At long last, the World Championship has arrived! The WC 2018 kicks-off in Russia on the 14th June as the world’s top footballing nations compete to be crowned champions.
Here, we will take a look at what to expect from the tournament – the games, the stadiums, the teams to watch out for – so scroll down and find out more about Russia 2018!
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Who Is the Host Country?
The host country for the WC in 2018 is Russia, who is hosting the competition for the first time in the history of the tournament.
What Cities Are Matches Being Played In?
There are 11 host cities. Moscow is hosting the games over two stadiums, and there is one stadium or arena in each of the following cities: Sochi, Volgograd, Rostov, Kaliningrad, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Mordovia.
When Does The Tournament Begin?
The group stages of the WC 2018 begin when hosts Russia come up against Saudi Arabia on the 14th of June.
And When Does It Finish?
The tournament comes to a close just over one month later, with the final taking place in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on the 15th July 2018.
What Countries Have Won The Previous Tournaments
The Football WC began in the year 1930, with Uruguay winning the inaugural competition. Since then there have been 19 more competitions – one every four years – making it a total of 20 World Championships to date. The team to have won the most times is Brazil, who have impressively won five times over the years. Germany is the current holders, after beating Argentina in 2014 final. The complete list of those who have won the trophy to date is below:
1954 West Germany
1974 West Germany
1990 West Germany
How Many Teams Take Part In The Football WC 2018
32 countries will be taking part in the 2018 World Championship. There is a group stage, which is followed by four knockout games to win the tournament. A loss in the knockout stages means elimination from the tournament.
How Many Games Are There?
When it comes to top-class football, you can’t beat the World Cup – there are 64 fixtures in the tournament, from group stages to the final. These games will be playing out across 12 stadiums in 11 different cities (Moscow has two grounds) in what promises to be an enthralling competition, with the eyes of the world turning to Russia for the month.
We will now take a look at which games are taking place where, and why the venue is relevant:
The Luzhniki Stadium
The tournaments main stadium. With a capacity of 80,000, the recently renovated Luzhniki Stadium will be playing home to some of the WC 2018 biggest matches, including the hosts inaugural game between Russia and Saudi Arabia, a semi-final and the final.
14/6: Russia – Saudi Arabia
17/6: Germany – Mexico
20/6: Portugal – Morocco
26/6: Denmark – France
01/7: Round of 16
15/7: The final
Otkritie (Spartak) Stadium
The home of Spartak Moscow, the Otkritie Stadium, is the other ground located in the Russian capital that will be featuring in the football WC 2018 tournament. It has a capacity of 45,360. Perhaps it’s stand-out game is its first one – Argentina vs. Iceland – where Lionel Messi and his side will be hoping to get off to a good start after finishing runner-up at the 2014 competition.
16/6: Argentina – Iceland
19/6: Poland – Senegal
23/6: Belgium – Tunisia
27/6: Brazil – Serbia
03/7: Round of 16
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
The 44,899 seats capacity Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is hosting six games at the World Championship 2018. Again, Argentina is featuring in perhaps the stand-out match at the venue – this time against Croatia, and with some of the strongest players in the competition such as Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, the Croats will be hoping to leave their mark against the Argentines.
18/6: Sweden – South Korea
21/6: Argentina – Croatia
24/6: England – Panama
27/6: Switzerland – Costa Rica
01/7: Round of 16
The recently completed Mordovia Arena can hold a capacity of 44,442 people. Its opening game is Peru vs. Denmark in Group C, and it is one to watch out for – both teams impressed in qualifying and a win could leave either side in a good position to progress to the knock-out stages in what is a difficult group.
16/6: Peru – Denmark
19/6: Colombia – Japan
25/6: Iran – Portugal
28/6: Panama – Tunisia
The Kazan Arena is the home of Rubin Kazan and can hold up to 45,379 patrons. It plays home to the largest outdoor arena in Europe and some quality World Championship football games – including Germany’s final group game against South Korea. The current champions will be hoping to have already confirmed qualification by this match, but anything can happen in the WC 2018.
16/6: France – Australia
20/6: Iran – Spain
24/6: Poland – Colombia
27/6: South Korea – Germany
30/6: Round of 16
Samara (Cosmos) Arena
Completed in 2014, the Samara Arena can hold just under 45,000 people. Perhaps its most noteworthy match-up is the final group game of the hosts, Russia, which could determine whether they feature in the knock-out rounds of their home tournament or not.
17/6: Costa Rica – Serbia
21/6: Denmark – Australia
25/6: Uruguay – Russia
28/6: Senegal – Colombia
02/7: Round of 16
One of Russia’s older large stadiums, the Central Stadium is 51 years old and will host four games, including Egypt vs. Uruguay, during the WC 2018. Mohamed Salah will be hoping to spearhead his nation to a promising start in Russia against Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani’s strong Uruguayan side.
15/6: Egypt – Uruguay
21/6: France – Peru
24/6: Japan – Senegal
27/6: Mexico – Sweden
The soon-to-be home of Zenit St Petersburg was only completed last year, and with 64,287 people capacity, it’s a huge ground. It will be playing home to the second semi-final as well as the third-place play-off.
