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Superstars, sleepers and shocks: Team-by-team guide to the World Cup.

The Post’s breakdown of the World Cup, which begins Thursday: Group A Hosts draw weakest group in field, with Egypt — led by Mo Salah — and Uruguay the only real threats Egypt Odds: 500/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 45 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 15 vs. Uruguay; June 19 vs. Russia; June 25...
Time: 20:41     Date: 13.06.2018
Last US Sport News: Superstars, sleepers and shocks: Team-by-team guide to the World Cup. NY Post 24 - US News
Group A

Hosts draw weakest group in field, with Egypt — led by Mo Salah — and Uruguay the only real threats

Egypt

Odds: 500/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 45 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 15 vs. Uruguay; June 19 vs. Russia; June 25 vs. Saudi Arabia

Players to watch: Forward Mohamed Salah will grab all the attention. Winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot (32 goals) with Liverpool, Salah’s scoring form resulted in five goals in Egypt’s final six games of qualifying. Anything forward will move through him. Defender Ahmed Hegazi can be instrumental on defense on attack, especially on set pieces.

Outlook: Egypt isn’t the sexiest team at the World Cup. They will defend until they get a chance or two at the feet of Salah. There are still questions as to who will start up top, which could pose a problem as Egypt returns to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years.

Russia

Odds: 35/1 2014: Group Stage FIFA rank: 70 Formation: 5-3-1-1 Schedule: June 14 vs. Saudi Arabia; June 19 vs. Egypt; June 25 vs. Uruguay

Aleksandr GolovinREUTERS

Players to watch: Russia consists of a youthful attack that’s highlighted by 21-year-old Aleksandr Golovin, a rising star who shined in the Europa League for CSKA Moscow. Talented striker Fedor Smolov also makes his World Cup debut after finishing second with 14 goals in Russia’s top tier.

Outlook: The hosts are the lowest-ranked team of the 32 in the World Cup. Russia’s best defensive midfielder, Igor Denisov, isn’t on the squad due to turmoil with coach Stanislav Cherchesov. However, their attack should be enough to get them out of the weakest group in the tournament.

Saudi Arabia

Odds: 1,000/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 67 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 14 vs. Russia; June 20 vs. Uruguay; June 25 vs. Egypt

Players to watch: Forward Fahad Al-Muwallad is a promising — and one of the fastest — attacking players at the World Cup. However, he travels to Russia rusty, having played just once since joining Levante on loan this year.

Outlook: Since qualifying for the World Cup, Al-Akhdhar, or The Green, have shuffled through two coaches. Juan Antonio Pizzi, who failed to qualify with Chile, took over in November. He has a few friendlies under his belt, but Saudi Arabia will need a lot of luck considering they aren’t considered a threat, even in the World Cup’s worst group.

Uruguay

Odds: 35/1 2014: Round of 16 FIFA rank: 14 Formation: 4-3-1-2 Schedule: June 15 vs. Egypt; June 20 vs. Saudi Arabia; June 25 vs. Russia

Players to watch: Edinson Cavani enters his third World Cup in the best form of his career. The 31-year-old has notched consecutive 40-goal seasons with Paris Saint-Germain. It’s the perfect opportunity for Cavani to break out from the shadows of Luis Suarez. Young midfielders Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Lucas Torreira could also shine.

Outlook: Oscar Tabarez’s team plays classic sit-back, counterattack style. It’s an integrated system that makes them one of the most intriguing squads. A team littered with talent across numerous positions, they might have the perfect balance of veterans (Cavani, Suarez, Diego Godin) and youth (Rodrigo Bentancur, de Arrascaeta) that make the two-time champions contenders now and in the future.

Group B

Loaded group features one of world’s most decorated players in Ronaldo, plus two top-10 teams with legitimate aspirations of winning a World Cup

Portugal

Odds: 16/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 4 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 15 vs. Spain; June 20 vs. Morocco; June 25 vs. Iran

Players to watch: Let’s be real. It’s player. Singular. And his name is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid superstar won his record fifth UEFA Champions League title — third in a row — and has a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards. But this is his last best shot at adding a World Cup. He may want to play into his 40s, but at 33 he won’t get a better opportunity than this.

