Zambia may not have a World Cup history of its own, but the whole world tunes in for soccer’s greatest competition. And with March now upon us, the 2018 Cup is fast approaching. The action begins on June 14th in Russia, and for anyone looking to get into the World Cup spirit we’ve written up something of a primer.
The groups were drawn in December
The drawing for the World Cup groups was held in early December, and the groups are now posted at the FIFA website for all to see. Perhaps the main reaction to the drawing was that as host nation Russia received an unusually friendly draw (paired with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay). Many also remarked that there isn’t a traditional “Group of Death” full of powerhouses, though Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria) could be deceptively tough, and Group H (Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan) is particularly well balanced.
Major teams are missing the Cup
One of the most noticeable things about the 2018 World Cup is going to be its lack of traditional participants. A UK site took an early look at major teams missing the action and included the United States, Chile, the Netherlands, Ghana, and Cameroon – without even mentioning Italy, which is out this year despite often being among the favorites. While there can be something nice about a sense of familiarity when you’re watching the Cup, these teams’ absence is also giving a few other nations that don’t always qualify a chance, which should add some fresh feeling to the 2018 event.
There are a few early favorite
Odds for the World Cup will continue to shift in the coming months, so if this is something you like to keep an eye on you’ll want to find a place to follow along. You can browse online for the best places to find the top odds on sporting events, and most every platform carries World Cup information. As of this writing, however, there are a few early favorites with no one nation definitively out in front. They’re pretty much the usual suspects as well. Germany, Brazil, France, and Spain are being considered the likeliest winners, though this Cup truly seems to be wide open.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest team
Several African teams look to have a chance to advance. Egypt will be competitive in Group A, particularly with Mo Salah having established himself as one of the most dominant attackers in world soccer. Morocco will be next up in Group B if Portugal or Spain falters. Tunisia likely has no chance in Group G, and Senegal could well advance from Group H. But the best hope for a deeper run looks to be Nigeria, which could rightly be considered the favorite to advance alongside Argentina from Group D.
It’s a Cup for new heroe
The biggest names in soccer, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar will all be present in Russia (barring injury of course). But some of the most passionate soccer nations are also heading into the Cup with younger cores and budding stars. England’s Marcus Rashford, Germany’s Joshua Kimmich, France’s Kylian Mbappé, and Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus are just a few to keep an eye on in what really ought to be an incredibly exciting tournament.