The 21st FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia between June 14 and July 15, 2018. Germany are the defending champions and will be looking to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win two World Cup titles on the bounce. But, as is the case every time the tournament is held, there are a number of favourites to go the long haul, chief among which are a resurgent Brazil, Spain, France and Argentina. Italy and Netherlands are two traditional big names to have failed to qualify this year while Iceland and Panama are making their debuts. USA who had become regulars in the World Cup over the past few editions also failed to qualify after losing their playoff clash to Panama in what is regarded as the biggest upset in the qualifiers for Russia 2018. Countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are making returns after long absences from the World Cup. This could also be the last time we see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the tournament. While they are obviously under the spotlight, Brazil captain Neymar also carries big expectations. He had been injured in the quarter-final in 2014 when the World Cup was held in Brazil and his team went on to lose 7-1 to Germany in the semis.
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