2018 FIFA World Cup Preview

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2018 FIFA World Cup Preview

Adam Carroll and Dexter Weinkam

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Every four years, soccer fans from all over the world gather around the TV set to watch the FIFA World Cup. The next tournament is set to kick off on June 14 when the host nation Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. There is much to be excited about this tournament with some old familiar countries, as well as some newcomers that will look to prove they belong on the world stage. 

One major absence this time is the USA, which has missed out on qualifying for the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1986. Other surprise absences include four-time tournament winner Italy, who missed out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958, as well as the Netherlands, the team that finished in third place four years ago. 

However, there are some teams that have either qualified for the first time ever or just ended a long hiatus from the tournament. Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time in history, while Peru qualified for the first time since 1982, Egypt last qualified in 1990, Morocco hadn’t qualified since 1998, and teams like Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden are making their first appearance since 2006. 

Teams that are largely considered contenders by the experts and the media include defending world champion, Germany, five-time tournament winner Brazil, defending European champion, Portugal, and the runner up from four years ago, Argentina. 

Players to watch include Christiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese superstar, who has a lot to prove with his underdog squad, Kevin De Bruyne, a brilliant Midfielder for Belgium who will be a threat on the pitch with his long shot ability, and Lionel Messi, an Argentinean attacker, who is always one to watch with his pace and skill going to work against the opposing defenders.   

There will also be some young players who are looking to break out this tournament and make a name for themselves. Some candidates include Leroy Sane, a 22-year-old Winger for Germany will provide speed to the squad, Kylian Mbappe the 19-year- old French forward is ready to show the hype around him, and Gabriel Jesus, 21-year-old striker from Brazil who has great footwork and speed who will create excitement throughout the World Cup. A less flashy but very good young player is Davinson Sanchez 21-year-old center back who is an anchor for his Columbian side. 

For anyone interested, the US coverage will be on Fox Sports.