World Cup Debrief: Two Weeks to Go
Welcome to World Cup Debrief, our regular digest of all things World Cup-related as we build up to the big kick-off in Russia on Thursday 14th June.
Here’s a few stories you might have missed as the 32 teams make their final preparations ahead of the group stages…
Is it Messi’s moment?
The Argentinian magician may have won everything in domestic and European competition but needs some international silverware to cap his remarkable career – especially with arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo ticking that particular box with Portugal at Euro 2016.
The early signs are positive as Argentina look to put their agonising extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final behind them, with Messi scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 demolition of international minnows Haiti earlier this week.
Argentina will have tougher tests to come but may well benefit from lowered expectations coming in to the 2018 tournament.
Tunisia look to spring a surprise
With so many England fans already jumping forward and debating the crunch final group clash with hotly-fancied Belgium, is complacency already creeping in ahead of the two opening games against Tunisia and Panama?
Tunisia played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against reigning European champions Portugal and showed plenty of spirit in coming back from a 2-0 deficit. Could England’s opener be yet another dreaded World Cup banana skin?
Italians go mad for Iceland
A World Cup without Italy – it’s still hard for any fan of international football to get around that reality as the 2018 World Cup approaches. With the clock ticking down, many Italians – like England fans at Euro 2008 – are scratching their heads as they wonder whether to unofficially adopt another nation or blank out the tournament completely.
To that end, the country’s leading sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, has started a #ForzaIslanda hashtag and encouraged fellow Italians to back the good old-fashioned underdog story that is Iceland.
Nigeria win the World Cup of kits
The Nigerian football team may not be among the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy in Moscow in July, but their kit is certainly winning over football fans in the build-up to the start of the tournament in Russia.
The Super Eagles’ garish green-and-white zigzag kit looks set to become one of this summer’s biggest sellers – and it’s not even out on release yet. With three million pre-orders, expect to see it on a street near you in the very near future.
Our Supporters Are The Best‼️🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/ECjfzNjVFW
— Alexander Iwobi (@alexiwobi) May 28, 2018
Follow us and tweet @Marathonbet
All image sources from PA Images