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El Paisano in Russia

Thursday Moscow will kickoff the World Cup in Russia where the host country looks to start off with the win. Photo credit: fifaliveupdates.com

Thursday Moscow will kickoff the World Cup in Russia where the host country looks to start off with the win. Photo credit: fifaliveupdates.com

The 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup is hours away from kicking off. Host nation Russia will battle Saudi Arabia in the tournament’s opening match in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.

This summer, El Paisano Online will be your guide throughout the duration of the event.

Time Difference

Usually the most concerning aspect of the tournament is how the location will affect our sleeping cycles or whether our jobs will be in the way of our soccer fever.

This summer, as aforementioned, Russia will do the honors in hosting. The country is in Eastern Europe meaning matches will be played during the morning in America’s west coast.

The tournament’s opener will be the only day with one match with Russia facing Saudi Arabia at 8 a.m. Pacific Time.

On Day 2, the general routine that will be applied throughout the group stage will begin. A three game per day system with kickoff times set for 5 a.m., 8 a.m., and 11 a.m. being the typical day.

Two exceptions will apply during the group stage. The first anomaly will be on Saturday’s Day 3 where four games will be played at 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., and noon. The other will come when the teams play its third and final group stage matches.

It’s a custom for teams from the same group to kickoff their third game at the same time to keep teams from having an advantage of knowing where they stand or what result they may need.

Because of this, on Monday June 25 the tournament will go into four games a day. Two matches per time slot with 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. kickoffs per group.

Favorites

Returning with a better squad than the one which beat Argentina in 2014 final, defending champion Germany look probable winners. The defending champs look to fend off competition from last tournaments runners up once again. The South American team returns after a learning experience in 2014 with Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, once again leading the pack.

Also looking for revenge are Brazil after the Germans embarrassed them 7-1 on home soil in 2014’s semifinal. Neymar Jr and Co. are filled with talented individuals who are recovered from last term’s mental discomfort.

Another European team in the hunt is Belgium which goes to Russia with its best squad ever for a World Cup. Its “Golden Generation” has given Belgians hope for lifting the trophy. The squad is filled with all-stars who play for big clubs in the best leagues in the world.

A dark horse with a powerful squad top to bottom is one craving for similar success of the late 1990s, early 2000s. The French national team is built with pace, skill, and clinicality which is ready to go toe-to-toe with anyone.

Who To Watch

My team to watch this summer is “America’s team”, Mexico. With the absence of the United States National Team, who were unable to qualify, the Mexicans, also known as El Tri, become the next best thing for us to follow.

With a mixture of experience and well-bred youth and a delightfully free-flowing style of play, it’s inevitable El Tri will form a sense of entertainment. The North Americans are also in this summer’s Group of Death – Group F. Alongside Germany, Sweden, and South Korea, the pressure will be on for the team coached by Juan Carlos Osorio to perform at a high level in order to advance to the playoff stages.

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Ignacio Cervantes, Sports Editor
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