World Cup Countdown: Last chance to make case

The March FIFA fixtures, most of which will be played Friday and next Tuesday, will be the last games before coaches will have to make decisions on their squads for the World Cup.

Most coaches have a good idea whom they'll take -- Brazil's Tite has already named 15 players for the World Cup -- so the upcoming friendlies will be the last chance for others to make their case in a national team setting.

Here's how the eight group seeds look ...

RUSSIA (Group A). Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov recalled Villarreal midfielder Denis Cheryshev for the first time in three years. The squad includes a pair of German-Russians, Roman Neustadter and Konstantin Rausch, though Brazilian-born Mario Fernandes is out with a hip injury.

Russia Roster:
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge, Belgium), Andrei Lunev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexander Selikhov (Spartak Moscow)
Defenders: Vladimir Granat (Rubin Kazan), Fedor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Yury Zhirkov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Igor Smilnikov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vladislav Ignatiev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Neustadter (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Konstantin Rausch (Dynamo Moscow), Andrei Semenov (Akhmat Grozny).
Midfielders: Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Alexander Erokhin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Daler Kuzyayev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villareal, Spain), Anton Shvets (Akhmat Grozny)
Forwards: Anton Zabolotny (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Zenit St Petersburg), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar).
Friday: Brazil. Tuesday: France.

PORTUGAL (Group B1). Benfica's 20-year-old defender, Ruben Dias, was called up in place of Real Madrid veteran Pepe for the reigning European champions.

Portugal Roster:
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon, France), Beto (Goeztepe, Turkey).
Defenders: Cedric Soares (Southampton, England), Joao Cancelo (Inter Milan, Italy), Bruno Alves (Rangers, Scotland), Jose Fonte (Dalian Yifang, China), Rolando (Marseille, France), Ruben Dias (Benfica), Fabio Coentrao (Sporting), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund, Germany).
Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Ruben Neves (Wolves, England), Joao Moutinho (Monaco, France), Adrien Silva (Leicester City, England), Manuel Fernandes (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Andre Gomes (Barcelona, Spain), Joao Mario (West Ham, England), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon).
Forwards: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, England), Gelson Martins (Sporting), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas, Turkey), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia, Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Spain), Andre Silva (AC Milan, Italy)
Friday: Egypt. Monday: Netherlands.


FRANCE (Group C1). Wissam Ben Yedder, hero of Sevilla's victory over Manchester United in the Champions League, gets his first call-up at the age of 27.

France Roster:
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Paris SG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, England), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Barcelona, Spain), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris SG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal, England), Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona, Spain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid, Spain)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea, England), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus, Italy), Paul Pogba (Manchester United, England), Adrien Rabiot (Paris SG), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla, Spain), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona, Spain), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal, England), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Anthony Martial (Manchester United, England), Kylian Mbappe (Paris SG), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).
Friday: Colombia. Tuesday: at Russia.

ARGENTINA (Group D1). The big news in Coach Jorge Sampaoli's squad is the absence of Juventus striker Paulo Dybala and Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi.

Argentina Roster:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United, England), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres, Mexico), Willy Caballero (Chelsea, England)
Defenders: Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City, England), Federico Fazio (Roma, Italy), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla, Spain), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United, England), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton, England), Marcos Acuna (Sporting, Portugal), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax, Netherlands), Fabricio Bustos (Independiente)
Midfielders: Lucas Biglia (AC Milan, Italy), Ever Banega (Sevilla, Spain), Leandro Paredes (Zenit St. Petersburg, Russia), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United, England), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris SG, France), Diego Perotti (Roma, Italy), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica, Portugal), Pablo Perez (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente).
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, England), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus, Italy), Angel Di Maria (Paris SG, France). Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Lautaro Martinez (Racing Club).
Friday: Italy. Tuesday: at Spain.


BRAZIL (Group E1). Without star Neymar, out after foot surgery, uncapped Willian Jose and Anderson Talisca will get a look.

Brazil Roster:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma, Italy) Ederson (Manchester City, England), Neto (Valencia, Spain)
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid, Spain) Dani Alves (Paris SG, France) Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Fagner (Corinthians), Marquinhos (Paris SG, France), Thiago Silva (Paris SG, France), Miranda (Inter Milan, Italy), Pedro Geromel (Gremio), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid, Spain), Willian (Chelsea, England), Fernandinho (Manchester City, England), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine), Anderson Talisca (Besiktas, Turkey), Paulinho (Barcelona, Spain), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona, Spain), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan, China)
Forwards: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City, England), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool, England), Douglas Costa (Juventus, Italy), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine), Willian Jose (Real Sociedad, Spain).
Friday: at Russia. Tuesday: at Germany.

GERMANY (Group F1). With Marco Reus held out of the national team, German coach Joachim Loew called up three forwards: Timo Werner, Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner.

Germany Roster:
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona, Spain), Kevin Trapp (Paris SG, France).
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Jonas Hector (FC Cologne), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Ruediger (Chelsea, England), Niklas Suele (Bayern Munich).
Midfielders: Sami Khedira (Juventus, Italy), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Spain), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Emre Can (Liverpool, England), Julian Draxler (Paris SG, France), Leon Goretzka (Schalke 04), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City, England), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal, England), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Manchester City, England), Lars Stindl (Borussia Moenchengladbach).
Forwards: Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart), Sandro Wagner (Bayern Munich).
Friday: Spain. Tuesday: Brazil.


BELGIUM (Group G1). Radja Nainggolan is back in Belgium's squad for the first time since last June after helping Roma reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Belgium Roster:
Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg, Germany), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea, England), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool, England), Matz Sels (Anderlecht).
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham, England), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic, Scotland), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles FC), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City, England), Jordan Lukaku (Lazio, Italy), Thomas Meunier (Paris SG, France), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona, Spain), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham, England).
Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang, China), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, England), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham, England), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United, England), Anthony Limbombe (Club Brugge), Radja Nainggolan (Roma, Italy), Youri Tielemans (Monaco, France), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian, China).
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Eden Hazard (Chelsea, England), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, England), Dries Mertens (Napoli, Italy), Kevin Mirallas (Olympiakos, Greece), Divock Origi (Wolfsburg, Germany).
Tuesday: Saudi Arabia.

POLAND (Group H1). Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski headlined the all foreign-based squad  head coach Adam Nawalka named.

Poland Roster:
Goalkeepers: Bartosz Bialkowski (Ipswich Town, England), Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City, England), Lukasz Skorupski (Roma, Italy), Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus, Italy).
Defenders: Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria, Italy), Thiago Cionek (SPAL, Italy), Kamil Glik (Monaco, France), Pawel Jaroszynski (Chievo Verona, Italy), Marcin Kaminski (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Tomasz Kedziora (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund, Germany).
Midfielders: Jacek Goralski (Ludogorec Razgrad, Bulgaria), Kamil Grosicki (Hull City, England), Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Bromwich Albion, England), Karol Linetty (Sampdoria, Italy), Maciej Rybus (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli, Italy).
Strikers: Dawid Kownacki (Sampdoria, Italy), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Germany), Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli, Italy), Jakub Swierczok (Ludogorec Razgrad, Bulgaria), Lukasz Teodorczyk (Anderlecht, Belgium).
Friday: Nigeria. Tuesday: South Korea.

1 comment about "World Cup Countdown: Last chance to make case".
  1. Ben Myers, March 21, 2018 at 8:26 p.m.

    Germany - Frightening.
    Belgium - Frightening.
    France - Not too shabby either.

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