Soccer fans get ready to watch the 2018 World Cup - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Soccer fans get ready to watch the 2018 World Cup

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WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

In less than 24 hours the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be underway.

32 countries are about to do battle in Russia, fighting it out for global supremacy in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“The big name teams are fun to watch, the Spain, the France, the Germany's, and see if they can repeat. Brazil always fun to watch, but I think this year especially there's a lot of great individual players on some lower teams that will be fun to watch," said Mike Wysocki, Retail Manager at Soccer City. 

Things get going on Thursday without team USA for the first time since 1986.

While it's a disappointment for some, for others like Nathan Santos, Portugal has his heart.

Santos is making sure he’s ready for Thursday’s game with the purchase of a Ronaldo jersey.

“My team is Portugal, it always has been. I wasn't too worried about the us this year, they weren't looking strong," said Santos. 

Wysocki at Soccer City in Wilbraham told Western Mass News that even without the red, white, and blue, soccer on the world stage isn’t something he’d miss.

“I'm a diehard fan, I watch it religiously," said Wysocki.

Just hours before the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia gets underway, the FIFA congress in Moscow voted on the rights to be the host nation for 2026, but the North American trio beating out Morocco.

Games will be split up between Mexico, Canada, and the USA.

The decision on where to play these games, however, isn't up to North America; that choice rests with FIFA.

Western Massachusetts futbol fans may not have to travel far, though, as one of the supposed 23 finalists for those matches is Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

In the past, host nation teams have been granted an automatic spot in the tournament.

With three countries as the host, however, it remains unclear if all three North American countries will get that bid. 

What does help, though, is that in 2026, the World Cup will be played with 48 teams which is 16 more than what we’ll see come Thursday.

Wysocki said the more games the better, mostly because dreams can fade quickly at this level. Plus, it’s fun.

"It's three games guaranteed, that's it. Sometimes it's less than that mathematically. You wait four years for it and it builds up the anticipation for it, and then getting to watch the guys represent their countries is a lot of fun," Wysocki added. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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