As part of TVP World’s World Cup countdown daily series we take a look at the latest news and take a deeper dive into what sets apart this tournament from its predecessors.
Belgium’s golden generation
Belgium captain Eden Hazard believes Belgium need to win a trophy to justify the ‘golden generation’ tag the team have been given.
Hazard, alongside Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are the stars of a team that supporters have high expectations for.
With all of the aforementioned now in their 30’s many feel that it is now or never for the Belgians.
“Of course, we’ve got an incredible generation of players, but we still haven’t won anything. If we really want to earn that ‘golden generation’ nickname, I think that’s the one thing we still need to do (win something).”
Modric’s final international tournament
Luka Modric has said that next month’s World Cup will be his final tournament for the Croatian national team.
“I am aware that I am of a certain age and that this is my last competition in the Croatian national team,” Modric told Fifa+.
The 37-year-old has played in three previous World Cups. He won the Golden Ball award for most outstanding player in 2018 when Croatia reached the final for the first time.
What distinguishes this World Cup from its predecessors?
The most obvious distinction from this edition to previous ones is the fact it is being held in the Middle East for the first time. It is not a region recognised for establishing successful teams nor producing many players of note.
Qatar itself has less of a pedigree than the majority of its middle eastern neighbours as it is a very young country. It was not until September 3, 1971 that Qatar declared its independence from British protection. Although it actually played its first official football match prior to that date in 1970 on March 27 against Bahrain.
As the country is mainly desert, all of the matches will be located in stadiums within close proximity to one another. All of the action will take place on the country’s east coast, in and around the capital city Doha.
Previous World Cups have taken place in various cities across one or several countries meaning that deciding where to base the team camp was often an important factor to consider for nations. All but the nine matches hosted in Al Khor in this tournament will be held within a 20 mile radius of the centre of Doha, in stark contrast to 2018 hosted by Russia, with stadiums scattered all over the country’s huge land mass.
Due to the lack of footballing history all eight stadiums have been purpose built for this tournament and unlike previous editions have no experience of hosting any major matches.
Aside from the human rights aspect of playing the tournament in Qatar, the feature which has caused the most friction in the European football community is the staging of the event in winter.
The hosts were forced to switch from the traditional summer time scheduling to winter as Qatari temperatures vary from 35 to 45 degrees Celcius in the summer. Playing in winter means there is less time to spread the matches, leading to the tightest scheduling ever seen, where four matches per day will be played during the group stage.
The winter time tournament has also forced all of the major European leagues, where the vast majority of World Cup players ply their trade, to condense their fixtures.
The positive aspect to a winter competition is that players, in theory, should be less tired than they would be at the end of a full club season and all that entails.
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