Gavranovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Haris Seferovic (Benfica)
Key player: Valon Behrami (Udinese)- His fourth consecutive World Cup, his presence will help the youngsters in the squad.
Coach: Vladimir Petkovic
Costa Rica’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (CS Herediano)
Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Santos de Guapiles), Ronald Matarrita (New York City), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas)
Midfielders: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (CS Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres (Deportivo Saprissa), Christian Bolanos (Deportivo Saprissa)
Forwards: Johan Venegas (Deportivo Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (Los Angeles FC)
Key player: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)- Real Madrid’s wall in between the post, his 2014 World Cup antics secured him the Madrid.
Coach: Oscar Ramirez
Serbia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar)
Defenders: Aleksandar Kolarov (Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St Petersburg), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina)
Midfielders: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade)
Forwards: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Salonika), Luka Jovic (Benfica)
Key player: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)- Instrumental for both Chelsea and Manchester United over two seasons, Matic will be the main threat to look out for.
Coach: Mladen Krstajić
Germany’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Paris St-Germain)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Paris St-Germain), Leon Goretska (Schalke), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
Key player: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)- The new German leader, he pulls the strings in the midfield for both Germany and Real Madrid.
Coach: Joachim Low
Mexico’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)
Defenders: Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Diego Reyes (Porto), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (America), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Miguel Layun (Sevilla)
Midfielders: Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Hector Herrera (Porto), Jonathan Dos Santos (La Galaxy), Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Corona (Porto)
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (West Ham), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (America), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Key player: Javier Hernandez (West Ham)- With plenty of experience as a super-sub at Manchester United, Chicharito is the one to look out for. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio
Sweden’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea)
Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnador), Martin Olsson (Swansea), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Filip Helander (Bologna), Emil Krafth (Bologna), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United)
Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa), Viktor Claesson (Krasnador), Marcus Rohden (Crotone), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse)
Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain), John Guidetti (Alaves), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren)
Key player: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig)- Ibrahimovic’s replacement in the attack, he has been doing a commendable job. Replacing Zlatan is never easy.
Coach: Janne Andersson
South Korea’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kim Jin-hyeon (Cerezo Osaka), Cho Hyun-woo (Daegu FC)
Defenders: Kim young-gwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Jang Hyun-soo (FC Tokyo), Jung Seung-hyun (Sagan Tosu), Yun Yong-sun (Seongnam FC), Oh Ban-suk (Jeju United), Kim Min-woo (Sangju Sangmu), Park Joo-ho (Ulsan Hyundai), Hong Chul (Sangju Sangmu), Go Yo-han (FC Seoul), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Midfielders: Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea), Jung Woo-young (Vissel Kobe), Ju Se-jong (Asan Mugunghwa), Koo Ja-cheol (Augsburg), Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Lee Seung-woo (Hellas Verona), Moon Seon-min (Incheon United)
Forwards: Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Hwang Hee-chan (Red Bull Salzburg)
Key player: Son Heung-min (Tottenham)- Son has been making his mark for Spurs, and now it is up to him to up his ante.
Coach: Shin Tae-yong
Belgium’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Thomas Meunier (Paris St-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Nacer Chadli (West Brom), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Key player: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)- The creative genius can propel Belgium to greatness. Kevin De Bruyne is another key player to look out for.
Coach: Roberto Martinez
Panama’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Chorrillo), Jaime Penedo (Dinamo Bucharest), Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco)
Defenders: Felipe Baloy (Municipal CSD), Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes), Erick Davis (Dunajska Streda), Fidel Escobar (San Miguelito), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), Luis Ovalle (Olimpia), Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders: Jose Luis Rodriguez (Gent), Yoel Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula), Armando Cooper (Universidad de Chile), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Gabriel Gomez (Bucaramanga), Valentin Pimentel (Plaza Amador), Alberto Quintero (Universitario)
Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (Alajuelense), Ismael Diaz (Deportivo La Coruna), Blas Perez (Municipal), Luis Tejada (Sports Boys), Gabriel Torres (CD Huachipato)
Key player: Luis Tejada (Universitario)- Scored 43 goals 9105 games) for Panama.
Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
Tunisia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Farouk Ben Mustapha (Al Shabab), Mouez Hassen (Nice), Aymen Mathlouthi (Al Baten)
Defenders: Rami Bedoui (Etoile du Sahel), Yohan Benalouane (Leicester), Syam Ben Youssef (Kasimpasa), Dylan Bronn (Gent), Oussama Haddadi (Dijon), Ali Maaloul (Al Ahly), Yassine Meriah (CS Sfaxien), Hamdi Nagguez (Zamalek)
Midfielders: Wahbi Khazri (Rennes), Anice Badri (Esperance), Mohamed Amine Ben Amor (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Ferjani Sassi (Al Nasr), Ellyes Skhiri (Montpellier)
Forwards: Saifeddine Khaoui (Marseille), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Al Ettifaq), Saber Khalifa (Club Africain), Bassem Srarfi (Nice), Naim Sliti (Lille), Ahmed Khalil (Club Africain), Ghaylen Chaaleli (Esperance)
Key player: Youssef Msakni (Al Duhail)- He has been crucial for Tunisia in the qualifiers.
Coach: Nabil Maaloul
England’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Key player: Harry Kane (Tottenham)- Emerged as one of the best players in the Premier League. Has been consistent for the club for over two seasons.
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Poland’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Bartosz Bialkowski (Ipswich), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus)
Defenders: Jan Bednarek (Southampton), Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria), Thiago Cionek (SPAL), Kamil Glik (Monaco), Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw), Michal Pazdan (Legia Warsaw), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Wolfsburg), Jacek Goralski (Ludogorets Razgrad), Kamil Grosicki (Hull City), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Paris St-Germain), Rafal Kurzawa (Gornik Zabrze), Karol Linetty (Sampdoria), Slawomir Peszko (Lechnia Gdansk), Maciej Rybus (Lokomotiv Moscow), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
Forwards: Dawid Kownacki (Sampdoria), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli), Lukasz Teodorczyk (Anderlecht)
Key player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)- The Munich talisman has scored 16 goals in the qualifying stage.
Coach: Adam Nawalka
Senegal’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Khadim N’Diaye (Horoya AC), Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes), Alfred Gomis (Torino)
Defenders: Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Moussa Wague (Eupen), Saliou Ciss (Angers), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux), Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor)
Midfielders: Badou Ndiaye (Stoke), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham), Cheikh N’Doye (Birmingham), Salif Sane (Hannover 96), Alfred N’Diaye (Villarreal)
Forwards: Moussa Sow (Bursaspor), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Keita Balde Diao (Monaco), Moussa Konate (Amiens), Ismaila Sarr (Rennes), Diafra Sakho (Rennes), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke), M’Baye Niang (AC Milan)
Key player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)- Fast, precise and clinical, Mane has been perfect for both Liverpool and Senegal.
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Colombia’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas)
Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Johan Mojica (Girona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona)
Midfielders: Wílmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (Espanyol), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali), Mateus Uribe (America), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras), Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Luis Fernando Muriel (Sevilla)
Key player: James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich)- A talent that was uncovered last World Cup, James’s volley against Uruguay is still magical to the eye.
Coach: Jose Pekerman
Japan’s 23-man World Cup 2018 squad:
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin), Takashi Usami (Augsburg), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale)
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz)
Key player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund)- Kagawa is considered the most important part of Japan’s Holy Trinity (the other two being Yuto Nagatomo and Keisuke Honda).
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
The Top 5- Favourites To Win The World Cup
Everyone enters the battlefield but not everyone will be the winner. Out of 32 teams, only one will emerge victorious. Let’s see who the bookies have their money on this summer in Russia.
- Brazil (Odds: 9/2)- Tite has ensured that the Brazil squad of 2018 is nothing similar to the squad of 2014. Having finished at the top of CONMEBOL with a margin of 10 points (Uruguay was second), Brazil looks comfortable even if Neymar is forced out with his injury.
- Germany (Odds: 9/2)- The defending champions and the winner of the Confederations Cup (with their second team, mind you), Low’s men are no strangers to trophies and big tournaments.
- France (Odds: 11/2)- Their last good run was 2006, but they had their legend in the name of Zinedine Zidane. Deschamps has the likes of Kante, Pogba, and Griezmann, and they can breeze through the tournament.
