Outsiders hope for 2018 World Cup glory

Outsiders hope for 2018 World Cup glory
By Philip Pangalos
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With just days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia on June 14, Euronews has a second special preview, this time looking at some of the outsiders with ambitions for glory.


With just days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia on June 14, Euronews has a second special preview, this time looking at some of the outsiders with ambitions for glory.

In almost every World Cup, there's been at least one national team that turned out to be the surprise of the tournament. Who doesn't remember South Korea in 2002, getting as far as the semi-finals, or Croatia doing the same in the 1998 World Cup?


Those hoping to go all the way this time include England, who breezed through the qualification stages. Although they were in a relatively weak group, they remained unbeaten in 10 matches and only let in three goals. Additionally, this team looks like the best squad England has fielded for quite some time, with plenty of young talent that also have experience at top club level. Team captain Harry Kane and England manager Gareth Southgate will certainly be hoping their players can go all the way and allow England to relive the glory days of the historic 1966 World Cup final victory against West Germany at Wembley.

England team captain Harry Kane and manager Gareth Southgate

England is in Group G, where they will face a much-fancied Belgium, as well as group outsiders Tunisia and Panama. Their first group match is against Tunisia on June 18.


For Belgium, who have performed strongly in recent international tournaments, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku are the picks of a very talented bunch. The Red Devils have long been heralded as the next major international power, with young talent tipped to succeed on the international scene.

However, Belgium have faltered in the latter stages of recent tournaments, so they need to soon grasp an opportunity if their 'Golden Generation' is not to slip away.


Other teams with ambitions for glory in Russia include Portugal, who will be looking to repeat their success of Euro 2016 when they begin their World Cup. Head coach Fernando Santo****s has omitted several players from that cup-winning squad, although, as always, all eyes will be on their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo. The only concern for Portugal is their defensive line, as most of the players are considered old, with centre-backs Bruno Alves, Pepe and Jose Fonte all in their mid-thirties.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo


For Uruguay, the team's secret weapon undoubtedly lies in its front line, with world class stars Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Team captain Diego Godin is the respected organiser of the defensive line, and although he may be losing a little pace, he remains a vital figure and scores important goals.


And of course, there's Argentina, considered by many as the ''eternal candidate'' to win the trophy. After losing the 2014 World Cup final against Germany, the ''albiceleste'' are seeking glory in Russia. Besides having the man considered by many to be the best player in the whole world - Lionel Messi - Argentina have other offensive players who are able to disrupt opponents with ease. Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, are just some of the team's top forwards who excel in Europe.

Argentina's Lionel Messi


There are also two teams that will participate in the World Cup for the first time in their history. One country has a population of just over 4 million, while the other has a mere 330,000. Do you know who we are talking about?


Iceland is the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup finals and will undoubtedly give it their all, so they should not be underestimated. After their success two years ago in the Euro 2016, where they reached the quarter-finals, they are ready to surprise the world again. No doubt, they will once more have a huge crowd cheering them on.



And for Panama, it was all about celebrations and fireworks when they qualified for the World Cup finals in Russia. Panama has tried to qualify for every football World Cup since 1978. They may not be expected by the pundits to make a superb display, but the country will surely live every match the same way - as if it were a final.


Finally, we're set for a new record of sorts with the man who will become the oldest footballer to play in a World Cup tournament. Essam El Hadary, Egypt's veteran goalkeeper, is 45 years old!

At the other end of the spectrum, the youngest player of this World Cup is Australia's Daniel Arzani. He is just 19 years and 5 months old, which is 15 days younger than French star Kylian Mbappe.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with Essam El-HadaryReuters
Australia's Arzani vs Hungary's Daniel Bode
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