Finally, Russia does not have to share a news headline with United States President Donald Trump! The 2018 World Cup is around the corner, is going to be huuuge and Mr Live Wire has got the ‘covfefe.’ Naturally.
Warning: Italy, Netherlands and United States fans, please look away now. (Soca Warriors supporters should be used to this by now—let’s keep it real!)
First up, there will be no genuine group of death at the Russia tournament—this is, after all, a generation that doesn’t exactly thrive on open confrontation. But there will be some, cough, exotic match-ups and the odd inconvenience when the greatest single sport event on the planet kicks off in Moscow on 14 June, 2018.
Russia lift the curtain on the 2018 edition when they tackle Saudi Arabia on Thursday 14 June. And, to be honest, football fans are probably looking forward to that clash as much as they would a trip to the dentist!
But, on Friday 15 June, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal square off against Sergio Ramos’ Spain in a “battle of the hair gel” and—whoop whoop!—we have lift-off!
The opening groups are not too taxing—deep breaths for Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and everyone else with dodgy accountants—but it will get mighty interesting from the quarterfinal round when Argentina, should they advance, will almost certainly be pitted against either Portugal or Spain.
Dammit. Someone please make sure Messi packs his cape!
Brazil could end up facing Belgium in the quarter-final round too, should both teams top their groups. Will Casemiro turn Eden Hazard into a casserole? Or will Marouane Fellaini use Neymar as a toothpick?
Meanwhile, defending champions Germany could easily advance all the way to the semi-finals without playing anyone more challenging than Colombia. So extra siesta time for Mesut Ozil then… Yeah!
Who is your money on?!
World Cup groups
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Sweden, Mexico, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Knock-out stage[Bracket One]
A1 v B2; C1 v D2
E1 v F2; G1 v H2[Bracket Two]
B1 v A2; D1 v C2
F1 v E2; H1 v G2
Editor’s Note: Each Bracket represents half of the knockout schedule with the overall winner on each line meeting in the quarter-final. The dominant team from each Bracket meets in the final… Isn’t maths fun?!