Outlook: Portugal showed mettle in beating host France in the 2016 Euro final, overcoming CR7’s injury thanks to a defense led by Besiktas centerback Pepe and coach Fernando Santos’ disciplined tactics. But to win they will need support on the left wing by young Goncalo Guedes and key minutes from Andre Silva.

Spain

Odds: 5/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 10 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 15 vs. Portugal; June 20 vs. Iran; June 25 vs. Morocco

Andres IniestaAFP/Getty Images

Players to watch: David de Gea of Manchester United is likely the world’s best keeper, while centerback Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique (Shakira’s husband) anchors the defense. Andres Iniesta’s sublime passing and the support from rising stars Isco and Marco Asensio give Spain a wealth of attacking prowess — even after snubbing Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata and NYCFC’s David Villa.

Outlook: Spain will have to win without coach Julen Lopetegui, who was fired Wednesday on the eve of the tournament in stunning fashion after agreeing to take over Real Madrid. On the pitch, this tourney will be a requiem for Spain’s Golden Generation like Iniesta, Ramos and David Silva. With strikers Morata and Villa left home, Diego Costa is going to have to carry the lead up front.

Morocco

Odds: 400/1 2014: Didn’t qualify FIFA rank: 41 Formation: 4-1-4-1 Schedule: June 15 vs. Iran; June 20 vs. Portugal; June 25 vs. Spain

Players to watch: A talent infusion got Morocco back to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. Captain Medhi Benatia from Juventus is a stalwart in defense, while attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyach from Ajax is back after a spat with French manager Herve Renard. Amine Harit, just 20, can play in the middle or wide right and might be their most gifted player.

Outlook: Schalke’s Harit is a pacy dribbler, and Galatasaray’s Younes Belhanda, Fenerbahce’s Nabil Dirar and Feyenoord’s Karim El Ahmadi offer options in midfield. Their odds aren’t good, but they will bring a little flair and flavor to the group.

Iran

Odds: 750/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 37 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 15 vs. Morocco; June 20 vs. Spain; June 25 vs. Portugal

Players to watch: Rubin Kazan’s Sardar Azmoun is just 23 but arguably Iran’s most accomplished player. With right wing Alireza Jahanbakhsh — only 24 — and center forward Karim Ansarifard, they have some attacking options, evidenced by going undefeated through 18 games in qualifying. But can they get Azmoun and Ansarifard on the field together in a 4-2-3-1?

Group C

Expect loaded French to make toast of their group, while Peru has high hopes in first World Cup since 1982

Australia

Odds: 135/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 36 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 16 vs. France; June 21 vs. Denmark; June 26 vs. Peru

Players to watch: Aaron Mooy is a solid, all-around midfielder who pitches in on both offense and defense. Though he will play higher up the field, he likely will drop back to help Mile Jedinak on the defensive portion at midfield. Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan played a big part in Brighton & Hove Albion staying up in the Premier League.

Outlook: Australia had massive hurdles in a weak qualification system. Even still, the Socceroo’s still made it messy and had to go into a two-game playoff. And when Tim Cahill, now 38, is still hanging onto a roster spot, you know your country lacks talent.

Denmark

Odds: 100/1 2015: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 12 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 16 vs. Peru; June 21 vs. Australia; June 26 vs. France

Christian EriksenAFP/Getty Images

Players to watch: Christian Eriksen flashes moments of brilliance, which can sway a result. The Tottenham midfielder is a constant threat, whether orchestrating or finishing the play. He scored 11 goals in 12 World Cup qualifiers. Celta de Vigo winger Pione Sisto, 23, is a young player to watch after he tore up La Liga this season.

Outlook: The strength of Denmark’s squad will be in its midfield. Thomas Delaney and William Kvist are seasoned and provide a solid spine along with Eriksen for the Great Danes’ direct approach. Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen is another hybrid option in the midfield. There’s enough here to get Denmark out of group play, but not much further.

Peru

Odds: 150/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 11 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 16 vs. Denmark; June 21 vs. France; June 26 vs. Australia

Players to watch: Playmaker Christian Cueva is versatile with a high work rate. He will have freedom in Peru’s midfield and has a knack for scoring (four goals in qualifying). Forward Jefferson Farfan is older (33), but his experience could provide magic.

