With the 2018 World Cup on FOX 8 kicking off June 14th from Russia, we are previewing ten storylines that are worth keeping an eye on as the tournament goes on.
#1 - Legends' Last Stands
The duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated soccer for the last ten years but neither have ever won a World Cup for their country, Portugal and Argentina, respectively.
They have dominated the Ballon d'Or trophy, given annually to the game's best player in the world. Not only has one of the two won each year since 2008, the other has been runner-up in all but one year. They're the only players to have won the award more than three times (five each) and yet, the hang up remains that their careers do not have a World Cup trophy.
Messi will turn 31 during the tournament while Ronaldo turns 34 in February. Messi flirted with retirement after a particularly heartbreaking Argentina elimination in Copa America 2016 but is back. Ronaldo got a taste of the glory as his Portugal won the 2016 European Cup, but even that triumph was tarnished by his injury and subsequent exit early in the final against France.
Will 2018 be their last chance? For Messi, almost certainly. Ronaldo has continued to defy the expectations of his aging, but even if he were to play at age 37 in 2022, there does not appear to be an infusion of elite Portuguese talent that would help him to the final.
Here are a couple other big names who could be on the big stage for the last time:
Luis Suarez, Uruguay: 31
Andres Iniesta, Spain: 34
Luka Modric, Croatia: 32
Rafael Marquez, Mexico: 39
Vincent Kompany, Belgium: 32
Ashley Young, England: 32
Radamel Falcao, Colombia: 32
FOX 8 will broadcast 38 games from Russia, from first kick to final trophy presentation. The first five games on FOX 8 are:
Thursday, June 14th at 10 AM – Russia vs Saudi Arabia
Friday, June 15th at 10 AM – Morocco vs Iran
Friday, June 15th at 1 PM – Portugal vs Spain
Sunday, June 17th at 7 AM – Costa Rica vs Serbia
Tuesday, June 19th at 10 AM – Poland vs Senegal