The countdown for the most popular international football tournament is edging closer. The 21st edition of World Cup 2018 is due to start on 14 June with Russia, as first time ever host, playing against Saudi Arabia in the inauguration game of the tournament.
The 32 competing countries have been clustered in the following groups:
Group A: Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay
Group B: Iran, Morocco, Portugal, Spain
Group C: Australia, Denmark, France, Peru
Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden
Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia
Group H: Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal
What is quite conspicuous from the above groups is the absence of a fourfold World Cup champion, Italy. It remains to be seen for which team the Italian football supporters will be waving their flag for but it is surely not for England! In the meantime, each team has announced their provisional 35-man squads. By June 4, the squads need to be narrowed down to 23 players.
What’s this year’s big surprise?
Every world cup had surprises and disappointments in store for its football fans and this one will be no exception. In the case of the Brazilian squad, all eyes are on Neymar…but Gabriel Jesus and Walace are also being earmarked as potential World Cup stars. Ronaldo will be playing with Portugal and Messi with Argentina. In the case of England, Harry Kane is the main focus of attention whereas Germany has Toni Kroos. Who will be this World Cup’s top scorer or rising star? Are the chosen player combinations by the respective coaches giving an edge to one team but not the other? And which of the goalkeepers will be the ones saving that penalty from happening?
The hype is running high but hold on to your horses until June 4 and then let the odds begin.