Outlook: Peru’s first break was qualifying for the first time in 36 years. Their second came when a Swiss court ruled captain Paolo Guerrero could play in the World Cup after his 14-month cocaine ban was frozen. That’s a massive boost to the Peruvians and gives them a lethal option up top.

France

Odds: 11/2 2014: Quarterfinals FIFA rank: 7 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 16 vs. Australia; June 21 vs. Peru; June 26 vs. Denmark

Outlook: On paper, France should win every game. There’s too much talent across the board at every position (see: Ousmane Dembele on the bench). However, finding the right lineup has been a problem for Les Bleus. With this uber-talented group, they have failed to truly believe and produce together. If they can start believing, France easily can make it to the final eight.

Group D

At 31 years old, does the legendary Messi have what it takes to lead drama-filled Argentina to a title?

Argentina

Odds: 19/5 2014: Lost in final FIFA rank: 5 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 16 vs. Iceland; June 21 vs. Croatia; June 26 vs. Nigeria

Players to watch: It’s player, and the player is Lionel Messi. The five-time world player of the year always has been better for his La Liga club, FC Barcelona, than for his country, but he saved Argentina in qualifying and dragged them to Russia on his back. Can he drag them to the title at 31, which would put him in the G.O.A.T. conversation?

Outlook: Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain has been out of form and Sergio Aguero is facing injury woes. Mauro Icardi was left home and the team ruled keeper Sergio Romero out with a knee injury — a story his wife claims is a lie to keep him off the squad. This is the mess coach Jorge Sampaoli is taking over, with just four official games at the helm.

Iceland

Odds: 350/1 2014: Didn’t qualify FIFA rank: 22 Formation: 4-4-2 double 6 Schedule: June 16 vs. Argentina; June 22 vs. Nigeria; June 26 vs. Croatia

Gylfi SigurdssonAFP/Getty Images

Players to watch: Playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson and captain Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City will run the midfield, and veteran Alfred Finnbogason is a classic center forward. But Gunnarsson and Finnbogason have both been hurt, leading to questions about what kind of form they’ll have.

Outlook: Iceland is the smallest nation to ever reach the World Cup with just 330,000 citizens — or about the attendance of the Indy 500. But two years ago they raced past England and into the Euro 2016 quarterfinals. Beating Croatia and Ukraine during qualifying showed they’re back in form as upset darlings.

Croatia

Odds: 45/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 20 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 16 vs. Nigeria; June 21 vs. Argentina; June 26 vs. Iceland

Players to watch: Creative midfielders Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic of Real Madrid, slick Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona, Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic and Inter Milan left winger Ivan Perisic. That’s whole lot of pedigree, but — after barely squeezing through the playoffs — not a lot of production.

Outlook: Croatia finished third in the World Cup in 1998, and considering proximity, have the talent to make a deep run again in Russia. But do they have the temperament? Coach Zlatko Dalic hasn’t been on the job long, but getting this underachieving bunch to replicate club form for country is the task.

Nigeria

Odds: 200/1 2014: Round of 16 FIFA rank: 48 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 16 vs. Croatia; June 22 vs. Iceland; June 26 vs. Argentina

Players to watch: Nigeria has attacking talent in Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses. But it’s captain John Obi Mikel who pulls the strings in central midfield for the Super Eagles.

Outlook: Gernot Rohr has stopped the coaching carousel, Nigeria having changed coaches eight times since the 2014 World Cup. But with Rohr at the helm, they topped a qualifying group that featured Algeria, former African champ Zambia and current champ Cameroon. They crushed Cameroon 4-0, beat Argentina 4-2 in a friendly this winter and have the talent to make noise in Russia.

Group E

Neymar & Co. are out to erase the memory of 2014’s ugly semifinal rout at home, while Costa Rica eyes another Cinderella run

Brazil

Players to watch: Barcelona’s Paulinho went from China to cashing in with the world’s best club last summer. A move everyone questioned turned into brilliance and earned him a starting spot with Brazil. Roma’s Alisson is one of the most in-demand goalkeepers in the world. He allowed just 28 goals in 37 starts, tops in Serie A. Philippe Coutinho likely will be a substitute, providing a ton of relief either on the left wing or in the midfield.

Outlook: Brazil’s only real worry will be who replaces injured right back Dani Alves. There’s so much more talent beyond Neymar compared to their 2014 squad, which will benefit Brazil by easing the pressures Neymar felt their last go-around. On the bright side, they can’t lose 7-1 to Germany again, can they?

