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World Cup 2018 Preview: What You Need To Know

Discussion in 'Soccer' started by RaiderRay, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers..Go Any SD Team, Go Raiders Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

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    https://www.npr.org/2018/06/14/619650122/world-cup-2018-preview-what-you-need-to-know

    The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off this week in Russia. Here's the nitty-gritty and a few stories to watch as 32 national soccer teams begin their pursuit of the copa mundial.

    When does it start?

    The tournament starts on Thursday, June 14, and runs through Sunday, July 15.

    In the opener, host nation Russia will take on Saudi Arabia. No host team ever has lost the opening match of the World Cup. South Africa is the only host nation to not advance to the knockout stage; Russia hopes to avoid that fate.

    On Friday there will be three games: Egypt vs. Uruguay, Morocco vs. Iran and Portugal vs. Spain. The full schedule is here.

    When can I watch the U.S. play?

    (Sad trombone.) You can't. They failed to qualify, for the first time since 1986.

    But! (Happy trombones!) In a united bid with Canada and Mexico, the USA was just selected to host the 2026 World Cup. FIFA hasn't said yet whether all the host nations will get automatic spots in the tournament. The field is expanding from 32 teams to 48, though, so the Yanks have a good shot either way.

    [​IMG]
    Yury Zhirkov of Russia wins a header Mohammed Alburayk of Saudi Arabia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday in Moscow, Russia. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
    Yury Zhirkov of Russia wins a header Mohammed Alburayk of Saudi Arabia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday in Moscow, Russia.

    Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
    Remind me what happened last time?

    Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final in Rio de Janeiro. The tournament's greatest agony belonged to the host country, after Germany demolished Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals.

    Who are the favorites?

    No surprise here: Brazil and Germany. Spain and France aren't far behind — though Spain just fired its coach two days before the country's first game in the tournament, so that could change its prospects.

    [​IMG]
    Spain fan Max Fontaine, in Sochi, Russia, for Friday's game against Portugal, told NPR's Alina Selyukh the decision was "crazy."

    "We were like, 'What is happening?' The World Cup is starting tomorrow," he said. "I hope the guys will be strong enough to manage that and to control themselves."

    Selyukh found the host country's residents more cautious than optimistic about their team's chances.

    "I root for Russia, because I'm a patriot, but I think that's going to be over pretty quickly, so I'm also rooting for Brazil," said Temirvan Khashev.

    Any new rules or technology this year?

    Video assistant referees will help make officiating calls. There will be 13 current or former referees watching on screens in a video control room. Assistant referees on the field have been instructed to keep their flags down on close offside calls, and let the VAR make the decision.

    The referees in the booth will wear full referee kits, just like their counterparts on the field.

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    A view of the video assistant referee (VAR) operation room at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia broadcast center in Moscow this week. Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
    A view of the video assistant referee (VAR) operation room at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia broadcast center in Moscow this week.

    Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
    "It's because they sweat like they do on the pitch," the chairman of FIFA's referees committee told reporters last week. "It's not like watching a game on the couch while drinking coffee*. It's very stressful, so they can't be dressed like a clerk."

    *Yes, he's Italian.

    Where are the matches taking place?

    The tournament's 64 games will be played at 12 stadiums throughout Russia, with the opening match and the final held at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Among the other arenas is Sochi's Fisht Stadium, built for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    Russia has been criticized for building a new stadium in Kaliningrad on an island, one of the city's last natural wetlands. As The Associated Press reports, venues built in other Russian cities raised environmental concerns too.

    The BBC has photos of all the stadiums, and you can see them from above at The Guardian.

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    Mohamed Salah of Egypt during a friendly match against Portugal in March. Soccrates Images/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption Soccrates Images/Getty Images
    Mohamed Salah of Egypt during a friendly match against Portugal in March.

    Soccrates Images/Getty Images
    Who are some players to watch for?

    Egypt has one of the tournament's most exciting players, Mohamed Salah. He had a breakout season at Liverpool, where fans have created this chant: "If he's good enough for you, he's good enough for me. If he scores another few, then I'll be Muslim too." The Pharaohs are making their first World Cup appearance since 1990. Salah suffered a shoulder injury in the Champions League final, and team officials say it's uncertain whether he'll play in the opener.

