2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage Preview and Predictions

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

The first game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup comes from this group which will between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday June 14th. Russia will look not to disappoint as the host nation. In this group Uruguay seems like the favorite to win the group, being led by their duo strike force in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Leaving second place up for grabs between Egypt and Russia, Saudi Arabia most likely will finish last in the group. Second place will come down to if Mohamed Salah is able to return in time for their second game against Russia, after picking up an injury playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26th. With a healthy Salah, especially after the season he just had with Liverpool this season, Egypt should advance to the round of 16. If he is not able to return, Russia will most likely advance with the benefit of playing at home. But recent reports have Salah coming back in time for the game against Russia.

Prediction: 1. Uruguay, 2.Egypt, 3. Russia, 4. Saudi Arabia

Group B:  Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group B is dominated by the last two European championship winners in Portugal and Spain. Therefore, Portugal and Spain are heavy favorites to advance out of this group and rightfully so. Portugal led by Cristiano Ronaldo will always have a chance at any tournament; EURO 2016 is a prime example. Even though Cristiano Ronaldo has already won a tournament with Portugal, EURO 2016, a World Cup title would mean so much more. At age 33 Cristiano Ronaldo knows this is probably his last World Cup, a World Cup title would strengthen his case as the greatest player to ever play the game. Spain, which now has the right mix of veteran and young players on the squad, is considered one of the favorites at winning it all. The 2010 World Cup winners will look to rebound after a horrible World Cup in Brazil four years ago, crashing out in the group stage. The first game of this group between Portugal and Spain, on June 15th, will decide who the winner of this group will be. Morocco and Iran are the two outsiders of this group and most likely battle for third place in this group.

Prediction: 1. Spain, 2. Portugal, 3. Morocco, 4. Iran

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Phil Veasley
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil

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