Serbia

Odds: 175/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 34 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 17 vs. Costa Rica; June 22 vs. Switzerland; June 27 vs. Brazil

Players to watch: At just 23, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is quickly becoming one of the world’s top midfielders, however he’s new to the Serbian national team with just four senior caps. Aleksandar Mitrovic excelled on loan with Fulham this year.

Outlook: Serbia is the tallest team at the World Cup — and one of the older sides, too. Yet Mladen Krstajic is the most inexperienced coach in the tournament. His first meaningful match will be against Costa Rica. Instilling a new system, new captain and some youth could either work wonders or be a recipe for disaster.

Costa Rica

Odds: 175/1 2014: Quarterfinals FIFA rank: 23 Formation: 5-2-2-1 Schedule: June 17 vs. Serbia; June 22 vs. Brazil; June 27 vs. Switzerland

Marco UrenaEPA

Players to watch: LAFC forward Marco Urena doesn’t really score, but he’s fantastic on the ball and sets up a lot of other goals. Keylor Navas just won the Champions League with Real Madrid. New York City FC’s Ronald Matarrita and Rodney Wallace both could be bench options, too.

Outlook: Four years ago, Costa Rica shocked the world. Repeating that quarterfinals run might be impossible, but the Ticos are an experienced group. All but two starters from 2014 should round out the starting eleven, making a knockout round appearance totally possible.

Switzerland

Odds: 150/1 2014: Round of 16 FIFA rank: 6 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 17 vs. Brazil; June 22 vs. Serbia; June 27 vs. Costa Rica

Players to watch: Granit Xhaka is just about the perfect all-around midfielder. An aggressive workhorse, he brings much contribution on offense and defense. Xherdan Shaqiri is a bit of a ball hog, but also scores goals you see on highlight reels.

Outlook: Switzerland’s two attacking options — Breel Embolo and Haris Seferovic — aren’t exactly scoring left and right. That’s pretty problematic when you need goals in order to win. An interesting note: most of Switzerland’s national team is made up of immigrants, featuring players born in Africa, Europe and South America.

Group F

It’s a tale of two countries: Germans are reigning champs, while Mexicans try to break through past the Round of 16

Germany

Odds: 9/2 2014: Won championship final FIFA rank: 1 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 17 vs. Mexico; June 23 vs. Sweden; June 27 vs. South Korea

Players to watch: Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos is the leader, Marco Reus and Thomas Muller provide great flank work and Leon Goretzka — heading from Schalke to Bayern Munich — is a rising star. But Die Mannschaft don’t rely on star power, but rather on team ethos, tactics and discipline. Coach Joachim Low’s team has it all in spades.

Outlook: No country has defended a World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, but Germany has the talent — despite captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer coming off an extended absence following a metatarsal fracture. They went undefeated last year, won the Confederations Cup with a B team and rolled through qualifying by winning all 10 games and scoring a European-record 43 goals. Find the flaw, because we can’t.

Mexico

Players to watch: Striker Javier Hernandez from West Ham will be flanked by PSV’s stellar Hirving Lozano and either Carlos Vela or Jesus Corona. Their offense — and former Red Bull coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s defense — could see them through in Group F. But can Gio dos Santos get fit quickly enough to help?

Outlook: El Tri have played in six straight World Cups, and fell every single time in the Round of 16. Their two quarterfinal berths came in 1970 and 1986 on home soil, but they have the talent to get there and the coaching, with Hernandez labeling Osorio “a genius.” Despite schadenfreude and salt from U.S. fans, Mexico will likely get the highest TV ratings stateside.

Sweden

Odds: 250/1 2014: Didn’t qualify FIFA rank: 24 Formation: 4-4-2 Schedule: June 18 vs. South Korea; June 23 vs. Germany; June 27 vs. Mexico

Players to watch: RB Leipzig right winger Emil Forsberg has replaced Galaxy superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the leader in attack, while captain Andreas Granqvist and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof will have to anchor the center of defense.

Outlook: Sure, Sweden may be more unified without Ibrahimovic, but they’re sure not more talented. Forsberg has fallen off badly during this Bundesliga season, Lindelof was mistake-prone in his first EPL campaign and keeper Robin Olsen has been hurt. It will be asking a lot for this team to beat out Mexico for likely second place in Group F.

