Its just a few more months before the quadrennial extravaganza kicks off, heralding an era of heroes who are still to take flight in the eyes of the world or may already have been established as the titans of the sport. However, as far as the reputation of heroes go, FIFA World Cup has hardly been kind to the ones known for their heroic exploits while the unlikely monikers have shined for the upcoming ages.
With all said and done, the anticipations have already been blowing through the roof for football’s grandest event and when the world unites for almost 2 months of consuming madness, the unreal happens. As the excitement kisses the sky, we would be dissecting every single group and the chances that all the teams in the individual groups bring forth.
For today, its going to be a sneak peak at Group A where Qatar, Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador have been clubbed. Even though the big names are pretty much rare in this starting posse, yet the spirits showed by the teams over the past few years have been absolutely swashbuckling. Let us dive deeper into the strengths and weakness of each nation from Group A.
The current Asian champions have been a reckoning force in the recent times. Their shooting flair have been absolutely impeccable while their defensive unit has come together in the most flamboyant shapes. They dished out a fine brand of football in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where they would eventually crash out in the semis, after losing out to USA by a solitary goal. However, they would soon come back stronger than ever as they tamed a high-flying Slovenia to end with the spoils of the contest shared. Almoez Ali leads the lines for Qatar and the 25 million Euro forward has bagged 30 goals from the 64 contests that he has been a part of for his national team. His club-exploits are equally brilliant that has starred 47 goals and 49 assists from 178 encounters. Talking about experienced campaigners, Abdelkarim Hassan is another nig name to watch out for. However, one of the major problems for the Men in Red has always been their consistency up front and some woeful profligacy. They have failed to connect on several occasions that has witnessed glorious chances go begging. Another major fallacy in their set-up is that they are so committed to pour men forward that they have been frequently caught on the break and this can be a major cause of doom for the Asian champions.
There would probably be a handful of necessary shuffles, bringing in a posse of elite players to the side, when the team travels to the World Cup but at the moment, they have been in pretty sublime form even without their very best. They have been undefeated since the end of March and has actually put an unexpected halt to the juggernauts of Argentina, Nigeria and Mexico before pipping Cape Verde in their latest encounter. The best part about Ecuador is that the team comes as a single unit and thereby it is tough to single out any one individual. They perform as a unit and they are much more clinical on the prowl than the other teams in this group. Romario Ibarra is a substantial force at the helm of the Yellow attacking unit with 22 appearances for the national team. They would also be reliable on a marauding Gonzalo Plata who has made 28 appearances for the national team while bagging 5 goals for them. He is an elemental force for Real Valladolid. The strength and the weakness are somewhat similar for the Men in Yellow. Like the way Ecuador hunts in packs, similarly, their downfall has also been connected and it is more of a collective failure that often leads to devastating fiascos instead of close shaves.
Out of all the teams that participate in the World Cup, if there is one team that you never write off is the mighty Senegal. Their exploits in terms of the FIFA World Cup may not be as bloated as the other teams, but they always come to the tournament with a spirit that is absolutely unbreakable. They emerged as the champions of Africa, beating Egypt in a high-flying tie-breaker and since then they have toyed with the likes of Benin and Rwanda. Whenever we talk about Senegal, it is needless to say that Sadio Mane becomes their crème de la crème and the imperious form that he has been in, well absolutely nothing but the best comes close to this beast. He has already been a part of 91 appearances for the national team that has seen him 33 finishes, making him one of the most eminent luminaries for the Senegalese. They would also be buoyed by the presence of Ismaila Sarr, Idrissa Gueye, Abdou Diallo and Kalidou Koulibaly. These names have been rocking European football for a while making Senegal a group favourite.
A giant of the modern footballing world, Netherlands would be the contender to top Group A. The current brand of players that they come with features the illustrious likes of Memphis Depay, Mathhijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk, Steven Bergwijn, Daley Blind, Denzel Dumfries and the list knows no end. If the total exploits of these players are put together, it is needless to say that their other contenders would be no match for their sheer genius. In the ongoing Nations League, they are still to taste defeat. They have already razed over Belgium once and Wales twice before sharing the spoils with Poland. Netherlands has completely evolved their game over the years and now that the team comes together in hunting giants, it is an absolute treat for the ones who love the sport.