World Cup 2018: Exactly 100 days to go

Soccer tournament to get underway June 14

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

(CNN) - The countdown is on.

With exactly 100 days to go until the first ball of the 2018 World Cup is kicked, CNN Sport takes a look at some of the things you should be most excited about.

New teams

Iceland (the smallest country ever to qualify) and Panama will be making their first World Cup appearances this year.

Iceland took the continent by storm during Euro 2016 -- and not only with their performances on the pitch as they reached the quarterfinals.

New celebration?

The Icelandic fans were the talk of France for their intense "Viking Thunderclap" celebration every time their team played.

Now ... they've got a new celebration they'll be bringing to Russia, so keep your eyes peeled on June 16 when Iceland face Argentina in their opening group game.

Group of death?

Group D might be the toughest in Russia, with Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria making up the group. Nigeria -- the youngest team to qualify for the World Cup -- beat Argentina 4-2 in a friendly last month. Argentina and Nigeria have been regular opponents at the World Cup, meeting five times.

Non European or South American nations will have a difficult time triumphing in Russia, since none has ever won the World Cup.

What's Messi gonna do?

There also remains the lingering question over Lionel Messi's status as the GOAT -- greatest of all time -- should he fail to match countryman Diego Maradona on the World Cup stage and lead Argentina to glory.

Messi will be 31 by the time Russia 2018 concludes and this year is surely his last hope of securing the greatest prize in football.

A rebound for Brazil?

Brazil are the record five-time champions but were left reeling following a thumping 7-1 defeat to Germany on home soil in the semifinals at the 2014 World Cup.

Since appointing Tite as manager however Brazil has flourished and appears to have gotten a tame group, given Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.


For the first time since 1986, the US Men's National Team will be watching the World Cup from home.

An embarrassing loss to Trinidad and Tobago in October left the USA on the outside looking in. It also led to the resignation of coach Bruce Arena and much soul searching about the structure of US Soccer.

The lack of an American team will likely mean a smaller audience in the United States. The time zone difference -- Moscow is seven hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast -- also means casual viewers may be hard to win over.

The US, Mexico and Canada jointly are bidding to host the 2026 World Cup. The 32 potential host cities include four cities in Canada, three in Mexico and 25 cities in the US. The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament with the expanded 48-team format.

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