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World Cup Preview: Who will qualify from the group stage?

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The 2018 World Cup is fast approaching and there a numerous top nations in with a chance of winning football's biggest prize. Brazil, Germany and Spain were dominant in qualifying, but can they repeat their form during the group stage in Russia?

We look at each group and predict who will reach the round of 16.

 

Group A

Uruguay are the favourites to win the group after finishing second behind Brazil in the South American qualifiers. Hosts Russia were poor at European Championships in 2016 and the nation will expect much better performances on home soil.

Egypt haven't qualified for the World Cup since 1990. They were runners-up at the 2017 Africa Cup and could surprise a few teams in this group. Saudi Arabia have failed to win a match in their last three World Cup appearances and it's difficult to imagine that changing in Russia.

To qualify: Uruguay & Egypt

Group B

Spain are strongly fancied at Betchain to win the World Cup and they should comfortably qualify from this group. Portugal failed to reach the round of 16 in 2014, but the current European Champions should progress.

Morocco could get their group campaign off to a winning start against Iran, although Spain and Portugal are expected to prove too classy in their remaining games. Iran appear out of their depth in this group.

To qualify: Spain & Portugal

Group C

France should win the group, although their performances at the finals in 2002 and 2010 show that they can implode at major tournaments. Denmark's best performance at the finals came at France 1998 when they reached the quarter-finals.

Peru are capable of taking points off both Denmark and Australia, but France's array of attacking talent should prove too hot to handle. Australia are likely to be heading home after the opening stage.

To qualify: France & Denmark

Group D

Lionel Messi is one of the favourites for the top goalscorer award and he will be hoping to inspire Argentina to glory this summer. Croatia haven't made it past the group stages since 1998, but they are strong defensively and in midfield.

Nigeria and Iceland won't be pushovers and are certainly capable of taking points off the other two sides.

To qualify: Argentina & Croatia

Group E

Brazil have won the trophy on five previous occasions and will be eager to banish the memories of losing 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semi-finals. Switzerland qualified after finishing second in their group behind Portugal. They reached the last 16 in 2014.

Serbia finished ahead of Republic of Ireland in qualifying and the fact they don't face Brazil until their final match could work in their favour. Costa Rica surprisingly reached the quarter-finals in 2014 before losing against Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out.

To qualify: Brazil & Costa Rica

Group F

Germany scored 43 goals during the qualifiers, although their recent friendly defeat against Brazil proved they are not unbeatable. Sweden finished above Netherlands in the qualifiers, before beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate in the play-offs.

Mexico have progressed out of their group in their last six World Cup appearances. They easily topped the CONCACAF qualifying group, losing once against Honduras. Korea Republic are competing in their ninth World Cup in a row, but they are expected to struggle against the other teams in this group.

To qualify: Brazil & Mexico

Group G

Belgium reached the quarter-finals in 2014 and they went undefeated during qualification for this summer's tournament. England endured a miserable campaign in 2014, exiting the tournament at the group stage, but they qualified with ease for the latest edition of the World Cup.

Tunisia and Panama are both expected to be knocked out in the first stage.

To qualify: England & Belgium

Group H

Colombia reached the quarter-finals in Brazil 2014, with James Rodriguez claiming the Golden Boot with six goals. Poland haven't played in the finals since 2006, but with Robert Lewandowski leading the line they are expected to reach the knockout stages in Russia.

Senegal have only qualified for the World Cup once before and they managed to reach the quarter-finals. This will be Japan's sixth consecutive appearance in the finals, but it's difficult to see them troubling the other sides in this group.

To qualify: Poland & Colombia