FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA WC: The 3 aspects the fans will miss in Russia

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XtraTime Web Desk:
The FIFA World Cup in Russia will be coming up with a lot of new things. At the same time, the fans will miss a few things as well. Here goes the three aspects, nwe believe the fans will miss the most.

Ibrahimovic

If ever there was an appropriate stage for a player of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's talents, it is the grandest of them all – The World Cup. The Swedish striker is in the twilight of his career and recently traded the inauspicious climes of Manchester for the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, where he will see out his days as the latest aging superstar to score a hatful of goals in Major League Soccer. Ibrahimovic retired from international football following the European Championships in 2016, but Sweden's unlikely qualification for this summer's tournament has led to calls from the public for him to end his international exile and pull on the yellow jersey once again. However, these dreams were dashed when the player ultimately decided against a swansong with Sweden and head coach Janne Andersson at Russia 2018.

Paul - The Octopus

Of all the things that won't be at this summer's tournament, it is the absence of a clairvoyant octopus which will be felt most keenly by those hoping to make a few bucks by gambling on the results of the games. Paul the Octopus made international headlines during the 2010 World Cup by inexplicably predicting the winners of several games throughout the tournament. How so? His handlers would place two food boxes into his tank, each emblazoned with the flag of the two nations who were playing each other. Paul would then eat the food from one of the boxes, thus 'predicting' the winner of each match.

Major nations to miss out

Even though this summer's World Cup in Russia is the first time in the tournament's history in which 32 teams will compete for the trophy, it is also notable for the number of 'heavyweight' teams which failed to qualify. Four-time champions Italy, for example, will be forced to enviously watch the tournament on television, as will one of the best teams in South America, Chile. The Netherlands, finalists in 2010 and third place four years ago, will also be absent from Russia.



 



The United States, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Bosnia & Herzegovina also didn't make the cut, but the non-appearance of all of these teams leaves room for the likes of Iceland, Costa Rica, Panama, and Saudi Arabia to make their mark on the world stage. That's scant consolation for the major nations who failed to qualify though, and one suspects that more than a few glasses of red wine will be polluted by salty tears in Italy over the summer months as a result.

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