Most of the World Cup squads have been released, whether they are official or just provisional, and fans are now wondering who starts and who sits. So here’s our Unfit starting 11’s for teams 21-32 going to Russia (based on FIFA Official Rankings).
Prediction: (4-3-3) N’Diaye; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Sane, Ciss; Gueye, Kouyate, Badou N’Diaye; Mane, Balde Keita, Niang
Koulibaly and Sane should make a good pairing at the back. Both are great ball winners, but the latter can have the occasional mental lapse. Kouyate and Gana Gueye is an ultimate defensive pairing but N’Diaye may have to do a lot of the heavy lifting going forward. Senegal’s attack is rampant with a number of different options to play alongside Mane and Keita Balde, who are presumably undroppable. Niang would add to their speed and can play as a proper striker or could float to left wing and push Balde to center forward.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) Stojovic; Rukavina, Ivanovic, Nastasic, Kolorov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Ljajic; Aleksander Mitrovic
A bit of an old backline, but a very experienced. Nastasic is struggling to get back from injury and if he is unable to then it’ll be Dusko Tosic who comes in. Serbia’s front four has all the freedom in the world with the Matic-Milivojevic pairing behind them and can really make something happen with Milinkovic-Savic at the helm. Serbia also have a good attacking option off the bench in Filip Kostic who hasn’t had the best season but can change a game with his speed and pinpoint accurate crosses.
Prediction: (4-3-3) Beiranvand; Rezaeian, Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Mohammadi; Ezatolahi, Shojaei, Taremi; Jahanbakhsh, Azmoun, Hajsafi
Iran did well in the 2014 World Cup, giving Argentina a run for their money and keeping pressure on Nigeria, who eventually came out second in the group. The core of that squad still stands with Hosseini, Hajsafi and Shojaei, but the additions of Jahanbakhsh- who has had a superb season at AZ Alkmaar scoring 22 goals and grabbing 14 assists- and “The Iranian Messi” Azmoun, Iran could look to make it difficult for Portugal or Spain in Group B.
Predictions: (4-2-3-1) Ryan; Risdon, Sainsbury, Degenek, Behich; Jedinak, Mooy; Leckie, Rogic, Kruse; Juric
Australia changed managers after they qualified for the World Cup, stripping this side of all identity they were starting to shape. Mat Ryan has had a great season for Brighton and will continue to be a game-changer for his country. There is still a decent amount of talent in the squad, with Aaron Mooy most likely creating from deep, while Rogic and Juric will give defenses trouble with their physicality.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) Mohamedi; Hakimi, Benatia, Saiss, Dirar; El Ahmadi, Boussoufa; Amrabat, Belhanda, Ziyech, Boutaib
This is an oddly talented Morocco side. Dirar, a natural right back, may shift to the left flank to allow the young Hakimi to play in his natural position. In attack, if they are fearless enough, Morocco can create just about anything they want with Hakim Ziyech set to be the star man. Could see the Moroccans get past Portugal in the group stages and could be the underdog story of the Cup.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) El-Hadary; Fathy, Hegazy, Gabr, Abdel-Shafy; Elneny, Hamed; Salah, El-Said, Ibrahim; Hassan
Coming off of a outlandish season, all eyes will be on Mohamed Salah on the biggest stage in world football. Egypt have a decent backline with Hegazy, who played well this season on loan at West Brom and Fathy, a seasoned veteran. Elneny has yet to break into Arsenal’s starting 11, but the midfield plays exceptionally well for his country, while El-Said is also a major threat from attacking midfield.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) Ezenwa; Aina, Ekong, Balogun, Echiejile; Ndidi, Obi; Moses, Onazi, Iwobi, Musa
Many new faces from the Nigeria of 2014. Leon Balogun is a fine young defender who has done well on Mainz with limited time, earning himself a move to the Premier League to Brighton. Ndidi has become a mainstay in Leicester’s midfield and understandable so as he adds defensive stability and a keen eye for a forward pass. Iwobi, Musa and Moses will be rampant in attack, the first of the bunch consistently performing at the top level for Arsenal.
Prediction: (4-4-2) Penedo; Ovalle, Roman Torres, Cummings, Murillo; Gomez, Godoy, Cooper, Quintero; Tejada, Gabriel Torres
Panama will probably go with 4-4-2 but can switch to a 5-4-1 if need be. Made it because they out performed the rest in CONACAF but hopes of making it past England, Belgium and Tunisia? Probably not.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Yamaguchi; Honda, Kagawa, Inui; Okazaki
With a new manager, this side is difficult to choose. Akira Nishino could go with a 4-4-2 because of some good center forwards in the squad or he could go 4-4-1-1 and drop Kagawa further back to create from deep, while playing Okazaki right behind one of Muto or Osako. It’ll be interesting to see how Japan does come June 15th.
Prediction: (4-3-3) Kim Seung-gyu; Lee Yong, Young-gwon, Hyun-soo, Jin-Su; Ki Sung-yueng, Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Jae-sung; Lee Chung-yong, Hwang Hee-chan; Son Heung-min
Son Heung-Min, or called “Sonny” by Tottenham teammates and fans alike, is the star here, but Hwang Hee-Chan has done well for RB Salzburg this year, scoring 13 goals and 4 assists. Lee Jae-Sung and Ki Sung-yueng could make for a very good midfield as well.
Prediction: (5-3-2) Akinfeev; Fernandes, Ignashevic, Neustader, Granat, Zhirkov; Dzagoev, Zobnin, Golovin; Smolov, Dzyuba
The hosts have a lot of questions to answer and may prove to answer none of them before they go out of the competition. Russia have a great deal of defense, but their creativity is lacking apart from right back Mario Fernandes and the aging Yuri Zhrikov down the flanks. The best hope for Russia, host the heck out of the World Cup.
Prediction: (4-2-3-1) Al-Mayuf; Al-Harby, Omar Hawwsawi, Ossam Hawsawi, Al-Shahrany; Otayf, Al Faraj; Al-Dawsari, Al-Shahry, Al-Abed; Al-Sahlawy
The biggest story around this team is the fact that two managers ave been sacked since qualifying for the World Cup. This means, there is no clue what will happen with this squad. Al-Abed will looks to carry the team forward while the rest of the team is a toss up for selection.
The World Cup starts June 14th with host’s Russia facing off against Saudi Arabia. There will be coverage on everything World Cup right here of The Unfit Pundit so make sure to keep us with us on our social media for daily pieces. All our social media can be found at the top of the home page in the right hand corner. Take care.