    South Korean forward Son Heung-min's star is rising fast: The Tottenham Hotspurs forward is now the top Asian goal scorer in the history of the English Premier League. His agent told Time that Son wears a surgical mask in public in Seoul to avoid being mobbed. He turns 26 soon, and as The Telegraph reports, South Korea requires able-bodied men to start 21 months of military service before age 28 — a spectre weighing on the footballer and his fans.

    France's 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé, who grew up in the banlieues of Paris, has made a name for himself at Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, and not only for his eye-popping transfer fee — second only to Brazilian star Neymar's. Now he just needs to stay healthy.

    Any notable goal celebrations?

    France's Antoine Griezmann is known for his homage to Drake's "Hotline Bling." Recently he has been doing a jig from the video game Fortnite.

    And of course, whatever Ronaldo does.

    [​IMG]
    What about corruption and hooligans?

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA's former president who was suspended in 2015 for corruption, will attend the World Cup as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    In the UK, police have seized the passports of more than 1,200 Britons to prevent them from attending the World Cup. The government said it will have police deployed at major UK ports during the World Cup to stop "known troublemakers" from travelling to Russia, and will also send a sending a policing delegation to the World Cup at Russia's request.

    Which country has the best uniforms?

    Nigeria.

    [​IMG]
    Nigeria's jersey for the 2018 World Cup Catherine Ivill/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
    Nigeria's jersey for the 2018 World Cup

    Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
    Is there an official World Cup anthem?

    Yes. But it does not match the hip-shaking fútbol dancefloor vibe of the 2010 song by Shakira.

    [​IMG]
    Which team should I root for?

    WNYC has some suggestions from New Yorkers from around the world. And FiveThirtyEight has a handy quiz to help you decide.

    If you like underdogs, consider Iceland: They're playing in their first World Cup, and they have a Viking-inspired clap that gives this reporter chills.
     
  2. RamAirVA

    RamAirVA New Name, Same Attitude

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    Go Germany...back to back.

    Russia trounced Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opener.
     
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  3. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    I just found out Mexico's first game is against Germany. Well so much for the World Cup. No se puede.

    Go Padres.
     
  4. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers..Go Any SD Team, Go Raiders Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

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    Got Portugal winning it all. They're playing Spain right now. Tied 1-1 in the first half.
     
  5. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers..Go Any SD Team, Go Raiders Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

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    Ronaldo single handily scored 3 goals to ear a tie with Spain.
     
  6. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    I forgot these first-round games end in ties. I don't like it. Spain v. Portugal was a total dud. I watched it at the gym while stoned and was still bored.

    I get these guys are great athletes and that I should have appreciated Ronaldo's shots a lot more. But soccer is like the NFL for me - a total snoozefest if I have no rooting interest. Spain v. Portugal? I have no connection to either country.

    The only soccer teams I care about are the U.S., Mexico, and Necaxa of Aguascalientes. The U.S. is out, and Necaxa is the Clippers of Mexican soccer.

    Mexico has zero chance against Germany, but I will be watching Sunday. Hopefully my adopted country can beat the other two teams and make it to the second round.

    The more I watch sports, the more I realize the NBA is the best sport by far. I don't care who wins those games and don't understand half the rules or strategies, but I watch because it is fun.
     
  7. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    No Netherlands or US but England is in so pulling for them. Rooting for just about any European team over any South American team or Mexico.
     
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  8. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    The goal by Nacho and the last goal by Ronaldo were great shots. Glad to see Portugal come back for the draw.
     
  9. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    Thanks for giving me something to root for. I'll root for the teams on the American continents, Mexico especially. And I'll root for whoever is playing England.

    This World Cup is suddenly awesome.
     
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  10. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Well since England and especially Mexico are habitual chokers I don't think either of us will be very happy with the results. If Im rooting for the European teams and you're rooting for the South American teams we could pretty much just leave it as me having Spain, Germany and Portugal and you with Brazil (and I'd say Argentina but they are chokers too...see today vs freaking Iceland LOL).

