Russia 2018: A Guide to the Upcoming World Cup

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Russia 2018: A Guide to the Upcoming World Cup

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Dec 20, 2017 —  In just six months the world's greatest football tournament will be underway across Russia. Between June 14 and July 15, 2018 fans from across the world will flock to the country to enjoy what promises to one of the most competitive ever. While there has been a considerable amount of controversy regarding the decision-making process to award Russia the tournament, most fans are willing to set that aside as 'bygones'. Instead, they want to enjoy quality soccer with plenty of talking points and of course upsets. So what do you need to know about the 2018 World Cup? Here's an early overview:

2018 May Be The Most Open World Cup Ever

Anyone looking to make a bet or two this coming tournament ought to find plenty of value. Just like anyone can win big when gambling online with 7Sultans slot machines, the same can be said for picking out which lesser-known nation is going to excel this time around. There are plenty of dark horses well worth of a look. Why is this?

Just look at the teams who qualified. Instead of traditional powerhouses such as Italy and the Netherlands, this time their places are taken by the likes of Iceland and Iran. As has been thoroughly proven, both these and numerous other squads are more than capable of causing odds-defying upsets. Over the last 20 years and across all tournaments - not just the World Cup - these have become ever more common. Could Russia 2018 be the time when a 'minnow' nation wins the prize? Probably not, but there will be a good number of surprise results.

Who To Watch?

Assuming all teams are at full strength (and hopefully so) it is very difficult to look past Germany as serious contenders. The old stereotypes of 'win at all costs' pragmatic football are long gone. Nowadays they have a sublime mix of youth, experience, skill, and pace to go along with their intimidating reputation as expert navigators through the trickier matches. The defending champions have what should be a relatively easy group to win, facing Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea.

Elsewhere it is more of a mixed bag when looking for teams that could storm towards the title. Brazil will obviously be eager to throw their 2014 failures into the history books, and possess a team laced with not just flair but also strategic grit. Spain is always going to be a contender, especially with such a talented younger generation stepping up to the mantle. However, they do have regional 'derbies' with both Portugal and Morocco to overcome early on. Argentina is blessed with outstanding individuals but did little to convince during qualification so the pressure will be on.

Swansong For Superstars?

Neither Ronaldo or Messi are growing any younger, and there's a solid possibility that this World Cup will involve one or even both announcing their international retirement to help maintain their durability for their league teams. Quite a few pundits expect that this may prove the case depending on how Portugal and Argentina end up performing.

Quite possibly the legacy of the 2018 World Cup may be the time for younger talents to take to the global stage. Each major squad possesses players that are valued by their club sides in the dozens of millions. Mbappe for France, Kane for England, De Bruyne for Belgium - the list is endless. Throw in the fact that there's plenty of lesser known sides than usual, and players relatively young and unknown to an international audience, and anything could happen.

Will The Tournament Run Smoothly?

This is a big fear. While all but one of the stadiums are situated in the west of the country, there is an unmistakable worry that internal transit, accommodation and safety issues may run a cloud over the 2018 World Cup. That being said, everyone said the same about Brazil 2014 and that went much smoother than even the most optimistic observer would have predicted.

In terms of football, the distances will be nothing that most professional footballers are unused to nowadays. After all, some teams involved in Europe can play competitive matches thousands of miles apart within just three days. The weather should be mild, infrastructure in place and security tight.

One of the major controversies in recent years within Russian domestic football has been a vocal and visible rise in extreme politics and race hate from the terraces. The World Cup is now such a corporate entity that there's a very negligible risk that hooliganism will be tolerated - and instead will be likely punished with heavy penalties. To put it simply, fans planning on enjoying the soccer shouldn't be worried about visiting and more than they would with any other overseas trip.

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