“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia
“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)
“Manuel Neuer established himself as the embodiment of the modern goalkeeper at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. While he was by no means the first shot stopper capable of creating something with the ball at his feet and his exceptional skill was already beyond doubt to football fans across Germany, his courageous displays in South America four years ago captivated audiences around the world. He was ultimately rewarded with the World Cup Trophy and the adidas Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper. …” FIFA (Video)
The 1966 World Cup Final makes our list of the best matches in World Cup history.
“The World Cup has seen some of the greatest matches ever take place, so bearing that in mind we have put together ten of the best. From amazing goals, to spectacular moments, these matches have helped write World Cup history. …” World Soccer
“MUNICH — Unlikely as it seems, it may be time to consider the distinct possibility that Zinedine Zidane — winner of the Champions League in each of his first two seasons as a manager, and now on the brink of guiding Real Madrid to the competition’s final for a third year in a row — may be quite a good coach. That his brief managerial career has thus far delivered eight trophies in not quite 30 months should have made that perfectly obvious, of course; by this stage, the fact that he could steer his team to a 2-1 victory at Bayern Munich in the first leg of a Champions League semifinal should barely be worthy of note. Zidane the coach, not unlike Zidane the player, has known nothing but success. …” NY Times
“Chances are you’ve heard someone wax lyrical about Leon Bailey this season. The 20-year-old winger’s transfer from Genk to Bayer Leverkusen in January of 2017 wasn’t an attention grabber outside of certain circles but, since then, he has certainly gained many new admirers. Through 25 games Bailey has notched 9 goals and 6 assists in 1841 minutes, with solid expected numbers underlying that. He’s established himself as a mainstay in this resurgent and entertaining Leverkusen team. When everything’s clicking the lad is a thrill to watch, turning defenders inside out and causing widespread panic amongst the opposition. There’s still plenty of time for him to grow too. Whether it be this summer or next there’s no doubt the biggest clubs in Europe will be circling around the BayArena soon enough, large briefcases of cash in hand. So let’s take a look at what they’d be getting, shall we? …” Stats Bomb (Video)