    Im surprised you'd root for the Latin American teams though. With all their fake flopping they could suffer some serious head injuries and I know how badly you dislike anything like that. :)

    And your World Cup hasn't been so good so far then. Denmark over Peru today. Iceland (yes ICELAND!) ties Argentina (bahaha!). At least Uruguay was able to get a last minute goal to overcome mighty Egypt though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018 at 10:57 AM
  11. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    1. Haha. I don't really care for any of those teams outside of Mexico now that you mentioned it. Brazil, I'm okay with. Argentina, though? The Jew in me says **** no to that. However, the contrarian in me wants your side to lose. If it comes down to Argentina vs. some European country, I will be facing a dilemma.

    2. England chokes. Mexico tends to do better than it should. "El Tri", unfortunately, doesn't produce the most talented soccer players, and its coaches are always hated by the Mexican soccer fans. The players, however, tend to play above their heads in the World Cup. Last time, the goalie looked like a soccer legend during the Cup. I hope Memo is still that good, but I doubt it.

    3. Side note - soccer has big problems with brain damage. Not from the flopping, but from the headers. A professional soccer kick to the cranium isn't exactly a day at the beach, but I'm sure it might make a player think he's somewhere he's not.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018 at 11:09 AM
  12. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Yeah England always chokes. They should be much better than they usually end up. Mexico chokes when they are supposed to do well. They pretty much suck anywhere outside the Western hemisphere though so at least a bad showing in this World Cup wouldn't be considered a choke. If they can get even a draw tomorrow vs Germany they'd have a good start though.
     
  13. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    When was Mexico ever supposed to do well?

    Last World Cup, the team managed a tie against Brazil and they beat the two other countries in their division. They ended up losing in the next round to the Netherlands, who are traditionally a lot better than Mexico. It wasn't a choke.

    The two Cups before that, Mexico made it out of their divisions and then got eliminated each time by Argentina. Argentina is one of the great soccer-playing nations, and Mexico is not. This wasn't a choke.

    Of the three World Cups above, only one was played in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico made it out of their divisions each time.

    Unless Germany decides it doesn't really want to win or Memo manages to reproduce his miraculous goalie performance from last World Cup, Mexico's chances tomorrow are nada or null.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018 at 11:50 AM
  14. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Mexico isn't considered a world power but they are always one of the better CONCACAF teams. Maybe losses to Holland and Argentina aren't chokes, but they consistently fail to get much further than group play in the World Cup other than when it is played in Mexico.
     
  15. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    I don't watch CONCACAF or have even, until this moment, ever heard of it. So I will just go ahead and believe you know what you're talking about. Let's just say Mexico hasn't choked in any soccer game I have watched. Well, there was the time the U.S. beat Mexico in the World Cup, but I wasn't rooting for Mexico that day.
     
  16. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Choke might be a little too strong of a word for Mexico. Lets just say they never seem to outplay expectations (as far as advancing, not from game to game). Choke would better be applied to my #1 team which is Holland. Those guys always find a way to play down to their opponent which is why they aren't even in the World Cup this year and I believe it was Iceland that kept them from getting there if I remember correctly.
     
  17. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    I don't think they were supposed to make it out of their division at least two of the past three World Cups. So, if memory serves, Mexico does generally outplay expectations.
     
  18. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Mexico should always be expected to make it out of their group at the World Cup and they usually do, they just don't get any further. If getting out of the group isn't expected from them then they have a lot more to worry about then choking.

    In 2014 they were in a group with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. That one could be argued that they may not have been considered the second best (expected to get out of the group) team in it.

    In 2010 they were in a group with South Africa, France and Uruguay. Only France should have been considered much better than Mexico in that one. Uruguay could have been considered even.

    In 2006 they were in a group with Iran, Angola and Portugal and only Portugal was a better team. If they didn't make it out of this group that would be a huge choke...they did.

    Mexico's "choking" comes when they get out of the group. They are very good at meeting or even exceeding expectations in group play though. They just cant get over the hump when they meet up with the true powers in the sport.
     
