World Cup Group A is an intriguing section. It features the hosts Russia, perennial dark horses Uruguay and a pair of interesting outsiders in regular qualifiers Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who can boast one of the world’s hottest strikers in their squad.

Soccer World Cup Group A Predictions

Profile: Russia

FIFA Ranking 66 World Cup Base Moscow
How they qualified Qualified as host nation
Form in 2017/18 Played 6, Won 1, Drawn 2, Lost 3 (All friendlies)

 

World Cup Record 3 Tournaments
Played 9 Draws 2 Scored 13 Penalty Shoot-Out Wins
Wins 2 Losses 5 Conceded 13 0 out of 0

 

Group Stage Round of 16 Quarterfinal Semifinal Final
1994, 2002, 2014

 

World Cup Head to Head Records:
vs Uruguay: Never met
vs Egypt: Never met
vs Saudi Arabia: Never met

 

Various Odds of Interest
Outright Winner: 51.0 Group A Winner: 2.88, 2nd favourite
To Reach Final: 21.0 Elimination Stage: Round of 16 (2.87)
Top Goalscorer: Smolov (2.25), Bukharov (8.0), Dzagoev (10.0), Poloz (11.0)

 

Russia’s record at the World Cup does not inspire confidence, but being the host nation usually confers some advantage and in a setting that will be alien to many of the teams taking part, the Russians may have a bigger advantage than usual.

As always with host nations, it is hard to tell what shape they are in, given their lack of competitive matches. The bare figures aren’t that impressive: 5 wins, 5 draws and 8 defeats with their most impressive result probably a 3-3 draw against Spain.

Russia World CupAssuming we can overlook those results, there are some positive signs. Stanislav Cherchesov has overhauled the unattractive side that made such a poor impression at Euro 2016, switching to a back three and introducing younger defenders such as Viktor Vasin and Fedor Kuzrashov. Up front, Alan Dzagoev, Fyodor Smolov and Aleksandr Kokorin provide the firepower and there are some potential stars in the midfield in twins Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk and Aleksandr Golovkin.

Soccer World Cup Prediction: 2nd in Group A but departing in the Round of 16 

The evidence does not suggest that Russia can cope with a battle-hardened Uruguayan team but the draw has been kind. They start off against Saudi Arabia, which should help them to get on a roll and if they can get something against Egypt in their second game, the pressure could be off when they come up against the South Americans. After that, though, things are likely to get harder. If the Group goes to form, Russia will be lining up against Spain or Portugal in the Round of 16, and that will surely be a test too far for this young side.

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Profile: Uruguay

Uruguay Soccer World Cup

FIFA Ranking 17 World Cup Base Nizhny Novgorod
How they qualified 2nd in CONMEBOL Qualification Group
Form in 2017/18 Played 8, Won 4, Drawn 3, Lost 1 (4 friendlies)

 

World Cup Record
Played 51 Draws 12 Scored 81 Penalty Shoot-Out Wins
Wins 20 Losses 19 Conceded 70 1 out of 1

 

Group Stage Round of 16 Quarterfinal Semifinal Final
1962, 1974, 2002 1986, 1990, 2014 1966 1954, 1970, 2010 1930, 1950

 

World Cup Head to Head Records:
vs Russia: Never met
vs Egypt: Never met
vs Saudi Arabia: Never met

 

Various Odds of Interest
Outright Winner: 34.0 Group A Winner: 2.1
To Reach Final: 13.0 Elimination Stage: Round of 16 (2.3)
Top Goalscorer: Suarez (2.4), Cavani (2.5), Rolan (13.0), Hernandez (15)

 

For the first time in five qualification attempts, Uruguay reached the World Cup without having to go through the tension of a play-off. In fact, their progress was almost serene, qualifying second behind Brazil and ahead of Argentina and Colombia. So far so good.

The question for Oscar Tabarez and the Uruguayan fans is whether the team will keep up the momentum they showed during the qualifiers, or revert to defensive, cynical type. Federico Valverde, Matías Vecino, Nahitan Nández and Rodrigo Bentancur offer creativity and attacking momentum in midfield, but mixed results in their European friendlies raised some questions. Still, any team that contains both Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani has to be a threat, and if they can be bold, they could make an impact.

Soccer World Cup Prediction: 1st in Group A and possible Quarter-Finalists

Opening fixtures against Egypt and Saudi Arabia offer a gentle introduction and they could conceivably have Group A sewn up by the time they meet Russia in their final game. But the draw has not been particularly helpful. Winning the Group will set up a game against either Spain or Portugal in the Round of 16, for which the Uruguayans will be underdogs. It is not impossible that they could pull off a win to reach the Quarter-Finals but France are likely to be their last eight opponents and that should be the end of the line for Tabarez’s men.

