World Cup 2018 Kicks Off Tomorrow!
The time is finally here. The 2018 World Cup is just 24 hours away and all 32 teams have now arrived in Russia for the biggest sporting event on the planet. Bringing together the biggest teams and stars in the world, anticipation for this year’s tournament is at an all-time high ahead of tomorrow’s opening game between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
As ever, the main questions will surround how Gareth Southgate’s England team get on at the event. The Three Lions find themselves in a group alongside Tunisia, Panama and Belgium so we ‘should’ at the very least see Harry Kane lead the squad into the knockout stages.
We have also given our preview for this year’s event, including all you need to know about the teams and players.
Of course, whenever a major tournament comes around everyone wants to know who will win. The holders, Germany inevitably go into the competition as favourites, even if they have left Manchester City star Leroy Sane at home. The Germans have the winning knack in tournament football and coach Joachim Low knows his squad inside out.
Desperate to make up for their defeat on home soil last time out, the samba stars of Brazil will be another one to look out for. That humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014 is still etched into the memory of the Selecao supporters and will be praying Neymar and co can lead them to their sixth World Cup victory.
Fellow South Americans, Argentina, will also be hoping for a first win in over 30 years in the competition. It could be Lionel Messi’s final chance of World Cup glory and he will be hoping to cement his status as the world’s best in Russia. As well as this the team have now lost their last four major finals in a row so will want to get that monkey off their back.
France look to have the best strength in depth in the squad and will hope the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele will fire them to glory this summer. Spain have also looked strong in qualifying but have today inexplicably sacked manager Julen Lopetegui just one day before the event starts! The Spaniard was announced as the next Real Madrid manager which has angered the Spanish FA who are now seeking a new boss with their opening game against Portugal two days away…
There are also a handful of teams who probably won’t go far in the World Cup, but will be entertaining to watch none the less, so try and catch the likes of Egypt, Nigeria, Croatia and Senegal in action wherever possible!
Whether it’s the golden boot, ball or glove, plenty of players will be able to make a name for themselves this year. For over a decade the battle to be crowned ‘best player in the world’ has raged between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and 2018 is likely to be the last time we see either on the biggest international stage of all. Expect them both to be right amongst the goals.
It seems like the whole of Egypt and beyond collectively held their breath when Liverpool hero Mohamed Salah injured his shoulder in the Champions League final in May, but it seems like he will be fit. Good news for the Pharaohs as he really is the definition of a talisman for the side who make their first tournament appearance in 28 years. Another Egypt player will make history at the tournament in the form of goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who at 45 will be the oldest player to ever play at the World Cup.
It is no secret that Brazil rely perhaps too heavily on Neymar, evidence of which was seen in 2014 when the team fell apart after his back injury. This year though, while he is still clearly the main man in the team, the likes of Coutinho, Jesus, Firmino and Willian should be on hand to step up if the worst happens.
England fans will be hoping that star striker Harry Kane will be able to replicate some of the form he has shown for Tottenham Hotspur this season and he will need to be fit and firing if England have any chance of success.
No one is realistically expecting England to recreate the glory of 1966 in Russia, but a run into the knockout rounds should be on the cards. Belgium are clearly the toughest team in the group but before they face them, they will come up against Tunisia and Panama so could well have already qualified before they face Hazard, De Bruyne etc on 28 June.
That game could well be a straight shoot-out for top spot in the group, but with England being paired with whoever qualifies from Group H in the last 16, England should at least make the quarter-finals.
They then would likely come up against one of the big boys, Brazil or Germany. Here is where England’s tournament is likely to end but in football you never know…
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