Wed, Dec 6, 10:02am by Head Editor
Another thriller in Sydney saw the Socceroos defeat Honduras to seal their qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. A long and arduous qualification process is now behind Australia and they can now focus on the task ahead, albeit without a coach at present after Ange Postecoglou quit his position. The draw for the Group stages has now taken place all 32 nations now know who stands in their way of World Cup glory.
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Group A – Russia ($36), Saudi Arabia ($501), Egypt ($251), Uruguay ($31)
Hosts Russia will certainly believe that they are capable of advancing from this Group with their main rivals to top the Group, Uruguay. The South Americans possess a squad blessed with top level experience in Europe. With the likes of Barcelona striker Luis Suarez and Paris St Germain goal scoring machine Edison Cavani. Russia will be hoping a boisterous home crowd can quieten the lethal attacking threat of Uruguay. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be aiming to cause a few upsets and not just be bystanders in the group. If they can grab a draw with either of the top two sides, then they could squeeze through the group.
Group B – Portugal ($20), Spain ($6.50), Morocco ($301), Iran ($376)
The two powerhouse neighbours of Spain and Portugal will reignite their rivalry on the World Cup stage. Both sides will be confident of progressing from Group B, the clash between the two in Sochi 15th June will likely determine advances top of the group. The calibre of players on display for Portugal and Spain will be world class including Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and David de Gea. Once out of the group though both squads have a wealth of experience at international and club level meaning they can push on to possibly win the World Cup. Iran and Morocco’s reward for reaching the World Cup will be to pit themselves against two of the best teams in the world. Qualification from the group looks almost impossible for them but they will give everything they have.
Group C – France ($6.50), Australia ($251), Peru ($101), Denmark ($76)
France are clear favourites to progress from Group C, with star names including Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Hugu Lloris. A powerful young squad has been assembled by Didier Deschamps who could well taste World Cup glory for the first time since 1998. All the other three sides will believe that they are capable of snatching second place in the group. Australia are the lowest ranked side but have previously shown their capabilities of matching sides ranked far higher. Peru and Denmark, alongside Australia, all needed playoffs to qualify for the World Cup. Showing that none of them are currently on top of their game. It is unlikely anyone but France will realistically compete for the World Cup from Group C.
Group D – Argentina ($8.50), Iceland ($151), Croatia ($36), Nigeria ($151)
Argentina stuttered through the qualification process for this World Cup and will need to reignite their form in they are to win the tournament for a third time. Featuring arguably the world’s greatest player in Lionel Messi, they have every chance of competing for the trophy. They must first, however, negotiate what could be a tricky group. Croatia and Iceland play with similar styles that could test Argentina. With both nations emerging in recent years as threats to the established footballing order in Europe. Whilst Nigeria are always a crowd favourite at the World Cup with their thrilling brand of expansive football. Argentina should progress but watch Group D for potential upsets.
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