The wait continues for Scotland to qualify for its first World Cup of the new millennium, but there is a certain freedom that comes with having a world class tournament to enjoy that doesn’t feature your home team. The key to it is the word “enjoy.” We all remember France 98, but in all honesty, if we could have the memories erased, we probably would. That 3-0 defeat to Morocco 20 years ago remains the last World Cup match the team contested.
But in subsequent World Cups, there has been no stress and no pain. Just the opportunity to kick back and enjoy some fantastic football matches, without caring too much one way or the other which team comes out on top. It’s what enjoying the World Cup is all about, and here are four matches that could be absolute classics.
Brazil vs Germany
The draw can throw up some anomalies and this is one of them. According to those in the know when it comes to World Cup betting, these are the teams that are most likely to win the World Cup. But the fact that they are in adjacent groups means that if one of them has a slip in the group stages and finishes second, they will actually meet in the round of 16 on 2nd or 3rd of July. It will be as if the final has arrived a fortnight early, and Brazil will be eager to avenge the 7-1 mauling they received in the semi final in 2014.
Argentina vs Portugal
Or should that say Messi vs Ronaldo? It’s the showdown that will make the world put down what it’s doing and switch on the TV, whatever their footballing allegiance. The teams could meet up in the quarter final if they both win their groups, or if they both finish second. As well as a clash of the two biggest names in football, it would be the first time these teams have ever met in the latter stages of a World Cup.
Russia vs Spain
There is always a little extra pressure when it comes to being the host nation. We have already alluded to how it affected Brazil four years ago, but for Russia, this is all so new. They have qualified for three previous World Cups and never made it beyond the group stage, but this year, they have a genuine chance. They are odds on to beat Saudi Arabia in the curtain raiser, and if they can then get past Egypt five days later, that should be enough to set up their first ever knockout match against Spain.
Germany vs England
It’s one of the greatest and oldest rivalries in the game. The English are still talking about the 1966 World Cup as if it was yesterday, and every time the teams meet, it is treated as a rematch. If all goes to form, with Germany winning Group F and England finishing second in Group G, they will be on collision course to meet in the quarter finals.