By Ray Hamill
The final four spots for next summer’s World Cup will be decided this week, and that means the countdown to the madness can officially get under way.
Thus far, 28 of the 32 teams have sealed their invite to the sports world’s most exclusive party, with four more joining them between now and Wednesday.
For some – the Germanys, Englands and Brazils of the world – it’s business as usual, and the real work won’t begin until June.
For others – the Panamas, Icelands and Moroccos of the world – just qualifying is a major achievement on its own, and no matter what happens when they get there, it’s already considered a successful campaign.
For everyone, however, it’s a a reason to celebrate.
It’s a reason to anticipate and dream, and a chance to hang out with the cool kids of the soccer world, the biggest stars of all on the biggest stage of all, with the whole world watching your every move.
There is nothing bigger than the World Cup. Not the Olympics, not the Super Bowl.
Of the 32 teams, only six or seven have a legitimate shot at winning it all – only seven different countries have even reached the final in the past half century – but that won’t diminish the enthusiasm for anyone involved. For most, just getting there is an achievement.
The draw for the tournament groups will take place in Moscow on Dec. 1.