Yes it is time! Once every four years the world stops for a month for the biggest sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World Cup. This year's event promises to have everything and more that a World Cup is expected to have - goals, surprises, controversies, drama, breakout stars and a plethora of emotions. Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s tournament!
Image Source: AFP
Without a doubt the FIFA World cup is the biggest sporting spectatcle in the world. The last tournament in 2014 saw a record breaking 3.2 billion people tune in throughout the tournament, amounting to nearly half the entire world. To compare, the 2014 World cup final between Argentina and Germany received over 1 billion viewers, whereas the 2014 Super Bowl final between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons received a mere 111 million viewers.
The Host Nation
Russia will host the tournament this year for the first time in their history. The 64 matches will be played across 12 stadiums and 11 cities, with both the opening match and the final being played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Due to the size of Russia, teams will have to travel great distances between games, with Egypt having to travel the furthest for their 3 group stage fixtures, amounting to about 11,773 km, which is the equivalent of 20 hours of air travel, or 165 hours of driving.
Image Source: AFP
Out of 211 countries world-wide, 32 teams will participate in the tournament in Russia. The biggest surprise absences from the tournament this year are definitely Italy and the Netherlands, who failed to qualify. On the other hand, Iceland became the smallest country, with 335,000 people to qualify for the World Cup, which is astonishing in comparison to a country like the USA, who have a population of 325 million and failed to qualify.
This year, there are a few favourites to take the crown, but most notable are Germany and Brazil.
Germany are the current world champions, winning the 2014 Brazil World Cup through a Mario Gotze extra time winner. Although Gotze wasn’t selected this year, many players including Matt Hummels, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller will be looking to replicate their 2014 tournament.
Brazil are the other big favourite this year, who will be looking redeem themselves after their humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in their own country in 2014. Although Dani Alves was recently ruled out due to injury, Brazil won’t be lacking any talent, with a star studded squad including Barcelona’s Phillipe Coutinho, Real Madrid’s Casemiro and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar to name a few.
Image Source: AFP
The 2018 Russia World Cup will be the Australians' 3rd consecutive and 4th overall appearance on the world stage. The Socceroos took the long road to Russia after being forced to win both an Asia play-off against Syria and an Intercontinental play-off against Honduras due to a 3rd place finish in their qualifying group.
Although our squad may not quite be the golden generation of the 2006 World Cup, there will be hope in players like Matt Ryan and Aaron Mooy, both playing in the English Premier League this season for Brighton and Huddersfield respectively as well as our long-standing reliance on Tim Cahill.
Image Source: The Star
This tournament could see many World Cup records be broken. Most notably, all eyes will be on Thomas Muller who has scored five goals in each of his last two World Cups, leaving him 6 goals behind the all-time record holder Miroslav Klose who broke the record in 2014 to reach 16 goals. Muller will need to score 6 goals to equal the record, which is definitely in reach with Germany being the tournament favourites.
Although on 5 goals, Messi isn’t in the running to match Klose’s record. But he is closing in on Diego Maradona’s record for most World Cup goals scored as captain. Messi needs 3 more goals to beat the record, which is well within his reach.
After coming on as a substitute against Japan and scoring two important goals in 2006, a header against Serbia in 2010 and a stunning volley against the Netherlands in 2014, Tim Cahill will be looking to score in his fourth World Cup. Cahill will join World Cup legends Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose as the only players to have achieved the feat if he manages to grab a goal.
The World Cup is a celebration of the beautiful game, and we are hosting a World Cup Kickoff party to celebrate it. Join us at the Blue Moon Bar at 6:00 PM for some fun, games and loads of passionate fans.
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