Group J: Ukraine, Morocco, Argentina, PolandGroup J is going to be a very interesting group to watch. Led by Ukraine, Group J also includes Poland, who is returning after a two-year hiatus, as well as Morocco and Argentina, both of whom missed the knockout round by tiebreakers last year. We believe Ukraine will make their way through the group stage, but who will join them is the real question. Morocco showed that they could play with good teams last year (tying Jamaica and Greece), but have they made the right moves to their roster to be able to compete? Argentina looks like they revamped their roster, but we are asking ourselves the same question with them. We do know that Poland has proven themselves in their friendly matches, going 3-1 in those games, but will they be able to bring that success with them into the group stage?
Staff Predictions: Ukraine and Poland advance.
Group K: Ghana, Gambia, Colombia, AlbaniaGroup K features the defending Fair Play Award winners and three teams trying to make their mark in the tournament. Ghana is back and fully loaded, cruising their way through their friendly matches to an easy 4-0 record. If they can transfer their play-in friendlies over to the group stage, they will have no problem making it out of the group. The other three teams will be battling it out for the 2 seed. Albania was able to make it to the knockout round last year but fell short 1-0. Colombia and Gambia both fell short of advancing but have retooled their rosters and are out for blood. This makes for a must-see battle for the 2 seed, a battle that we cannot wait to see.
Staff Predictions: Ghana and Albania advance.
Group L: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mexico, South KoreaGroup L is another top-heavy group. Nigeria and Mexico should run away with the top 2 seeds in this group. Both of these teams found themselves playing in the Round of 16 last year, both falling short in great matches. While most teams would be content with making these runs, neither of these teams is. Mexico has brought in more talent, and Nigeria has put on a good showing in their friendly games against Greece and Mali, two knockout teams from last year’s tournament. We do expect Nigeria and Mexico to advance, but if Ethiopia or South Korea could pull off an upset, we might see an unexpected team playing in the Round of 16. Both Ethiopia and South Korea are coming off disappointing 2018 group stages, but that doesn’t mean neither of them could catch Nigeria or Mexico on a bad day. Although this seems unlikely, anything can happen in soccer!
Staff Predictions: Nigeria and Mexico advance.
Group M: Liberia, Senegal, Puerto Rico, GreeceGroup M houses our defending champions and three teams that are good enough to pull off an upset in the group stage. Liberia is looking to defend their title yet again, while Senegal, Puerto Rico, and Greece will do their best to make sure they don’t make it to the knockout round. Puerto Rico and Greece are coming off trips to the first knockout round where they both put up valiant efforts in losses to Mexico and Ivory Coast. While Senegal didn’t advance last year, they were a tiebreaker away from playing in a knockout game themselves. If it wasn’t for Group F, we would have given the “Group of Death” title to Group M. We believe this is the second best group of the group stage, making every game crucial for each team.
Staff Predictions: Liberia and Greece advance.