Fear not, American soccer fans. The World Cup will be coming to North America in 2026, as announced earlier this morning, but there's still plenty of reasons to watch this year's World Cup in Russia even though the United State won't be a part of it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the off-field storylines surrounding this year’s World Cup from Spain firing their head coach two days before the tournament began to how Russia will do as a host country.
But here, we’ll stick to the beautiful game itself and take a look at some teams that you should be keeping an eye on as the tournament progresses past the group stage.
Teams to Watch
Arguably the best team in the world, Germany has a target on its back after winning the World Cup back in 2014. The German side is, as expected, as strong as ever featuring the likes of Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) and Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich).
A star-studded team entering their prime, Germany has a chemistry through its roster that is nearly unheard of at the international level, with the exception of Spain. Not only has this squad played on the national level together for years, but most players even play together at the club level.
While the competition in Russia will be stiff, don’t be surprised if Germany hoists the World Cup Trophy when it's all said and done for the second tournament in a row.
Despite the drama surrounding the managerial crisis that Spanish team is facing, Spain is still considered to be a favorite to win it all in 2018.
After a disastrous 2014 World Cup that saw Spain crash out of the group stage losing to the Netherlands and Chile, it’s very possible that the window of opportunity for this Spanish side has closed at the international level.
Throw in the fact that their head coach, Julen Lopetegui, was fired 48 hours before the start of the World Cup, there's a lot to be worried about if you're a fan of this Spanish team.
Tuesday: Hired by Real Madrid— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 13, 2018
Wednesday: Fired by Spain
Thursday: World Cup starts ?? pic.twitter.com/kXsFbZ7E6S
With players such as David de Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Isco (Real Madrid) and Koke (Atletico Madrid), Spain returns to the World Cup loaded with talent.
The only question is, has the rest of the world finally caught up to the former world champions?
Speaking of a roster loaded with talent, Belgium has, on paper, the most talented team in the entire tournament.
Let’s take a quick look at just how good this team is:
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea).
And those are just some of Belgium’s best players.
#BEL stars Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku left home for bigger clubs and more money. Now, they're back to lead their resurgent national team to #WorldCup glory. https://t.co/7TyptkhxKq pic.twitter.com/XZK3CA42my— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 13, 2018
Considered to be the golden era for Belgium soccer, expectations are high for this squad to at least contend in the knockout stage of the tournament, if not win the whole thing. Belgium has a combination of youth and talent that no other team in the tournament can go head-to-head against.
However, the World Cup is not won on paper and Belgium must play as a team -- not individuals -- to make their presence known.
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