For the past ten or so FIFA World Cup tournaments, there’s been this undeniable predictability of the teams that could possibly win the competition. Teams like Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina, Spain, and Italy have always been tipped to do the honours of lifting the trophy and for most of the tournament history, they have done so. Brazil and Italy alone have won over 50% of the World Cups since the competition’s inception.
Teams like England, Nigeria and other African countries, Portugal, Uruguay, Mexico, Croatia, Russia, and Sweden have always been placed in the category of ‘they will try sha but in the end, they wouldn’t do anything of note.’ And then there are the rest; those who are only there to mark attendance.
However, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will no doubt go down in history as the most epic, strangest, and OMG-worthy tournament ever.
Why, you ask? Well, let’s look at the facts.
Of the teams that are always expected to at least try and win the world cup, only two are currently in the running. Italy didn’t even qualify and save for Brazil and France, the rest have all been knocked out of the competition.
From the category of ‘they will try sha,’ England, Russia, Croatia, Mexico, Uruguay, and Sweden are still alive and vying for the trophy, while the remaining slots are filled with teams in the (you guessed it,) coming to mark attendance category.
It is clearly a strange turn of events and a very much welcomed one. Many have speculated that FIFA and those in charge of planning the World Cup, don’t do so to entertain fans but instead match the teams that will bring them revenue. Since everyone would love to watch Ronaldo’s Portugal play against Messi’s Argentina, the word on the street is that FIFA has been trying to make that happen for years with the way the fixtures and groupings are done.
Teams like Brazil and France will definitely want to be watched by billions because of the result of the France ’98 World Cup where the hosts defeated Brazil 3-0 to win the competition, so a lot of people have once again speculated that FIFA is trying to get them both either in the semis or in the finals.
But this tournament has definitely thrown a serious wrench in their alleged plans and the smaller teams that always come to mark attendance are now stepping up and putting everything on the line to lift the most coveted trophy in world football.
The spirit of the tournament isn’t in fixing matches, it is all about causing adrenaline-pumping moments like we saw in both Spain vs Russia and Denmark vs Croatia. We want to watch nerve-wrecking games like Germany vs Korea, and exciting matches like Nigeria vs Iceland. That is what football is all about, and that is why the 2018 World Cup currently being held in Russia is still one of the best tournaments till date.