Profile: Egypt

Egypt Soccer World Cup

FIFA Ranking 46 World Cup Base Grozhny
How they qualified Winners of CAF Qualifying Group E
Form in 2017/18 Played 5, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 3 (2 friendlies)

 

World Cup Record
Played 4 Draws 2 Scored 3 Penalty Shoot-Out Wins
Wins 0 Losses 2 Conceded 6 0 out of 0

 

Group Stage Round of 16 Quarterfinal Semifinal Final
1934, 1990

 

World Cup Head to Head Records:
vs Russia: Never met
vs Egypt: Never met
vs Saudi Arabia: Never met

 

Various Odds of Interest
Outright Winner: 151.0 Group A Winner: 7
To Reach Final: 67.0 Elimination Stage: Group Stage (1.57)
Top Goalscorer: Salah (1.67), Said (15.0), El Neny (15.0), Hassan (17.0)

Ending a 28 year wait for their third World Cup appearance was a significant achievement for this Egyptian team and their manager Hector Cuper, who has also steered them to an AFCON Final. Their game plan is not pretty but has proven to be effective. They tend to sit deep and their resolute defence is based around Rami Rabia and Ahmed Hegazi while goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary will set a record as the oldest ever World Cup player. Up front Mohamed Salah is the obvious star, but Mohamed Elneny and Abdallah Said offer experience and top level ability in the middle of the pitch. Their record suggests that they will be hard to break down: only twice in the last 32 outings have they conceded more than one.

Soccer World Cup Prediction: 3rd in Group A 

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Egypt have the potential to cause an upset with a resolute defence and the attacking threat of Salah to cause havoc on the break. But they would have preferred to face Group A minnows Saudi Arabia in their first two outings. Short of an unlikely victory over Uruguay or the hosts Russia, their best route to the Round of 16 will be to grind out a point against either of those and hope to sneak through by thrashing Saudi Arabia in their final game. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them finish second, but their lack of goals could cost them.

Profile: Saudi Arabia

Saudi_Arabia

FIFA Ranking 67 World Cup Base St.Petersburg
How they qualified Second in Asian Group B
Form in 2017/18 Played 13, Won 6, Drawn 2, Lost 5 (9 friendlies)
World Cup Record
Played 13 Draws 2 Scored 9 Penalty Shoot-Out Wins
Wins 2 Losses 9 Conceded 32 0 out of 0

 

Group Stage Round of 16 Quarterfinal Semifinal Final
1998, 2002, 2006 1994

 

World Cup Head to Head Records:
vs Russia: Never met
vs Egypt: Never met
vs Uruguay: Never met

 

Various Odds of Interest
Outright Winner: 1001.0 Group A Winner: 41
To Reach Final: 401.0 Elimination Stage: Group Stage (1.07)
Top Goalscorer: Al Sahlawi (4.0), Al Abid (9.0), Al Jassam (11.0), Al Shehri (11.0)

 

The lowest-ranked qualifiers at the tournament don’t lack talent or determination. They came through a tough Asian Group, finishing ahead of Australia, and have coped with multiple managerial changes in recent months. The current incumbent Juan Antonio Pizzi, who had some success with Chile, guiding them to the Copa America, resigned last November after failing to take the South Americans to the World Cup. He has one or two players who can perform on the big stage, including Nawaf Al Abed and young star Fahad Al-Muwallad, and there is a wild card feel to this squad, but reaching the Round of 16 would be a huge success.

Soccer World Cup Prediction: 4th in Group A 

World Cup opening games can sometimes produce unusual results, as Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990 demonstrated, so Saudi Arabia will be pinning their hopes on getting something out of their opening encounter with Russia. A draw or even a win there would be a significant result. The game against Egypt will be the must-win encounter, and with the most pressure attached, could be their toughest task. But class will usually out in international football and the Saudis are 1001.0 outsiders for a reason.

MATCH SCHEDULE & CURRENT ODDS*

Date Venue Team Odds Team Odds Draw Odds
14/6 Moscow Russia 1.35 S.Arabia 15.00 5.00
15/6 Yekaterinburg Egypt 5.50 Uruguay 1.80 3.75
19/6 St Petersburg Russia 2.04 Egypt 4.75 3.65
20/6 Rostov-on-Don S.Arabia 17.00 Uruguay 1.30 6.05
25/6 Samara Uruguay 2.70 Russia 3.05 3.25
25/6 Volgograd S.Arabia 6.00 Egypt 1.80 3.74

 

Soccer World Cup Group Previews and Predictions

Soccer World Cup Preview – Group A (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group B (Portugal, Spain, Morocco, IR Iran)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group C (France, Australia, Peru, Denmark)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group E (Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group F (Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group G (Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England)
Soccer World Cup Preview – Group H (Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan)

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 *Please note – odds mentioned above are correct at time of publishing but are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.

**Certain tournaments had slightly different formats in the past, so the placing most aligned to the current tournament format has been chosen.

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