Travel World Cup 2018: And the winner is …
Almost no-one outside France and Croatia is entirely pleased with what sort of 2018 World Cup has unfolded. THEREFORE I have rerun it, predicated on something a lot more important compared to the footballing prowess of a couple of hundred well-paid teenagers. In the spirit of Jules Verne than Jules Rimet rather, You are distributed by me the Travel World Cup, with nations pitched against each other on the relative merits of these places of interest solely.
Only one rule: the referee’s decision is final. So without slow-motion replays, let play commence.
Most of the group winners and runners-up are clear: Egypt and Russia prevail over Saudi Arabia and Uruguay; Peru and france over Australia and Denmark; Germany and mexico over South Korea and Sweden; Croatia and argentina over Nigeria and Iceland.
But you can find three tight groups. Spain and Iran only triumph against  narrowly; Morocco and portugal; Senegal and switzerland are squeezed out by the tropical twosome, Costa and brazil Rica. And Tunisia and England edge it over Belgium and Panama.
On to the round of 16, where – as in football, so in tourism – key contenders get knocked out.
France beats Croatia on from cuisine to countryside. Egypt trounces Iran because of its sheer weight of antiquity, while Japan out-attracts Tunisia. In several all-Latin clashes, Costa and argentina Rica haven’t any chance against Peru and Mexico respectively.
Germany narrowly defeats Brazil: as the latter attacks with an abundance of nature, Germany’s cultural defence and midfield of rich heritage prevail. And Spain’s defeat of Russia implies that quality can overcome quantity.
England plays Colombia in the round of 16, as happened in real footballing life, but this time around loses on penalties: Stonehenge and the San Agustin archaeological site cancel one another out. The colonial glories of Cartagena cannot contend with Bath and York. But England does not have any defence against sublime tropical beaches, deep rainforest and mountains soaring to 19 almost,000 feet. You don’t get that in the Lake District.
If the united kingdom fielded a united team, the effect could possibly be different: the Giant’s Causeway, Edinburgh Portmeirion  and Castle;would add a lot of attacking power.
Into the quarter-finals, where Germany’s adversary is its one-time ally, Japan. Both have super trains, needless to say, but Japan has geography on its side: an astonishing repertoire from the grace of Mount Fuji to the lonely sub-tropical archipelago west of Okinawa. More exotic compared to the Baltic.
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Mexico sees off Costa Rica, but the other two quarter-finals are clashes of titans. Consider Spain v Peru. Granada&rsquo even;s Alhambra pales beside Machu Picchu; the Sierra Nevada is not any match for the Andes; and the Amazon basin is a lot more alluring compared to the Ebro Delta. But Peru does not have any coastal city to equate to Barcelona, and the sprinkling of island gems from Menorca to Tenerife help win it for Spain.
France against Egypt? Paris’s Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are mere arrivistes weighed against the Pyramids and Sphinx on the outskirts of Cairo, as the temples of top of the Nile around Luxor trump the cathedrals of Notre Chartres and Dame. But only 1 of them includes a superb rail network and produces a number of the world’s best wines. Au revoir, Egypt.
While France makes light work of Japan in the first semi-final, Spain loses in the second to its former colonial possession: Mexico has more compelling coastlines and culture.
In the ultimate, the Mexicans outjump the French with Pico de Orizaba one-sixth taller than Mont Blanc (plus they don’t share it with Italy, either). But while Mayans were doing marvellous things prior to the Romans wandered into Gaul long, the Aztec era was cut short by those darn conquistadores. No right time and energy to construct a palace as miraculous as Versailles.
France has outstanding breadth, with isles from Corsica via the Caribbean to Reunion – aswell as Clipperton Island, a coral atoll just 700 miles off the Pacific coast of Mexico cheekily. And the alliterative midfield trio of Matisse, Manet and Monet are strong for the the Mexican  too;artistic duo, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
France’s tourism offering seems unbeatable. Except, perhaps, by the half-dozen holiday heavyweights absent from the entire world Cup: Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, China and the usa.
I anticipate re-running the rerun for Qatar in 2022. Although it is early to take a position on the results too, I imagine the country so awarded the right to host the tournament in four years&rsquo justly; time may not get as a great travel nation far.