By Adnan Basic
It is close to the end of the school year, which means summer is just around the corner. For soccer fans, the anticipation is especially high, as the 2018 World Cup starts in June.
This summer will see Russia hosting the competition, which was a decision that many disagreed with at the time. Some accused the nation of bribery, and feel that was the only reason why they were awarded the tournament. There is also the problem of hooliganism, with some afraid that fans won’t have any protection from crazed Russian fanatics.
On the field, things are looking a lot more exciting. This year’s tournament will be as unpredictable as ever, and there are a handful of teams who could be lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament.
France have one of the most talented teams on the planet, and will look to build on a runners up performance at the 2016 European Championships. “I really like France and I think they’ve got a serious chance of winning it all,” freshman English major Simon Northrip said. “They haven’t used Griezmann as much as they should and need him at his best if they want to win.”
Spain might be almost six years removed from their last international success, but have continued to impress. As the old guard has been slowly phased out, a fresh crop of players have proven more than able to take their place. Players like Isco and Thiago will be getting their first chance to shine at a World Cup, and are more than ready to make the most of the opportunity.
Then there is Argentina, who lost in the final of the last World Cup. They are lead by Lionel Messi, who many consider to be the greatest player of all time. However, he has yet to lead his native country to glory on the biggest stage and will hope to change that this summer.
Even England, who has continually disappointed in big tournaments, looks like they have turned a new leaf. This new generation of players is young and exciting, and might thrive on lowered expectations. Harry Kane is cementing himself as one of the better forwards in the world and a strong showing could only further his ever growing legacy.
However, as always, Germany are still the favorites to win their second straight World Cup and are women’s coach Roland Hahn’s pick to go all the way.
“I’m going to go with Germany to repeat as champions. They have some great young emerging talent who ready to shine on the world stage, but the absolute key will be a healthy and in-form Manuel Neuer,” Hahn said.
Senior IMC major Keegan Kaczor agrees, but said he felt like Germany’s biggest factor will be further up the pitch. “Thomas Muller is a world class finisher and his goals should lead them to glory.”
Sadly, the United States will not be involved, as they shocking failed to qualify last year. This will undoubtedly hurt the popularity of the sport, as many people would only watch the games America was involved in.
However, that should not stop the 2018 edition of the World Cup from being one of the most exciting ever.