The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held this year in Russia from June 14 to July 15, and it promises to be more exciting than ever. Here is your guide to the FIFA World Cup 2018.
All the matches will be held in cities just outside or in European Russia to reduce travel time,. Venues include Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, Samara, and Yekaterinburg.
Teams and Groups
This year’s World Cup will be the 21st football World Cup of the men’s national teams and will include 32 national teams including the hosts, Russia.
64 matches will be played in the tournament in 12 different stadium venues. The final will be held at the Luzhniki Stadium of Moscow on July 15, and the winner will lift the prestigious FIFA World Cup trophy and bag US $38 million.
The 32 teams were drawn into eight groups of four. Group A includes the hosts Russia along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Cristiano Ronaldo, leading Portugal, will face Real Madrid teammate, Sergio Ramos leading Spain in Group B, along with Morocco and Iran. Group C will include France, Australia, Denmark and Peru.
Group D consists of Lionel Messi led Argentina who will go up against Croatia, Nigeria and first-timers Iceland. Group E includes the Neymar led former hosts Brazil along with Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland. The defending champions Germany fall into Group F which also includes Mexico, South Korea and Sweden. Eden Hazard will lead Belgium into Group G and will play matches against England, Tunisia and first times Panama.
The last group, but not the least, of Group H, includes Colombia, Japan, Poland and Senegal.
The first match of the 2018 World Cup will be of the hosts Russia who will go up against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium, which has a capacity of hosting around 81,000 fans.
The official match ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is called the ‘Adidas Telstar 18’ and has been produced in the city of Sialkot in Pakistan.
‘Live it Up’ has been named the official song of the tournament and is sung by Will Smith, Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi.
There are many records made and broken at an event like the World Cup, but this time three of them are under serious threat of getting passed on to other players and teams.
Faryd Camilo Mondragón Alí, the former Colombian goalkeeper, holds the record for being the oldest player to play in a World Cup at 43 years old. This time, Egyptian goalkeeper and captain, Essam El-Hadary, will be entering the World Cup aged 45.
Former German striker, Miroslav Klose, holds the record for scoring the most goals in World Cup history with 16 goals. His country mate, Thomas Müller, currently has 10 World Cup goals under his belt and his recent form playing for German club Bayern Munich has shown he is a serious threat to the record. James Rodriguez is second on the list with 6 goals, followed by Lionel Messi with 5 goals, tying the third spot with Gonzalo Higuain, Tim Cahill and Luis Suarez.
English football club Arsenal currently has the record for sending the most number of players playing to their respective national teams, after they sent 15 of their players to the World Cup held in 2006 at Germany. This year, English football club Manchester City has sent 16 of its players to their respective national teams.
Brazil has the record for winning the most number of World Cups at five, while Germany has four World Cups under its name.
In terms of the most inexperienced squads, Tunisia tops the list with its players only having 462 caps, while England has the second-most inexperienced squad with 465 caps.
Nigeria, this year, has the lowest average age at this year’s World Cup at 25 years and 337 days, but the youngest player at this World Cup is 19 years and 161 days old Australian attacking midfielder and winger, Daniel Arzani.
Fans were worried about the Egyptian “Pharoah” Mohamed Salah and his appearance at this year’s World cup after he was injured playing in the Champions League final for Liverpool against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. However, recently, Mo Salah said in a statement, “I’m excited. I am preparing in a very good way for the Uruguay match and things are going well. Let’s see what will happen in the coming days. My morale is very good and everything is okay.”
In the last FIFA World Cup in 2014, which was hosted by Brazil, Argentina came up against Germany in the final on July 14 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The match went into extra time with both teams yet to score a goal. In the 113th minute of the match, Mario Götze scored after receiving a cross from teammate André Schürrle.