Previewing the World Cup 2018
The biggest sports tournament in the world will kick off on June 14. The 2018 World Cup in Russia will once again see 32 teams compete for the highest honor in international soccer. The hosts Russia will face Saudi Arabia in the opening game, and start four weeks of the most gripping and exciting soccer in the world. Without further ado, here is our preview of the 2018 tournament.
Russia were selected as the 2018 hosts in 2010, beating a bid from England, and the joint bids of Belgium and the Netherlands, and Portugal and Spain. The opening game will be played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Russia will be hoping to have ‘the host’s luck’ and make it far in the tournament.
Teams to Watch
Despite being crowned world champions for a record 5 times, and reaching the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, previous hosts Brazil have a lot to prove. Their devastating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany shook the foundations of the country and world soccer. Since employing Tita as their manager, Brazil’s fortunes have turned and they were the first team to qualify (aside from Russia) for the tournament. Time will tell if Brazil can redeem themselves and become world beaters once more.
Every World Cup has a team that exceeds all expectations, and in 2014 that team was Costa Rica. So far Costa Rica have had the perfect warm up for the tournament, as they qualified with two games in hand, and reached the semi-finals of the 2017 CONCACAF Cup. If they are to follow their extraordinary 2014 tournament, they will need to find a way out of a tough group that is also comprised of Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia.
The current titleholders are looking just as strong as they were in 2014. They were the only team in Europe to win every game in the qualifiers. A Ladbrokes World Cup 2018 infographic has Germany as the favorites to win the tournament alongside France and Brazil. If they do win the tournament, they will be the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. At the moment that seems very likely.
Iceland caused one of the biggest upsets in Euro 2016 after they knocked out England in the second round to progress to the quarter-finals. This achievement was made all the more remarkable considering the size of the talent pool the country has to choose from. As Mark Botterill previously pointed out: “Iceland have less players than the smallest of the United States Youth Soccer’s (USYSA) 55 State Association’s, Rhode Island”. This is also the first time the country has ever qualified for a World Cup. Everybody loves an underdog, and a lot of eyes will on the small Nordic country to see if they can repeat their Euro success.
Defending Euro 2016 champions will be looking to follow in both France and Spain’s footsteps by clinching the double. This could also be the last chance for Cristiano Ronaldo to perform on the world stage. The key clash for Portugal in the group stage will be against neighbors and former world champions Spain. That match will likely decide who finishes top of the group.
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by JB’s Sports Reports