World Cup 2018 teams to watch, from Germany to Iceland

Thirty-two teams are competing in Russia for the 2018 World Cup, including defending champion Germany.

Brazil is favored to win the World Cup, but France came ready to play with a team loaded with talent, and Portugal fans are confident Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will lead them to victory. Iceland, too, has emerged as a 2018 fan favorite as the tiny Nordic nation qualified for the tournament for the first time in its history.

From the teams that could win it all to those that barely made the tournament, read on for a look at the teams to watch.


FILE - In this July 13, 2014, file photo, Germany's Philipp Lahm (16) raises the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After raising the World Cup eight miles from Copacabana Beach four years ago, Germany hopes to lift the trophy four miles from the Kremlin on July 15 and become the first repeat champion in more than a half-century.  (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Defending World Cup champion Germany is hoping to win back-to-back trophies and become the first team to do so since Brazil in 1962.

 (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Defending World Cup champion Germany is trying to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back trophies. Germany is ranked No. 1 by FIFA.

Coached by Joachim Löw, Germany finished third at the 2010 World Cup and made it to the semifinals at the Euro 2012 before winning the 2014 World Cup. Captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had missed much of this season with a foot fracture but said he feels “very good” ahead of the World Cup.

Germany has made 18 World Cup appearances and has won four titles. Germany plays Mexico in its first match and is based in Moscow for the tournament.


Brazil's soccer players Filipe Luis, center left, and Neymar practice with teammates during a training session in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Brazil will face Switzerland on June 17 in the group E for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Brazil has won five World Cup titles overall.

 (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup and lost to Germany, the eventual winner, in a devastating semifinal that ended 1-7. The country is ranked No. 2 by FIFA ahead of the tournament and favored to win the championship.

Captain Neymar da Silva Santos Junior — or Neymar — is one of the tournament’s biggest stars. At 26 years old, Neymar recently suffered from a broken foot — putting him out of the game for about three months — but the forward’s readmittance on the team has made Brazil an even greater force to be reckoned with.


Brazil has made 20 World Cup appearances and has won five titles. It will have its base in Sochi despite playing no games near the Black Sea resort. Coached by Adenor Leonardo Bachi, called “Tite,” its first match will be played against Switzerland.


FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017 filer Egypt's national football team pose for a photograph ahead of the 2018 World Cup group E qualifying soccer match between Egypt and Congo at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Egypt has never won a World Cup and has only made it to the tournament twice before, with the last time being in 1990.

 (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Fans of Egypt’s team have their fingers crossed for Mohamed Salah’s return from a shoulder injury. On Monday, the team doctor said a final decision on Salah’s return has not yet been reached and floated the possibility of him starting from the bench.

Ranked No. 45, Egypt has only made two World Cup appearances, winning none of them. This year’s World Cup is the first in 28 years that Egypt even qualified for. In 1934 and 1990, Egypt didn’t advance past the opening round.

Based in Grozny, Egypt will take on Uruguay for its first match of the 2018 tournament. The team is expected to make history, however, with its goalkeeper; at 45 years old, Essam el-Hadary could become the oldest player to ever compete at a World Cup


FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 filer Peru team poses for a photo prior to a World Cup play-off qualifying match against New Zealand in Lima, Peru. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro, File)

Peru is ranked No. 11 ahead of the tournament.

 (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)

For the first time in 36 years, Peru is back to the World Cup, this time with Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca, who has history with the team. In 1986, Gareca played for Argentina and scored a goal that ended Peru’s qualification chances.

Ranked No. 11, Peru has won no World Cup titles but has made four appearances. Peru’s first match will be against Denmark.


FILE - In this May 29, 2018, file photo, Argentina's Lionel Messi controls the ball during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Haiti at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have split the last 10 FIFA Player of the Year awards, and this is likely their last chance to win a World Cup. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

Argentina has won two World Cup titles and fans are hoping forward Lionel Messi can bring that to three in the 2018 tournament.

 (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

For Argentina fans, it’s all about Lionel Messi, the 30-year-old star Barcelona forward. And this year’s tournament could be Messi’s last chance to secure that coveted FIFA trophy.

Coached by Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina is ranked fifth by FIFA. The team has made it to the World Cup 16 times, winning two titles, the last of which was in 1986. For the 2018 tournament, Argentina is based in Moscow and will play Iceland for its first match.


