Sports

Robbie Williams will help kick off The World Cup in Russian Federation

Robbie Williams will help kick off The World Cup in Russian Federation

Many are also excited to see what 21-year-old Marcus Rashford can conjure up with England in Russian Federation, while the likes of France's Ousmane Dembele and Belgium's Youri Tielemans, who are also the same age, will also be looking to make their mark on the tournament. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reckons Brazil will win its sixth World Cup, basing its forecast on data mining, machine learning and econometrics.

And the chances are that you've probably developed a pretty serious case of World Cup Fever by now (it's a registered medical condition, look it up).

Before Thursday's kickoff, Federation Internationale de Football Association will focus on choosing the host of the 2026 World Cup between a joint bid featuring the United States, Canada and Mexico and underdogs Morocco.

A national team with two of the best strikers in the game should easily include them in the contenders list, but in a more realistic standpoint, Uruguay should be able to disrupt the balance of powers and upset one of the big teams in the World Cup.

In terms of individual player quality, perhaps the Brazilians are slightly ahead of the champions, especially with superstar Neymar Jr returning to an offensive line already boasting Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and Willian, to be supported by a rock-solid and well-organised defensive cadre.

In an iconic moment of disappointment for Neymar and the Selecao, it would take the mental strength of a truly world-class talent to step out of adversity and become the pivotal force to lead a nation forward once again.

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Neymar, Miranda, Fernandinho, Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Renato Augusto all took the captain's responsibility during the qualification stages, and it was Alves who many believed would lead his side later this month, were it not for an unfortunate injury that has since ruled him out of the tournament.

Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final 1-0 to Germany after extra time, before suffering successive defeats by Chile on penalties at the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.

Speaking to reporters, Neymar said: "For me it is a great honour, great happiness to reach Romario, to be among the top scorers of the Brazilian team".

That goal was Neymar's 55th for the Seleção, with only Pele and Ronaldo scoring more.

Qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup are likely to begin in early 2019.

Barcelona midfielder Coutinho added the third goal shortly afterwards.


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