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England, Brazil & how all the top teams will line up at World Cup 2018

21:37 EAT 08/06/2018
Neymar Brazil 2018
Goal takes a look at how some of the tournament's expected challengers are likely to line up in Russia

  • Argentina predicted WC2018 XI

    Argentina

    Jorge Sampaoli has been tasked with delivering Argentina their third World Cup and the former Chile boss has a wealth of options available to him in his 23-man squad. Sampaoli has experimented with a variety of formations during his career, but appears to favour 4-2-3-1 with the Albiceleste.

    Injury to Sergio Romero means that Willy Caballero should be elevated to the position of No. 1. The Chelsea goalkeeper will have a back line that features Nicolas Otamendi and Federico Fazio at centre-back, with Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico at left-back and Sevilla full-back Gabriel Mercado on the opposite side.

    Either Javier Mascherano or Lucas Biglia are likely to partner Giovani Lo Celso in midfield, with Angel Di Maria deployed further forward. Injury to Manuel Lanzini means that there could well be a tactical re-think, but the likes of Maxi Meza or Cristian Pavon could potentially come into the team. The focal point of Argentina's attack remains Lionel Messi, who will line up at No. 10 and roam freely, while Sergio Aguero should complete the front line instead of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala. 

  • Predicted Belgium WC2018 XI

    Belgium

    Belgium will hope to be among the teams challenging for the World Cup in Russia and it is easy to see why, considering the riches at Roberto Martinez's disposal. They have been using a variation on a 3-4-3 formation and it seems to get the best out of their key players.

    Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois is the first-choice goalkeeper and he will be guarded Vincent Kompany, as well as Tottenham duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Serving as wing-backs will be Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco.

    Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel will dictate proceedings from midfield, with Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens positioned further forward either side of Romelu Lukaku.

  • Predicted Brazil WC2018 XI

    Brazil

    Brazil boss Tite has been forced to change things up somewhat following the loss of Dani Alves to injury, but the return to full fitness of Neymar provides him with a major boost ahead of the tournament. The former Corinthians boss prefers to use a 4-1-4-1 formation, with the wide players pushing up to join attacks.

    Highly sought-after Roma goalkeeper Alisson is the preferred choice between the posts and the 25-year-old should line up with an experienced defence in front of him. Thiago Silva and Miranda are the likely centre-back pairing, with Real Madrid star Marcelo playing at left-back and Man City's Danilo stepping in for the injured Alves.

    Casemiro is the midfield enforcer, playing behind the more creative Barcelona duo of Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho. Now that he is fit, Neymar will be the first name on the team-sheet and he'll take up his usual role on the left, with Chelsea winger Willian on the right.

    In attack Tite has a tough decision to make between Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, but the former has been favoured in recent games.

  • Predicted Colombia WC2018 XI

    Colombia

    Colombia reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and they will be hoping to go even further in Russia this summer. Coach Jose Pekerman is vastly experienced and he prefers a 4-4-2 formation to get the best out of his team.

    Arsenal's David Ospina is the No. 1 goalkeeper and the 29-year-old will hope he has little to do with Barcelona's Yerry Mina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez ahead of him. PSV defender Santiago Arias and Boca Juniors' full-back Frank Fabra are expected to line-up at right-back and left-back respectively.

    In central midfield, a pairing of Carlos Sanchez and Wilmar Barrios looks like the preferred choice, with Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado on the right and Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez - winner of the Golden Boot in 2014 - on the left. Radamel Falcao is team captain and will be one of the first names on the team-sheet, with Sevilla's Luis Muriel likely to get the nod ahead of Carlos Bacca.

    Pekerman has number of options in reserve; the likes of Brighton's Jose Izquierdo offers a dynamic back-up to James, while AC Milan defender Cristian Zapata boasts plenty of experience.

  • Predicted Croatia WC2018 XI

    Croatia

    Despite finishing third at the 1998 World Cup in France, Croatia have not managed to get past the group stage in the last three tournaments they have qualified for and coach Zlatko Dalic will be determined to address that in Russia. There is an abundance of quality sprinkled throughout the squad and that inevitably sees them tagged as 'dark horses' capable of shaking up the tournament.

    Dalic usually deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation, building the team around the mercurial talents of Real Madrid star Luka Modric in the No. 10 position. Danijel Subasic is the first-choice goalkeeper and the back four is made up with Dejan Lovren, Vedran Corluka, Ivan Strinic and Sime Vrsaljko.

    Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic dictates play from the base of midfield alongside Inter's Marcelo Brozovic, with Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic lining up either side of Modric further ahead. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic ploughs a lone furrow in attack.

  • Predicted England WC2018 XI

    England

    Gareth Southgate has deployed variations of 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 during his time as England boss and his starting XI will feature some of the Premier League's top stars.

    Jordan Pickford has usurped Joe Hart as No. 1 and the Everton shot-stopper will have a trio of John Stones, Gary Cahill and Kyle Walker ahead of him, with Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young filling the wing-back slots.

