Countdown to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – 1 Day
This Afternoon’s Top Story:
FOX Sports’ lead FIFA World Cup studio analyst Alexi Lalas joined THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD live from Red Square in Moscow to react today’s 2026 World Cup announcement:
“Back in 1994, … we saw the power of what a World Cup can do to a sport, what it can do to a country, and what it can do to a culture. Now, that was back in 1994. Think of when this World Cup comes back in 2026 – not just in the American culture, but we have Mexico and Canada – so I think it’s a really unique time.
“This is a day of celebration. This is a day to celebrate all these countries, all of the culture, and obviously this incredible sport.”
Lalas adds that money was likely a key factor in today’s vote:
“I think people recognized a number of things … all the good things America and Mexico and Canada can bring, but they also recognized money.
“When it really came down to it, there are people that didn’t like us; there are people that don’t like our politicians or don’t like our policies, but you know what they like? They like money. Because money will drive the sport for their members, in their cultures, in their communities. And they might have held their nose, but ultimately, they voted for us.”
On tonight’s FOX Sports FIFA World Cup Preview Show on FS1:
FOX Sports’ FIFA World Cup studio analyst Guus Hiddink on what it means for the U.S. team to have the World Cup on home soil in 2026:
“I was there in 1994. I think it’s a huge opportunity to form a very good team. I’ve experienced it in Australia and Russia, when they knew they had the World Cup. They forgot here in Russia to bring the young players up to the high level. Now in the U.S., there’s the opportunity to make a very competitive team for 2026.”
Hiddink on Spain firing their coach just before the World Cup begins:
“I don’t think it has a lot of influence whether he’s there or not because this team is so experienced. And they can manage that. And they will manage that. They had players in the last World Cup.”
FOX Sports’ FIFA World Cup analyst Tony Meola on Russia’s hopes tomorrow vs. Saudi Arabia:
“In the modern era of football, 85 percent of the time, when you win, you go to the second round. Only 12 percent have lost and have gone to the second round. This Russia side hasn’t won an international game in seven tries. They’ve been under pressure from the fans and the media and now their President Vladimir Putin. If they’re going to compete with the likes of Uruguay and Egypt, they have to pick up three points tomorrow.”
FOX Sports’ FIFA World Cup studio analyst Moises Munoz on Mexico’s chances against Germany and the group:
“We have hope. We have to rely a lot on hope. There’s been a lot going on with the Mexican National Team outside of the pitch, so what they’re supposed to do now is just focus on the game itself. Everything that’s going to happen with El Tri is going to happen after this game. I believe they’re going to go full throttle after Germany, but they’re not going to give anything away. If they start having trouble in the game, they’re going to hold back, try to get a disappointing game and try to have better next two games. I have hope.”
FOX Sports’ FIFA World Cup studio analyst Ian Wright on England’s chances in Group G:
“I think it will be England and Belgium going through. We’re not going to take Tunisia and Panama for granted. These are teams we should be beating. Everyone saw what happened with Iceland. We went into that tournament thinking we were going to beat Iceland. We were thinking about beating Belgium. We have a good young team and only have five players with tournament experience. We’ve got a good young manager. It’s all about the confidence. They have to win the games well. When we get pushback, the team starts to go backward. They have to really go at teams and finish them off and get momentum.”
Wright on which player will have the biggest impact:
“Who needs to have the biggest impact is Neymar. When you look at him and his move to PSG, it was a poor move and he went to a poor league where he’s not tested. He’s scored goals and he should score goals. Even with Brazil, their friendlies, it was like a Harlem Globetrotters vibe that Brazil has going around the world. I think that he now needs to totally step into that proper world cup star billing that he been getting. He needs to have a big one.
Lalas on the player who he thinks will be under the most scrutiny:
“Messi is going to dominate the headlines with the continued compare-and-contrast between him and Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo got his international title winning the Euros. With Argentina, it’s not about winning Copa, it’s about winning the World Cup. When you’re left footed, you’re diminutive and you’re wearing No. 10 on the back of an Argentina jersey, what are you compared to? Maradona. What did Maradona do? He won a World Cup. Is it fair? Is it right? It doesn’t matter. Life isn’t fair and soccer isn’t fair. And until he’s holding the World Cup trophy, he’s not going to measure up in the eyes of many to Diego Maradona.”
Tournament coverage kicks off tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET on the FOX broadcast network with WORLD CUP LIVE, leading into Russia vs. Saudi Arabia at 11:00 AM ET.