A time for glory
Interestingly, it is every footballer’s dream to wear his country’s colors as a sports ambassador, and possibly lead his team to glory. But there are key players to watch out for FIFA World Cup 2018. Certainly, some of the big names in football will fail to make their country’s selection due to injury, as this is often the case because football leagues preceded world cups. Also, only the best (fitness), existing superstars, and young talents will get the chance to prove their worth in the eyes of billions of spectators across the world.
It might be too early to predict which player or national team will excel at FIFA World Cup 2018. But there is much to expect since this event will be Russia’s first time to host the World Cup. Times have changed between the last world cup in Brazil (2014) and now. More so, the question of who the best soccer player in the world is doesn’t arise because FIFA World Cup event is a time to outshine the best and discover new talents.
Favorites and Underdogs
According to the FIFA ranking released in March 201, the best football nation in the world is Germany. Also, the next top nine in the ranking (in descending order) are; Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, France, and Chile. Other national teams like Nigeria (The Super Eagles), Uruguay (La Celeste), England (The Three Lions), and other finalists that made the 2018 Russia World Cup are not underdogs. As the countdown to the 2018 Russia World Cup in June resounds, let’s explore the list of finalists that will feature in the most prestigious tournament in global football. Will the key players outshine fresh talents in this year’s tournament?
The 32 Finalists for FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia
Representative nations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC):
AUSTRALIA (the Socceroos): they are making their fifth appearance at a World Cup.
IRAN (Team Melli): they were the first Asian national team to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
JAPAN: they have made the round of 16 in two World Cup events.
KOREA REPUBLIC (The Taeguk Warriors): their debut was in 1986.
SAUDI ARABIA: their debut was at the World Cup in USA 1994.
Representative nations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF):
EGYPT (The Pharaohs): this is their first world cup appearance since the event took place in Italy twenty-eight years ago.
MOROCCO (The Atlas Lions): this team topped their Group C qualifiers games.
NIGERIA (The Super Eagles): they are Africa’s football giants, they have only missed one World Cup tournament since their debut at the USA 1994 event.
SENEGAL (Lions of Taranga): their debut was at the Korea/Japan 2002 event where they reached the quarter-finals level.
TUNISIA (the Carthage Eagles): they became the first African team to win a World Cup match at the Argentina 1978 event.
Representative nations of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean association football (CONCACAF):
COSTA RICA (Los Ticos): they made it to the quarter-finals level at the Brazil 2014 event.
MEXICO: they are a strong contender in this year’s tournament with only a loss at the qualifying games in preparation for Russia 2018.
PANAMA: this is their World Cup debut.
Representative nations of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL):
ARGENTINA: they are always a delight to watch with a two-time champion’s record, this team had their debut at the inaugural edition at Uruguay (1930).
BRAZIL (A Seleção): they were the first national team to qualify (excluding the hosts, Russia).
COLOMBIA (Los Cafeteros): they have energetic players with an experienced coach (Jose Pekerman).
PERU: for the first time in 36 years, the Peruvians are back in full steam.
URUGUAY (La Celeste): they hosted and won the World Cup in 1930, and at the Brazil 1950 event they won the cup too.
Representative nations of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA):
BELGIUM: they were undefeated and topped their Group-H during the qualifying stage.
CROATIA: they excelled in their World Cup debut at the France 1998 event where they came third.
DENMARK: they had a playoff win over the Republic of Ireland that made them qualify.
ENGLAND (The Three Lions): they have made the World Cup finals 14 times.
FRANCE (Les Bleus): they are featuring for the sixth consecutive World Cup finals.
GERMANY: they are the defending World Cup champions and were unbeaten in the recent qualifying games.
ICELAND: they are the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup event.
POLAND: they had an outstanding World Cup record in 1974 when Germany hosted, and in 1982 when Spain hosted.
PORTUGAL (A Seleção das Quinas): they are making the fifth consecutive World Cup event appearance.
RUSSIA: they are the host nation, with their most outstanding World Cup event in 1966 when England hosted.
SERBIA: they finished first in their qualifying Group-D level with a single defeat.
SPAIN: they were World Cup champions in 2010; their debut was at the Italy World Cup event (in 1934).
SWEDEN: they were runners-up as World Cup hosts in the event of 1958.
SWITZERLAND: they have reached the quarter-finals level three times.
These are the key players to watch out in FIFA World Cup 2018.
Germany football team: Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos are the ‘mid-field wizards’ with football intelligence. Fans should watch out for them. Also, Manuel Neuer has excellent reflexes as the world champions’ first-choice keeper.
Argentina football team: Lionel Messi is a football maestro; the five-time world player of the year will be a delight to watch out for as Argentina’s key player.
Belgium football team: Kevin De Bruyne is a young talent that will mesmerize spectators at this year’s tournament in Russia. It is impossible not to mention Eden Hazard who has grown in stature and skills. Both players and their goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois will inspire their teammates.
Brazil football team: Neymar is the ‘kid on the block,’ as the key player, he will be the shining star to watch out for in A-Seleção team.
France football team: Antoine Griezmann, Alexandar Lacazette, Ousmane Dembélé, Paul Pogba and a host of other talented players will make a formidable team.
There are over 60 players from different national teams to watch out for; when you are unable to get a ticket to the live games in Russia, the only option is to stay glued to your TV screen.