Bluffers Guide To World Cup Russia 2018

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Written By Hasan Rezazadeh

There aren’t many places you can go to escape soccer’s World Cup 2018 over the next four weeks.

If you don’t know your James Vardy from VAR, you’ll need to brush up on your World Cup 2018 knowledge – especially if you want to hold your own in football chats at work or in a bar.

The finals kicks off with Russia playing Saudi Arabia on Thursday (June 14) and ends after 80 matches between 32 teams with the final on July 15.

To help anyone who feels challenged over what they remember about the World Cup, here’s a run down of some key talking points:

Who are the World Cup winners?

Brazil top the list with five wins, followed by Germany and Italy with four. Argentina and Uruguay both have a brace, while England, France and Spain have lifted the trophy once each.

Only European and South American countries have won the title – Europe lead 11 – 9.

Top goal scorers

Just Fontaine of France holds the record as the top scorer in a single tournament, netting 13 goals in six games in 1958.

Miroslav Klose, of Germany, scored 16 World Cup final goals across four tournaments until 2014. He retired in 2016.

England’s Geoff Hurst remains the only striker to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final (1966).

The only player in this year’s finals with a chance of adding to his tally is Thomas Muller of Germany. He ties as the seventh highest scorer with 10 goals.

Penalty takers

No surprises here – Germany are the best, winning four shoot-outs, and England the worst, losing three.

Since penalties were introduced in 1982, only one German has missed a spot kick, while the team has hit the back of the net 15 times in a row since.

Argentina have also won four, but have lost one, too. Italy have lost three on a par with England, but have recorded one shoot out win as well.

Who do the bookies like for a win?

Brazil are favourites to win (9/2), followed by Germany (26/5), Spain (13/2), France (7/1) and Argentina (10/1).

…And what is VAR?

VAR is the video assisted referee system to help on-pitch refs make better decisions. This will be the first time VAR has been used at a World Cup.