World Cup 2018: Brazil Are Favorites To Win, But Other Teams Won't Make It Easy
on Jun 13, 2018 08:25 AM EDT
Brazil's national football squad is expected to make a run for the title in the 2018 World Cup, which fires off this June in Russia.
This is after the team announced that Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. will return just in time for the monthlong competition. The tournament begins on June 14 and concludes on July 15.
Neymar Jr. suffered a foot injury in Paris Saint-Germain's game against Ligue 1 powerhouse Marseille. He underwent a successful surgery last March and is likely to play in the World Cup.
Brazil will begin their World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 18. The Brazilians hope to bounce back in their disappointing 7-1 finals loss to Germany in 2014.
Tough Playing Field
Nonetheless, Neymar Jr. and Brazil will be facing an acid test in a competition pitting the best players in the world. Among the nations that are anticipated to give them some headaches are defending champions Germany, Spain, France, Argentina, Portugal, Belgium, and Poland.
The Germans are aiming to become the first team in more than five decades to win back-to-back World Cups. Ironically, the last team to achieve such feat was Brazil, which won in 1958 and 1962.
Besides Germany, the Lionel Messi-led Argentinian team is also seen to put up a dazzling show in the tournament. The Argentinians, who has made the World Cup 16 times, look forward on winning their first crown since 1986.
However, returning to the top might be an uphill climb for Argentina with the absence of striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Manuel Lanzini. Aguero and Lanzini are currently out of action due to separate injuries.
On the other hand, France is also poised to put an end to their World Cup title drought. The Frenchmen have graced the competition 14 times and last won the title in 1998.
Leading France's title aspirations are wily midfielder Paul Pogba, defensive specialist Raphael Varane, and star goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The team is set to take on Australia in their first match of the tournament.
Don't Count The Underdogs Out
Iceland caught the wide imagination of every football fan when they defeated England in the European Championship in 2016. This also marks Iceland's debut in the World Cup.
The Krasnodar-based squad will take on Argentina in their first match. Iceland will be the smallest team to qualify in football's biggest tournament.
Meanwhile, Egypt and Peru will also be making its return in the quadrennial competition. Peru last made the tournament in 1982, while Egypt last appeared in the 1990 World Cup.