This World cup has created history even before the kick-off. For the first time in the history, all FIFA members, excluding Russia, participated in the qualifying matches. After two years of fierce qualifying fixture, 31 nations booked their ticket to Russia. The likes of Italy, Netherlands, and Chile were the shocking exceptions, while Panama and Iceland qualified for the very first time.
All 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4 and top two teams from each group will make it to the knock-out stages. Remaining two teams, well they can pack their bags and go home with $8m.(!)
Not all groups are easy in Russia and we will definitely get to see some cracking games in the first two weeks. Here are key clashes in the group stage.
Remaining 16 teams will play pre-quarter-finals, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the grand final to win the biggest price in the World of Football.
And despite the presence of 32 teams, there are five favorites to win the trophy. (Sorry Belgium!) But what’s the World Cup without some shocks. What’s the fun of it if someone like South Korea doesn’t sneak into the semi-finals. And that is exactly why we have five teams which can change the complexion of the tournament. Dark horses, as they say.