    Liverpool's Jordan Henderson will perform a deep-lying role in midfield, allowing the more creative talents of Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard freedom to get forward, where they will seek to collaborate with Raheem Sterling and, ahead of him, the recently appointed captain Harry Kane.

  • Predicted France WC2018 XI

    France

    Didier Deschamps' France are one of the favourites to win the World Cup and the 1998 champion is likely to use a fluid 4-3-3 formation in an attempt to clinch glory in Russia.

    Tottenham shot-stopper Hugo Lloris is the team captain and destined to start, with a Clasico pairing of Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane serving as the defensive wall in front of him. Benjamin Mendy has recovered from injury and should start at left-back, with his former Monaco team-mate Djibril Sidibe taking up the other full-back slot.

    N'Golo Kante is the all-action engine room of the midfield, providing unmatched defensive cover, which will allow the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba some extra freedom to join in with attacks.

    Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is the top scoring player in the squad and his physicality at the tip of the attack is complemented by the guile and pace of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.

  • Predicted Germany WC2018 XI

    Germany

    Defending champions Germany will have a solid core of veterans from the successful 2014 campaign and that will be complemented by a number of talented youngsters who have established themselve over the past two seasons.

    Despite a season ravaged by injuries, Manuel Neuer should take his place between the posts ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. His Bayern Munich team-mates Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Joshua Kimmich will form the bulk of the defence, with Jonas Hector completing the back line.

    Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira are expected to team up in midfield, with Mesut Ozil sitting ahead of them. Thomas Muller should take up his familiar position on the right of the attack, but there are queston marks lingering regarding the identity of the left winger, with Marco Reus and Julian Draxler both in the frame.

    Joachim Low is expected to go with Timo Werner as the lone front-man and the 22-year-old already boasts an impressive scoring record since making his debut in 2017.

  • Predicted Mexico WC2018 XI

    Mexico

    Mexico have reached the last 16 of the previous six World Cups and they will attempt to go even further in Russia this summer. Juan Carlos Osorio has named a strong squad for the tournament, featuring a nice blend of youth and experience. Indeed, the squad is sufficiently dynamic that Osorio can alter the formation between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 without fuss.

    Guillermo Ochoa is the undisputed first choice in goal and should take his place in the team as long as he remains fit. Real Sociedad defender Hector Moreno and Eintracht Frankfurt's Carlos Salcedo are primed to start at centre-back, with Miguel Layun on the left and Edson Alvarez on the right. However, that could change should Diego Reyes win his race to regain full fitness.

    In midfield, Andres Guardado is likely to be joined in a three by Porto's Hector Herrera and Jonathan dos Santos. Osorio is expected to use an attacking approach in Russia and a front three of Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, would be consistent with that.

  • Predicted Portugal WC2018 XI

    Portugal

    European champions Portugal are considered outsiders to win the World Cup, but they have shown that they have what it takes to win major tournaments with Fernando Santos' guidance.

    Former Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio has made the No. 1 jersey his own and should get the nod over Lyon's Anthony Lopes. The Selecao's defensive line-up features a number of experienced campaigners, such as Pepe and Jose Fonte at centre-back, but it is nicely complemented by the youth of Cedric Soares and Raphael Guerreiro.

    Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho will look to dictate proceedings from central midfield, with Inter's Joao Mario and Man City winger Bernardo Silva more advanced in the wide areas. Andre Silva has struggled at club level with AC Milan this season, but he has been impressive for the national team and should form part of a front two alongside none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.

  • Predicted Spain WC2018 XI

    Spain

    Spain have incredible depth to their squad, which makes Julen Lopetegui's task of choosing a starting XI extremely difficult, but no manager will complain to have such a headache.

    David De Gea is the undoubted No. 1 for La Roja and the Manchester United man will have a strong backline in front of him. The familiar duo of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique will team up, with Jordi Alba to their left and Alvaro Odriozola coming in for Dani Carvajal on the right.

    The midfield is likely to have a huge Barcelona influence, with Sergio Busquets anchoring while Andres Iniesta and former Catalan star Thiago pull strings further forward. 

    Diego Costa is the first choice striker and the Atletico Madrid man is expected to be flanked by Isco and David Silva.

  • Predicted Uruguay WC2018 XI

    Uruguay

    Two-time World Cup winners Uruguay have been punching above their weight on the world stage for decades and, under the guidance of veteran coach Oscar Tabarez, they have reached the semi-finals and last 16 of the last two tournaments. Tabarez utilises a straightforward 4-4-2 formation to get the best out of his players.

    Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera should reach 100 caps in Russia and he will have a formidable pairing of Atletico Madrid duo Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez in front of him. Martin Caceres has played at left-back in recent games and either Guillermo Varela or Maxi Pereira will line up at right-back, with the former's youth giving him a slight edge.

    There is a decidedly youthful feel to the midfield, with Juventus youngster Rodrigo Bentancur striking a partnership with Inter's Matias Vecino in the middle and Nahitan Nandez and Cristian Rodriguez taking their places on the wings. There is no doubt about who will lead the line in attack, with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani forming a fearsome goal-scoring unit.