World Cup Group H Preview - Much of a muchness?

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 8,179

Pin You could make a case for any of the four teams in Group H progressing. EFE
You could make a case for any of the four teams in Group H progressing. EFE

World Cup Group H Preview - Much of a muchness?

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 0 8,179

We take an in-depth look at Group H ahead of this summer's World Cup.

Who is in the group?

Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan.

Who are the favourites?

It's a tough one to call, but Colombia are arguably the favourties given the strength of their squad and their impressive showing at the last World Cup when they reached the quarter-finals.

The teams:

Poland:

Many onlookers were surpised when Poland were named as one of the top-seeded teams for the tournament, particularly given they had failed to qualify for five of the last seven World Cups and didn't get out of the Group Stage at the other two. However, a strong Euro 2016 which saw them knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Portugal suggests that this Poland side is a different animal. With a record of eight wins, one draw and one loss in qualifying, it is fair to say that Adam Nawalka's side qualified in style for the tournament and with a striker in Robert Lewandowski who scored 16 goals en route to the tournament, anything is possible. Their first World Cup in 12 years, Poland will be eager to make a mark, particularly when it could be the last for the likes of stalwarts Lukasz Piszczek and Jakub Blaszczykowski.

Senegal:

The Senegalese will be hoping to ruffle some more feathers in Russia, just as they did in their only other tournament appearance back in 2002, when they shocked reinging champions France in their maiden outing before making it as far as the quarter-finals. Manager Aliou Cisse player in that tournament and he will be keen to make his mark as a manager this time. In Sadio Mane, Cisse possesses one of the Premier League's premier attacking players, whilst he can also call upon a midfield with copious amount of experience in the English game in the shape of Cheikhou Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye and Alfred N'Diaye, among others. Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly is a rock at the back, with the tournamnet likely to provide a further reminder to top teams everywhere as to why his name is often linked with Europe's heavyweights. The 'Lions of Ternaga' are a good bet to amke the knockout stages, where as we well know, anything could happen.

Colombia:

A surprise package in Brazil, Colombia looked a force to be reckoned with as they reached the quarter-finals before being defeated by the hosts. James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot at that tournament and you sense his performances will be key to the hopes of 'Los Cafeteros' in Russia. Having struggled to qualify for this one, being forced to wait until the final round of fixtures to do so, pre-tournament expecations may be lower than they might have been, but with a team containing Christian Zapata, Davinson Sanchez, Juan Cuadrado and Falcao, there is no reason why they couldn't make another go of it this time around.

Japan:

The strongest team in Asian qualifying, Japan will be hoping to forget the nightmare they endured in Brazil, when they were sent packing after just three gams and having secured just a point. The decision to replace manager Vahid Halilhodzic with Akira Nishino just months before the start of the tournament has been heavily scrutinised, but is a clear statement of the country's intent to improve on their finals record, in which they have alternated Group Stage failures with Last 16 berths since first qualifying in 1998. With Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Shinki Okazaki and Maya Yoshida in their ranks, there is a strong core to the side and in a group where everyone looks capable of taking points of each other, they may fancy their chances of escaping the group.

Team guides:

Poland

Senegal

Colombia

Japan

Matt Morley

Matt Morley

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