Right now, I’m looking forward to three games.
Three fascinating World Cup matches in Groups D and G and F.
Argentina v Iceland on Saturday June 16th at 2pm.
And Iceland are available at odds of 19/2.
Tunisia v England on Monday June 18th at 7pm
Serbia v Brazil on Wednesday 27th June at 7pm.
Argentina’s main man Lionel Messi is a genius who might show England how they should have dealt with Iceland.
But if Iceland and England both qualify, Southgate’s England might get a chance to show Iceland that they can play better football than Roy Hodgson’s England did in France two years ago.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. England have to play Tunisia and the result is far from a foregone conclusion. The Tunisians, a nation of eleven million people, have been punching above their weight for the last forty years, having reached four previous World Cups. In qualifying Tunisia won 1-0 in Libya and 4-1 in Guinea after drawing 2-2 in Congo DR.
But England are strong favourites in the World Cup betting odds at 4/11.
Even though Tunisia were unbeaten in six qualifying games and only conceded four goals.
Serbia v Brazil is Neymar of Barcelona versus Tadic of Southampton and Mitrovic of Newcastle.
Selecao boss Tite is well aware that managing Neymar, his superstar, is harder than managing the national team.
The Serbs were held to a 2-2 draw by the Republic of Ireland but managed a 1-0 victory in Dublin to win their group by two points, after losing their penultimate game 3-2 in Austria.
At this point in early June, we don’t know anything. Most Qualifying Groups look easy after the fact, friendly results usually mean little, and previous World Cups are irrelevant to everyone except the team that won the trophy.
One of the most interesting results in qualifying was Iceland 1 Croatia 0. That victory meant Iceland topped the Croatia-Ukraine-Turkey-Finland-Kosovo group.
Jorge Sampaoli has a terrific CV but he is Argentina’s third coach since the 2014 World Cup. I’d love to see the CVs of the guys who hired him and his predecessors.
Let’s be realistic as we approach an event that could blossom into a festival of exciting football. Every World Cup is a learning curve for players and fans, every tournament is different, and every Weltmeistershaft is ultimately about: who can beat the Germans?
Germany are the holders, having won the World Cup in Brazil, and coach Jogi Low would love to retain it.
No team has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.