#WorldCup2018 Profile: Mané looks to raise Africa’s flag in Group H

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mané is Senegal’s flagship player and will be looking to follow the footsteps of Senegal’s 2002 World Cup team that made it to the quarter-final. Senegal is paired in a very tough group with Japan, Colombia and Poland – the most even of all the eight groups in the World Cup.

Senegal plays a 4-2-3-1 with Cheikhou Kouyate and Idrissa Gueye as the midfield pivot and a defence led by Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Senegal’s midfield is strong and solid but not creative so they are geared towards finding the attackers with long balls. Diafra Sakho will most likely lead the attack with support from the flanks from Sadio Mané and Keita Balde. Senegalese coach Aliou Cisse likes his team to play very direct in attack by exploiting the pace and skill of his front players.

Colombia also plays a 4-2-3-1 with FC Bayern midfielder James Rodriguez their key playmaker. He will be supported in the flanks by the pace and skill of Luis Muriel, Mateus Uribe and Juan Cuadrado while Radamel Falcao or Carlos Bacca will lead the attack. Colombia have a strong midfield base of Carlos Sanchez and Abel Aguilar who are very capable of shielding the back four and distributing balls to attacking zones. Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez is a very capable defender and will look to impress at the back in Russia.

Asian outfit Japan are another equally solid team in Group H with a lot of experience. They also play a 4-2-3-1 with Shinji Okazaki leading the attacking line, supported by Shinji Kagawa from behind. Keisuke Honda and Genki Haraguchi will operate from the flanks and are very capable of scoring from wide areas by making runs to the box. Makoto Hasebe will anchor in midfield and he is also useful in defence. Japan is organised and technical but their major weakness is in defence.

Poland is the only European side in the group – they also a 4-2-3-1 with an emphasis on counter-attacking. Europe top striker Robert Lewandowski leads the attack for Poland and is supported in the flanks by Kamil Grosicki and Napoli wonder-kid Piotr Zielinski. Araduiz Milik plays behind Lewandowski and Krzysztof Maczynski, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Karol Linetty occupy defensive roles in midfield. Kamil Glik is a very capable defender, while Wojciech Szczesny is also an excellent goalkeeper. Poland will expect they will advance from the group – I do not think so.

Predictions

  1. Colombia {Group Winners}
  2. Senegal
  3. Poland {Dark Horses}
  4. Japan

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