The Biggest Tournament in the World Begins Anew

Today begins the most anticipated competition in the world, one that everyone waits for with baited breath for four long years and then celebrates for a month: The World Cup. This edition of the World Cup is in Russia, but the location doesn’t necessarily change the favorites, though there are a few national teams that are fully capable of upsetting some frontrunner nations. No matter which country emerges victorious, the fact remains that everyone wins because the World Cup is special in that it has the ability to bring people together, regardless of color or creed or nationality. For one month, everyone can simply forget about the things that divide us and focus on coming together to cheer The Beautiful Game.

However, the unity that the World Cup brings with it is always quickly shattered by the competitive nature of sport. That’s why it’s important to evaluate who realistically has a chance to lift the trophy and who doesn’t. Out of the 32 nations, only 4 or 5 have an above-average chance of lifting the trophy: Germany, Brazil, Spain, France and the dark horse candidate is likely Belgium. After these, there are a number of nations that have realistic chances of making some noise, like Portugal, England, Argentina, Mexico, and Uruguay. Unfortunately, none of these nations seem like countries that can actually expect to lift the Cup. However, there is one nation that can seriously cause some upsets: Iceland.

After seeing Iceland’s performance two years ago in Euro 2016, where they beat the likes of Austria and England, in a shock performance I might add, the other 31 nations will now have to be aware of the fact that Iceland is a well-drilled unit that cannot be underestimated. However, they likely won’t win the Cup, barring a seemingly impossible improvement on their Euro 2016 performance.

This is also a tournament filled with personal storylines. For instance, Argentina’s Lionel Messi is still seeking his first international tournament win with Argentina, always a confounding factoid considering Messi’s dominance on the club level. Also, this is the opportunity for Cristiano Ronaldo, who finally won a major international trophy with Portugal at Euro 2016, to capture the last trophy that he’s never won. Finally, the eyes and hopes of an entire nation will on Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, who has spent the last year enjoying a record-breaking year with Liverpool. So Egypt’s obviously hoping that his success at the club level continues on the national stage.

But this is a tournament after all, and there must be a winner. So as far as a prediction is concerned, it seems like Brazil is the favorite to lift the trophy a month from now. However, the best part of The Beautiful Game is that, no matter how confident you may be, the next upset is just around the corner.

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