The 21st edition of the quadrennial global event starts in Russia on 14 June 2018. The World Cup is the most anticipated sporting event of all time with 32 superstar national teams battling it out against each other to attain the crown of the World Cup. The winners of the World Cup would gain automatic qualification to the 2021 Confederations Cup. Germany are the defending champions of both the competitions. Let’s ponder over 10 unknown facts about the 2018 main event;
1. Euro-Asian World CupThe first World Cup to be held in Asia since 2002 and also the first to take place in Europe since 2006, Russia’s mammoth geographical area makes the World Cup a unique spectacle, the first to take place in two continents jointly. The World Cup would be a huge boost to football in Russia and nearby Asian nations.
2. Brazil’s Perfect RunQualifying for the 2018 World Cup makes it the 21st Main Event participation for the Brazilians, the best possible number. Featuring in all competition since the World Cup’s inception 87 years ago, Brazil are five-time World Cup champions, a world record. The men in yellow qualified for the Russian edition finishing top of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers.
3. A World Cup without South American ChampionsDefending South American champions, Chile will miss out on the World Cup after missing out on the top four positions in the Qualifiers. Losing to Brazil on the final Matchday of the qualification rounds, Chile finished sixth in the CONMEBOL Qualifiers, one position behind the play-off spot. The runner-up of the 2017 Confederation Cup, Chile are a shock exclusion from the event.
4. Viking Claps in RussiaThe 2018 Russian World Cup would be the first ever World Cup to feature the mesmerising Viking claps celebration. Iceland’s debut in the World Cup next year is certain to bring the fever of the already famous Viking Claps to Russia. The electrifying celebration broke the internet after Iceland’s Round of 16 victory over England in 2016’s UEFA Euro, their first ever major international competition. Iceland finished top of the UEFA Qualifiers Group I Qualifiers to earn a ticket to Russia.
5. Netherland’s AbsenceSemi-finalists of the 2014 World Cup and runner-up’s of the 2010 edition, Netherlands are certain to miss the Russian World Cup after the failed to earn a play-off spot in the UEFA Qualifiers. Missing out the World Cup for the first time since 2002, the news of the Oranje not qualifying for the Cup sent shockwaves across the world. Netherland’s hold the record for making the most World Cup appearances without ever winning the title.
6. Ekaterinburg: Seating Outside The StadiumTo keep up with FIFA’s regulation of at least 35,000 seating capacity at a World Cup venue, Russian authorities took a bold move to expand the capacity of the central stadium in Ekaterinburg. A provisional new expansion to one of the stands in the Central stadium would take the steep stand out of the circular loop encompassing the stadium. With pictures of this weird stand circulating around the Social media, the Stadium would be a spectacle the watch in the World Cup.
7. Egypt’s Emotional QualificationOn the brink of missing the World Cup, Egyptian forward Mo Salah scored a last-gasp penalty to gift the Africans a ticket to a World Cup after a 27 year break. Egypt has never advanced past the first round in the World Cup main event and under Salah’s leadership, The Pharaohs would be keen to improve upon their performances in the Cup. A jubilant Egypt would back up the national team which qualified emotionally in front of home crowd in the last minute of the last Matchday.
8. Panama’s Debut In A World CupPanama’s president declared a national holiday on 11th October after Los Canaleros earned a berth in the World Cup after forward Roman Torres scored the winning goal in the final qualifying match against Costa Rica at the Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City. It would be Panama’s first ever World Cup appearance, a tournament which they enter next year as underdogs.
9. Ticket RequestsFIFA reported that over 3.5 million ticket requests were received by the governing body in only the first round of ticket sales of the World Cup. The Russian World Cup could be the most attended World Cup of all time if the momentum of the ticket sales stays afloat. The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow would be the venue for the opening game of the World Cup and also the host for the World Cup final to be played on 15 July.
10. Germany – The Favourites To Win The World CupUnbeaten in their qualifiers and defending champions of the World Cup, the Germans are predicted by football pundits and bookies to retain their World Crown in Russia. The strength of the Germans lie within an impressive squad depth under manager Joachim Löw’s command. Winners of the Confederations Cup 2017 without most of their first-team players taking part in the tournament, Germany are a force to be reckoned with. In Russia, Die Mannschaft aim for their fifth World Cup title, in aspirations of equalling the World Record tally set by the Brazilian National Team.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is expected to be the most watched sporting tournament of all time and with several heavyweights like Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Spain among the favourites to win the title, the Cup promises more now than ever.