You may have heard, but the FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday in Russia. And you can also know that the national EE team. UU It will not be there.
But there are many reasons to pay attention to the biggest sporting event on the planet. Whether you're betting, watching WAG or simply loving drama and great story lines, the World Cup has something for everyone.
The Blue Bloods
Brazil is favorite in a World Cup. Yes, we know, it's like saying that the water is wet or that there is traffic in the Cross Bronx. But after the record five-time champions were defeated, 7-1, by Germany in the semifinals four years ago – at home, no less – they have their swagger behind Neymar and Gabriel Jesus.
Speaking of that team from Germany, if you prefer a well-oiled machine for an extravagant piece of art, this is the equipment for you. The defending champions are organized, technical and reliable. If the shocking failure of Americans to qualify against Trinidad and Tobago has left you marked, trust Die Mannschaft.
If Brazil or Germany do not win, France is a fashion choice. This young team has only improved since losing the Euro final two years ago. With Antoine Griezmann, 19-year-old prodigy Kylian Mbappe and midfielder Paul Pogba, this team can be a joy to watch, with speed and rhythm throughout the lineup.
Team Messi or Team CR7? These are the last best shots for Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), the best stars of this generation and two of the greatest of all time.
Ronaldo has become a serial winner, with three consecutive Champions League titles in Barcelona and the Euro 2016 crown. But Messi is still looking for his first title with Argentina, after losing a World Cup final and a consecutive final of the Copa América. Their hat trick on the last day of qualifying rescued them and brought them to this World Cup. Seeing what he does in Russia will be fascinating.
The Drama Queens
Spain, the champions of the 2010 World Cup with a legitimate chance to win in Russia, fired coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, just a day before the tournament started off. After it was announced that Lopetegui had agreed to take over Real Madrid once the tournament was over, the president of the Spanish federation, Luis Rubiales, burst out and told him not to bother waiting.
"The federation can not be left out of the negotiation of one of its employees, and they discover only five minutes before a public announcement," Rubiales told the media. "If someone wants to talk to one of our employees, they also have to talk to us." That is basic, since this is the team of all the Spaniards. The national team is the most important we have, the World Cup is the biggest of all. "
Iceland is the smallest country to reach the World Cup, with only 337,000 people, smaller than Tulsa , Okla., Or Wichita, Kan. – but still stunned the whole sport to reach the quarterfinals at Euro 2016.
Surprisingly, more than 10 percent of the population of the entire country made the trek to see. And they introduced their brand joy to the world, a Viking applause that starts slowly and develops faster and faster, something like their fan base if they go to another race in Russia.
No, it's not the scoundrel space, the one-man gang that is the star of Egypt Mo Salah, if you thought LeBron James had to do it only in the NBA Finals, wait to see how v al is Salah for the Pharaohs. Salah took Liverpool to the Champions League final, but will not get as much help in Russia. King James could sympathize: the Cavaliers star is actually a co-owner of Liverpool.
The Great Old Man
Salah is the star of Egypt, but Essam El-Hadary is the OG.
At 45, if the goalkeeper plays even one second in Russia, he will break the record as the oldest player in a World Cup. He made his professional debut in 1993 – from one perspective, the average age of the US. UU It was 22 years, 286 days in last month's victory over Bolivia, but this will be El-Hadary's debut in the World Cup.
"I did not imagine that I would play until this age," El-Hadary told The Guardian. "But I had a dream to play in the World Cup and this was a great motivation."
So, if Mexico is the archrival of the United States and President Trump wants to build a border wall, but El Tri is the most seen team in the US. UU and the federation joined the United States in a winning bid for the 2026 World Cup, should fans support them or against them? There will probably be many of both. But even if they look for the sake of schadenfreude, they will be watching.
What's in a name
How can you not root for a team called Lions of Persia (Iran)?