“In Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics, Jonathan Wilson describes the symbolism of the no. 10 as “the ‘free-spirited epitome of the artistry of soccer.’ And while free-spirits have become fewer and farther between as more money’s been poured into the game and managers have systematized their tactics, the no. 10 is still typically given to the most creative player on the team. Or, in Poland or Nigeria’s case, it’s given to a defensive midfielder best known for his ability to make tackles and pass the ball sideways. But each team has its reasons, and so with all of the World Cup squad lists now officially released, we each ranked all the nos. 10 set to play in Russia this summer, tallied the results, and came out with the following list. No. 1 is obvious, but that’s about the only spot we came close to agreeing on. Yes, someone, who shall remain nameless out of our sheer fear for his safety, didn’t put Lionel Messi first.” The Ringer
“Max Rushden is joined by voices from around the world to preview World Cup groups A-D, including Danish royalty, Peruvian vigour and the prospect of a tournament without a French meltdown.” Guardian (Audio)
“Biographies of every player in all 32 squads in Russia, including caps, goals, nicknames, hobbies and, once the tournament starts, ratings for every performance. We strive to give you an unbiased, trustworthy and in-depth view of the world’s most prestigious football tournament. If you think that’s worth something, then you can support The Guardian from as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute.” Guardian
“Two teams at this World Cup appear gloriously unpredictable: you wouldn’t be surprised if they reached the semi-finals; equally, crashing out at the group phase is eminently possible. The first is Portugal, and the second is Argentina. The link is obvious: underwhelming sides with plenty of defensive question marks, but captained by an all-time great. But whereas Cristiano Ronaldo tasted success with Portugal at the European Championship two years ago, Leo Messi is still searching for a first taste of international glory – the Olympics notwithstanding – for Argentina.” 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
“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?