The 2018 FIFA World Cup will mark the 21st edition of the biggest tournament to be considered as the ‘Beautiful Games’. The sports is followed throughout the world with top 32 nations participating for the ultimate glory of being considered the best among the rest in the world.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018. This will be first ever to be held in Eastern Europe.
History of FIFA World Cup
Simply called as the World Cup, it is played between the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930 at Uruguay. Due to ongoing Second World War it was not held in 1942 and 1946.
The current format of the competition involves a qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, to determine which teams qualify for the World Cup Finals. Thirty two teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation(s), compete in the finals.
The previous 20 editions of the World Cup so far have been won by eight national teams. Brazil have won five times, and the only team to have played in every tournament. Germany and Italy with four titles each; Argentina and Uruguay with two titles each and England, France and Spain with one title each. Uruguay was the winners of the First World Cup in 1930.
The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games.
The current champion is Germany, which won its fourth title at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
FIFA World Cup Trophy: Interesting Facts
- The World Cup is a gold trophy that is awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup. Since the beginning of the World Cup in 1930, two trophies have been used: the Jules Rimet Trophy from 1930 to 1970, and the FIFA World Cup Trophy from 1974 to the present day.
- During World War II, the trophy was held by 1938 champion Italy. Ottorino Barassi, the Italian vice-president of FIFA secretly transported the trophy from a bank in Rome and hid it in a shoe-box under his bed to prevent Adolf Hitler and the Nazis from taking it.
- On 20 March 1966, four months before the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, the trophy was stolen during a public exhibition at Westminster Central Hall. However, the trophy was found just seven days later.
- The Brazilian team won the tournament for the third time in 1970, allowing them to keep the real trophy in perpetuity. It was put on display at the Brazilian Football Confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro in a cabinet with a front of bullet-proof glass.
- On 19 December 1983, the cup was stolen again. The trophy has never been recovered, and it is widely believed to have been melted down and sold.
2018 FIFA World Cup – The Top five
More than 200 teams took part of the qualifying process for 31 open spots at the tournament. Let us have a look at the top 5 strong teams at the World Cup:
The defending champions started their 2018 FIFA World Cup journey by winning four games from four qualifier matches are at the top of Group C. Current German team is a mixture of freshness and experience.
Youngsters like Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich and Timo Werner have already proved their talent in world football and much will be expected of them.
Experienced players like Thomas Muller, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer can guide the youngsters on the field and take the responsibility for the national team if they desire to retain the trophy.
Having topped their WC qualifying group, they are strong favorite for the title.
Player to watch out for: Thomas Muller
After a shocking 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the semi-finals of World Cup 2014, much of the Brazilian team has changed since then.Neymar will lead 23-man squad with a lot of young players.
With the world-class striker Neymar along with Firmino and Jesus, Brazil can tear down opposition defences with ease. They have the supremely experienced Marcelo and Thiago Silva in the defense.
The creativity in the midfield comes from Philippe Coutinho and Fred, while Casemiro and Fernandinho are very dependable as defensive midfielders.
Douglas Costa and Willian can provide needed support to Neymar in attack.
Five time winners of the World Cup can be threat to their opponents considering the firepower they possess in all departments of the team.
Player to watch out for: Neymar
Spanish football reached its heights between 2008 -2012, when they lifted two Euro titles of 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup. Everyone remembers the wonderful performances by the team in 2010 World Cup.
Things went on the decline for Spain as they lost to Brazil in the Confederations Cup 2013, failed to qualify from the group stage in WC 2014 and were knocked out by Italy in Euro 2016 in the round of 16.
However they have managed to build a strong team with young and experienced players. They have stalwarts like Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba with vast experiences in their respective positions.
Youngsters such as Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez can make the difference. Koke, de Gea, Carvajal, Diego Costa and David Silva are the players who can contribute in team. Spain definitely has the potential to win the World Cup 2018.
Player to watch out for: Isco
Even though the French lost the final of Euro 2016 to Portugal, they still have enough potential match-winners in their squad who could destroy the opposition on their day.
The major problem for French coach Didier Deschamps has been selecting the team World Cup 2018 because there are too many good players to choose from.
The French team will be led by Antoine Griezmann from the front alongside Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Nabil Fekir. Team has attacking midfield stars like Paul Pogba and Thomas Lemar and Blaise Matuidi and N’Golo Kante as the defensive midfielders. The defense has Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti who can give strikers nightmares.
Player to watch out for: Antoine Griezmann
Argentina often dominates the tournaments they participate in bur somehow fail to clear the hurdle in the final. That has been the case in World Cup 2014, Copa America 2015 and Copa America Centenario 2016.
After their recent 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain, team management has made required changes and selected a strong team that can probably go all the way to win the title.
The midfield consists of Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Cristian Pavon and Lanzini, whereas the defense has the solid Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Mercado, Federico Fazio and Marcos Rojo.
The attack line consists of lethal strikers like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, who are aided by Messi, Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria.
Will Argentina be fourth time lucky despite the presence of the world’s best player?
Player to watch out for: Lionel Messi
Apart from above five there are strong teams like Italy ,Colombia, Portugal, England, Uruguay, Belgium, it would be a surprise if the winners came from outside of Germany, Brazil, Spain, France, and Argentina.
As we approach closer towards the tournament, this WC will miss some of the biggest nations like
- Italy – the 2006 FIFA champions.
- Dutch (Netherlands)- runners-up in 2010 & finishing 3rd in 2014.
- Chile – Copa America champions.
- Cameroon- one of the most successful African nation at the WC.