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World Cup Group A: Predictions, best bets and fixtures

World Cup Group A
World Cup Group A

A look at the World Cup group featuring hosts Russia, Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Odds

Fixtures

Thursday June 14 - Russia vs Saudi Arabia (4pm, ITV), Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (pictured, below)

Friday June 15 - Egypt vs Uruguay (1pm, BBC), Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Tuesday June 19 - Russia vs Egypt (7pm, BBC), Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Wednesday June 20 - Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (4pm, BBC), Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Monday June 25 - Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (3pm, ITV), Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Monday June 25 - Uruguay vs Russia (3pm, ITV) Samara Arena, Samara

Luzhniki Stadium: The main venue for the 2018 World Cup finals, it will host the first and last match

All times stated in BST, to see more about the locations click here for our stadium guide

Verdict

A draw Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez would have been delighted with when they were placed in Group A back in December.

The 71-year-old is managing the South American nation at the World Cup finals for a fourth time and he knows just what it takes to get through the groups, finishing fourth in 2010 and reaching the last 16 in 2014.

At one stage they were evens to win the group in Russia, but now they are odds-on and understandably so, it is hard to look past them as group winners.

Who will join them is another question. Hosts Russia will expect to be up there – only once in World Cup finals history has the host nation failed to pass the first round – but they face a tough task.

They are not quite up to the standard of the golden generation who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008 and a recent 1-0 loss to Austria in a World Cup warm-up will not have helped their confidence.

The way fixtures fall could help them though – win the opener against Saudi Arabia and take the game to Egypt full of confidence before finishing against Uruguay, who could already be through at this point and thinking of the knockout phase.

Sporting Life's Golden Ball outright preview backs Edinson Cavani at 33/1

Egypt, meanwhile, suffered a blow in their preparations with the injury suffered to Mo Salah in the Champions League final. The Liverpool attacker is in their squad though and could play, but his level of involvement remains to be seen. They will get the tough match with Uruguay out of the way first, before the crunch game with Russia which could ultimately decide who goes through, finishing against outsiders Saudi Arabia.

The Middle Eastern nation are widely expected to finish bottom of the group and some questionable results over the last 12 months show what a tough few games they could be in for - and 2/1 for them to finish the group on zero points actually looks tempting. Being the underdog could work in their favour though, with no expectations and three games to impress and make a statement on the world stage.

With the quality and experience in their squad, it would be a great shock to see Uruguay finish anything but top – and that is reflected in the odds – and with Salah possibly only playing one or two games for Egypt, it is a great chance for the hosts to book their place in the last 16.


Group A Prediction: (3/1 with Sky Bet)

  1. Uruguay
  2. Russia
  3. Egypt
  4. Saudi Arabia

Best bets

Uruguay to win the group, Saudi Arabia to finish in last place at 13/8

Uruguay to score over 4.5 goals in the group stages at 4/6


Squads

Uruguay | Full Profile

All you need to know about Uruguay ahead of the World Cup in Russia
Click on the image for all you need to know about Uruguay ahead of the World Cup in Russia

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Martin Campana (Independiente).

Defenders: Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both 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).

Sporting Life's Golden Ball outright preview backs Edinson Cavani at 33/1

Russia | Full Profile

All you need to know about Russia ahead of the World Cup in Russia
Click on the image for all you need to know about Russia ahead of the World Cup in Russia

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge), Andrey Lunev (Zenit St Petersburg).

Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Fedor Kudryashov (both Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Akhmat Grozny), Sergei Ignashevich, Mario Fernandes (both CSKA Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg).

Midfielders: Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Alexsandr Golovin, Alan Dzagoev (both CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Erokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev (all Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin, Alexsandr Samedov (both Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal).

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Aleksey Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar).

Egypt | Full Profile

All you need to know about Egypt ahead of the World Cup
Click on the image for all you need to know about Egypt ahead of the World Cup

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), Mohamed AbdelShafy (Al Fath), Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom), Ali Gabr (West Brom), Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa), Omar Gaber (LAFC), Mahmoud Hamdy El-Wensh (Zamalek).

Midfielders: Tarek Hamed (Zamalek), Mahmoud Abdel-Razik Shikabala (Al Raed), Abdallah El-Said (Al Ahli), Sam Morsy (Wigan), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Mahmoud Kahraba (Ittihad), Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City), Mahmoud Trezeguet (Kasimpasa), Amr Warda (Atromitos).

Forwards: Marwan Mohsen (Al Ahly), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

Saudi Arabia | Full Profile

All you need to know about Saudi Arabia ahead of the World Cup in Russia
Click here for all you need to know about Saudi Arabia ahead of the World Cup in Russia

Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al Owais (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Al Mayouf (Al Hilal).

Defenders: Mansoor Al Harbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Shahrani (Al Hilal) Mohammed Al Breik (Al Hilal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al Nassr), Ali Al Bulaihi (Al Hilal).

Midfielders: Abdullah Al Khaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Al Khaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Al Jassim (Al Ahli), Houssain Al Mogahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno (both Al Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem Al Dawsari (Al Hilal), Yahya Al Shehri (Al Nassr), Fahad Al Muwallad (Al Ittihad).

Forwards: Mohammad Al Sahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Assiri (Al Ahli).


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Odds correct as of 1015 BST 05/06/18

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Most Read Football

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Set for a Manchester United move?1

Solskjaer odds-on for United

Jose Mourinho's time as Manchester United manager has come to an end and we look at the main contenders to replace him at Old Trafford.

Gary Neville, Gary Lineker, Rene Meulensteen and Patrice Evra have all had their say
2

Mourinho sacked: Pundits' reaction

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Jose Mourinho in the Anfield dugout
3

Man United sack Jose Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho: The Portuguese manager will assess his options after leaving Manchester United4

What next for Jose Mourinho?

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Get all the football gossip from the National Papers5

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