FIFA World Cup

Opening ceremonies in Qatar

It’s finally here! After 4 long, traumatic, drastic and unpredictable years it arrived and it’s in Qatar! Don’t you smell or taste that sensation in the air? The World Cup is finally here! Who is going to be the one to claim it this year? Will France be able to defend their golden title against the most powerful nations of the world?

 It all begins November 20th when Ecuador will face off against the host country of the World Cup, Qatar, in what is expected to be a spectacular night of football. The World Cup will go on for a month, well 29 days to be exact; ending near the Christmas and New Year holidays. Qatar is expected to be packed with all different types of supporters and fans and due to this, the Qatari government has set many rules to avoid causing problems on and off the field and for respect of the country. Some rules set by the government involve covering the body with clothing of certain lengths and cuts, alcohol prohibition, the enforced use of a hijab in public places, having a Hayya Card with you at all times, and many other drastic measures which are written down in a 128 page rule book, crazy right? Some of the rules and actions taken by the Qatari government have been judged harshly by players, fans, and FIFA. Nothing has changed the government’s opinions on their rules and many have been willing to test the limits.

As always the big question still hangs in the air over who will lift the cup this year? 32 Countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, North, South, and Central America, Australia, with almost every continent in the world traveling to Qatar. Squaring off in a hopeful total of 7 matches, though most only playing 3-4. With the best players in the world trying to lift the cup for their country. The frontrunners this year involve Brazil, ranked FIFA’s #1 country, with their strong selection of players like Neymar, Vini Jr, Gabriel Jesus and many other outstanding players, trying to lift their country’s 6th ever World Cup. Portugal lead by Mr. Champions himself, Cristiano Ronaldo and other Portuguese greats. Argentina led by “La Pulga,” Lionel Messi, Sadio Mane and Aliou Cisse’s strong side Senegal. The underrated Samurai Blue’s from Japan with Takefusa Kubo. USA led by Captain America himself, Christian Pulisic. Finally the defending Champions of the World, France with Kylian Mbappe, with 25 other amazing countries rounding out this year’s contenders.

France lifts the cup after a tough series against Croatia: PRF

 Each country is put into a group of 4 labeled with a letter from A-H. This year’s groups gave each country a fair chance to fight at their best level to try to reach the round of 16, making some surprises possible and the impossible, realistic to those who now stand a fighting chance. In Group A the host country is put to the test facing off against Senegal, Ecuador and Netherlands. The predictions made by experts and soccer lovers for who will move past the group stage in this table come to be the AFCON Champions, Senegal, for their strong defensive tactics and fast style of play. Virgil van Dijk’s Netherlands, which comes packed with outstanding players like Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo, Frenkie De Jong, Steven Bergwijn and others, building a strong defensive and attacking team, ready to try to lift the World Cup. When asked about the group stages, Paul, a soccer fanatic, had this to say, “ I believe in Ecuador, only the best make it to the World Cup. The games are going to be difficult but I believe in the South Americans.”

Group B has one of the most interesting interactions as football will finally meet soccer. USA, England, Wales, and Iran will be put to the challenge in this group as each country fights with a strong selection of players to make it to the next round. England comes into the group as the favorite and believed to be the first to pass to the round of 16 in the table. With players like Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, Declan Rice, John Stones and many other terrific players there is no doubt that England will go far in this competition. The other 3 countries in the group will have a difficult time trying to find space in the next round but critics believe the Welsh Dragons will triumph over the U.S, and Iran to move on to the next stage. Both the U.S. and Iran come in with strong squads, but experts say Wales has a more organized team than the other 2 countries, but surprises are not entirely unexpected to come. “Don’t sleep on the U.S. They are gonna be a nightmare for the B group,” believes Paul.

Group C gives all Mexicans and North Americans the chills as Lewandowski and Messi will both be fighting in this group to move forward. Group C consists of Mexico, Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Just like England in group B, Argentina come out as the favorites in the group with stars like Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez, Angel di Maria, Lisandro Martinez, and of course Lionel Messi with many others, coming into the competition as one of the favorite countries to lift the cup. The competition is real for Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia but each one has a deadly weapon of their own. The Saudi’s come in with players that don’t play in any of the European top 5 leagues as the underdog of the group. Mexico and Poland have stars like Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Robert “Tito” Lewandowski, Raul Jimenez, Piotr Zielininski, Alexis Vega, Wojciech Szczęsny, Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa and other prolific players who will each give their heart out for their country. Poland is believed to overcome Saudi Arabia and Mexico with their overall stats and ratings but like in any other group, the surprises are yet to come. Paul had this to say, “We knocked out Germany in the 2018 World Cup. We can win against these other countries, just believe in Mexico.” 