  19. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    In 2010, the Cup was in South Africa. I suppose you could make the argument that Mexico should have beat South Africa, but that was the first game of the World Cup against the home team. Generally the home team wins that. ... Although Mexico beat France that year, France was supposed to be the better team.
     
  20. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    My point was that generally speaking Mexico should be considered team number 2 or 2A in a group of four in most World Cups. So getting past group play or not is usually neither a choke nor exceeding expectations. Its what they do after that that defines their history.
     
  21. DFWBoltFan

    DFWBoltFan Where am I?

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    Full Disclosure: I don't really follow men's soccer at all - probably because the USA Men's teams have always pretty much sucked. I am a big fan of USA Women's Soccer, and have followed them though multiple World Cups and Olympics. IMO, the women play harder and there isn't as much "flopping", which I have always found ridiculous. Sure, players in every sport look to draw penalties, however, it seems WAY overboard in soccer and pretty much laughable.

    Given that I don't really have any background with US Men's Soccer, can someone explain to me why our women are always so dominating, but our men's teams always suck? That doesn't make any sense to me. I mean seriously, to not make the World Fricking Cup? Embarrassing.
     
  22. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    It starts with the youth programs. In the United States boys have always had a lot more choices like basketball, football, baseball, etc to play growing up. For girls soccer was always up there with softball. Also, in other countries they invest heavily in the men's program but not so much in the women's teams so the competition isn't there like it is for the men's game around the world.

    FIFA has tried to reign in the flopping issue but it is still there. Im glad to see the VAR (replay) system in place for this World Cup so that they can take a look at some of the fouls that are called or missed and correct them in real time. This is why I tend to root for European teams over Latin American teams as the "flopping" was more the Latin American style for a long time. It eventually got to the point where everyone was doing it though.
     
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  23. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    I agree that Mexico hasn't exceeded expectations by beating teams in the 2nd round that they weren't expected to beat. I also agree that Mexico hasn't choked either.
     
  24. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    If Mexico is any indication, it's because people outside of the U.S. don't care about women's soccer but live and breathe men's soccer. I went to a Chivas-Americas match in Mexico, and it was the most intense thing I've ever been a part of. I can only imagine the games in Europe and South America are even more intense. There is nothing in the U.S. to rival it. Think of an Alabama college-football championship game against Texas, and then multiply the intensity level by about a million - that's what the rest of the world deals with when their men's team plays in the World Cup. Now think of a Tiddly Winks game between somebody's grandma and a toddler. That's how most of the rest of the world views women's soccer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018 at 10:54 PM
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  25. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    I’d give a lot of consideration to being eliminated in the first game of the knockout round of every World Cup you ever made it that far (except for the two they hosted) as choking though. They have decent teams but can’t get past a certain point.
     
  26. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    Well I've seen Mexican soccer in person and have seen the Europeans play on television. Only a couple Mexican players per year are good enough to even be backup players in any Euro league. The fact that El Tri ever beat any country other than the U.S. and maybe Canada tells me that they shouldn't do as well as they have done in the World Cup. Both the U.S. and Mexico do well in the World Cup considering we both suck.

    Why am I arguing this? I don't know the first thing about soccer. I'm just talking ****.
     
  27. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    Today’s game is what I’m talking about. Mexico should be able to play like this against these teams. The sport is huge in Mexico and their team is always at the top of their region. I was rooting for Germany but by the end I was hoping Mexico could hang on today. This is a big win not only in the sense of beating a world power but if they can go on to win this group now they have a really good chance at avoiding Brazil in the first game of the next round.

    By the way HTF does Germany have a player named Gomez lol
     
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  28. LABoltFan

    LABoltFan Bunker Transplant

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    This Brazil vs Switzerland game is huge for Mexico now. It would be bad luck for Mexico to win their group and Brazil finish second in theirs and have to play them. If it goes the way it should now though that round of 16 game of Brazil vs Germany will be insane that early in the knockout round.
     
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  29. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    **** yea, El Chucky! I am so happy for my people down in Mexico. I could only imagine the vibe today. Viva!
     
  30. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl BoltTalker

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    Yea. I was talking out my ***.
     

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