There are a number of records that could be broken or at least equalled at the 2018 World Cup. Either by a national team or by an individual player, several of those milestones seem very likely to be reached at the finals in Russia. Here is a list of the more interesting ones that are waiting…
World Cup titles won and successful title defense
Mario Gotze’s extra time volley against Argentina won Germany the 2014 championship. If Germany could triumph again this summer, they would equal the record for most titles won. Additionally, die Mannschaft would thereby become only the third ever team to retain the World Cup trophy.
Italy became the first to win two consecutive tournaments when they won the 1934 and 1938 competitions. Brazil likewise won the World Cup in 1958 and then retained it in 1962. Germany are one of the favourites going into this year’s competition as they currently sit at the top of the FIFA Rankings. Their squad boasts the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer. As such, they do indeed stand a good chance of retaining the trophy. However, anything can happen in a World Cup and often does. Most recently, Germany were knocked out by France in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 despite being one of the favourites for that tournament as well. So perhaps these records are not the most likely to be equalled.
First time World Cup winners
If Germany fail to win the competition, a different record could be broken, as a team could win the tournament for the first time and become only the ninth team in history to win a World Cup. Out of the teams that have never won the World Cup, Belgium and Portugal are the two sides that stand the best chance of winning it in 2018.
The Belgian squad is packed with top players such as Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and Thibaut Courtois. However, the question mark over the Belgian team is whether they can perform well together and whether head coach Roberto Martinez can get the best out of them. Contrastingly, Portugal have fewer superstars than Belgium, but have perhaps the biggest superstar of them all in Cristiano Ronaldo. Furthermore, the Portuguese team has greater cohesion, which was demonstrated when they won Euro 2016. If either of these teams win the tournament then history will be made.
Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal also have the opportunity to write their names in the record books this summer. So far, no African national side has made it further than the quarter-finals of the World Cup, so each of these teams could potentially be the first African side to reach the semi finals.
Cameroon reached the quarter-finals in 1990, but were knocked out by England in extra time. Ghana were similarly knocked out by Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-finals of the 2010 tournament.
Whilst none of the current African sides are being backed as favourites for this year’s competition, Senegal probably have the best chance of making history. They boast the likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Keita Balde Diao in their squad. Meanwhile, Egypt could make an unlikely surge for the semis if Mo Salah is fit and can continue his stunning Premier-, and Champions League form in Russia.
Oldest and most durable player
One record which is almost certain to be broken at the 2018 World Cup also involves the Egyptian national team. If Egyptian goalkeeper Essam-El Hadary makes an appearance at the tournament, then he will become the oldest player to play in World Cup history. He would accomplish that at the staggering age of 45 years old. El-Hadary has been playing since 1993, and is Egypt’s first choice keeper. That makes it very likely indeed that he will play and break the record currently held by Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon. The latter made an appearance in the 2014 tournament at the ripe old age of 43.
A similar individual record is very likely to be equalled by Mexican defender Rafael Marquez. If he makes an appearance, the 39 year old – who is retiring after the tournament – will join Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus and Gianluigi Buffon in having played at five World Cups. No player has appeared in more World Cup finals than this. It seems highly likely this Mexico legend will become the fourth player to achieve the feat.
Bad news for the hosts
There is also an undesirable record that could be set this summer. Russia could potentially become the first host nation to finish bottom of their group. The home advantage usually benefits the hosts; South Africa have been the only host nation to fail to progress from the first round. They finished third in the group stage in 2010. Russia, however, stand an unfortunate chance of finishing bottom. Russia are 70th in the current FIFA Rankings, making them the lowest-ranked team at the tournament. Their squad also has a number of new faces, creating an air of uncertainty around the team. Whilst this might serve to benefit them it may also lead to a lack of cohesion and the establishment of the unwanted record if they finish fourth in Group A.
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