South Korea

Odds: 750/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 57 Formation: 4-4-2 Schedule: June 18 vs. Sweden; June 23 vs. Mexico; June 27 vs. Germany

Son Heung-minAP

Players to watch: Tottenham’s Son Heung-min is already the highest-scoring Asian player in the history of the Premier League by the tender age of 25. Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng will lead as captain.

Outlook: South Korea struggled through qualifying and switched coaches midstream. Lee Jae-Sung will join Sung-yueng in a quick midfield that will let South Korea attack with pace. But that defense is a sieve and will make advancement difficult.

Group G

England’s hopes of winning first World Cup since 1966 rest on the feet of a young captain, while Panama hopes to make most of bumping U.S.

Tunisia

Odds: 500/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 21 Formation: 4-3-3 Schedule: June 18 vs. England; June 23 vs. Belgium; June 28 vs. Panama

Players to watch: Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri fills the creative void left by Youssef Msakni, Tunisia’s best player, who will miss the World Cup due to a knee injury. Khazri scored nine goals on loan at Rennes this season, a relief entering Russia. With no other creative help, he will have a spotlight on him wherever he roams.

Outlook: Tunisia lacks true star quality, but have components that work well together in the midfield. The Msakni injury really takes away the central playmaking threat but Tunisia, like Panama, plays together. Unfortunately, their fate in Russia could be sealed depending on the result in their first match against England.

Belgium

Odds: 9/1 2014: Quarterfinals FIFA rank: 3 Formation: 3-4-3 Schedule: June 18 vs. Panama; June 23 vs. Tunisia; June 28 vs. England

Players to watch: Kevin De Bruyne is coming off his best professional season at Manchester City (eight goals, 15 assists). He’s a precision passer who loves to split defenses. He’ll be given freedom centrally to be the catalyst for Belgium’s electric attack. Napoli forward Dries Mertens is a goal-scoring machine who could be a massive park off the bench.

Outlook: Known for being the Red Devils’ golden generation, the likes of Eden Hazard, De Bruyne and company largely have disappointed on the global stage. But this group is a little bit older and more experienced, and with Group G particularly weak, Belgium should coast before real tests that will decide if they are a legitimate contender.

England

Players to watch: The Three Lions will sit on the shoulders of Tottenham striker Harry Kane. He has averaged 0.71 goals per match, tops of current players in the Premier League, across his career. He’s an intelligent striker who can provide service and uses his physical attributes well in hold up play. Kane, just 24, was announced as England’s youngest World Cup captain — a fair title for one of the world’s top goal-scorers.

Outlook: There’s a ton of youth with England this time around, led by Kane and Raheem Sterling. However, their projected starting center backs (John Stones and Phil Jones) could be rusty after not grabbing regular minutes at their clubs. Jordan Pickford gets the start in net despite being inexperienced on the international level.

Panama

Odds: 350/1 2014: Did not qualify FIFA rank: 55 Formation: 4-4-2 Schedule: June 18 vs. Belgium; June 24 vs. England; June 28 vs. Tunisia

Players to watch: Anibal Godoy is shifty in the center of Panama’s midfield, but Red Bulls right back Michael Murillo will be the Panamanian with the most eyes on him. If Murillo shines, it could reignite interest from abroad.

Outlook: If not for Panama’s phantom goal, the United States would have claimed CONCACAF’s third spot. However, Panama gets a first-ever World Cup appearance and will implement a patent physical style-of-play. Panama isn’t going to play gorgeous soccer, but can agitate opponents with their overtly tough style, which could steal them a point. The team is also full of MLS players, including two Red Bulls (Murillo and Fidel Escobar).

Group H

Lewandowski, Mane and Rodriguez are among the big-name offensive talent in this wide-open group

Poland

Odds: 30/1 2014: Didn’t qualify FIFA rank: 8 Formation: 4-1-4-1 or 3-4-3 Schedule: June 19 vs. Senegal; June 24 vs. Colombia; June 28 vs. Japan

Robert LewandowskiEPA

Players to watch: Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski — reportedly drawing interest from Manchester United, Chelsea and PSG — is the unquestioned star. He had 39 goals for Bayern and topped Europe with 16 tallies in qualifying to lead Poland atop UEFA Group E. Add Borussia Dortmund right back Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak and this is a solid team.

