Who Will Take the Top Spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

Football fans, also known as soccer in some countries, are all eyes and ears this week as the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets ready to wrap up the season for the year. Soccer is one of the most popular sports around the world and soccer fans are putting on all of their favorite soccer gear to cheer for their favorite soccer teams.

world cupTeam jerseys are, of course, a fan favorite, but soccer is known for its colorful knee-high soccer socks, and MadSportsStuff has soccer socks in every color and theme you can imagine. For girls they have soccer socks with unicorns, ladybugs, and bees; and for boys, they have flaming soccer balls, sharks, skulls, and much more. They also have a full selection of team soccer socks.

The FIFA World Cup 2018 is in full swing in Russia and the semifinals will begin this week. So how did Russia land the gig of hosting the 2018 World Cup? It was a process that started all the way back in 2009 and not everyone was happy with the decision.

Selecting Russia for
the 2018 World Cup

In January 2009, national associations had to register their interest in hosting the 2018 World Cup. Nine countries placed their bids, but Mexico withdrew from the proceedings down the road. Indonesia was also rejected by FIFA in February 2010 when they failed to submit a letter to support their bid from the Indonesian government. Three other nations, Australia, the United States, and Japan gradually withdrew their bids leaving four bids for this year’s World Cup soccer festivities. 

The remaining countries were England, Portugal/Spain, Russia, and Netherlands/Belgium. The FIFA Executive Committee met in December 2010 to vote for the host of the tournament. Russia came out on top. The Russian government made promises to revamp and build stadiums to host the tournament and they’ve kept true to their word.

Preparing for the World Cup 2018

The Russian government had originally planned a $20 billion budget to prepare for the 2018 World Cup but later reduced that budget to $10 billion. Half of the budget went to transportation infrastructure and another big portion went to the construction of new hotels. Multiple Russian airports were renovated and received upgraded technology systems and new tram lines were laid. A waste treatment station was upgraded as well. An estimated $14.2 billion had been spent in preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as of June 2018 making it the most expensive World Cup ever.

Skeptical of Russia Hosting

Although Russia had won the bidding war fair and square, not everyone was pleased with the decision of the FIFA Executive Committee. Skepticism couldn’t have been worse than from the British press. The negativity of the UK media coverage was so bad that Danny Rose, the left-back for Three Lions warned his family not to come and watch him.

fifa world cupIt didn’t take many days in Russia before the defender changed his mind. The mindset among the players, coaches, journalists, and fans quickly changed from negativity to surprise with many saying that they were having a great time at the 2018 World Cup and that Russia as the host was much different than they expected.

People from every continent and culture found themselves welcomed to Russia with open arms, both by tournament volunteers and smiling locals. Everyone was quick to agree that the hospitality has been incredible and the level of it has surprised everyone and changed the perspective many had of the Russian people and the country in general.

World Cup 2018 Opening Ceremonies

On Thursday, June 14, the opening ceremony took place in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium to start the activities with the opening match between Saudi Arabia and Russia following. Ronaldo, the former striker for the World Cup-winning Brazilian team, walked out during the opening ceremony with a child who was wearing a 2018 Russia shirt. Robbie Williams performed two songs before he and Russian singer Aida Garifullina performed a duet. The two were then joined with other performers dressed in the national flags of all 32 teams. Ronaldo returned to the field with the official ball of the 2018 World Cup which had been sent in March into space with the International Space Station Crew and returned in June.

Let the Games Begin

The 32 competing countries were divided into eight groups consisting of four soccer teams. The soccer teams in each group played each other in a round-robin style tournament with the top two soccer teams in each group advancing to the next round. Four South American teams and ten European teams, Japan, and Mexico made it to the knockout stage.

Germany, for the first time since 1938, didn’t make it past the first round, and no African soccer teams progressed to the second round for the first time since 1982. Only one match went goalless; the match between Denmark and France.

Nearly 60 matches have been played (56 to be exact), and 22 of those matches have been goalless at halftime. Only one of those finished 0-0. Out of the 146 goals scored so far in the 2018 World Cup, 31 have been scored after the 80th minute. 28 penalties have been awarded so far, a record for a World Cup.