Group D holds the reigning Champions of the World, France, but will they fall victim to the title curse? Every World Cup since 1998, the title holders of the tournament have been knocked out of the competition in the group stage. The last country to do so was Germany in the 2018 World Cup, so will France break the curse? Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia will fight off against the world champs and be road blocks against Les Bleus. France is still one of the strongest countries in the world and is believed to surpass all of the other nations in their group, moving on to the round of 16. The other country expected to pass with France is Denmark. With Peter Schmeichel in goal and Christian Eriksen leading the midfield, the Red and Whites are expected to push out their competition and fight in the next round for the golden trophy. 

Group E is this World Cup’s group of death. All the countries in this group are ranked as the best in the world and the possibilities are endless for what is yet to come in this table. With Spain, Germany, Costa Rica, and Japan, Group E will bring some beautiful games of soccer. Spain, with players like Gavi, Pedri, Marco Asensio, Ferran Torres, Aymeric Laporte and other outstanding players. Germany, with players like Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger, Thomas Muller and many other terrific players; are the 2 favorites in this group and will have the most likely chances to pass to the next round. Though don’t count out the Samurai Blue and La Sele just yet, as they will be hard competition to fight off.  In this group, stats are not enough to secure a pass so what will happen is unpredictable, but is sure to be greatly entertaining.

Group F is another group that is sure to have some unpredictable outcomes. Morocco, Belgium, Croatia, and Canada are all in this group with some fierce squads. Croatia, the sub-champions of the 2018 World Cup, will enter this competition with a thirst for revenge, and will for certain be one of the countries to look out for in this competition. The Vatreni will look to move past their group like they did in 2018, but all 3 countries in their way will make the road to the championship difficult for the Croatians. Canada, coming off a great season, will look to score their first ever world cup goal. Having last qualified 36 years ago, they are considered one of North America’s strongest teams. Morocco and the Belgian Red Devils both walk into the group with some of the greatest stars in the world, with players like Hakim Ziyech, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne, Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Thibaut Courtois and many others, ready to compete for the top spot in the table. The favorites to pass in this group are the Croates and the Belgians only due to the fact that their squads have higher value and are more organized teams. “Canada’s gonna win the group,” wise words from Paul.

Group G is Brazil’s group. The competition the Brazilians will face in this group, is considered to be much lighter than the competition Brazil will face if they advance to the next stage. Serbia, Cameroon, and Switzerland will verse the Seleção and try to stop what seems to be an unshakeable outfit. Neymar will be leading the Brazilians in his 3rd ever World Cup to see if he can finally accomplish “the dream” against the nations of the world. As favorites of the group, and for many, the favorites of the competition; Brazil is predicted to come atop Group G with Switzerland by their side. The Serbians and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon might come out with a few surprises for the world, as the games are yet to begin. The question for this group is, who will stop Brazil?

Group H, the final group, holds some of the best competition in this tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will face strong countries from 3 different continents as they attempt to advance to the next round of the group, with many hoping to win the competition. Ghana comes in with strong players and a strong squad, ready to fight for the top seat in the group. Uruguay, the first ever World Cup winners, look to verse old rivals to see if they can once again beat their competition and advance. The underdog of the group, Korea Republic, come in with full confidence that Heung-Min Son and the Taegeuk Warriors will crush their competition and move Korea on to the next round. The favorites for this final group come to be CR7’s Portugal and Uruguay. Due to the fact that both countries come with great stars, and have such unpredictable talents that both are believed to go far in the competition. “Let’s hope we can get a Messi vs Ronaldo final,” thoughts from Paul when asked about the group.

The entrance date for people going to Qatar to watch the World Cup is during the beginning of November with many requirements. Players and fans that don’t agree with all the 128 paged rules have done small protests within games and in the country but it only brings attention to the matter rather than bringing solutions. The plans by both FIFA and the Qatari government are for everyone to have fun, enjoy the game, and to grow the love and passion for the sport all around the world.