July 11, 2018
The 2018 FIFA World Cup has exceeded expectations when it comes to being dramatic and unpredictable, but have you kept up? Are you like me and love all sports but aren’t heavily invested in soccer, or perhaps you have been busy this summer and missed out on some of the most exciting moments that have already occurred in this year’s World Cup. Not to worry, this article is here to help all people, from people who know nothing about soccer but want to be able speak about one of the world’s single greatest sporting event to the most passionate fútbol fan that may have missed some key moments.
The World Cup is a way that the people of the world can come together, and first started in 1930. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), soccer’s governing body, runs many tournaments worldwide but is know for the organizing and managing the World Cup, and has done so since 1904. It has a president, a congress, and even has committees to ensure strategic guidance and oversight are provided as well as passing particular orders for the game.
The FIFA World Cup is played in two stages, and first begins in a stage called the “group” stage. In this stage each team in a group will play one match against the other three teams in their group. Each group is decided by a process called the “Final Draw”. Each of the 32 qualifying teams is first put into four “Pots” which is determined by the 2017 FIFA World Rankings with the host team and top seven teams in Pot 1 while the lowest ranking qualifying teams are in Pot 4. Each team in Pot 1 will randomly occupy the first positions in each group A – H (except the host team which is always the first position in group A) and then Pot 2 teams will randomly be drawn to the group that is next up (alphabetically) while also having their position randomly drawn as well. No two teams from the same confederation (teams basically from the continent) can be placed in the same group, so some of the teams in Pots 2-4 may need to skip groups to ensure that everything works out geographically (except Europe because they qualify the most teams). Once Pot 2 is finished with placement, 3 and 4 will follow until the official groups are formed. A win in Group play is awarded three points while a tie is awarded just one. After each of the three matches are played, the two teams with the highest point total each advance to the “knockout” stage, which is a single elimination tournament with 16 teams present.
Biggest Surprises from Group Play:
Before we dive into a deeper analysis of the knockout round in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, let us first review some of the biggest shocks that happened in the group stage of the tournament. The first shock and probably the largest surprise that has happened so far occurred on the opening day of the tournament. Russia, the lowest ranked team in the competition, thrashed a Saudi Arabian team that has not faired well in their World Cup history with a final score of 5-0. This gave Russia, the hosting team, a boost of confidence as well as a much greater potential to make it out of their group, in which they did. We also saw the defending champions Germany fall to the closest thing to (some) Americans have to root for, Mexico. It only took one shot from Hirving Lozano and impeccable defense from Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico for them to prevail 1-0. This surprising win helped to keep the Germans out of the knockout stage, and spoiled chance of being the second team to ever repeat in the World Cup. Iceland also gave a bit of a surprise in their first ever World Cup when they tied Argentina, but it was more so a celebratory and prideful moment for a country once the first goal for this country was scored. Argentina will again be apart of the surprises in this year’s group play, and again will be on the wrong side. Lionel Messi, a consensus top three soccer player in the world who has been voted the world’s best player on five separate occasions, had a chance to win a game for Argentina with a penalty, but missed high and wide right. He has had his hardships with penalty taking but his team has done enough to make it to the elimination round, and hopefully provide him with another chance to show he is the best.
Knockout Round Matchups and Expectations:
Now that you have all the information needed to be properly put up to speed about the 2018 World Cup, pick the team you want to root for, whether it be an underdog or the favorite. The go out and get a vuvuzela, paint your chest or face, and show as much spirit as possible and enjoy the rest of the championship just like the rest of the world does. The FIFA World Cup is another way we as people on this earth can bond and celebrate the similarities we share as people, and competing in a sport that is recognized by almost every country is the perfect way to do so.
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