World Cup 2018: Football showpiece set to begin in Russia
The 2018 Fifa World Cup gets under way on Thursday, when hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia following an opening ceremony at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Football’s showpiece event features 32 teams, including holders Germany, competing in 64 games over 32 days.
The 21st edition will be played in 12 stadiums, across 11 cities, spread over 1,800 miles.
England, winners in 1966, are the only team from the home nations to qualify and start against Tunisia on 18 June.
Germany, who beat Argentina in the 2014 final, are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since 1962, while Brazil seek a record-extending sixth world title.
The month-long tournament is expected to attract one and a half million fans to Russia and an estimated global television audience of over three billion viewers.
There are eight groups, each containing four teams, with the top two advancing to the last 16. The final takes place at the 81,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, 15 July (16:00 BST).
Who will win the World Cup?
Germany, Brazil, Euro 2016 winners Portugal, 2014 runners-up Argentina, Belgium, Poland and 1998 winners France are among the eight seeded teams.
Hosts Russia are also seeded, though they are the tournament’s lowest-placed team – 70th – in Fifa’s world rankings.
England, who have won only one of their past eight World Cup matches, are unseeded, as are 2010 champions Spain. Continue Reading