The World Cup is fast approaching: A first look at the tournament that mesmerizes the entire world

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The World Cup is fast approaching! This tournament that happens every four years, is the biggest sporting event in the world! In comparison to the Super Bowl the World Cup draws over 800 million more viewers. Granted the World Cup is a tournament spanning a month, and 64 games, while the Super Bowl is a one-off championship. The month-long event starts in 20 days. The most talented players in the world will be on the world’s stage. Here’s an overview of the tournament to get you ready!

Tournament details, how it all works:

The 2018 World Cup will be played in Russia. 32 Countries will be battling it out for the world championship! There are eight groups of four teams. Each team will play each other three times in the group stage. In the group stage teams get points like in normal soccer leagues; three points for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss. Two of the teams from each group advance to the knockout round of the tournament based on their number of points from their three group matches. Once in the knockout stage, countries play one-off games. should a game be tied after 90 minutes they play two 15 minute halves to find a winner; if there is still no winner then the game is determined by a penalty shootout!

Now that the we know how the tournament works, let’s look closer at the teams competing.

Groups of countries:

As you can see, there are countries from all over the world in this tournament. Each region of the world gets a certain number of qualification spots. The whole process is complicated and plays out over a three-year period to determine which 32 countries will be a part of the tournament. The nation hosting the tournament automatically qualifies, so that leaves 31 spots open for qualification.For the 2018 World Cup the qualification spots were broken down this way:

Host Nation:

  1. Russia

African Qualified Nations: 5

  1. Egypt ( first time at World Cup in 28 years!)
  2. Morocco
  3. Nigeria
  4. Senegal
  5. Tunisia

Asian Qualified Nations: 5

  1. Australia
  2. Iran
  3. Japan
  4. Korea Republic
  5. Saudi Arabia ( first World Cup in 12 years!)

European Qualified Nations: 14

  1. Belgium
  2. Croatia
  3. Denmark
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. Iceland (first time ever at the World Cup!)
  8. Poland
  9. Portugal
  10. Russia
  11. Serbia
  12. Spain
  13. Sweden
  14. Switzerland

North, Central America and Caribbean Qualified Nations:

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Mexico
  3. Panama (first time ever at the World Cup!)

Oceanic Qualified Nations: 0 Countries 🙁

South America Qualified Nations:

  1. Argentina
  2. Brazil
  3. Colombia
  4. Peru (first time at the World Cup in 36 years!)
  5. Uruguay

This World Cup has countries from each region that have either had a long hiatus from this competition, or are competing at this level for the first time ever! This creates plenty of underdogs to root for! Of course you can root for Messi and Argentina, Ronaldo and Portugal, Neymar and Brazil, Pogba and France or the reigning World Champions Germany if you wish to root for a nation likely to lift the Cup. If you’re wondering where the great nation of the U. S. and A. is, well they’ll be watching the 2018 World Cup like the rest of us.

The USA’s failure to qualify:

The US Men’s National Team failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time in 28 years. They had a shaky round of qualifying. With everything coming down to their last two qualifying games back in the fall of 2017. They had to get a win and a draw from their two games. They won the first match at home against Costa Rica, and needed to hold a tie at Trinidad and Tobago for any hope of making the tournament.

The US went down to T&T and laid an egg. They didn’t take their competition seriously and lost 2-1. There was a sliver of hope as they had to hope for Panama or Honduras to lose to hold their place and qualify. Both nations won their games and pushed the US out of an automatic qualifying spot, and a playoff qualifying spot all at the same time.

Their heartbreak has created major cause for concern, and an entire rebuild effort will begin now to amp up for World Cup 2022 qualify in the next few years.

One month that mesmerize’s the entire world:

With the US out it could be hard for a more casual fan to care about this tournament, or the sport of soccer in general. However, don’t let it ruin all the fun that this competition is! Find an underdog and root for them or pick a World Class player/team and root for them to lift the cup. This is truly a way to fall in love with the sport of soccer! It’s an entire month that can mesmerize you to become a life-long soccer fanatic!

Full Schedule of Matches & More:

Here’s a schedule of all the matches!

Look for more in-depth previews from Philly Sports Network on all eight groups closer to kick off of the World Cup, including predictions from our soccer crew!

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!

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Mandatory Credit: © Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

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