Von Max Brosta
Football fans are forced to sit tight and wait for four years. But that wait will soon be at an end. As the Bundesliga closes its curtains this weekend, another rather large footballing spectacle will soon be coming into focus. It will be just 37 days until the biggest festival of football in the world – the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Three Green-Whites will be on board the plan for their countries. Denmark’s Thomas Delaney, Ludwig Augustinsson of Sweden and Serbian Milos Veljkovic, assuming they are all selected by their national sides in the final call-ups. “The World Cup is the biggest tournament in football and most high-profile experience a footballer can have. I am really looking forward to it,” said Delaney.
Milos Veljkovic is also looking forward to the potential challenge ahead. The Serbian has already tasted World Cup glory, albeit at under-20 level for this country. “That was a very special win,” he said, “But you constantly need to be proving yourself. The Green-White number 13 is considered a crucial cog in the wheel of his country’s ‘golden generation’ and will, along with his teammates, certainly have to prove himself in some tough group stage tests, which along with games against Brazil and Costa Rica will also include a special meeting with Switzerland. “It will that little bit different for me playing against Switzerland. Every game at a World Cup is an experience, but I will be even more motivated against them,” said the Basel-born centre back.
Ludwig Augustinsson and Sweden have also received quite a draw. As well as Mexico and South Korea, the Scandinavians will also face the 2014 winners and defending champions. “The Germans are machines,” said the left-back. “They are the clear favourites in our group and for the title for me. They have so much quality and always give 100%, particularly in a large tournament,” said the Swede, who won’t be able to count on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Russia. “He has made it clear that he is not going to the tournament,” explained Augustinsson, though he did not rule out a return to the international football field. “With Zlatan, you never know,” he remarked with a smile.
The Danish team know exactly what to expect at the World Cup. “France are the best team in the group, and we want to at least finish second and get through the group stages,” thinks Delaney – who has become a vital part of his country’s midfield since moving to Werder. “The move to Werder was good for my career both at club level and with the national team.” Russia will see Delaney compete in his first World Cup. “We are going to be totally prepared and hope to put in a good tournament,” said the Green-White’s number 6.
One thing is for sure: None of the three of the Werder boys can hide their excitement for the start of this summer's tournament in Russia.