Uruguay get the luck of the World Cup draw

December 6, 2017

“Both Brazil and Argentina were hoping that last Friday’s World Cup draw would put them in Group B. From a logistical point of view, it would have been the best bet; not a great deal of travelling during the group phase, and, for the group winner, an entire knock out campaign restricted to Moscow and Sochi – perfect for teams who aim to be based in Sochi (Brazil) and just outside Moscow (Argentina). …” World Soccer – Tim Vickery

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Applause at the Draw, but Will Russia Keep Cheering?

December 3, 2017


“MOSCOW — Half a million fans — by current, suspiciously optimistic, estimates — will descend on Russia next year for what Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has already decreed will be the ‘best’ World Cup in history. Every single fan, he has decided, will have “an amazing experience.” Billions of dollars have been spent on new, or renovated, stadiums to host the finest players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, on Friday promised a ‘major sporting festival of friendship and fair play.’ …” NY Times, The Ringer: The Four Must-Watch Games of the 2018 World Cup Group Stages (Video), NY Times – World Cup Draw: Group-by-Group Analysis


World Cup 2018 Draw: How It Works

November 30, 2017

“The World Cup does not begin until June, but a crucial moment for all 32 teams in the field arrives Friday, when the draw to populate the tournament’s eight first-round groups is made. If things fall right, a team could emerge from Friday’s draw with an easy route to the Round of 16. If they don’t, a team’s hopes could be dashed even before they arrive in Russia. Here is a look at how it all works. …” NY Times


Who Will Osorio Call? Projecting Mexico’s 2018 World Cup Roster

November 30, 2017


“It’s an exciting week for the Mexico national team, manager Juan Carlos Osorio and their fans as they all anxiously await Friday’s World Cup draw to see who will go up against El Tri in the group stage in next summer’s tournament in Russia. Mexico, the highest-seeded CONCACAF team according to the FIFA rankings, is in pot two for the draw and will avoid teams like Spain, Uruguay and Colombia, but it could face other tournament favorites such as Germany, France, Argentina and even Brazil for a second straight World Cup (in 2014 it played against the host and faced Croatia and Cameroon in the opening stage). The hope for many, especially Osorio, is that the draw is kind to them and his team even envisions winning the group, an accomplishment last achieved in 2002. …” SI


Ahead of World Cup, Fans Are Warned About Homophobia and Racism in Russia

November 30, 2017

“EINDHOVEN, the Netherlands — An anti-discrimination organization that has partnered with FIFA to control fan behavior at the World Cup has issued warnings to gay and transgender fans and people of certain races and ethnicities for next summer’s tournament, highlighting ongoing concerns about threats they may face in Russia. …” NY Times


Italy’s Soccer Apocalypse

November 17, 2017


“Is soccer a matter of life and death? ‘It’s much more serious than that,’ the droll Bill Shankly, who managed Liverpool in the club’s glory days, once remarked. But how much more? ‘Us, out of the World Cup?’ Carlo Tavecchio, the head of the Italian Football Federation, said to journalists, after Italy lost a crucial qualifying game in September. ‘It would be the apocalypse.’ What he seemed to be saying was that it would be something so bad that it surely couldn’t happen. But then it did. ‘THE END,’ the enormous headline of the Gazzetta dello Sport confirmed, when, on Monday, contrary to all expectations and pundit wisdom, Italy failed to score against a modest Swedish side and crashed out of the forthcoming tournament in Russia. …” New Yorker


Where it went wrong for the teams who missed out on the World Cup

November 17, 2017

“Fans from 21 countries explain why they will be staying at home next summer. Holland were unlucky, Italy were mismanaged and Mongolia were a disaster” Guardian