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Thread: FIFA World Cup - Russia 2018 - 14th June to 15th July

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    FIFA World Cup - Russia 2018 - 14th June to 15th July



    This thread is for the few of us who watch football (soccer), to discuss the biggest and best sporting event on the planet!

    For those who are interested in the World Cup but wouldn’t normally watch (a bit like some English people do with the Super Bowl) I've done a few previews of fixtures, teams, and players to let you know what you should be looking out for!

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    Groups - Thursday 14th June to Thursday 28th June

    32 teams split into 8 groups of 4.

    Each team in a group play each other once, the top 2 go through to the second round.



    Must watch first round games

    Group B
    Portugal vs Spain
    Friday 15th June - 1pm EST

    Group F
    Germany vs Mexico
    Sunday 17th June - 10am EST

    Group D
    Argentina vs Croatia
    Thursday 21st June - 1pm EST

    Group E
    Serbia vs Brazil
    Wednesday 27th June - 1pm EST

    Group G
    England vs Belgium
    Thursday 28th June - 1pm EST

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    Knockout round fixtures - Saturday 30th June to Sunday 16th July

    All are one off knockout games (90 minutes, plus 30 minutes extra time if still level, then penalties) - 2nd round / quarter finals / semi finals / 3rd place playoff / final

    The final is Sunday 16th July at 10am EST and will be watched by over a billion people.




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    Team Previews


    Chance to win it all


    Argentina



    Previous best: winners (78, 86)

    Best player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - arguably the greatest ever player, has won it all in club football but has never won anything with Argentina. Some people think that he's not performed for Argentina. Those people are fools - Messi is Argentina's top scorer of all time and is still only 31.

    Strengths: superb attack / lots of experience / Messi's last World Cup while he's at his peak.

    Weaknesses: shoddy defence / pressure to win while Messi is still around


    Germany (current World champions)



    Previous best: winners (54, 74, 90, 2014)

    Best player: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) - the best goalkeeper in the world, almost good enough with the ball at his feet to play in defence. However, he has missed most of the season through injury. It shows Germany’s strength in depth that if Neuer can’t play, Ter Stergen will - Barcelona’s number 1 and a top 10 keeper in the world in his own right.

    Strengths: strong midfield and defence / clinical - perfect example was when they destroyed a defensively weak Brazil in the semi final of the last World Cup, in Brazil.

    Weaknesses: haven't had an established world class striker in years / expectations - anything less than the final would be seen as a failure.


    Spain



    Previous best: winners (2010)

    Best player: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) despite being a defensive midfielder he's as talented as anyone and is vital for club and country.

    Strengths: if you lose the ball to the Spanish, you won't get it back for five minutes - their passing game is exquisite / the squad core is made up of Barcelona and Real Madrid legends Pique, Ramos etc.

    Weaknesses: probably the last tournament for most of the Barca & Real stars, they aren't as good as the 2010-2012 Spanish teams (who were arguably the greatest team ever) and will always be compared to them.


    France



    Previous best: winners (98)

    Best player: Paul Pogba (Manchester United) - was the most expensive player in the world when Man U bought him. A dynamic midfielder who can control a game with his vision, passing and skill. In the national team he has more freedom than at club level under Man U manager Jose Mourinho’s defence first tactics.

    Strengths: lots of depth and 2 or 3 players for every position / have at least 5 world class players under 25.

    Weaknesses: as a young squad they don't have the tournament experience of a Germany or Spain.


    Brazil



    Previous best: winners (58, 62, 70, 94, 2002)

    Best player: Neymar (PSG) - the most expensive player in the world a $332million transfer from Barcelona. He's worth every cent - the 3rd best player in the world but 5 years younger than Messi and 7 younger than Ronaldo.

    Strengths: soccer is referred to as "the beautiful game" and no one plays it as aesthetically pleasing as the Brazilians. Their idea of fullbacks would be wingers in most teams, and even the centre backs can do tricks and score from 30 yards out.

    Weaknesses: all that attacking skill comes at a cost - they are weak at the back, hit them on the counterattack and you'll create chances.

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    Potential contenders


    Belgium



    Previous best: 4th (86)

    Best player: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) - a winger who'll cut inside and shoot with either foot. When he's in the right mood, he's unstoppable.

    Strengths: an unprecedented crop of Belgian talent has emerged at the same time, nearly every top club side has a Belgian player / less pressure to win than the traditional big nations.

    Weaknesses: lack of tournament experience / once you get past the 15 or so world class players you've not got much left so injuries could be an issue.


    England



    Previous best: winners (66)

    Best player: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) - clinical striker, was 2 goals off being the top Premier League scorer for a third year in a row.

    Strengths: young players have come through at the same time / a solid squad that doesn't rely on a few stars.

