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Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil
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ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

The crazy look of the 2018 World Cup if it had 48 teams

Join ESPN in Russia, as we go on the lookout for one of the World Cup's biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Saudi Arabia's 5-0 capitulation to what was previously considered to be a distinctly average Russia side raised questions about the depth of quality at the 2018 World Cup. Friday's dull match between Iran and Morocco hardly offered a counterargument.

This tournament has 32 nations, with Saudi Arabia (67th) and Russia (70th) the two lowest FIFA-ranked sides taking part. But by the time we get to Canada, Mexico and the United States in 2026, there will be 48 nations who will qualify -- and many of...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Was the 1998 World Cup in France fixed? Michel Platini's comments explained

France coach Didier Deschamps explains why Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette didn't make his World Cup squad.

Michel Platini has said France used "trickery" to influence the 1998 World Cup group stage draw. We take a look at the background.

So what happened?

Platini said France wanted to ensure the hosts and reigning champions Brazil could not meet until the final, therefore ensuring "everyone's dream" by meeting in the final.

How did they do this?

As with most tournament draws, the knockout rounds fall into two halves -- therefore four group winners cannot meet any of the winners of the other four groups...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Argentina, France, Poland seeded in World Cup finals draw pots

With 23 of the 32 finalists for the 2018 World Cup finals now known, and all matches played that will be used by FIFA to rank nations, the draw pots for the group stage are now taking shape.

FIFA is to use its October World Ranking to seed all four pots for the draw, a departure from recent tournaments when only the top eight nations were seeded with other pots grouped by Confederation. The Ranking is officially published on Monday by FIFA, but we have calculated the numbers to see which nations...

Qatar World Cup speculation provides a lot of smoke, but no fire yet

Ever since Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup, hope has remained in some quarters that the tournament would ultimately be taken away from the tiny Middle Eastern country. Allegations of corruption have generated plenty of smoke, as have the appalling working conditions inside the country. Yet there hasn't been any fire, at least by FIFA's narrow definition.

The accumulation of fuel continues, however. The latest addition to the possible pyrotechnics came this week when FIFA Executive...

World Cup aftereffects create domestic wrinkle

The world may have been captivated by two of Barcelona's finest attackers during the summer of 1994, but Spain's attention was still somewhat diverted by the movements of the third of the Camp Nou's stars. Because while Hristo Stoichkov and Romario lit up that year's World Cup, Michael Laudrup was preparing for a controversial transfer to Clasico rivals Real Madrid. The speculation was that he had fallen out with Barca manager Johan Cruyff.

Years later, however, Laudrup offered another explanation...

South America's World Cup lessons

As the dust settles, we can now reflect on the first ever European success in a South American World Cup -- in which, the champions Germany thrashed hosts Brazil and overcame Argentina on their own continent, on their march to the title.

It is the third consecutive European World Cup win, and had Holland won the penalty shootout against Argentina it would have been the third consecutive all-European final.

There is plenty, then, for South America to think about.

- Young: Dunga's hiring fails to...