FIFA World Cup 2018: Here's a SWOT analysis of Top 5 title contenders

Jun 14, 2018, 19:17 IST | A Correspondent

As football's biggest extravaganza - FIFA World Cup - kicks off in Russia today, mid-day does a SWOT analysis of the Top-5 title contenders

FIFA World Cup 2018: Here's a SWOT analysis of Top 5 title contenders
Sergio Ramos (Spain), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Strength
Good all-round squad with big names across all departments like Sergio Ramos in defence, Andres Iniesta in attacking midfield and Isco up front.

Weakness
Sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui just before the tournament could hamper their plans.

Opportunity
A fine mix of youth and experience means they can rule the world just like they did in 2010.

Threat
A certain Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence for Portugal in Group ‘B’ could upset the former champions.

Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Strength
A very cohesive team that can create goals at will given the likes of Mesut Oezil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller. Coach Joachim Loew is a top tactician.

Weakness
Lack of one potential goalscorer who can score often. Defender Jerome Boateng and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer were injured recently.

Opportunity
Big chance to join Brazil as five-time World Cup champions.

Threat
Presence of South American rivals Mexico and Euro giants Sweden makes Group ‘F’ difficult.

Neymar (Brazil)
Strength
A brilliant forwardline with skipper Neymar commanding a troop that has men like Marcelo, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho in their ranks.

Weakness
Vulnerable in defence and often caught out on counter-attacks. Hardworking defender Dani Alves’ absence might just be felt.

Opportunity
Desperate to make amends after the 1-7 humiliation at the hands of Germany in 2014.

Threat
Group ‘E’ companions Costa Rica and Serbia can pull off surprises.

Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Strength
Skipper Lionel Messi alongside Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero upfront could be lethal against any opposition.

Weakness
Defensive frailties have often been exploited by South American rivals like Chile and Mexico in the past.

Opportunity
With Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria for company, they can easily top Group ‘D’ and progress to the knockouts.

Threat
Over-reliance on Messi could lead to others under-performing and a negative outcome overall.

Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Strength
Eden Hazard’s creativity, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku’s finishing abilities makes them lethal.

Weakness
A leaking defence could see them concede soft goals. Central defender Vincent Kompany has just recovered from an injury.

Opportunity
Having scored a record 43 goals during World Cup qualification means they can better their best-ever show — fourth place at Mexico ’86.

Threat
Topping Group ‘G’ may be tough given England’s presence.

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