- Spain (Odds: 6/1)- Winning three back to back major trophies (2008 Euros, 2010 World Cup, 2012 Euros), Furia Roja is not the same team is used to be. However, you can never ignore them till Iniesta, Isco and Ramos are on the team.
- Argentina (Odds: 9/1)- Sampaoli’s men went to the finals last year, and with Messi, Aguero, Di Maria and Dybala, they are a team to definitely watch out for.
World Cup Controversies- Can’t Live Without Them
Ever imagined a World Cup without a single controversy? Well, we can’t either. Suarez or Maradona, the greats have become greater after every World Cup! Here’s our list of top 6 controversies, which definitely take the cake.
#6 Italy getting robbed of a quarter-final berthIn 2002, South Korea created one of the biggest upsets in a FIFA World Cup. They beat Italy, all thanks to the Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno. Moreno sent off Italian striker Francesco Totti after giving him a second yellow card for diving. However, replays later showed there was a contact on the foul. Moreno also disallowed an Italian goal in extra time with an incorrect offside whistle. South Korea won that game 2-1. Moreno later faced numerous match-fixing charges was convicted as a drug smuggler.
#5 Hand of God 2.0
In the quarter-final match against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez handled the ball and prevented a last-minute golden goal for Ghana. Suárez was shown a red card and Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty kick. Ghana later lost the match 4–2 in the penalty shootout. Suarez later boasted that he owns the ‘Hand of God’ (a reference to Maradona’s handling of the ball in the 1986 World Cup) and defended his actions, while becoming a public enemy back at Ghana.
#4 Suarez’s biting incident
Luis Suarez followed up with one more controversy in the next World Cup as well. In a group match between Uruguay vs Italy at the 2014 World Cup, Uruguay striker Luis Suárez clashed with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. Numerous replays showed that Suárez lunged at Chiellini and bit his shoulder. Suarez followed that with falling and clutching his face. As the Italian players protested to the referee for not showing Suarez a card, Uruguay won a corner and defender Diego Godín scored. The game finished 1–0 in favor of Uruguay, advancing them to the knockout stage as the Group D runners-up. Italy, who had lost their previous game, were eliminated, finishing third in the group. FIFA later announced on the same day, that it had opened disciplinary proceedings for Suárez. Suarez faced a four-month ban after that.
#3 The Battle of Santiago
This football match during the 1962 FIFA World Cup is hailed as the most violent games in the history of the sport. The game between Chile and Italy, played in Santiago, earned the nickname due to the brutality and harsh tackles involved. The first foul occurred in the 12th second and was later followed by a series of punches, kicks, and jabs. The first player was sent off at the 12th minute. The referee of that game, Ken Aston, later went on to invent yellow and red cards.
#2 Zidane’s Headbutt
The best player in the world and in that tournament took himself out of the 2006 World Cup Final when he headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest. Materazzi, according to Zidane (and not denied by Materazzi), made belittling remarks about Zidane’s mother and sister. Italy won the match on penalties. Later, Zidane said he “would rather die” than apologize to Materazzi. France was looking really comfortable in that game. Some even claim that Materazzi did that on purpose to get into the mind of Zidane and increase Italy’s chances of winning the World Cup. Well, unfortunately, it worked!
#1 The Hand of God
Argentina faced England in the quarterfinals, in the 1986 World Cup. Six minutes into the second half, England box and goalkeeper Peter Shilton and Argentina striker Diego Maradona went up for the ball. Shilton had an eight-inch height advantage. Somehow, Maradona won the ball in the air and scored. Argentina would go on to win that game 2-1. Argentina was also crowned as champions in that World Cup. When asked later about the goal, Maradona said it was scored “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios.” That translates to, “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” Evidences later showed that only God’s Hand had a play in that goal.
How To Book Your FIFA World Cup 2018 Tickets?
Tickets must be booked from the official website of FIFA World Cup.
Steps involving booking of the tickets:
- Register under FIFA.com
- Select the match and seat from the stadium
- Payments must be done through Credit Card/Debit Card with your own name.
- You must keep these three things with you when you reach the venue a) Original Tickets b) The Credit Card/Debit Card with your name c) Identity Proof.
For more information on the booking of tickets, visit this site.
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