Few single sporting events attract the kind of media attention enjoyed by the World Cup and the run-up to this year’s FIFA tournament is already raising excitement levels among fans. With the 32 qualifying nations now having been determined, the anticipation of this summer’s competition is certainly growing.
Thousands of fans are expected to descend on the host nation of Russia with match tickets already changing hands at incredible prices. Big clashes are already attracting a lot of attention with ties like the second game of the competition between Spain and Portugal hotly anticipated to be the scene setter for the tournament.
Other big games likely to ignite the event will be those of Groups E and F, with the favourites, Brazil and Germany, expected to ease into the last 16.
Russia has pulled out all the stops to host this year’s World Cup with the principle stadia having been renovated, and each host city is well-prepared to offer fans an excellent taste of the home nation’s hospitality.
Many fans will be first-time visitors to the world’s largest country, and though drawn primarily by the football, many will also be curious to explore the culturally rich nation.
Russia 2018: what to expect
As ever, much of the media hype around the World Cup will be played out in the lead-up with the focus being on squad selection, particularly as domestic competitions draw to a close.
Interviews with players, managers and pundits will offer key insights into the expectations for each team and, no doubt, fans will be interested in following the odds on the favourites to win each of the eight groups. Indeed, online sports betting sites such as Stakers will see an increase in traffic as the opening matches draw closer. The site is also a reliable guide to form, and the odds will constantly be updated.
Hardly a World Cup competition goes by without almost every marketing avenue being flooded with merchandise, and we can once again expect to see dozens of apps to download. In the past, the official FIFA app has been particularly useful. Not only does it provide match by match summaries and stats, but also it has a full player guide.
Following England’s progress
England fans are among those of the competing nations who are still able to secure tickets from FIFA directly. Two more selling phases are due in March and April on a first-come, first-served basis.
As ever, broadcasting rights to the World Cup were secured by both the BBC and ITV, guaranteeing terrestrial viewers full coverage of all the games,
Gareth Southgate’s squad will kick off their campaign proper in Volgograd when they play Tunisia on 18th June 2018. The remaining two group games against World Cup newcomers, Panama on 24th June 2018, and Belgium on 28th June, will also be sold-out events.
The big games
Following the national squad is just one element of the excitement surrounding the World Cup, so is catching the action from the world’s hottest ranking teams.
Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Portugal always attract big crowds but the home nation, Russia, are likely to play to full stadia however long their spell in the tournament may last.
The games with less expectation are also causing excitement.
Iceland is competing for the first time in its history, and following a rise in the world rankings and that infamous Euro 2016 win over England, they look set to be an interesting team to follow.
Also making a debut this year is Panama. In England’s group, the Central American country is ranked 55th in the world but qualified directly for the tournament, finishing ahead of the USA.
The final will be held on the 15th July 2018 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Though the venue itself will only hold 81,000 people, the match is likely to attract more than 3-billion viewers worldwide; especially if the stage is set for Germany to defend their title.
In whatever way the tournament plays out, it will no doubt be full of surprises and exceptional football with plenty going on, both on and off the field, to entertain fans.