The soccer matches have been well attended too. Some 2.58 million spectators have attended the Russia 2018 soccer matches making it the fourth highest on record so far. The soccer tournaments with the highest attendance include the USA in 1994 with 3.59 million spectators, Brazil in 2014 with 3.43 million spectators, and Germany in 2006 with 3.36 million spectators.

Headed to the Finals of the World Cup

The World Cup 2018 is heading into the final four this week and everyone has their predictions as to who will come out on top. Only four soccer teams remain, and all are just two wins away from the elusive World Cup title. Belgium, France, Croatia, and England are moments away from getting their names put into the history books of the most popular sport in the world. Needless to say, there’s a lot at stake in Russia over the next week.


  • Belgium – The Red Devils don’t have a strong history when it comes to winning the World Cup. Their most memorable finish was in Mexico in 1986 because it was the first time they’d ever reached the semifinals. While they may not have a lot of success in international play, the soccer team has been raising expectations in recent years due to a list of talented players like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Dries Mertens.
  • Croatia – The Croatians have had next to no success in the World Cup and wasn’t even eligible to play in the games until 1994. Reaching the semifinals this year was a greater feat than they ever expected, so any step further the team makes it is just a bonus. This means that while there will always be pressure at this point in tournament play, Croatia probably has the least weight on its shoulders out of the final four teams. Croatia boasts about having one of the strongest midfield teams in the world, but the team is struggling with injuries, including their goalkeeping hero, Danijel Subasic.
  • England – There have been eight countries to take the World Cup title, and England is one of the two remaining in the semifinals of World Cup 2018. Although England seems to be the country that at least claims to have invented the sport as we now know it, it hasn’t had much success since winning the title in 1966. Headed up by captain Harry Kane who is known for his calmness and composure, England is one of the two soccer teams, along with France, that is favored to win the entire thing.
  • France – France is the other country in this year’s semifinals that has won a World Cup in the past. Just like England, France has only won the title once, but they have been very close several times, unlike England. This year might be their best chance to actually take home the cup in a long time and solidify its standing as a global power. France has played some attacking games and they are the current favorites to take the World Cup in Russia. France will take on Belgium on Tuesday, July 7 at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Standout Soccer Players

The FIFA World Cup has a history of soccer players who have become heroes as the competition reached its peak. As the 2018 games reach the final four, who comes to mind when you think of names that might be added to the list in Russia? Here are a few that come to our minds:

  • Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) – This Manchester City player has taken on a deeper role than what is normal for him. He’s been somewhat subdued in opening round games, but with Dries Mertens absent in the game against Brazil, De Bruyne was forced to move forward and reveled in the leading role. He got himself right in the center of Belgium’s attacks and scored a crucial goal.
  • Raphael Varane (France) – There have been plenty of questions about the form of the center back for the Real Madrid going into the knockout phase. However, by the end of the quarterfinals, France’s star defender was quickly approaching his best form ever.
  • Harry Maguire (England) – The Leicester City defender may just be the UK’s, Fabio Grosso. Maguire has been an impressive figure for the Three Lions running through the quarterfinals. In the clash against Sweden, he was a powerful header that made tangible contributions pushing England to the lead.

Andrej Kramaric (Croatia) – This star has been in and out of the starting role since Croatia’s game against Nigeria. But his quick reactions that resulted in an equalizer goal against Russia may just be enough to secure his spot in the starting lineup.

Who Will Come Out on Top of the World Cup?

Just four teams remain in the chase to the top spot in Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup. Games this week will determine who will duke it out on July 15 in Moscow at the final. The knockout stages have been filled with drama, tension, and excitement and we have every reason to believe that will only intensify as the final game gets closer.

soccer socksTuesday will feature a heavyweight matchup between Belgium and France. Then on Wednesday, Croatia will match up against England. So, pull on your favorite team’s attire, including your favorite pair of soccer socks, and be sure to tune in to see which of the teams will be headed to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

Whether you’re cheering on the English, French, Belgium, or Croatian team, MadSportsStuff has a pair of soccer socks to meet your needs. They are designed and manufactured in the USA and they are made to last.