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How the World Cup favourites are shaping up - jamiebaloney - 06-13-2018

[Image: reuters_neymar_russia_world_cup_logo_20180611.JPG]

SOCHI, June 11 — The phoney war is over and most of the big guns have arrived mansion88 in Russia ahead of the start of the World Cup on Thursday. AFP Sport takes a look at how the favourites are shaping up.

In 2014, Brazil were being widely tipped for success on home soil but their campaign unravelled in spectacular fashion with a 7-1 semi-final defeat to eventual winners Germany. Now the five-time champions look the real deal again. Coach Tite has transformed their fortunes and they are confident mood.

The absence of the injured Dani Alves at right-back is a blow but Neymar sportsbook malaysia has proven his fitness in recent friendly matches, scoring in wins against Croatia and Austria. His goal in Vienna on Sunday, after his first start following a foot operation three months ago, was stunning.

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus has been the most prolific goalscorer during Tite’s time in charge, in which the team have won 17 out of 21 matches. “We are handling the expectation. It’s good. We are going to challenge ourselves,” said the coach after Sunday’s final warm-up game. “There is only one little detail. A new stage begins now.”

Germany are the holders and their reputation as a team that always sports betting malaysia delivers on the big stage tempers the doubts arising from their performances in recent friendlies. Joachim Loew’s side went five games without a win before labouring to a 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up in Leverkusen on Friday.

The fact that first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has hardly played since September after injury is a concern but the Germans have made at least the semi-finals in each of the past four World Cups and are bound to feature prominently again in Russia. And their recent friendly results? “I am conscious of the fact that in friendly matches it is not necessarily about the result,” coach Loew — who has left Manchester City’s Leroy Sane behind — reminded Kicker.

Like Brazil, Spain have come to Russia with something to prove after a poor showing in 2014, when they were knocked out in the group stage. They are yet to lose in two years under Julen Lopetegui, completing their preparations with a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday in Krasnodar. It was not the most convincing performance but Iago Aspas advanced his case for a starting role in attack in Friday’s Group B opener against Portugal with a late winner.