With the 2018 FIFA World Cup now just days away, its time to have a look at the four teams in group H.

Arguably the most unpredictable group in the whole tournament, all four teams seem to have a chance of qualifying for the last 16.

Perhaps Poland and Colombia are the two stand-out’s out of the four, but both Japan and Senegal could get through depending on how they get on and if they can start their campaigns well.

Poland

Poland come into the World Cup on the back of a run to the quarter finals of Euro 2016, where they lost to eventual champions Portugal on penalties, and head to Russia to take part in their first World Cup in 12 years after last appearing in 2006.

Spearheaded by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Poland on paper have a solid team with plenty of experience.

You might recognise several of the names in the squad, including Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak who spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion from PSG.

Add in players such as Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik, seemingly free of his crippling knee injuries that have often hindered his career and defenders Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund) and Kamil Glik (Monaco) and Poland have the potential to go far in Russia if the team can hit the ground running and Lewandowski can perform to the ability of when he plays for the German champions.

Star Player: Robert Lewandowski

Colombia

Colombia were a surprise package in Brazil in 2014 and went out narrowly to the hosts in the quarter finals after a strong run.

The squad sees a fine line-up filled with experience both internationally and at club level with many of the squad who appeared in Brazil again returning for the campaign in Russia.

James Rodriguez, scorer of that audacious volley back in 2014 looks set to have another strong tournament after rejuvenating his career following a loan move to Bayern last summer and playing behind Poland’s Lewandowski in the heart of the Munich midfield.

Rather than the Pole, in Russia he’ll be hoping to set up Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, another player to turn his career around in recent seasons, to fire them to glory.

The defence has a very Premier League feel, with goalkeeper David Ospina (Arsenal) and defender Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) both playing their trade in England.

Pace is also an option for the South Americans, as they can rely on Juventus and former Chelsea player Juan Cuadardo and Jose Izquierdo who signed for Brighton last summer to help hit their opponents on the counter attack if needed.

Star Player: James Rodriquez

Senegal

Senegal come into only their second World Cup after last appearing in the tournament back in 2002 where they went on to have a memorable campaign, eventually going out in the quarter finals but not before they beat defending champions France.

Headed by Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane, the African side seem to have a solid side again with plenty of experience.

The squad is built around mainly players based in Europe, the team can rely on highly-thought-of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who is often linked with some of Europe’s biggest teams to make their defence solid.

The African side have several Premier League players named in their squad, including holding midfielder’s Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikou Kouyate (West Ham) and Stoke’s Badou Ndiaye. Another Stoke man, striker Mame Biam Diouf is also included in the 23-man squad for Russia.

Star Player: Sadio Mane

Japan

Japan are seemingly the underdogs in Group H and on paper are favourites to finish bottom of the group. They’ve qualified for the last six tournaments but were poor in Brazil and were knocked out in the group stage gaining just one point in the process.

They come into Russia with no-one really knowing how they are going to perform. Manager Akira Nishino has been thrown in at the deep end after being the team’s technical director until Vahid Halilhodzic was sacked in April and it’ll just be his third game in charge when the team kick’s off against Colombia next week.

Japan’s hope of progression into the knock-out stage relies on the shoulders of three or four stand out players.

Shinji Kagawa, once of Manchester United but now back at Dortmund has proven in the past he has the ability to be one of the best creative midfielders in world football, but he has not shown this ability for some time now.

He needs to up his game if Japan are to progress.

Another Shinji, this time Leicester City’s hard-working striker Okazaki will be hoping to score the goals that sends his country into the next round. Him and Kagawa need to link well to give them a chance of getting through.

Former AC Milan attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda, now playing his football in Mexico for Pachuca, is another man who can again be an outstanding player on his day but often does not perform on the big stage. Southampton’s Maya Yoshida plays in the heart of their defence.

Star Player: Shinji Kagawa

 

Fixtures List:

Tuesday June 19:

Colombia v Japan KO: 13:00, Live on BBC

Poland v Senegal KO: 16:00, Live on ITV

 

Sunday June 24:

Japan v Senegal KO: 16:00, Live on BBC

Poland v Colombia KO: 19:00, Live on ITV

 

Thursday June 28:

Japan v Poland KO: 15:00, Live on BBC

Senegal v Colombia KO: 15:00, Live on BBC

 

How I think the table will look

It’ll be a close call between Poland and Colombia who gets through and their game on June 24 will decide who finishes above who I think in the race for the top step.

I wouldn’t rule Senegal out, especially if they can get something against Poland in their opening game. Mane must step up and be the man to lead his country if they are to get out of this group.

Japan are in for a rough ride and I could see them leaving Russia like they did in Brazil with very few points, especially if Kagawa and Honda have poor tournaments. Judging by their club form, I think it’s likely to happen!

If Lewandowski looks up for the challenge, I could see him and Poland going on a fine run this summer, especially if he’s in the mood to show what he can do in a bid to force a move from Munich after the World Cup.

I wouldn’t rule out him being top goal scorer of the tournament if Poland get out of the group. Colombia for me will win the group though, having James, Falcao and players like Cuadardo could help them get further than they did four years ago. They look strong going forward inparticular.