The 2018 World Cup is nearing.
Here are the key questions about the tournament.
Q: Where and when is it?
A: After all the controversy of the 2018/2022 joint bidding process which saw Russia and Qatar awarded the tournaments, the first of those is upon us. The 2018 World Cup takes place from June 14 to July 15 in Russia.
Matches take place in 11 cities in the world’s largest country (by geographical area), from Kalingrad in the west to Ekaterinburg in the east, Sochi in the south, to St Petersburg in the north. Ekaterinburg has a population of 1.4 million and is located on the geographical border of Europe and Asia, at the foot of the Ural Mountains.
Q: Who will win?
A: Brazil lead the early betting from Germany, Spain, France and Argentina, closely followed by Belgium in what is an open tournament with no clear favourites.
This could be the last realistic chance for Lionel Messi, 31 on June 24, to lead Argentina to the trophy.
Q: Who won’t win?
A: Italy, champions in 2006, 2010 runners-up Holland and Chile, who won the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, have all failed to qualify. So too have Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, plus the United States.
Q: Are there any days without football?
A: Seven of the 31 days feature no match action: June 29 (the day after the group stage), July 4 and 5 (between the last 16 and quarter-finals), July 8 and 9 (between the quarter-finals and the semi-finals), and, July 12 and 13 (between the semi-finals and the third-placed play-off).
Q: Will there be any technology used to support officials?
A: Since Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in England’s 2010 World Cup loss to Germany, FIFA has embraced technology. Goal-line technology was used in 2014 and the 2018 tournament will include Video Assistant Referees.
VARs have not been universally embraced and there have been teething problems, but the system has been passed. Replays of incidents under VAR review will be shown on big screens inside Stadia.
Q: Is it going to be a good tournament?
A: Almost certainly. For those travelling, there are reasons to be apprehensive, particularly if you are from a minority group, given Russia’s recent history. But the vastness of the country means it is also diverse and there will be plenty to see and experience (hopefully mostly good).
For those watching from the comfort of their own sofa or the pub the tournament will really get going in the knockout stages. And there are individuals and teams who will light up the tournament.
Provided by Press Association Sport
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