Football is undoubtedly is the most emotional game. People cry along with their players, chant for their teams and every football fan in the world is waiting in bated breath for 14 June when the FIFA World Cup kick-starts. The FIFA World Cup is nothing but a festival for every football fanatic world over.
The World Cup 2018 is hosted by Russia. It is not only the first time that they are hosting the tournament but also the first time ever that the World Cup will take place in Eastern Europe.
The tournament that began in 1930 was first hosted by Uruguay had 13 teams competing for the coveted trophy. It was won by the hosts Uruguay defeating Argentina. In the last 20 editions of the World Cup Brazil have won the most number of times. They have won 5 times followed by Germany and Italy,who were victors on 4 occasions. Uruguay and Argentina have won twice.
All World Cups before this one have been won by Europeans (11) and South Americans (9) teams. Guess one has to be born in one of the two continents to clench that golden FIFA trophy.
The 2018 tournament will be the 21st edition of the World Cup. 32 teams have qualified the preliminary competition out of 210 countries. These 32 teams are drawn into 8 groups of 4 teams each at the beginning of the tournament. After playing in round-robin matches, the top two teams in each group advance to the second round group of 16 teams, which play in successive knock-out rounds to reach the final tournament.
Here are the 6 teams to look for:
Germany are four time World Champions. They have won in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014. The defending champions rendered the qualifying process as pointless, winning 10 out of 10 games in the qualifiers.
Germany has too many options to be reliant on, unlike Brazil and Argentina. It’s not just the number of high-caliber players that Joachim Löw, Germany’s coach, can count on but it is also the flexibility they offer. Löw has experimented with a three-man defense, as well as a system with no recognized striker, in recent games.
Löw and his team are well aware that Germany is expected to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.
2. Brazil :
Brazil have won the World Cup the most number of times. They were winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. They were languishing in sixth place in South American qualifying when it fired Dunga, its previous coach, and replaced him with Tite. The turnaround was astonishing. Brazil went unbeaten after the change.
Brazil strikes a balance between South American style and European tactical understanding. Neymar is obviously the star player in the side who has been relieved of the captaincy.
The 1998 World Cup winners France had a couple of blips in the qualification:a defeat in Sweden and, most notably, a scoreless tie at home against Luxembourg.
France is the equal of the main contenders to win the competition. On the field, they have a habit of not quite appearing the sum of their parts, and so remain a rung below Germany, Spain and Brazil. This could be the tournament in which one, or both, of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé establish themselves as truly global stars.
France could, and possibly should, win the World Cup, but doubts linger over the coach, Didier Deschamps, and his ability to get the most out of his considerable resources.
The presence of Messi alone will encourage Argentina to believe it could win the title, but Germany, Spain and Brazil all have a greater claim.
The 1978 and 1986 winners have a wonderful attack and a porous defense, from a glance at the squad; and a genuine contender to win the tournament, if Coach Jorge Sampaoli can mould the team in his image.
Spain’s 3-0 win against Italy in qualifying was probably the most instructive result any of the major contenders recorded on the way to Russia. Under Julen Lopetegui, the 2010 winners seems to have rediscovered the panache that made it the best team in the world between 2008 and 2012.
The old guard of Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets will be crucial, but success will depend on the creative spark of the likes of Isco, Marco Asensio and Saúl Ñíguez. It would be a fitting goodbye for Andrés Iniesta for Spain to win this competition.
Belgium enter the World Cup 2018 as perpetual underdogs. The 1986 semifinalists was the first European nation to book its place in Russia.
On paper, Belgium has everything it might need to succeed: a tight defense, a talented midfield, prolific strikers and, in Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, the sort of players who can win games on their own. The issue is whether Roberto Martínez, the team’s Spanish coach, can bring his rich resources together.
In 2014, the feeling was that a place in the quarterfinals would be acceptable. Now, it might be a bit of a disappointment.
(THE WRITER IS A FOOTBALL PLAYER BASED IN PUNE)