Thursday, July 19, 2018
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World Cup team profiles: Star player, fixtures, kits, how each nation qualified for Russia 2018 (PT II)

Here’s every team profile for the World Cup in Russia this summer…

Croatia

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

Star man: Luka Modric – The Real Madrid midfielder has been named Croatia’s Footballer of the Year six times.

How they qualified: Beat Greece 4-1 on aggregate in the European play-offs after finishing runners-up to Iceland in Group I.

History: Four appearances, having first qualified in 1998 where they reached the semi-finals. After defeat to eventual winners France, a 2-1 win over the Netherlands saw Croatia secure a third-place finish.

Fun fact: Davor Suker was the only Croatian to feature in Pele’s list of the 125 greatest players of all time – selected back in 2004 to mark FIFA’s 100th anniversary.

Best World Cup moment: Overwhelming giants Germany 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup quarter-finals. Davor Suker sealed the memorable victory with Croatia’s third goal, and the then-Real Madrid striker went on to pick up the Golden Boot with six goals from seven matches, as well as claiming the Silver Ball (behind winner Ronaldo) and featuring in the team of the tournament.

Player you’ve never heard of: Milan Badelj – The midfielder is a regular starter for Fiorentina, and has featured more than 30 times for Croatia since his debut in 2010.

Kit: Home – red and white; Away – black and dark blue.

Group D fixtures: Nigeria (8pm, June 16, Kaliningrad), Argentina (7pm, June 21, Nizhny Novgorod), Iceland (7pm, June 26, Rostov-On-Don)

Denmark

Manager: Age Hareide

Star man: Christian Eriksen – The Dane’s hat-trick in the second-leg play-off sent the Republic of Ireland packing.

How they qualified: A 5-1 aggregate victory over the Republic of Ireland in the European play-offs after finishing as runners-up behind Poland in Group E.

History: Four World Cup appearances (1986, 1998, 2002, 2010) – have progressed from the groups in each tournament but for 2010, going furthest in 1998 when making the quarter-finals.

 

Fun fact: All 27 of Denmark’s World Cup goals have come from inside the box.

Best World Cup moment: Denmark made quite the introduction in their first ever finals appearance back in 1986, winning all three of their group games against Scotland, Uruguay and West Germany. A heavy 5-1 defeat to Spain followed in the last 16, but Elkjaer Larsen’s hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Uruguay will live long in the memory for Danish fans.

Player you’ve never heard of: Nicolai Jorgensen – Scored twice in qualifying, and netted 21 times for Feyenoord last season.

Kit: Home – red; Away – white.

Group C fixtures: Peru (5pm, June 16, Saransk), Australia (1pm, June 21, Samara), France (3pm, June 26, Moscow)

England

Manager: Gareth Southgate

Star man: Harry Kane – The Tottenham striker has continued his fine goalscoring form this year, having netted 56 times for club and country in 2017.

How they qualified: Group F winners in European qualifying, winning eight games and drawing two to finish on 26 points, eight clear of Slovakia.

History: Have appeared at 14 World Cup finals, winning the tournament on home soil in 1966. The best the Three Lions have done since is a semi-final finish in 1990.

Fun fact: Only Italy can match England’s record of three penalty shootout defeats in the competition. The Three Lions crashed out on penalties in 1990 (West Germany), 1998 (Argentina) and 2006 (Portugal).

Best World Cup moment: ‘Some people are on the pitch… They think it’s all over… It is now!’ England’s 1966 World Cup triumph at Wembley was secured with a 4-2 extra-time victory over West Germany. Those immortal words were uttered as Geoff Hurst smashed in his hat-trick goal in the final minute of extra time.

Player you’ve never heard of: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Called up to the England squad at 19 after a breakthrough campaign with Liverpool.

Kit: Home – white; Away – dark blue.

Group G fixtures: Tunisia (7pm, June 18, Volgograd), Panama (1pm, June 24, Nizhny Novgorod), Belgium (7pm, June 28, Kaliningrad)

Egypt

Manager: Hector Cuper

Star man: Mohamed Salah – The Liverpool winger scored 71 per cent of Egypt’s goals in their qualifying campaign.

How they qualified: Group E winners in African qualifying with a game to spare.

History: Two appearances at the World Cup finals, crashing out in the first round to Hungary in 1934, exiting at the group stages in 1990.

Fun fact: Egypt became the first African team to qualify for the World Cup when featuring in 1934.

Best World Cup moment: Yet to win at the World Cup. Magdi Abdelghani’s 83rd-minute penalty secured a group-stage draw in 1990 against a Netherlands side featuring Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit.

Player you’ve never heard of: Ahmed Fathy – The right back had short spells at Sheffield United (2007) and Hull City (2013), and has more than 100 caps for Egypt.

Kit: Home – red, black and white; Away – yet to be revealed.

Group A fixtures: Uruguay (1pm, June 15, Ekaterinburg), Russia (7pm, June 19, St Petersburg), Saudi Arabia (3pm, June 25, Volgograd)

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