Take a closer look at each of the eight groups at the 2018 World Cup, including key players and the sides most likely to go through to the knockout stage.

By SI.com Staff
June 08, 2018

The 2018 World Cup kicks off June 14 in Russia, with the host nation and Saudi Arabia opening the highly anticipated tournament in Moscow. From there, the remaining 30 teams will start play in the subsequent days until the group stage concludes two weeks later on June 28.

Each of the eight groups each features a bevy of storylines and mouthwatering matchups, and some are way harder to call than others. Which powers will coast to the last 16? Who should be on upset alert? Is there a Cinderella run in the making?

SI's Stanley Kay, Luis Miguel Echegaray, Kellen Becoats and Daniel Rapaport survey the landscape, picking apart each of the eight quartets before play kicks off in Moscow.

For a closer look at each of the 32 individual nations, check out 90Min's team-by-team breakdown. For more predictions, check out our expert bracket picks and our crystal ball roundtable answering some pressing questions entering the competition.

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Uruguay is the undisputed class of the World Cup's Group A, while host Russia, Mohamed Salah-reliant Egypt and upstart Saudi Arabia figure to fight for the group's second place in the knockout stage. READ MORE - Kellen Becoats

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Group B at the 2018 World Cup figures to be ruled by neighboring foes Spain and Portugal, but Iran and Morocco possess the quality to make things interesting for the two powers. READ MORE - Daniel Rapaport

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After some pre-tournament cameraderie, Group C will be a fight to the finish, with favored France challenged by a pair of capable contenders and one veteran-laden upstart. READ MORE - Luis Miguel Echegaray

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Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia are all capable of making a run to the knockout stage, making World Cup Group D arguably the competition's most deadly foursome. READ MORE - Stanley Kay

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Brazil has Neymar back healthy and looks poised to challenge for a sixth title. But Serbia, Switzerland and 2014 Cinderella Costa Rica all can duke it out for a place in the knockout stage, too. READ MORE - Daniel Rapaport

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Germany is poised to avoid the same fate that plagued the last two World Cup champions in their title defense, but an eager Mexico and Zlatan-less Sweden are no pushovers as group hurdles. READ MORE - Stanley Kay

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The two European sides are overwhelming favorites in a top heavy group, where the Premier League will have plenty of say as to which winds up finishing in first. READ MORE - Luis Miguel Echegaray

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Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez and Sadio Mane headline a list of attacking standouts in the World Cup's balanced Group H. READ MORE - Kellen Becoats

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