World Cup hot takes regarding each group

World Cup 2018 is finally here as is the start of summer. There is a lot of excitement regarding the final outcome of the entire tournament, but we have to get through the group stages first and foremost. Certainly, there is something to talk about with each group.

Group A: Home-field Advantage

Everyone keeps talking about the dazzling attackers that are Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah, but the country hosting this summer’s festivities deserves some praise.

Igor Akinfeev will be a problem on the back end for those aforementioned attackers. Meanwhile, Fyodor Smolov will be a handful himself as he hopes to generate some goals for the Russians. He had three goals in the international friendlies leading up to their opening game.

Lastly, let’s remember what happened in 2014 when Brazil hosted the World Cup. They fed off of the energy from their fans and had some monstrous performances. Yes, Brazil is more talented, but playing in front of your homeland will make Russia play with that much more pride.

Group B: We Don’t Feel so Good

In reference to the latest Avengers movie, Spain might embody that moniker.

In a bold move, Spain fired their coach Julen Lopetegui. Now, the national team has to stay calm, cool, and collected. That is easier said than done when a team like Portugal looms larger than ever with Cristiano Ronaldo on a mission.

Spain is also playing with the pressure of expectations. They did not make it to the knockout stages in 2014 and many feel they can win it all this summer. With footballers like David de Gea, Sergio Ramos, and Isco, it would be a travesty if they did not go on a run this summer.

But is it fair to overwhelm them with such tasks? Probably not given what just occurred as this bunch could be emotionally unstable.

Group C: The Wrath of Peru

The last time Peru was in the World Cup Ronald Reagan was still in office. Heck, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder graced the music world with “Ebony and Ivory” since their last appearance. Peru is in the World Cup for the first time since 1982 for those that are not history buffs.

Peru will be led by Jefferson Farfan and, newly reinstated, Pablo Guerrero. Both have appeared in over 160 international games combined, but this will be their biggest task yet. Guerrero was granted reinstatement following the use of a banned substance and you better believe he will show his appreciation. Although they are over 30, expect Farfan and Guerrero to wreak havoc on opposing goalies as they have scored 60 goals combined for Peru.

Group D: Argentina Squeaks by

Since losing in the World Cup Final in 2014, it has been a rollercoaster ride for Argentina. Lionel Messi considered retiring from the team at one point. In addition, they barely qualified for this year’s event. Somehow they are still being pegged, by some, as the favorites to win it all.

Argentina could very well get knocked off by Iceland, Croatia, or Nigeria. They have a tendency to rely on Messi as much as the Cleveland Cavaliers relied on LeBron James this past season. The Argentines have enough juice to make it through this group with the heat-seeking missile that is Sergio Aguero (scored 30 goals this season for Manchester City). Fatigue could be a factor for Messi maybe not in the group stages, but maybe at some point down the line.

Group E: Brazil is on a Mission

If Neymar Jr. did not get hurt against Germany in 2014, Brazil might be the defending champions rolling into Russia. They have a great supporting cast surrounding their start in Casemiro, Willian, Roberto Firmino, and other budding stars. Brazil might lead the group stages in goals scored as it will be full steam ahead for them.

Group F: This is not 2014

This is where Germany fans might want to scroll past this section. No? Well, you cannot say I did not warn you.

Manuel Neuer’s foot injury was not ideal for this German squad. Yes, he has returned and is assumed to be fully healthy. Is he still as good as he was in 2014?

Germany lost to Austria and Brazil in their warmups for this tournament. They could very well be experiencing a championship hangover and they just did not look as hungry as they did four years ago. Javier Hernandez and Mexico will play inspired when the champs step on the field. Son Heungmin and the Korea Replublic will too.

Germany will win this group, but they could get exposed.

Group G: A New Era

“The Bristish are coming!” Indeed, England is coming and they too will want to forget the 2014 experience they had. They have went under a massive overhaul as out goes Wayne Rooney and in comes the new captain, Harry Kane.

Jack Butland, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Marcus Rashford, and Kane will be coming in a bit green to the World Cup pressure. Nevertheless, expect Jamie Vardy and Trevor Cahill to keep the young pups poised as they are the only 30-year-olds on the roster.

Group H: A Defender’s Nightmare

If you like defense, this group featuring Senegal, Poland, Colombia, and Japan is not the one for you. There will be endless onslaughts on the opposing team’s goalkeeper.

Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane, Keisuke Honda, James Rodriguez, and Radamel Falcao have scored 155 goals combined during international play. Expect some coaches and defenders to age a bit quicker given the attackers in this field.

This summer’s World Cup should feature many highlights and story lines. It will start with the group stages as an early appetizer for fans. The group stages is more than wins and losses as good habit and trends will help shape teams. However, too many losses or ties could result in an early vacation.