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World Cup 2018 Fixtures & Schedule

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Who are the World Cup Favourites?

Brazil

Five-time winners Brazil will be hoping to add a sixth star to their crest at Russia this summer and look in a particularly strong position to do so after finishing top of the South American qualifiers. The fitness of Neymar remains a concern, but this is a team glittered with talent and the PSG forward is expected to have a month or so to recover from his injury before the tournament begins and they will be a side all eyes will be on.

Star Player - Neymar
Underrated Player - Roberto Firmino

Germany

Joachim Low’s side have been perennial semi-finalists during the start of his reign in 2006 and are always a solid bet to reach the latter stages of any major tournament, with it expected to be no different this time around. Winners of the World Cup in 2014, this German now have the ambition of making history by winning back-to-back World Cup titles and join Brazil and Italy in being the only sides to achieve such a feat.

Star Player - Toni Kroos
Underrated Player - Julian Draxler

France

Beaten finalists at Euro 2016, France will be looking to go one further this time around as they try to win their first World Cup title since 1998. Boasting an ultra-talented squad with youth on their side, nobody will want to draw France in the latter stages of the competition, particularly with their recent experience. Didier Deschamps has a wealth of depth to call upon and don’t be surprised to see them appear in another successive final.

Star Player - Antoine Griezmann
Underrated Player - N’Golo Kante

Spain

2010 World Cup champions Spain seem to have gone under the radar to a certain extent in the build-up to this tournament, after two extremely disappointing tournaments in 2014 and 2016. That may well work in their favour, in what is set to be the last World Cup for the likes of Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, as they attempt to get their hands on their second World Cup title in three attempts.

Star Player - Sergio Ramos
Underrated Player - Thiago

Argentina

Beaten finalists in 2014, time is running out for Lionel Messi and this current crop of Argentina players to enjoy success at international level, as the Barcelona man looks to emulate the accomplishments of Mario Kempes and Diego Maradona. For the best part of two decades, Argentina have been real underachievers at international football, but you can never write off a team boasting the best player in the world.

Star Player - Lionel Messi
Underrated Player - Ever Banega

Belgium

Having now had the experience of two major tournaments under their belt, now could be the time for this Golden Generation of Belgium players, who have been fancied as potential dark horses for the World Cup by many. While the players have the knowledge of what it’s like at a major tournament, they have a rookie manager at international level in Roberto Martinez, who will be under real pressure to get this team past the quarter-finals this time around.

Star Player - Kevin De Bruyne
Underrated Player - Dries Mertens

England

Perennial underachievers England will be looking to put an end to 52 years of pain in Russia this summer, as Gareth Southgate looks to win the country’s first major tournament on foreign soil. After another strong qualification performance, can they finally deliver on the major stages or is another penalty shootout elimination on the cards?

Star Player - Harry Kane
Underrated Player - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Portugal

Winners of Euro 2016, Portugal will now be looking to replicate the achievements of neighbours Spain by winning back-to-back major tournaments in Russia this summer. Few expected them to go all the way in France and the expectancy of them doing so once again at the World Cup this time around, but, as is the case with Argentina, it is impossible to underestimate a side with an elite talent like Cristiano Ronaldo

Star Player - Cristiano Ronaldo
Underrated Player - Bernardo Silva

Uruguay

Copa America champions as recently as 2011, Uruguay perhaps haven’t achieved quite as much as they would’ve wished to have done since that success - making it all the more vital that they have a strong run here. For the spine of the team in Muslera, Godin, Cavani and Suarez, this is the last chance they will get to compete at the World Cup and they will be keen to take the opportunity with both hands.

Star Player - Luis Suarez
Underrated Player - Jose Gimenez

Croatia

Though they are yet to have any tangible success in any competition since finishing third at the 1998 World Cup Finals, Croatia are one of the more talented sides at this World Cup and are genuine dark horses to go deep in the competition. Beaten by eventual winners Portugal at Euro 2016 at the Round of 16 stage, they were unfortunate not to go further in France and showed their quality by beating Spain in the group stage.

Star Player - Luka Modric
Underrated Player - Mateo Kovacic

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