The Pinnacle of the World’s favorite Sport – It’s the FIFA 2018 World Cup

Madhusudhanan Raghunathan
madhur@orowealth.com
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Sports, in general, has a strange ability to capture the attention of a huge audience and take them on an emotional rollercoaster. There is very little to match the immense joy of seeing your team win or the crushing sense of grief you can feel over a loss, and all this by a group of people you may never have met.

Talking about sports, the IPL kept us occupied for the last two months. Being a big CSK fan myself, this season was a treat! But, something big is coming up this month and it is obviously the biggest sporting event in the history of the world. 3.5 billion People follow it. Sounds big, doesn’t it?

It’s a tournament where hearts are broken, legends are born, and, when all is said and done, a team is crowned the World Cup champion: the pinnacle of the world’s most favorite sport.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14th June to 15th July 2018.

The tournament will involve 32 national teams competing, which includes 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The first question that comes to our mind when we talk about football is, why has India never cracked this sport?

Let me enlighten you with a few facts,

India surprised the world in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England with their performance. The Indian national football team, with every player playing without footwear (some played in socks while most played barefoot), lost to France in the first round by a margin of 2-1 (and actually were tied with France at 1-1, 70 minutes into the match).

This match already drew a great deal of attention as the 1948 Summer Olympics was the first time that India was performing in an international tournament as an independent nation. However, the fact that the Indian team did all of this in bare feet drew the most attention.

In 1950, India managed to qualify for the 1950 FIFA World cup, which was scheduled to take place in Brazil. This was due to all their opponents from Asia withdrawing from the pre-tournament qualifiers. However, India themselves withdrew from the World Cup before the tournament was to begin. The AIFF (ALL India Football Federation) gave various reasons for the team’s withdrawal, including travel costs, lack of practice time, and valuing the Olympics more than the World Cup. This is backed up by Sailen Manna, who would have been the captain of the team. He told Sports Illustrated,

“We had no idea about the World Cup then. Had we been better informed, we would have taken the initiative ourselves. For us, the Olympics was everything. There was nothing bigger.”

Three years ago India was ranked 173rd, their lowest position ever, on the FIFA rankings. Today they are ranked 97th, three places off a new peak.

Football is now the third most popular sport to watch in India, though the ISL’s average audience is only one-fifth of the IPL and one-third of the Pro Kabbadi League.

The way in which the sport is evolving, it won’t be much longer before we see our men in blue taking on the titans of the sport in bigger leagues.

Let’s get back to the world cup! Thirty-two countries, one winner.

On June 14, the world’s single greatest sporting event begins: the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The World’s best teams and players, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi will descend on Russia to play on soccer’s biggest stage. (If you don’t know them, they’re the Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting of soccer)

How does it work?

All the world’s 207 national teams are split up into six regions. Over an almost two-year period, they compete in regional qualifying tournaments to earn one of the 32 spots at the World Cup. The host of the tournament, in this case, Russia, receives an automatic spot.

The qualifying 32 teams are then put into eight groups of four by a random draw.

Once the group stage begins, the teams compete in a round-robin format, where each country plays the other three in the group just once. A win is worth 3 points; a tie gets 1 point; and a loss, 0.

The two teams with the highest point totals at the end of those three games move on to the knockout rounds.

That’s when the World Cup gets really fun. In the group stage, a team could tie a game, or even lose, but still, play on.

But in the knockout rounds, the losing team is eliminated from the entire tournament while the winner goes to the next round.

The win-or-go-home nature of the knockout rounds makes every pass, every slide tackle, every save, and, yes, every goal matter even more.

Which team is favored to win the World Cup?

If you follow the sport, this won’t surprise you: Based on soccer mathematician David Sumpter’s model, they are Germany, Brazil, France, Spain, and Argentina (in order).

That makes sense right? All those teams are extremely stacked with talent, and each has won at least one World Cup.

There are good reasons to think those countries will perform well. Germany won the last World Cup in 2014, and many of the same players from that squad are back for 2018.

Brazil has won five World Cups, the most in history. Brazil is also arguably the most complete team in the tournament.

Where’s Italy you ask?

A few notable teams that failed to qualify this time include, four-time champions Italy, three-time runner-up the Netherlands, Ghana and Ivory Coast, who had both made the previous three tournaments.

Some of the best players at the World Cup?

Lists like this must start with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi. One of these two players has won the world’s best player award, every year since 2008, each earning the title five times.

But, neither player has won a World Cup. Messi came the closest after leading Argentina to a World Cup final in 2014 but ultimately lost to Germany.

Brazil’s Neymar is seen as the heir to Ronaldo and Messi, waiting to snatch the world’s best player award from them soon (he was named the world’s third-best player in 2015 and 2017). France’s Antoine Griezmann was 2016’s third-best player and could potentially lead his country to World Cup glory.

Can’t forget the goalkeepers here. No, they won’t strike wonder goals, but they could stop them with lightning-quick reflexes and acrobatic dives. Five keepers, in particular, stand out among the talented pool: Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Spain’s David De Gea, Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, France’s Hugo Lloris, and Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois. You can expect these goalies to make some game-winning saves and take their teams to glory.

 

Is there an official World Cup song?

Yes, of course.

This year’s the song is called “Live It Up,” and it’s performed by Nicky Jam, Era Istrefi, and Will Smith. The song was produced by Diplo!

Take a listen:

 

Okay, so who will win World Cup 2018?

So after all that, who’s going to win, you ask. Well, I obviously don’t know, let’s wait and see.

Here’s the schedule for the matches. (FIFA world cup 2018 schedule) Keep your calendar clear and your beers ready for the excitement is about to begin!!

Where will the 2022 World Cup take place?

Qatar. Yes, you read that right: It’s Qatar.

In 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to the tiny Middle Eastern nation, the first time a Mideast country will host the tournament.

The Qatari summer heat is so bad that FIFA moved the World Cup to the winter, setting the final match for December 18, 2022, Qatar’s National Day.

Plan for the Qatar world cup.

Madhusudhanan Raghunathan
madhur@orowealth.com
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