“In October, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed their fate, but according to players, coaches, commentators, and executives across American soccer, the disaster doesn’t come down to just one unfortunate result. No, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure.” The Ringer (Video)
“Brazil have been somewhat unpredictable over the past 20 years: they were highly fancied ahead of 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2014 and failed to lift the trophy, but were widely written off in 2002 and then won seven straight matches. This time around, they’re generally considered favourites – so, if the previous pattern continues, they’ll presumably prove underwhelming again.” Betting Tips – Michael Cox
“Picking the winner of Group A feels a bit pointless. Possibly the weakest group in the history of the World Cup will advance two teams to the round of 16. When they get there, FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index projects a roughly 50 percent chance that both teams will lose — and that will be the end of Group A. But before they can become the underdogs of the knockouts, the best teams in Group A must try to hold on to their place at the top. …” FiveThirtyEight
“Kaliningrad, which will host four World Cup matches this month, is a peculiar Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. Wedged between Poland and Lithuania, both members of NATO and the European Union, it is geographically separated from the rest of Russia—a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) that has earned it status as the ‘Russian Hong Kong.’ …” New Republic
“Yes, club soccer has overtaken the international game. And sure, all of the best players play for the best club teams, where they get coached by the best managers, who get to use the best facilities on a daily basis. Meanwhile, national teams congregate only a few times per year, for a friendly there or a qualification match here—and most sides get to play in a competitive tournament only once every 24 months. That’s why a tactic like pressing—swarming your opponent while they have the ball in their own defensive third—has dominated the club game but will be a rare sight in Russia this summer.” The Ringer (Video)
“Ever since Russia won the 2018 World Cup bid it has been surrounded by controversy regarding hooligans, racism, homophobia and corrupt. We went to Russia to find out for ourselves if these worries are justified, what the levels of expectations are and what type of World Cup Russia will host.” YouTube: Should You Be Afraid Of The Russian World Cup?