15th World Cup appearance (29-12-18 all-time record)
Best Finish: Champions in 2010
Draw: Group B
Espana is no stranger when it comes to the World Cup. Like Brazil, they always field team excelling with talent and experience. Unfortunately for the 2018 version of “La Furia Roja”, there is some uncertainty. After barely qualifying for Brazil four years ago, they weren’t able to make it out of group play. They sported a 1-0-2 record and were outscored 7-4. This led many Spaniards to demand changes from top to bottom because aside from the 2010 title, Spain practically made the Round of 16 a formality in previous World Cups.
Their ability to regain their spot atop the FIFA food chain will be extremely tested as they’ll need to defeat arch-rival Portugal, a Morocco team making their first World Cup appearance in 20 years, and a surging Iranian side that’s won nine of their last 14 matches. All eyes will be on midfielder Andres Iniesta (the man that scored the championship winning goal in 2010), who announced his departure from F.C. Barcelona back in April. His fellow Spanish citizens are hoping for another round of World Cup moments before he takes his talents to Japan’s J1 League later this year.
5th World Cup appearance (4-3-8 all-time record)
Best Finish: Quarterfinals in 1970
Draw: Group C
While this is the fifth World Cup trip for Peru as a nation, this is a first time appearance for the players on the current roster since Peru last played in this event in 1982, before anybody on the current squad had been born. You’d have to do an extensive search to find Peruvian citizens who watched the team play that year. So the current squad looks at this as a potential fresh start as “Los Incas” look shock the world. Striker Paolo Guerrero (87 caps, 34 goals) leads this team that will contend with a previous champion in France (1998), as well as Denmark and Australia who are also playing in this event for just the fifth time.
13th World Cup appearance (20-12-19 all-time record)
Best Finish: Champions in 1930 and 1950
Draw: Group A
Not winning a World Cup in over 68 years has to be a tough pill to swallow. Especially since Uruguay comes from the same continent as Brazil and Argentina who’ve won a combined seven World Cup Trophy’s since then. “La Celeste” has outscored their opponents 14-11 in the 2014 and 2010 World Cups combined. F.C. Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has scored five of those 14 goals but yet it still wasn’t enough to end the country’s drought. Trying to end that drought this year will be quite the challenge as Uruguay has been paired up with host nation Russia (where the home crowd will be rowdy), and two potential sleeper teams from the Middle East in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The world will be watching when these teams take the pitch on June 14th.