Hey, soccer fans! It's finally here y'all.
The World Cup is less than two weeks away, and the four-and-a-half-year wait to see some of football's brightest stars grace the most prominent sports tournament in the world is almost over.
Qatar 2022 promises to be full of all the action we've known to expect at a FIFA World Cup tournament; the atmosphere, the colors, and of course, the brilliant display on the field of play. So while we await kickoff on November 20, it's only fitting to reminisce about the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage and how it played out.
Group Stage Drama
As has been the case over the years, 32 teams qualified for the World Cup; four teams were placed in each of the eight groups available, with the top two teams expected to qualify for the next round.
Uruguay (1st) and host country Russia (2nd) made it out of Group A, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt crashed out.
It was a tight fest that featured two European heavyweights, 2010 World Cup Winners Spain and 2016 European Champions Portugal, and a stubborn Iran and Morocco. Spain (1st) and Portugal (2nd) narrowly escaped the group with one win and two draws each, including an exciting 3-3 showdown. How can we forget Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning late-minute freekick to seal the draw?
France finished atop the group, although Denmark gave Didier Deschamps' side a run for their money. Peru came in third, and Australia finished at the bottom without a win.
The football world would've gone wild had Messi's Argentina not narrowly escaped elimination with a 2-1 win against Nigeria's Super Eagles. Croatia topped the Group with nine points, while Nigeria and Iceland finished third and fourth, respectively.
Brazil took the top spot without much trouble, fending off competition from Switzerland, who claimed the second spot. Serbia finished third with one win, while Costa Rica ended their campaign without a win.
The Selecao currently sits atop the 2022 FIFA World Cup betting odds ranking and would be looking to secure their first title since 2002.
The World Cup curse may seem like a myth, but it came knocking again. The 2014 World Cup Winner crashed out of the group stage in a disappointing fashion, finishing at the bottom of the group.
Sweden and Mexico advanced to the next round, while South Korea had to settle for third.
Belgium and England were both placed in the same group, and as expected, both teams made it to the next round in a group with Tunisia (3rd) and Panama (4th). Belgium took the top spot after defeating England 1-0 to secure all nine points.
Columbia secured the top spot and was joined by Japan, who, despite having the same points and head-to-head record with Senegal, advanced to the next round via the fair play rule. Lewandowski's Poland finished at the bottom of the group.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup was hosted by Russia, and it was such an eyeful. It rained goals in Russia as the represented countries scored 169 goals in 64 games, an average of 2.6 goals per game. The tournament recorded only one scoreless draw. France would go on to win the World Cup, continuing a streak of European triumph on the grandest of stages.
The win made Didier Deschamps the third manager to win a World Cup as a player and a coach, having previously won the World Cup in 1998.