The 21st World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15, 2018, Russia will host the World Cup for the first time. The draw for the FIFA 2018 World Cup divided the 32 participating countries into eight groups. The event takes place every four years, and the eyes of the whole world are on the matches; through the years, soccer has brought together passions and feelings. Beyond tactical strategies with which the teams reach Russia, people around the world will be waiting for their respective teams to score so we can simply shout “Gol!”
I’m from Bogota, Colombia, the passion for football grew along with me, my paternal grandfather played in Millonarios, a team that is a champion in Colombia currently, my uncles, my brother and my dad not only watch football, they also played and still do. If we take a look around the world, we realize that soccer is not just a game, that it brings together family and friends. In Colombia it is customary to gather, especially on Sundays, for lunch and to watch the matches that are on for the day, not only the local league matches, but also the European games, as many of our ‘paisanos’ represent us abroad. I also can’t dismiss my mom because she is the biggest soccer fan in my family; in this case I will miss seeing the matches by her side since she is in Colombia. And just like that, simultaneously in each Latin American country, we live football with passion.
So then, what can we expect from the Latin American teams in this great event? As a soccer aficionada, here is my opinion of Latin American teams.
Argentina has, in my opinion, the best player in the world, Leo Messi. Messi seemed very likely to miss the Cup during the playoffs, until he made a triple score against Ecuador and secured his ticket to Russia; he’s 50% of the team, with him, the Argentines can move forward and likely reach a third round.
Peru ended in fifth place in the CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) standings, this meant it had to compete for its ticket to Russia in a playoff against New Zealand; after three decades, Peru got its pass to the Cup. Personally, I think that although in soccer nothing is ever certain, the fact that Peru is competing in the World Cup is a great victory for Peruvians.
The Colombian team, managed by José Pékerman, gave a magnificent performance in the World Cup in Brazil. James Rodríguez scored the best goal in the history of the Colombia team at the World Cup against Uruguay. In that occasion, the team ranked in fourth place in the CONMEBOL standings and therefore obtained a direct pass amid chaos in the last round of matches in October. However, the Columbians now have Radamel Falcao on their roster. Falcao, who had suffered injuries and at the end wasn’t able to go to Brazil, now looks lively in Monaco, this World Cup will be his opportunity to be a top scorer and player. Colombia has very good players who play on world class teams around the globe, fueling great expectations that the team will get further than it did in Brazil, we hope that Pékerman knows how to move the pieces.
Mexico has its own figure Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, today fans expect Mexico to go even further than the quarterfinals, which it reached in the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. This time around, Mexico has a great rival, Germany, the reigning world champion favored to make history by being champion twice in a row. In addition, Mexico will face Sweden and Korea that will very likely put up a fight.
If Uruguay’s forwards, Édison Cavani and Luis Suárez, can maintain their high playing level, the team could deliver a great surprise, it has a good defense and an aggressive midfield, if it makes it to the second round Uruguay will have to face Portugal with Christiano Roland, or Spain with greats like Pique and Iniesta, these matches will be certainly be exciting enough to rent a balcony.
Costa Rica secured its ticket to Russia while it still needed to play a qualifying match, and along the way defeated United States, which was then out of the running. Costa Rica was an unexpected surprise at the World Cup in Brazil, and now it also has Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Keylor Navas…in soccer one must never underestimate the opponent.
Brazil was World Cup champion in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002; it’s my favorite to win the World Cup. The team qualified with great ease, leading the CONMEBOL standings. It arrives in Russia with the mix of the best style of the South American teams, and the technical precision of the best European teams, it also has the most expensive player in the world, Neymar Junior, and all his magic.
This is Panama’s first World Cup and it could end up third in its group. It qualified on last day of the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) hexagonal tournament (The last qualifying round for the World Cup) after a goal by Roman Torres against Costa Rica. The Panamanian Government declared a civic day to celebrate its entry to the World Cup
The 2018 World Cup is one of technological innovations, the vast majority of matches will be broadcast in 4K, a format with resolution up to four times higher than HD, the use of “var”, the video arbitration system, will be allowed to help the referees’ human eye decipher unclear plays on the field. Match goers will have to have in their hands their “ID Fan”, which has a chip that directly links cameras for facial recognition, this document is required to enter the stadiums and make use of public transportation in Russia.
One can feel the nerves, anxiety, and even the uncertainty of new things that the World Cup brings. What actions will be remembered as great anecdotes and who will be the new champion of the world? The largest soccer party is about to start!