Argentina has faced a series of setbacks that could hinder its bid for glory. Usual goalkeeper Sergio Romero was left off the squad due to a knee injury and midfielder Manuel Lanzini was dropped from the roster after rupturing his ACL during team training in Russia. Likewise, midfielder Lucas Biglia and striker Sergio Aguero have suffered recent injuries, and defender Javier Mascherano, 34, is coming to the end of his career.


Uruguay's Luis Suarez kicks a penalty to score during a friendly soccer match against Uzbekistan in preparation for the 2018 Russia World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, June 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

Uruguay’s Luiz Suarez got himself banned from soccer for several months after he bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup.

 (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

In the lead up to the 2018 World Cup, Uruguay, coached by Oscar Tabarez, finished second behind Brazil and automatically qualifying for the tournament.

Fans are also hoping striker Luiz Suarez can keep his mouth closed — literally. In 2014, Suarez was expelled from the tournament after he bit an Italian player. Suarez has said he knows he has “a debt to repay” to his country and wants to “try to show a good image” at this year’s tournament.

Ranked No. 14, Uruguay has appeared in 12 World Cups and won two titles. Uruguay is based in Nizhny Novgorod and plays Egypt in its first match of this year’s tournament. According to Sporting News, it has made it past the group round in four of the last five tournaments.


France's Antoine Griezmann and Oliver Giroud salute their supporters at the end of a training session at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Glebovets, Russia, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Coached by Didier Deschamps, France is hoping to bring home its second World Cup.

 (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Ranked No. 7, coach Didier Deschamps has a bevy of talented players with the France team, especially when it comes to forwards.

Because of all that talent, fans are hoping France will at least make it to the semi-finals this year. It has Raphael Varane on defense, Paul Pogba in midfield and Hugo Lloris at the goal. And Deschamps’ contract doesn’t expire until 2020.


France has won one World Cup and has appeared in the tournament 14 times. In 1998, France both hosted and won the World Cup.

Based in Moscow, France takes on Australia for its first match of the 2018 contest.


FILE - In this Thursday Aug. 31, 2017 filer, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores his side's fourth goal during the World Cup Group B qualifying soccer match between Portugal and Faroe Islands at the Bessa Stadium in Porto, Portugal. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte, File)

Portugal fans are hoping Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time world player of the year, can earn his country’s first World Cup.

 (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

Coming into the tournament at No. 4, Portugal won the Euro in 2016 and has Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time FIFA world player of the year, in its corner. And by sitting out some less meaningful matches, Ronaldo has had plenty of rest in preparation of the World Cup.

Coached by Fernando Santos, Portugal will play Spain in its first match of tournament. In all, the team has made six appearances at the World Cup, winning none. In Russia this year, Portugal is based in Moscow.


FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 filer players of Iceland's national squad pose for photographs prior to the World Cup Group I qualifying soccer match between Turkey and Iceland in Eskisehir, Turkey. (AP Photo, File)

Iceland is a fan favorite as this is the first time its gone to the World Cup.

 (AP Photo/File)

It’s the 2018 World Cup Cinderella team as the Nordic nation heads to the tournament. Iceland has never been to the World Cup and is the smallest nation ever to qualify for the tournament with a population of just 330,000. Its fans are passionate and celebrate the team with gigantic Viking thunderclaps.

Iceland made its first appearance at the European Championship two years ago where it made it all the way to the quarterfinals. At the tournament, Iceland shocked fans with its defeat of England.  

Coach Heimar Hallgrimsson is a fan favorite, too, as coaching isn’t his only job; back in Iceland, Hallgrimsson also runs a dental surgery clinic in a small town.

Ranked No. 22 by FIFA, Iceland will meet Argentina for its first World Cup match ever. The team is based in Krasnodar.


FILE In this file photo taken on Monday, June 19, 2017, Russia goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato poses for a photo during a training session at the VEB Arena stadium in Moscow, Russia. Russian national team goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato, a naturalized citizen who was born in Brazil, was twice targeted by Spartak fans calling him a monkey. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

Russia, the host team, only has a 30-1 odds of winning the tournament.

 (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

The last time a host nation won the World Cup was in 1998 with France coming out victorious. This year, don’t expect Russia to have the same luck. The team only has 30-1 odds of winning, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Because Russia is hosting the tournament, it’s also the first team to play, matching up with Saudi Arabia for the only match on June 14. Coached by Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia is ranked 70th and has won zero World Cup titles. It has made 10 appearances.

Russia is going into the World Cup without a win in its past seven games after drawing 1-1 with an under-strength Turkey team just a week before the tournament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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