Japan possess an experienced group of players, several of whom will be appearing at their third World Cup. Eiji Kawashima, Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Okazaki and captain Makoto Hasebe…
While Saudi Arabia are on their third coach in less than a year, the squad is built on a solid core of players. Drawn mainly from Saudi Premier League champions Al Hilal and runners-up Al Ahli, the key players know each other well, and that cohesion is a rare thing at international level.
Essam El Hadary is the Egyptian captain and at 45 years of age is set to become the oldest player to ever grace the World Cup. Egypt have a fairly solid defence with the likes of Ahmed Hegazi and Ali Gabr as their centre back pairing, with Fathi and Abdel-Shafy in the fullback positions.
A 3 man midfield of Roman Zobnin, Aleksandr Golovin and Alan Dzagoev is the most probable line up in the middle of the park, Dzagoev is actually a very talented player and will be hoping to perform for his country here having missed the Euros through injury.
Following Vincent Enyeama’s departure from international football and Carl Ikeme’s leukemia diagnosis. Nigeria initially opted for, Ikechukwu Ezenwa but appear to have lost faith in him and instead have plumped for 19-year-old Francis Uzoho to start in Nigeria’s recent friendlies.
Monaco’s Danijel Subasic will start in goal for Croatia, the defence is probably where the teams weaknesses lie. Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida and Sime Vrsaljko are all error-prone, and 32-year-old Vedran Corluka has only recently recovered from a serious knee injury.
If ever there was a team begging to play in a 2-4-4 formation, Mauro Icardi must hate being Argentinian. The obvious strength for Argentina is the attacking talents they have in abundance but the other areas of the squad really let them down though, there will also be…
While not one of the strongest outfits in the tournament Morocco do possess some very good players, most notably Mehdi Benatia and Younes Belhanda.
Munir played every match in goal of last years African Cup of Nations and will almost certainly be starting again here.
Southampton’s Cedric Soares seems the likely choice to be starting at right back, though it was quite a strange one with both Nelson Semedo & Joao Cancelo not being called up. It’s mad that Pepe and Bruno Alves are still first choice central defenders at the age of 35 & 36 respectively.
I’ll admit, I get a lot of my knowledge here from Football Manager but even Sky Sports are using FM now to rate their players so don’t judge me. I actually really rate this side and several of the players in the squad here are from those that won the 2015 U20 World Cup.
Kim-Seung Gyu will be number 1, he’s a decent shot stopper and has managed to keep 16 clean sheets in his 31 caps so far, in 2014 he went in as 2nd choice but after some poor displays from Jung Sung-ryong he earned a start against Belgium making several saves in the process as the Koreans only suffered a 1-0 loss.
Sweden themselves have made the correct decision to not call Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the squad, as great a player as he was, having made the decision to retire it would have been a bit of a joke to allow him to come back into the fold when the rest of the team secured qualification.
France will either line up with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, I’d say only Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Antoine Griezmann are the nailed on starters regardless of the formation used but you can take your pick of anyone else and it’s a strong team, Olivier Giroud is generally favoured up front with Griezmann as a number 10.