For anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention to Argentina throughout the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying cycle, Spain’s resounding 6-1 defeat of La Albiceleste comes as no surprise. Without Messi, Argentina has zero business being at this World Cup. The statistics, again, bear repeating:
Without Messi, Argentina played eight matches in qualifying. They won one. They scored 0.75 goals per game. They lost to Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia. They drew with Venezuela. Tata Martino was sacked and so was his successor, Edgardo Bauza.
After a former Russian double agent was poisoned in Britain, the resulting international uproar has led to (and included) Iceland boycotting the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Just the government, though. The team will still compete in the tournament. The Viking Clap cheer will presumably also travel to Russia.
#BREAKING Iceland announces diplomatic boycott of 2018 World Cup in Russia
OK, so Mexico lost to Croatia 1-0 in Texas. Let's not dwell on the negatives here. Dak Prescott was there! And he was wearing a Mexico jersey!
Never mind that Mexico got bossed around most of the night by Croatia's B-team featuring Ivan Rakitic (no Modric, no Lovren, no Perisic, no Brozovic, no Subasic and no Mandzukic), Dak Prescott was there!
Miguel Layun gave away the penalty that Croatia scored on but we can forgive him because he scored twice against Iceland. Once again: Dak. Prescott.
During a World Cup year, you are going to hear hundreds of amazing stories from across the planet. Like how Gabriel Jesus was painting the streets of Rio during the last World Cup and is now a vital part of the Selecao. Or how Mohamed Salah has captured the hope of an entire nation and helped send Egypt to the World Cup for the first time since before I was born (1990 for those wondering).
France defeated Russia 3-1 on Tuesday in a friendly at Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium (the most expensive World Cup stadium of all time) with a brace from Kylian Mbappe and a wonderfully struck free kick from sometimes Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.
The World Cup is drawing closer and closer (79 days!). With that in mind, we have devoted ourselves to a sociological effort: defining the different kinds of World Cup fans out there.
The World Cup Favorites
These fans are outright obnoxious.
Not many countries can honestly say they are serious candidates to win the World Cup. Fans from countries with an actual chance of winning the trophy exude confidence and often, arrogance. The only consolation the rest of us have is watching one of these nations fail.
There is a massive divide in how different generations have come to view and use the video-sharing network known as YouTube. I’m an old man geezer kind of content boy, and when I first learned that people were using YouTube to do things besides watch Ronaldinho highlights, I stared off into space for 17 straight hours and whispered the word “vlogger” until my temporal lobes exploded in a cacophony of new age understanding.
Historically speaking, things look pretty bleak for the five South American nations set to compete in Russia this summer. Over the history of the World Cup, the event has taken place in Europe 10 times. Collectively, if you break those tournaments down by how things finished, European nations have accounted for 34 of the 40 top four finishes (85%), leaving South America with only six success stories: