We can turn our pretty Italian faces away, and pretend that nothing happened yesterday in Moscow, and nothing will happen next Summer. But it’s time to face reality. The World Cup will still take place, even without Italy. As we set to work to rebuild our movement, the gods of football will battle in Russia to capture the World Champion title.
“Meanwhile In Moscow” is the tagline under which The Cult of Calcio will painfully follow the most important sport event in the world, starting from the draw for the Group Stage that was held yesterday at the Kremlin Palace.
With the calcio fans’ attention all drawn by the partitissima Napoli-Juventus, news about the draw ceremony barely made headlines among Italian outlets. Occhio non vede, cuore non duole, we say in our language – which translates into “What you can’t see, cannot hurt you.” Still, one cannot ignore that the ball started to roll, and here is what happened in a nutshell:
In line with the tradition, the seeding pots delivered a comfortable start to host country Russia, which will face Uruguay in Group A, together with long-time missing Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
More interesting is Group B, featuring a stellar duel between incumbent European Champion Portugal and a regenerated Spain, with Morocco and Iran to complete the starting grid. It’s not a “group of death,” but surely one of the toughest.
France appears to be one step ahead in the third group, with Denmark, Australia, and Peru likely to battle for the second qualifying spot.
Group D will feature once again an Argentina-Nigeria match – for the African Supereagles, this is the 5th time they get seeded with La Albiceleste in their six World Cup appearances. But Messi and Co. should also watch out for Croatia, and unpredictable debutant Iceland.
The fifth group is another interesting one, with Brazil opposed to solid European sides like Serbia and Switzerland, as well as to Central American Costa Rica. Remember the Ticos’ exploit four years ago in Brazil? We Italians surely do.
Qualification in Group F should be a matter between incumbent World Champions Germany and tough cookie Mexico, with South Korea and our nemesis Sweden one step below.
Diego Armando Maradona’s hand placed long-time rivals England in Group G, alongside with Belgium, Tunisia and newcomers Panama.
The last group will see Colombia and Japan meeting again in a World Cup after 4 years. Poland and Senegal have equal chances to make it through what looks like one of the most balances grouping in the upcoming world football fest.