FIFA 2018 World Cup is now over with France emerging as the champion once gain. The World Cup, a 32-team event, pits the survivors of anexhausting regional qualification schedule against each other. Elite football nations such as Italy, Chile and the Netherlands, as well as the United States failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
32 teams are divided in eight groups (A-H) with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stages.
Russia, the hosts opened the World Cup with a match up against Asian contenders Saudi Arabia.
The opening game of the World Cup was Russia against Saudi Arabia or to put it another way, the two worst teams in the tournament, according to the FIFA rankings. The group was quite nicely balanced.
Russia President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino opened the draw. Putin, whose country is facing a doping ban from the Olympics, spoke about the spirit of “fair play” in welcoming all the entrants to Russia next summer. Egypt and Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah made his World Cup debut. Neighbors Spain and Portugal found themselves in the same group.
Iceland became the smallest nation to play in the World Cup.
In the last two World Cups, the reigning champions have been knocked out at the group stage.
Egypt posed the main danger to the hosts and Uruguay. It must have been their first World Cup since 1990, but star player Mo Salah was irresistible in qualifying.
Saudi Arabia had the honor of playing in the opening game against Russia, but Asian league teams are traditionally the weakest.
France were the clear favorites to win the group comfortably, but Denmark’s late surge into form made them a real threat. Australia should never be underestimated after another epic qualification campaign
As if the Iceland news hadn’t brought enough joy, their first ever World Cup was against Argentina in Moscow.
They received global support, but wasn’t expected to succeed. The smallest ever nation to qualify have already performed miracles.
Iran also qualified quite comfortably in their Asia campaign ahead of South Korea and Syria. The Australian Team struggled in the Asian qualification finishing third in the group setting up a clash against Syria.
Along with Group A, Group H seems the most evenly spread. Poland was among the weakest top seeds and Colombia harbored ambitions of finishing first. Japan and Senegal, both saw the Round of 16.
The seeding this year is based on the FIFA world rankings. That’s controversial, because the rankings are far from universally accepted as the most accurate ordering of teams. The most argumentative issue is that friendly games count in the rankings, although they are worth fewer points. Because team’s positions are based on average points per match, teams that play a lot of friendlies are penalized.
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