Puzzle of Russia 2018 Qualifications
At mid-year we are going to have a very unusual Football/Soccer World Cup, preceded by unexpected qualifications and the absence of historically strong teams. Millions of fans in the world will be on the expectancy of what Russia 2018, which will be celebrated between the months of June and July 2018, will bring.
Thirty two qualified national teams will play against each other, to obtain the Trophy and the title of the best team in the world. These national teams obtained the privilege to be able to compete at the World Cup through qualifying rounds, which were done at the six confederations (Africa, Asia, Europe, North/Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania and South America). AFC (Asian Football Confederation): 5 spots; CAF (Confederation of African Football): 5 spots; Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Association Football):3 spots; Conmebol (South American Football Association): 5 spots; OFC (Oceania Football Confederation): 0 spots; UEFA (Union of European Football Associations): 13 spots.
Several surprises occurred during these qualifying rounds. One of them was the first time qualification of two national teams, Panama and Iceland. Both teams have never succeeded in qualifying and they achieved it by winning their last matches. All of this has caused different emotions among the fans, mainly a lot of joy. Even though, they don´t know how they will do, just qualifying is a reason to be happy. Another surprise was the qualification of several national teams who haven´t done it in a long time, like Peru (36 years), Egypt (30 years), Morocco (20 years), Senegal (16 years), Poland and Tunisia (12 years) respectively. For these countries, it has also been a moment of a lot of joy for their followers. Some others, qualified this time, but not for the past World Cup, Brazil 2014 (Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sweden).
One of the disbeliefs is the non-qualification of several teams who have participated in the majority of the World Cups and even have got far in them. Such is the case of Italy, who the only time it did not qualified was for Sweden 1958. Netherlands national team is another one left out and in the last world cups it has played a great role, in South Africa 2010, it ended up second and in Brazil 2014, in third place. Another one has been United States, who has participated since Italy 90 in all of them. Also the national teams of Chile and Ecuador, who qualified in the last two world cups (2010 and 2014). In the case of Chile, even though they haven´t been that great in the last world cups, they won both of the last Cup America against the “albiceleste” (National Team of Argentina). This has caused a lot of consternation and sadness in the players, fans, federations. Similarly in some cases, loss of money since some of them had already invested beforehand, for example, in exclusive broadcasting.
At the end, we can conclude that these qualifying rounds were full of emotions; for some of happiness and joy; for others of sadness, pain and deception. Surely, we can say that by seeing the list of the 32 national teams, this qualifying phase has been one of the most surprising ones. What is the reason? There might be several, but we can say that currently the majority of the national teams have improved very much causing a greater competition among them. When we watch the games, we can see, all of the time that any of the two teams can win. This is why, I believe that Russia 2018 will be a different world cup, watching for the first time some matches between national teams that haven´t faced each other before in this type of competition.