15/6: Morocco – Iran
19/6: Russia – Egypt
22/6: Brazil – Costa Rica
26/6: Nigeria – Argentina
03/6: Round of 16
14/7: Third place play-off
Opening on the island of Oktyabrasky in Kaliningrad has a capacity of 35,212 – less than what was originally hoped for the newly-built ground, but financial issues restricted the addition of more seating. The stand-out game at the ground is between England and Belgium on the 28th of June – both sides will be hoping to finish the group stages with a potentially vital win.
16/6: Croatia – Nigeria
22/6: Serbia – Switzerland
25/6: Spain – Morocco
28/6: England – Belgium
With a capacity of 45,586 people, the Volvograd is another newly built stadium in anticipation of Russia 2018. Once the tournament comes to a close, it will become the ground of the club Rotor Volgograd, but before that, it hosts 4 World Cup games, including the first tie of the English against Tunisia.
18/6: Tunisia – England
22/6: Nigeria – Iceland
25/6: Saudi Arabia – Egypt
28/6: Japan – Poland
The home of FC Rostov is hosting five games at the tournament. It has a capacity of 45,000 people, and perhaps its stand-out tie is its first – Brazil vs. Switzerland, perhaps the most high-profile match-up in Group E.
17/6: Brazil – Switzerland
20/6: Uruguay – Saudi Arabia
23/6: South Korea – Mexico
26/6: Iceland – Croatia
02/7: Round of 16
Fisht Olympic Stadium
Built for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the Fisht Stadium can hold up to 40,000 people and is hosting six games. The hosts Russia will be playing their second game of the tournament there, and it is perhaps the grounds biggest tie.
15/6: Morocco – Iran
18/6: Russia – Egypt
23/6: Brazil – Costa Rica
26/6: Nigeria – Argentina
30/6: Round of 16
Any sporting tournament needs its big-hitters to be there in order to make it a spectacle and, even though the Netherlands and Italy failed this time around, the fact that Portugal, Argentina and Brazil are there will mean we don’t miss out on seeing Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar among others.
The current World Champions are tournament favourites and with good reason. Last year, the side won both the Confederations Cup and the Under-21 World Cup, so it’s clear that Joachim Loew’s team have not rested on their laurels, and due to their teams’ intense playing style are perhaps the side that oppositions will be most fearful of being paired against.
The 5-time Football World Championship winners are once more a team to look out for in 2018. They were humiliated on home turf by Germany in the 7-1 semi-final demolition back in 2014, but they are now a new-look team with excellent players in all areas of the pitch. Neymar, Thiago Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Ederson, David Luiz. Brazil is a side that could very well have the personnel to add another trophy to their collection in Russia.
The French were disappointed to come out of Euro 2016 as runners-up to Portugal on home soil. They will be hopeful of going one step further in Russia and capitalizing upon what is a prosperous era for the country in terms of talented players such as Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Hugo Lloris.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgian team is filled to the brim with world-class players. In recent tournaments, this has almost been to their detriment, as the top-quality footballers were unable to live up to their individual reputations as a collective unit, meaning their impact was dulled. If things fall into place in Russia, players like Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard could see the Red Devils do very well.
A lot of English supporters have gotten sick of the hype-train that surrounds major tournaments for them. It’s cyclical – perform amazingly in the group against weaker teams and then get showed up at the tournament itself. This time may be different, however, as much of the hype has dispelled, meaning they can play with less severe pressure on them. Gareth Southgate has some top-class players at his disposal, such as Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, and he will be hopeful of making an impact in Russia.
Between 2008 and 2012, Spain was practically unbeatable. While they saw a dip in form after winning their third consecutive tournament at Euro 2012, the Spanish have regrouped and with an almost entirely new-look squad, hope to return to their former greatness.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal surprised many people by claiming a European Championship victory in 2016. The Portuguese side no doubt relies on their leading man – who, when on form, can (and has) won games on his own – also have a strong spine throughout their team.
In 2014, Argentina came runners-up in the World Championship, where they came agonizingly close to getting their hands on the trophy only to lose to the Germans in extra-time. This time, despite having quite a lot of trouble in the qualifying stages, Lionel Messi and his side will be looking to go one further and earn the World Cup title for the 3rd time.
Perhaps a dark horse to do some damage in the competition, Egypt has some top players among their ranks but none more so than perhaps the world’s most form player, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. A Hero in his home country, Salah will be hoping to continue his truly exceptional form and help his side to leave a mark in WC Russia 2018.
The “Group of Death”
The group of death is a title given to the group that nobody would like to be drawn in as it contains several strong teams, meaning there is likely to be upset on the cards. In Russia 2018, it could be argued that there is no particular group of death, although groups C and F are perhaps both ones to look out for.
Group F has current champions Germany as well as strong sides Mexico and Sweden, and also South Korea. Group C has France, Peru – who showed themselves to be a fine side in qualifying – and Denmark, who won well away at the Republic of Ireland in the play-off for the tournament place. They are joined by Australia.