Ah the world cup. There is no sport competition in the world that is more prestigious than this one (well, aside from the famed super bowl of course, but that one stays in North America), and it is only right if you got many people talking about it. Football is a sport that connects people from all over the world. Whether it is a friendly rivalry or the similar euphoria that the world felt, the FIFA world cup is a competition that gives fans something to wait and cheer for. Many football fans (and non-football fans sometime) all around the world, be they from developed or developing countries, have awaited this moment.
In today’s article, I would like to talk about the 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup. This World Cup takes place in Russia, the great ‘almost’ northern country. Russia itself is a great country, a place that is filled with many potentials. There is no doubt that it can be a country that can fully accommodate the World Cup. That much is clear, but do you guys know what the dudes in Russia did to be able to accommodate the visiting nations? Do you know what the Russian government did to make this World Cup the most prestigious World Cup ever? What are the teams that are fighting for a chance to win the prestigious competition? These questions will be answered in today’s article.
What did the Russian government do to make this World Cup a nice experience?
Before we begin talking about the World Cup in itself, it is only right for me to talk about the Confederation Cup back in 2017. This competition is often hailed as a competition to test the next World Cup host’s capability of handling the prestigious competition. Do you know how Russia handles the Confederation Cup?
They handled it nicely. While the Confederation Cup is not standing on the same level with the World Cup, it is still the second highest competition in the hierarchy. It serves to test the Russian water, and when it did tested it, the test result came out nicely. Surveys have been conducted to show whether or not Russia is a favorable place.
Many people told me that Russian is a bad country with bad stuffs. Many also told me that Russia will never be a country that can handle a worldly event such as this one. The results from the Confederation Cup show otherwise, though, as many travelling fans think that perhaps Russia can handle it. What makes them think so?
Maybe it is because of the free transport between cities that hosted the Confederation Cup. Yes, you heard that right, my friends. The Russian government has taken the chance to introduce Russian transportation for free to the visitors, making moving from one host city to another an easy task to do. The Confederation Cup saw 4 Russian cities as the hosts. Those cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi. Football fans of the eight competing countries are free to travel to those four cities using the Russian railway. The transport is free of charge as long as you got a fan ID and a match ticket of the competition. Free transport is always a boon to have, right?
Not to mention that they also upgraded and turned several stadiums into a place fitting for a World Cup. While there are lots of modifications that many stadiums undergo, nothing is as memorable as the modifications in Ekaterinburg Arena. I, to be honest, have only seen this one modification just now. Ekaterinburg Arena is not a place whose seating can accommodate 35,000 people, so what did FIFA and the Russian government do?
They add a freaking temporary seating. The stands where the fans will be seated jutted outside, making it look weird. It is, however, still in compliance with FIFA’s rule, so FIFA let that one slide.
Now that the host is done, let us talk about the teams
This is another important facet in the World Cup. You cannot have a World Cup without other competing teams, and you can say that the competing teams are more or less the same with the World Cup prior to this one. I shall talk about the teams according to their group draws.
There are 8 groups with 4 teams within, making it a 32 teams competition. The groups themselves are named using alphabetical letters starting from A to H. Let us talk about group A first.
Group A consists of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay. In this group, two of the most popular choices that people think will go through the group phase are Russia and Uruguay. Those two teams are strong in their own rights with top players all around. While Saudi Arabia and Egypt are often seen as not the teams that could go, Egypt themselves got a world class player in the form of Mohammed Salah. Whether or not Salah could bring Egypt out of the darkness is a different matter altogether, but group A teams should take notice of him.
In group B are Portugal, Spain, Morocco, and IR Iran. This one here is pretty clear if you ask me. As long as the Spaniards do not do anything stupid, they and Portugal will bring the peninsula rivalry to the next phase. Morocco and IR Iran got lots to commend about though. Securing a place in the World Cup is not an easy task, and proficiat to them for being able to do so.
Within group C, France, Australia, Peru, and Denmark are fighting for a spot. France is a no brainer. With the many quality players that France have, there is no way that he will not go through the round. The second place is a bit of a wild car. Either Australia or Denmark will go there. My money is on Denmark though.
Group D is a group that is filled with Argentinians, Icelandic, Croatians, and Nigerians. No doubt Argentina will secure a first spot in the group. The second place might to go Iceland or Croatia. I am sorry Nigerians, but the competitions are a bit tough in here.
Group E got Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia. Brazil is a no competition with their talented players in all departments. The second might go to Switzerland or Serbia, though I prefer the Swiss in this moment.
In the F group we got Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and Korea Republic. My sympathy goes to the teams that have to face Germany in the group phase. With the players they got in the team, Germany will easily trample over the rest of the teams here. That is not to say that the three other teams cannot play well, of course. Korea Republic got a rising star in the form of Son Heung-Min, so there is that.
Within group G is a matchup that could either go wrong or go right for England. England got Belgium, Panama, and Tunisia to play with, and as long as they do not do something odd, they will go through the phase with Belgium.
Group H is what I call the wildest wildcard of them all. In this group are Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan. Japan itself has not been a good team in the world cups before this one, so I think it is safe to say that they will not go through. Senegal is often unheard of, so I will not bet on them. Poland and Colombia might be good choices, so if you want to do some booking, book on them.