Outlook: Midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski is 32, while two torn ACLs in a year have stunted Arkadiusz Milik’s growth at Napoli. Monaco defender Kamil Glik has also had injury woes while centerback Krychowiak was in and out of the lineup at West Brom. If they can get their high-end players back in form and draw on some traveling fan support, they can make a deep run.

Senegal

Odds: 100/1 2014: Didn’t qualify FIFA rank: 27 Formation: 4-3-3 or 5-4-1 flat Schedule: June 19 vs. Poland; June 24 vs. Japan; June 28 vs. Colombia

Players to watch: Sadio Mane’s 10 goals were tied for second-most in the Champions League, leading Liverpool to the final. With his game-changing pace, he’s just as dangerous for Senegal. He’s supported by an athletic midfield of Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate and Alfred N’Diaye, while Kalidou Koulibaly anchors the defense.

Outlook: Senegal, which became just the second African team to make the quarterfinals in 2002, look dangerous again after rolling undefeated through CAF’s Group D in qualifying. Coach Aliou Cisse was captain of that 2002 team, but can he conjure up some offensive support for Mane?

Colombia

Odds: 30/1 2014: Quarterfinals FIFA rank: 16 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 19 vs. Japan; June 24 vs. Poland; June 28 vs. Senegal

Players to watch: James Rodriguez was the Golden Boot winner in the 2014 World Cup, and the gifted No. 10 has only developed and matured since then at Bayern Munich. With striker Radamel Falcao up front, Juan Cuadrado out wide and Davinson Sanchez in defense, this team is loaded.

Outlook: Colombia made the quarterfinals in 2014, and that was with Falcao injured. In the four years since, they have developed a reputation as flat-track bullies, feasting on minnows but coming up short against the big boys. However, they beat France in March and have the talent to beat anybody in Russia. Can coach Jose Pekerman get the best out of them?

Japan

Odds: 175/1 2014: Group stage FIFA rank: 61 Formation: 4-2-3-1 Schedule: June 19 vs. Colombia; June 24 vs. Senegal; June 28 vs. Poland

Players to watch: Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa and 31-year-old veteran Keisuke Honda of Pachuca — whom Japan hopes still has some gas left in his tank — are keys in the midfield. Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki brings experience.

Outlook: Much like MLS has benefited soccer stateside — look past the U.S. National Team spitting the bit in Trinidad; the roster is deeper than ever — Japanese soccer has been on the uptick since the advent of the J1 League. Now, after finished atop Group B in Asian qualifying — ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia — can they take the next step?

Sport

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Living

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US Living News: Most Americans fancy themselves a ‘foodie’. NY Post 24 - US News
Most Americans fancy themselves a ‘foodie’.
If you like to snack on prosciutto and parmesan cheese with your glass of prosecco, you might be one of the 74 percent of...

Business

Last US Business News: Authorities want to know more about IRS whistleblower’s claims. NY Post 24 - US News
Authorities want to know more about IRS whistleblower’s claims.
An investigator for the US Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office got in touch with me about last Thursday’s...
Last US Business News: Why Bitcoin supporters are desperate to keep prices high. NY Post 24 - US News
Why Bitcoin supporters are desperate to keep prices high.
Bitcoin — the fake, bitcon currency — is falling again. Last week, it dipped below $6,000, but one or more entities seem...
Last US Business News: Why higher gas prices are good if you’re collecting Social Security. NY Post 24 - US News
Why higher gas prices are good if you’re collecting Social Security.
If you are collecting Social Security payments — or plan to in the near future — here’s an improbable thing you should...
Last US Business News: Nike stock at all-time high on analyst upgrade. NY Post 24 - US News
Nike stock at all-time high on analyst upgrade.
Nike’s flying high. Two Wall Street analysts raised their rating on the sneaker giant on Monday — send the Swoosh-meister’s...
Last US Business News: Trump complains to Hamptons donors about rate hikes. NY Post 24 - US News
Trump complains to Hamptons donors about rate hikes.
President Trump can’t stop complaining about rate hikes. Trump bemoaned the Federal Reserve’s recent moves to raise interest...
Last US Business News: PepsiCo buys SodaStream for $3.2 billion. NY Post 24 - US News
PepsiCo buys SodaStream for $3.2 billion.
PepsiCo will buy carbonated drink-machine maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion as it battles Coca-Cola for an edge in the health-conscious...
Last US Business News: Tesla shares tumble again on concerns about buyout funding. NY Post 24 - US News
Tesla shares tumble again on concerns about buyout funding.
Tesla shares fell 7 percent early on Monday as a steep cut in JPMorgan Chase’s price target for the electric carmaker added...
Last US Business News: Homeowner using Wells Fargo glitch admission against them. NY Post 24 - US News
Homeowner using Wells Fargo glitch admission against them.
Let the blowback begin. A New York homeowner last week fought back against the denial of a mortgage modification by Wells...