    Weaknesses: England are the biggest underachievers in international football / stars win a World Cup but are players like Dele Alli ready? / lack of midfield creativity


    Portugal (current European champions)



    Previous best: 3rd (66)

    Best player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) standing side by side with Messi you'd be forgiven for not realising they play the same sport. Ronaldo has the body of a modern athlete, over 6 foot, no fat just muscle. Messi is 5 foot 7, and just looks normal. Yet the 2 best players in the world have rewritten records while pushing each other to new heights.

    Strengths: Ronaldo carries the team on his back and this is probably his last World Cup - he'll never be more motivated.

    Weaknesses: on paper the squad minus Ronaldo is a level below the other contenders.

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    This year quite a few teams failed to qualify that were expected to: Italy, Netherlands, Chile, Ivory Coast, USA, Wales. It means that star players like Gianluigi Buffon, Arjen Robben, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Pulisic, and Gareth Bale all miss out.

    Other players to watch

    James Rodriguez (Colombia) - took the football world by storm in the 2014 World Cup and won a transfer to Real Madrid. Was behind Ronaldo and Bale so didn't play enough but has rebounded in form with a move to Bayern Munich


    Kylian Mbappe (France) - lightning quick young superstar forward. Only 19 (just 4 months older than Vlad Jr!), with the world at his feet. PSG spent $280m to buy him from Monaco after a year long loan (done to circumvent UEFA’s financial fair play spending restrictions). The PSG front 3 with Neymar and Cavani scored over 80 goals this season.


    Dele Alli (England) - one of the exciting young core for England that all developed at Spurs at the same time (along with Dier, Kane, Rose, and Walker). As an attacking midfielder he'll have a big job to do to break down defenses - something England have historically not been good at in tournaments.


    Timo Warner (Germany) - for years Germany have lacked a decent striker yet have still been an excellent team. Warner has now emerged as a clinical finisher and at 22 he could be in the team for the next 4 World Cups.


    Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) - the runner up in the Premier League player of the year was a key part of Manchester City’s success this season. His vision and passing is as good as anyone, and is arguably more consistent than Belgium’s other star attacking midfielder Eden Hazard.


    Hirving Lozano (Mexico) - an exciting winger who scores, and has taken the Dutch league by storm by starring for the league champions PSV. There’s always at least one player who excels at the World Cup and wins a move to one of Europe’s top teams, and Lozano is a leading candidate this year.

    Leroy Sane (Germany) - another young, talented, quick winger. Part of the new generation of German stars that are forcing their way into the team before the more established players have even started to decline. Was a big part of the excellent Manchester City team that easily won the Premier League this season.

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    Good players on bad teams

    Stars to look out for that will be lucky to play beyond the knockout stage due to their nationalities

    Mo Salah (Egypt) - the Premier League player of the year and top scorer, if Liverpool sell him after the World Cup it won’t be for less than $200million.

    Paolo Guerrero (Peru) - Peru’s all time top scorer was nearly ineligible due to testing positive for cocaine, but on appeal (he claimed it was from a traditional medicine) his ban was reduced to 6 months and he’ll be OK to play.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) - one of the best strikers ever, a legend who is in the twilight of his career starring in MLS for LA Galaxy. Has said he will come out of international retirement for one last tournament.

    Robert Lewandowski (Poland) - stars for his country and Bayern Munich, acclaimed as the best out and out striker in the world. Was the top scorer in the European World Cup qualifiers with 16 goals in 10 games.

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    One of the great things about the World Cup is that teams and players that would never compete against each other are in direct competition - meaning there’s normally lots of shock results. So get some money on Panama getting a result against England, haha.

    The sensible choice for the favourites is Germany, but my personal pick for the winner is France.

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    I don't follow the sport at all, but growing up I always cheered for the Netherlands at the WC. What's going on with them, I believe this is a second straight time they've failed to qualify?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendleton View Post
    I don't follow the sport at all, but growing up I always cheered for the Netherlands at the WC. What's going on with them, I believe this is a second straight time they've failed to qualify?
    The Netherlands (i.e. Holland and its territories) have historically been the overachieving nation in relation to population in world football. Since the 70's they've have amazing players and teams, and in the 2014 World Cup they came 3rd.

    However, after that tournament they allowed older stars to play longer than they should have done, meaning youngsters didn't get the chances. Then added to complacency and multiple changes of managers meant they failed to qualify for the European Championship 2 years ago - finishing 4th in their qualification table that included Iceland.

    This massively downgraded their FIFA ranking meaning they got a really tough World Cup qualification group - where only 13 European teams can qualify. They just missed out on qualification by goal difference from Sweden.

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    Where's Canada?

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    Qualification from Europe is really tough if you're not a top seed - Italy missed out too, plus Wales who got to the semis of the Euros.

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    Quote Originally Posted by P2F View Post
    Where's Canada?
    Panama managed to qualify this time so there must be hope for 2022 in Qatar!

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    What's a soccer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jays4life19 View Post
    What's a soccer?
    No idea, it's called football!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobthe4th View Post
    No idea, it's called football!
    No football is cool.

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