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The Scout’s Guide to the World Cup: Group A

This article first appeared on Football MR

Here, Football MR takes a look at some of the lesser-known players, from the less attractive leagues, who’ve had careers off the beaten track of European club football or those who might play their first or only World Cup. Players who the world haven’t heard of by and large. So there’ll be no profiles on a certain Argentinean midfielder or a Portuguese winger/striker. We’re looking for players who could soon be rocking up at a Premier League team near you off the back of a couple of good performances at the World Cup. The first group picked is Group A, so let us begin!

Russia

Player – Mario Fernandes 

 Position: Right Back 

 Age: 27

Caps: 5  Goals: 0

For the hosts, we’d love to follow Sergei Ignashevich but we feel the near 40-year-old CSKA Moscow Centre-Back is too well known and unlikely to get game time except in an emergency so we turn our attention to his club-mate and likely starter Mario Fernandes. The Brazilian born Right-Back gained Russian citizenship in 2016 after residing there for 4 seasons with CSKA after his move from Gremio. He holds one cap for Brazil after playing for them in a friendly against Japan.

Saudi

Chance of game time: Likely to start at either Right-Back or Right-Wingback in Russia’s 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 systems.

Why we’re following them: It is hard to imagine a player having played Internationally both for Russia and Brazil, hence we feel Fernandes’ story is an interesting one and with good performances in a weak Russian team could be lead to a post-tournament move.

Egypt

Player –Trézéguet  

Position: Attacking Midfield   

Age: 23

Caps: 18 Goals: 2

For the hosts, we’d love to follow Sergei Ignashevich but we feel the near 40-year-old CSKA Moscow Centre-Back is too well known and unlikely to get game time except in an emergency so we turn our attention to his club-mate and likely starter Mario Fernandes. The Brazilian born Right-Back gained Russian citizenship in 2016 after residing there for 4 seasons with CSKA after his move from Gremio. He holds one cap for Brazil after playing for them in a friendly against Japan.

Chance of game time: In the absence of Salah for the first few games, he could start in attacking midfield or wide, or later alongside Salah in the easier looking games vs Russia and Saudi Arabia. He could also be an option off the bench if they are behind.

Why we’re following them: Already linked with a move to various Premier League clubs and some good performances in a weak group could bring those to fruition. Also, he’s a man who goes by a nickname of France legend David Trezeguet due to a vague resemblance. Who doesn’t like that?

Saudi Arabia

Player – Mohammed Al-Sahlawi

Position: Striker

Age: 31

Caps: 39 Goals: 28

Saudi

Picking a player from Saudi Arabia was difficult as most of the squad predominantly play in the Saudi Arabian leagues. We chose Mohammed Al-Sahlawi as he may be one of the players to come to the fore during the tournament. Currently, at Al-Nassr in the Saudi Professional League having scored 102 goals in 174 games, he began his international goal scoring a goal against Spain in 2010. He also spent 3 weeks training with Manchester United earlier this season. With 19 goals throughout qualification, he is Saudi Arabia’s best chance of goals.

Chance of game time: Almost certain to start up front through the group stage.

Why we’re following them: As the top scorer in what is a weak Saudi Arabia squad, he may be one Saudi player to emerge from this World Cup with his reputation enhanced.

Uruguay

Player – Nahitan Nandez   

Position: Central Midfield   

Age: 22

Caps: 11 Goals: 0

One of the new generation of Uruguayan midfielders along with Vecino and Torreira replacing the old battlers Perez and Arevalo Rios. Nahitan plays for Boca Juniors following his move from Peñarol in 2017. The number 8 plays at the base of the midfield where he is a starter for both club and country.

Saudi

Chance of game time: Likely to start in the centre of midfield alongside Torreira/Vecino or Bentancur. Uruguay should progress from the group with Nandez providing the defensive base for others to supply Suarez and Cavani with chances.

Why we’re following them: It’s Nandez’s first senior tournament with Uruguay and he is part of a midfield that is very different in personnel and style from squads at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Good performances from Nandez could see European teams come calling.


The Scout’s Guide to The World Cup-

Group B

Group C

Group D

Other Young stars to watch out for in the World Cup

To read our World Cup Group A preview click here.

To read more content on the FIFA World Cup click here.

World Cup Group A analysis

Feature Image via FIFA

Fernandes Image via ESPN

Trézéguet Image via FIFA

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi image via Daily Post Nigeria 


 

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