With the domestic campaign almost at it’s conclusion, the time has come to look ahead to this summer’s upcoming World Cup in Russia. With the likes of England, Germany and Portugal already releasing their squads, we take an in depth look at some of the other nations which will be representing Europe below:
Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev, Vladimir Gabulov, Soslan Dzhanaev, Andrey Lunev.
Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Ruslan Kambolov, Fedor Kudryashov, Ilya Kutepov, Roman Neustadter, Konstantin Rausch, Andrey Semenov, Igor Smolnikov, Mario Fernandes.
Midfielders: Yuri Gazinskiy, Alexsandr Golovin, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Erokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev, Roman Zobnin, Alexsandr Samedov, Anton Miranchuk, Aleksandr Tashaev, Denis Cheryshev.
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba, Aleksey Miranchuk, Fedor Smolov, Fedor Chalov.
The hosts have an ageing squad with many names which have seen plenty of previous international tournaments, but since the appointment of Stanislav Cherchesov there has been a changing of the guard. Russia have often flattered to deceive so are not expected to play a major part in the final stages of the tournament, but they will be boosted by the home advantage and, as the majority of the squad play their football in Russia, they should be well prepared for what is ahead.
Influential midfielder Igor Denisov has been left out after falling out with boss Stanislav Cherchesov, which means the key man falls to veteran keeper Igor Akinfeev. The 32-years-old will captain the side and with 104 caps already to his name, his experience will be vital in any success the hosts have in this tournament.
One to Watch:
Playmaker Aleksandr Golovin leads the charge of a new generation of technically gifted Russian midfielders. The 21-years-old has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Barcelona in the last two transfer windows and a good summer at the World Cup will only add to that speculation.
Lunev, Granat, Neustädter, Kudryashov, Samedov, Erokhin, Dzagoev, Golovin, Zhirkov, Smolov, Miranchuk.
Manager: Adam Nawałka
Goalkeepers: Bartosz Bialkowski, Lukasz Fabianski, Lukasz Skorupski, Wojciech Szczesny;
Defenders: Jan Bednarek, Bartosz Bereszynski, Thiago Cionek, Kamil Glik, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Marcin Kaminski, Tomasz Kedziora, Michal Pazdan, Lukasz Piszczek;
Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski, Pawel Dawidowicz, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Jacek Goralski, Maciej Rybus, Sebastian Szymanski, Piotr Zielinski, Szymon Zurkowski;
Forwards: Dawid Kownacki, Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Krzysztof Piatek, Lukasz Teodorczyk, Kamil Wilczek
With a lot of players in the prime of their career, this tournament represents a major milestone in Poland’s development. One thing is for sure, the players who are likely to be calling time on their international career will want to go out on a high and Poland should be expected to be competitive.
It will come as no surprise to anybody that Robert Lewandowski is key to Poland’s hopes in this tournament. The Bayern Munich striker is the captain of his nation and also holds the record for the amount of goals scored. Having the 29-years-old on top form will surely lead to a successful tournament.
One to Watch:
Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski is the bright young talent in the Poland squad and a successful tournament could lead to some of Europe’s biggest sides competing for his signature. The 23-year-old made the switch from Serie A side Udinese to Napoli after making his international tournament debut at Euro 2016. He is an attacking midfielder by trade and is already a regular starter for the national side.
Fabiański, Piszczek ,Glik, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Krychowiak, Blaszczykowski, Zielinski, Linetty, Grosicki, Lewandowski.
Manager: Zlatko Dalic
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic, Karlo Letica;
Defender: Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Matej Mitrovic, Borna Barisic, Zoran Nizic, Duje Caleta-Car, Borna Sosa;
Midfielders: Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Marko Rog, Mario Pasalic, Filip Bradaric;
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic, Duje Cop, Ivan Santini.
Croatia have under-performed in much of their last few international tournaments and they will be determined to perform at a standard which is more befitting to their undeniable talents.
Even at the age of 32, Luka Modric is still the beating heart of this Croatia team. The talented midfielder is the linchpin of the Real Madrid side who have been so successful in European football in recent seasons and he will no doubt be looked upon to prove his worth on the international stage.
One To Watch
Ivan Rakitic may not be the one to grab all the headlines in Russia 2018, but he will certainly play a key role in any success Croatia have. The midfielder is technically excellent on the ball but will also play a vital role in the defensive side of the game.
Potential Line Up
Kalinic, Vrsaljko, Corluka, Vida, Pivaric, Rakitic, Badelj, Pjaca, Kovacic, Rebic, Kramaric.
Manager: Åge Hareide
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Jonas Lossl, Frederik Ronnow, Jesper Hansen.
Defenders: Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Mathias Zanka Jorgensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Andreas Bjelland, Henrik Dalsgaard, Peter Ankersen, Jens Stryger, Riza Durmisi, Jonas Knudsen, Nicolai Boilesen.
Midfielders: William Kvist, Thomas Delaney, Lukas Lerager, Lasse Schone, Mike Jensen, Christian Eriksen, Daniel Wass, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Mathias Jensen, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Robert Skov.
Forwards: Pione Sisto, Martin Braithwaite, Andreas Cornelius, Viktor Fischer, Yussuf Poulsen, Nicolai Jorgensen, Nicklas Bendtner, Kasper Dolberg, Kenneth Zohore.
It took a Christian Eriksen hat-trick to secure Denmark’s spot in this Summer’s World Cup and with the talented midfielder set to lead the charge again, the Danes could be the tournaments surprise package. It’s a squad which has a familiar feel for many fans of the Premier League as many of the top players have plied their England’s top division at one time or another.
He may be just 26-years-old, but Christian Eriksen has already racked up 77 caps since making his international debut back in 2010. The Tottenham star is rated among the best in Europe and given that his club side have once again failed to secure any silverware, the chase for his signature is likely to be one of the top stories of the summer.
One To Watch
Yussuf Poulsen is a striker or winger who currently plays for RB Leipzig. He was selected in Denmark’s squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics, however he rejected the call-up in order to cement his place at Leipzig but he has now broken through at both club and international level and looks to be ready to have a big summer in Russia.
Potential Line Up
Schmeichel, Christensen, Kjaer, Bjelland, Stryger Larsen, Kvist, Delaney, Poulsen, Eriksen, Sisto, Jørgensen.