Why this World Cup will be the strongest in decades?

Russia World Cup 2018 countdown—5 DAYS 

4 years ago, Germany strolled to World Cup glory. They were by far and away the best side at the 2014 World Cup, but in hindsight Joachim Loew’s side didn’t face much in the way of competition. This time, though, things will be rather different. Germany are still among the favourites, but the field at the 2018 World Cup will be far stronger. 

France will take one of their best ever teams to Russia this summer and having suffered defeat in their own Euros 2 years ago Didier Deschamps’ side will have their foot on the pedal. Brazil are another outfit who have improved over the past four years. In 2014, the Selecao were burdened with their worst national team in a generation. This summer, they are stacked in almost every position, from front to back, left to right. 

Spain crashed out in the group stages of the last World Cup, but they have since gone through a generational transition. Julen Lopetegui has yet to lose a match as national team manager and he has restored La Furia Roja’s swagger over the past 2 years, with Andres Iniesta potentially set for a top level swan song before he heads to Japan next season. 

There are questions about Argentina, given their dismal qualification campaign and disrupted preparations for the tournament, but with Lionel Messi in top form, as he has been in recent weeks and months, they will have a chance. This could be the moment the great man nails down his place as the greatest footballer of all time, emulating Diego Maradona in the eyes of his countrymen. 

Belgium have been blessed with a golden generation. Their starting lineup is among the strongest in Russia this summer, at least on paper, but Roberto Martinez has yet to find a system and s shape to get the best from his players. The individual brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and co. might be enough to carry the Red Devils into the knockout rounds, but beyond that they will be faced with a real test. 

Portugal come into this World Cup as reigning European champions, with Fernando Santos’ side still the well-drilled, well-organised side they were 2 years ago. Meanwhile, England are taking their youngest squad to a major tournament in a generation. From that comes an excitement and unpredictability about Gareth Southgate’s team.  

Even beyond that, Egypt (assuming Mohamed Salah is fit), Iceland, Uruguay, Croatia, Colombia, Poland and Mexico will be looking to make an impression at this World Cup. There are as many as 10 teams who could go all the way in Russia this summer. This bodes well for latter rounds. This could be a tournament for the ages.

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