2018 FIFA World Cup Preview
The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup is on our doorstep. The most publicized sporting event in the world… Yes, yes, even before the Olympic Games, will once again bring together the countries of the planet around the same passion. THIRTY-TWO nations have qualified for this great tournament, some for the first time, others are accustomed and some that… will shine by their absence. Over the next few weeks, before the start of the “beautiful game” tourney, FanPicks will cover every nation participating in the group stage. Don’t forget to enter the World Cup contests at fanpicks.com
As champions, Germany arrives with great ambitions that are very legitimate. Let us recall that Joachim Löw, the head coach since 2006, went to win the Confederations Cup in Russia last year, bringing team B, consisting of players whose mostly were under 23 years old. That says a lot about the depth of this team. The starting eleven is terrifying with Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Draxler. And in goals, the best goalkeeper in the world Manuel Neuer, who was absent for almost a year because of a foot injury, hopes to be back in time. Otherwise, Germany will have to “settle” with Marc-André ter Stegen, Barcelona’s goalkeeper.
Called El Tri for the three colors that Mexico shares with Italy, green, white and red, and of which it will be exclusive to this World Cup, given the non-qualification of the latter. This will be the 16th participation of Mexico and only Germany, Brazil, Argentina and… Italy have done better. Mexico is also the only country to have passed the 400 goals scored in qualifying. Another fact… only Mexico, Germany and Brazil came out of the group phase during the last six World Cups. Led by Andres Guardado, Chicharito and Hirving Lozano, Mexico has again something big going their way.
Sweden achieved great success in qualifying, first by beating France 2 to 1, then eliminating Italy in play-offs. They regained their morale under the direction of Janne Andersson, after a disastrous Euro 2016 which they had left without winning any games. It will be Sweden’s 12th participation, and a return after a 12 years absence. After the Zlatan Ibrahimovich era, whom announced the end of his international career after the Euro, it will be that of the Victor Lindelof, Emil Forsberg and others.
Never easy to play against, the South Koreans have achieved the feat of going to the semifinals at the World Cup played at home and in Japan in 2002. It will be difficult to repeat that year and the scenario is more likely to resemble that of 2014 where they have not gone through the group phase. The qualifications were complicated with a participation ticket won on the last day on a 0-0 with Uzbekistan and thanks to the fact that Serbia did not succeed in beating Iran. It will take all the star power of their three Premier league players — Heung-Min (Tottenham), Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea) and Lee Chung-Yong (Crystal Palace) — to hope for a good result.