The biggest sporting event on the planet - FIFA World Cup 2018 - will be starting from June 14 in Russia, with the hosts taking on Saudi Arabia in the opening match. Germany are the current World Champion as they beat the mighty Argentina side led by Lionel Messi in 2014, but this time the challenge will be a lot tougher as in these 4 years, a lot of things have changed. Many teams have improved their standards and possess a strong squad.
The FIFA World Cup is surely the ultimate target of every team and their players. This World Cup might be the last world cup for many legends of the game like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta. Messi and Ronaldo are the two best players to play the game but are yet to lift the Cup. So, this time they will put all their blood and sweat on the field for their nation.
Here are the teams who have the power to dominate the biggest sporting event.
8. Portugal - The current Euro Champions are surely a silent contender for this year's FIFA World Cup as they have the one-man army in Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo who is in very good form this year with a lot of goals this season for his club. The way Portugal lift the Euro Cup without Ronaldo in the final is exceptional and it shows the determination of the players and their hunger to win trophies. The problem in their team is the lack of experience in the squad and their overdependence on Ronaldo to score goals for them. Portugal needs to change their approach towards in order to lift the World Cup this time.
Key player to watch out for: Cristiano Ronaldo
7. England - This time England have a strong chance to do some wonders in the World Cup with Harry Kane and Dele Alli in their squad. Both can break any defence on their day. England didn't perform well in the past few World Cups so this time they would be looking to change the perception of the people and silence the critics in Russia.
Key player to watch out for: Harry Kane
6. Argentina - The runners-up of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina are also a strong contender to lift the Cup this year. The biggest star in their team is the 'Magician' Lionel Messi. Five-time Ballon D'or winner Messi has single-handedly led his team to qualify for the World Cup this time. Messi might be playing his last World Cup, so he will put all his blood and sweat on the field in Russia. Argentina's main weakness is their overdependence on the Barcelona striker. Moreover, Gonzalo Higuaín's poor form in past few years at international level has also not helped their cause.
Key player to watch out for: Lionel Messi
5. Brazil - Five-time world champions are on a roll after ending up as the table-toppers in the qualifying stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The South American side is full of quality players like Philippe Coutinho, Marquinhos, Gabriel Jesus and star striker Neymar Jr, who is still recovering from his knee injury. Brazil boast of a quality side and the only problem which might hamper their cause is the injuries to Dani Alves and Neymar.
Key player to watch out for: Neymar Jr
4. Spain - The 2010 world champions are an excellent side with a mix of quality young and experienced players like Isco, David De Gea, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos. Spain had a disastrous run in the last World Cup where they were out from the group stage but this time they will surely comeback with their class players. They have the best goalkeeper in the world in De Gea who just recently won the Golden Glove in the Premier League this season. The only problem with Spain side is their inconsistent strikers.
Key player to watch out for: Isco
3. Belgium - They are the biggest underdogs to win the World Cup this time. People don't consider them at par with other strong teams but this time they silent their critics with some of the best players in the world with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. Their only weakness would be their poor record at the international level.
Key player to watch out for: Kevin De Bruyne
2. France - The best young side in world football right now is France. They literally have the most talented young players with Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Paul Pogba, Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane. They are the top contenders to lift the Cup this time without any doubt. They have excellent players in every department that makes them the most stable side. Their only weakness is that they sometimes choke in the big matches as they did last time against Portugal in the final of the Euro Cup.
Key players to watch out for: Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele
1. Germany - Defending champions Germany are likely to dominate this World Cup too. They have the best players in the world with excellent backup options. They won the last FIFA Confederation Cup with their B team, which shows the depth in their squad. They have the perfect mid-field with Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Julian Draxler and Marco Reus. The only weakness in their squad is the striker options as Manchester City wonder kid Leroy Sane is not selected in the World Cup squad. Germany might go with Mario Gomez, Timo Werner as the striker option.
Key player to watch out for: Mesut Ozil
-Written by Aditya Maheshwari