Metro

Metro News: De Blasio promises party for Little Leaguers if they win it all. NY Post 24 - US News
De Blasio promises party for Little Leaguers if they win it all.
Mayor de Blasio is promising a big bash if Staten Island’s Little League team wins the championship. “If they go...
Metro News: Cuomo signs bill creating panel to probe prosecutor misconduct. NY Post 24 - US News
Cuomo signs bill creating panel to probe prosecutor misconduct.
New York will become the first state in the nation to establish a panel to probe accusations of prosecutorial misconduct...
Metro News: Investigators couldn’t find yeshiva — so they gave up: critics. NY Post 24 - US News
Investigators couldn’t find yeshiva — so they gave up: critics.
City probers who were supposed to be looking into shoddy instruction at Brooklyn yeshivas found a butcher shop on the ground...
Metro News: Estate battle rages on between Ken Thompson’s widow, mother. NY Post 24 - US News
Estate battle rages on between Ken Thompson’s widow, mother.
The mom of late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson will be allowed to continue her lawsuit against his widow in their battle of the...
Metro News: Woman raped by Brooklyn jail guard sues US government. NY Post 24 - US News
Woman raped by Brooklyn jail guard sues US government.
One of the female Brooklyn prison inmates who helped convict a federal corrections lieutenant of sex assault and rape —...
Metro News: Serial plaintiff: Venues’ food policies discriminate against diabetics. NY Post 24 - US News
Serial plaintiff: Venues’ food policies discriminate against diabetics.
There’s a new cereal plaintiff in town. A Bronx man who says he suffers from diabetes has filed lawsuits against three...
Metro News: Seagram’s heiress wants judge to let her leave Brooklyn. NY Post 24 - US News
Seagram’s heiress wants judge to let her leave Brooklyn.
The Seagram’s heiress accused of funding the upstate sex cult Nxivm is asking a Brooklyn judge to reconsider the “home...
Metro News: Off-duty cop robbed after car crash, accidentally shoots self: officials. NY Post 24 - US News
Off-duty cop robbed after car crash, accidentally shoots self: officials.
An off-duty Long Island cop was robbed and assaulted after a car crash, then shot two of his assailants — and accidentally...

Sport

Last US Sport News: It’s going to take a lot more than length to win first FedEx event. NY Post 24 - US News
It’s going to take a lot more than length to win first FedEx event.
There is a common phrase uttered around Ridgewood Country Club, and it sure looks like it’s going to stand up as The Northern...
Last US Sport News: Giants offensive line already loving coach’s chemistry boost. NY Post 24 - US News
Giants offensive line already loving coach’s chemistry boost.
There are telltale signs and one of them goes like this: You can tell a lot about a guy by how he eats. Will Hernandez is...
Last US Sport News: Mets looking for David Wright progress the stats might miss. NY Post 24 - US News
Mets looking for David Wright progress the stats might miss.
Numbers don’t matter. What the Mets look at and concern themselves with in David Wright’s latest minor league rehabilitation...
Last US Sport News: Urban Meyer might survive Ohio State football scandal. NY Post 24 - US News
Urban Meyer might survive Ohio State football scandal.
Urban Meyer might still pace the Ohio State sidelines, after all. Ohio State trustees set a private meeting for Wednesday...
Last US Sport News: Tyler Austin’s dad takes Yankees frustration out on Greg Bird. NY Post 24 - US News
Tyler Austin’s dad takes Yankees frustration out on Greg Bird.
It’s not just Yankees fans getting on Greg Bird’s case this season. The father of Tyler Austin, the first baseman...