The Evertonian’s Guide to World Cup 2018

The World Cup in Russia starts on Thursday, beginning off a month of fast kicking, low scoring, and ties. If you’re like most Everton fans, you’ll be done with football for another few months yet, recovering from the horrors of last year by watching Love Island instead. However, if you’re a sucker for the World Cup like I am, I’ve written up a guide for each group and what players to look out for – current and former Blues, plus those rumoured to be. And if you want somewhere to debate the intricacies of Switzerland vs Costa Rica, check out GOT’s World Cup Forum that’s up at the moment.

Group A
Current Players: None
Former Players: None
Rumoured: None

Not much to look at in this group, and not much to support either – Egypt have Salah, Uruguay have Suarez, and the other two countries are Russia and Saudi Arabia. With a lack of things to talk about, I will instead point out the insanity of the Yekaterinburg stadium, hosting the second game of the competition on Friday. Imagine being at the back of that stupid stand, it’s almost as bad as the away end at St James Park. Almost.

Group B
Current Players: None
Former Players: Manuel Fernandes
Rumoured: William Carvalho, Hakim Ziyech, half of Sporting Lisbon

Remember Manny Fernandes? He’s this tournament’s Jô in that no-one knows where he’s been or how he’s still playing for his country. Turns out he’s been at Lokomotiv Moscow for the last 4 years, so he’ll have experience of the Russian hospitality at least. There are a couple of players in this group rumoured to be signing for us soon. The tenuous link is to Hakim Ziyech of Morocco, based almost solely on Brands being Dutch and Ziyech playing for Ajax. The more credible link is to Portugal’s William Carvalho – West Ham failed to sign him last year (i.e: they did an Everton to get more season tickets sold) but it should be easier for us to get him this summer thanks to Sporting Lisbon’s ‘passionate’ fan base; depending on what Portugese newspaper you read, he’s handed his notice in along with a few others. Keep an eye on him.

Group C
Current Players: None
Former Players: Tim Cahill
Rumoured: Andre Carillo

At 38 years young, Tim Cahill has earned what must be one last trip with the Aussies thanks to joining Milwall and doing as the locals do – fighting. Here’s hoping he’ll have one last hurrah and score another belter in this year’s contest.

In terms of rumours, Peru’s Andre Carillo has been tentatively linked to us along with anyone who played half decently for Watford last year. He might go to Everton if his value goes above what Watford can afford, since they have first refusal after his loan period. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they bankrupted Hertfordshire just to stop him joining up with Silva the Snake.

Group D
Current Players: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Former Players: None
Rumoured: None

Gylfi Sigurdsson’s recovered in time for this, good thing too because he’s easily their best player (and probably ours as well). It might be a slightly quieter Thunderclap from a smaller group of travelling -sons and -dottirs, but it’s still the best thing about football right now asides from the excuse to drink heavily. Chances are they won’t do much better than the Euros, but we can all hope he at least gets through it uninj- no, I’m not jinxing it.

We do have interests in the national teams of Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria with Funes Mori, Vlasic and Onyekuru respectively, but none of them made it to the final squad – controversially so with Onyekuru, who’s facing another year away from Goodison due to Anderlecht not playing him, which might have meant more International football for Nigeria and thus getting him his work visa.

Group E
Current Players: None
Former Players: Bryan Oviedo
Rumoured: Xherdan Shaqiri

Former Blue Bryan ‘Oviedo, Baby’ Oviedo will be representing Costa Rica this year, which is good to see after he missed the last World Cup in Brazil due to his broken leg at Stevenage. We might not see a repeat of their antics this time, stuck in a group with Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia, but stranger things have happened.

For the Swiss, notorious snide Xherdan Shaqiri has been quick to dispel rumours he might have a crumb of loyalty towards Stoke City, and the press reckon us or Liverpool are soft and rich enough to sign the slightly wider Mirallas.

Group F
Current Players: None
Former Players: None
Rumoured: Hirving Lozano (MB: “Not really”), Victor Lindelof, Marvin Plattenhardt.

No Blues in this group either, but we’ve been name dropped with PSV’s Hirving Lozano (again linking back to Brands). He’s been tipped as one of the ones to watch for the tournament, meaning he’ll be terrible and we’ll have to pay £40m for him, or he’ll be terrific and we’ll have to pay £70m. Brands did mark this one down in his first press conference as ‘not really’, but he would be a great player to add to our squad.

Victor Lindelof has apparently been garbage at Man United, so naturally he’s been tipped for a move to Everton, the Premier League’s Cash Converters. He’s representing an Ibrahimovic-free Sweden team, who have kindly let him go to Los Angeles and film dodgy Visa commercials.

Group G
Current Players: Jordan Pickford
Former Players/Managers: Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini; Roberto Martinez
Rumoured: Marcus Rashford

Jordan Pickford, now confirmed as England’s Number One, gives us all a reason to tolerate having to watch England disappoint on the world stage yet again. The national apathy is refreshing; after the last two humblings, we’ve come to terms with the fact we’re actually a bit crap. Still, it will be good to see if Jordan keeps up his Player of the Season form, let’s just hope the media don’t crucify him once he makes a mistake while Raheem Sterling’s not within earshot. Also on the United trade-in is Rashford who we might be getting on loan, because we don’t currently have an exciting, young attacker in our team. Cough.

Looking over to Belgium, ‘Jammiest Man in Football’ Roberto Martinez is leading his team of mercurial talents to the world cup as one of the favourites. That includes one Romelu Lukaku, who honestly hasn’t done that well since escaping from Shawshank. Expect him to score 10 past Panama then only get one shot past Jordan Pickford, when he scuffs it wide from 2 yards out. Marouane Fellaini’s also there, Kevin Mirallas isn’t.

Group H
Current Players: Idrissa Gana Gueye
Former Players: None
Rumoured: None

Idrissa’s deserved his place in Senegal’s squad – he was one of the more dependable players for us last year, though the bar was set low. With that same argument, then, Oumar Niasse should have been much clearer on the Senegalese radar with the goals he contributed at key points in the season. Instead he’ll have to watch Mame Diouf at a World Cup instead of him. Travesty.

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