This preview is the second in our World Cup preview series, designed to provide a refreshing breath of Minnesotan air in an otherwise murky swamp of content. To encapsulate that oh-so-true concept of Minnesota nice, we’re looking for the most likeable teams in Russia 2018. To check out looks at other groups, head to our preview hub: https://www.epluribusloonum.com/2018/6/11/17449884/a-2018-world-cup-preview-but-minnesota-style-russia
Yeah, they’re the competition for the North American 2026 bid, but Morocco is still a fun bunch. The squad is something of a good hotdish: several elements that probably would not be good but come together in the presence of tater tots. With players plying their trade in such diverse places as Spain, Holland, and Italy—plus other European leagues—this Morocco side is going to keep both fans and opposition on their toes. Their uniforms make it feel like it’s always Christmas.
Probably the only team to have a midfielder whose last name rhymes with “disco.” Also probably the only team to go from winning a World Cup to being eliminated in the Group Stage of the next one. The Spanish will hope to find some consistency from this tournament and they’ve got a likable bunch who will try to level out. It would initially seem that there is downside to having both Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa on the pitch at the same time, but once both are suspened, this Spanish armada is easy to like.
Asia’s top team would normally rank a little higher, but the double issues of the current political situation and a lack of established goalscorers besides Sardar Azmoun take Iran down a notch. That said, Iran is a close third in Group B. Their coach, Carlos Queiroz, has not only been at the helm of Real Madrid, he’s brought South Africa and Portugal to previous World Cups. This tournament will be much more of a tactical challenge though, especially with both Iberian powerhouses in one group.
It’s hard to refer to Portugal as anything other than RonaldoLand. And it’s even harder to like anything to do with Ronaldo. CR7’s presence alone is enough for them to win tournaments (see: Euro 2016), though they play better when they have to compensate for his absence (see: Euro 2016, Final). This may be Ronaldo’s last real shot at taking home some share of World Cup glory. Too bad a one-man team isn’t very likeable.