World Cup 2018 – groups, venues, schedule & favourites

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world cup 2018 - information

  What do you need to know about the World Cup 2018 in Russia?

The FIFA World Cup is the most anticipated football event on the planet. It takes place every 4 years in a country which is voted from FIFA – the global governing body of football.

The format of the World Cup consists of Qualification Phase which takes 3 years to complete and a Final Phase. After the qualifications, the best 32 nations, including the host country, which qualifies directly, form 8 groups consisting of 4 teams each. The best 2 teams from each group qualify for the Round of 16 Phase. From this phase on, the remaining teams play in single-elimination games which means each game can be their last. During the knockout stage, if the score is even after regular time, there are 2 Added Times, 15 minutes each. If the score after the Added time is even again, there are penalties with each team having the chance to shoot at least 5 penalties.

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The first World Cup tournament took place in 1930, with the host country being Uruguay which also won becoming the first World Cup holders, something they repeated 20 years later. Below is a list with all world champions, the times they triumphed in the tournament and the years they won:

  • Uruguay – 2 times (1930, 1950)
  • Italy – 4 times (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
  • England – 1 time (1966)
  • Germany (inlcuding West Germany) – 4 times (1954, 1974,1990, 2014)
  • Argentina – 2 times (1978, 1986)
  • Spain – 1 time (2010)
  • France – 1 time (1998)
  • Brazil – 5 times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

As seen, only 8 countries have been capable of winning the World Cup, with Brazil winning it the most. A little known fact is that Brazil and Italy are the only 2 teams which were capable of defending their titles on two consecutive World Cup tournaments – in 1958 and 1962 for Brazil and 1934 and 1938 for Italy. Another interesting info about the World Cup is also that the number of teams which participate hasn’t always been 32 like we know it nowadays. Before the World Cup in France in 1998, only 24 teams qualified for the Group Stage, with than number being 16 before Spain 1982.

  When does the FIFA World Cup in Russia start?

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia starts on the 14th of June with the game between the hosts of Russia and the team of Saudi Arabia. The game will be played on Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and is the only scheduled match for the day. The final will also take place there since that is the biggest stadium in Russia with a capacity of 80,000 seats.

  Which are the stadiums that will host the games from the World Cup?

Although Russia is the biggest country in the world, it hasn’t been host to such a huge sport event. The country hosted the Winter Olympics in 2014 but organising the World Cup finals is totally different. In order to meet the high expectations and the amount of fans, the government of Russia decided to totally renovate or build new stadiums across the country.

The number of stadiums that will host matches from the 2018 World Cup is 12 with most of them situated in the European part of the country. This was made for teams’ convenience of not having to travel too much between games, something most stars complained about during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Two of the stadiums are in the capital of Russia – Moscow, while all other stadiums are in different cities across the country with no other city having more than 1 stadium. The cities that will host games from the 2018 World Cup are: Sochi, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd and Kaliningrad.

Luzhniki Stadium

world cup 2018 - Luzhniki stadium

The biggest stadium, the one that will host both the opening ceremony and the final, is Luzhniki Stadium with a capacity of 80,000 seats.

Spartak Stadium

world cup 2018 - Spartak stadium

The other stadium in Moscow is the Spartak Stadium with a capacity of 45,000 seats. The most exciting match from the Group Stage that is going to be played on this venue is probably going to be Argentina vs Iceland.

St. Petersburg Stadium

world cup 2018 - St. Petersburg stadium

Тhe games which are going to be held in St. Petersburg, the old Russian capital, are going to be played on the newly built Saint Petersburg stadium with a capacity of 67,000. The most intriguing game here is going to be the Semi Final on the 10th of July.

Fisht Stadium

world cup 2018 - Fisht stadium

The venue in Sochi, the city that hosted the Winter Olympics in 2014, is called Fisht Stadium and it is with a capacity of 48,000. The most interesting clash here is going to be the Quarter Final game on the 7th of July.

Ekaterinburg Arena

world cup 2018 - Ekaterinburg Arena

Ekaterinburg Arena, situated in Ekaterinburg is a stadium opened in late 2017 with a capacity of 35,000 seats. Probably, the most interesting game here is going to be the match between Egypt and Uruguay, lead by world class strikers such as Salah and Cavani.

Kazan Arena

world cup 2018 - Kazan arena

The venue in Kazan, Kazan Arena, is one of the older stadiums that will host matches of the 2018 World Cup. It is with a capacity of 45,000 seats with the most intriguing game played here being the Quarter Final on the 6th of July.

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

world cup 2018-Nizhny novgorod stadium

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, situated in the same city, is a brandly new built stadium with a capacity of 45,000 seats. The fans which will attend matches here will have the chance to see 2 very spectacular clashes – the Quarter Final on the 6th of July and the game between Argentina and Croatia.

Rostov Arena

world cup 2018 - Rostov arena

Rostov-on-Don with its newly-built stadium called Rostov Arena will be host to some of the games from the Group Stage and also a game from the Round of 16. The most interesting game from the group stage that will be played here is going to be Iceland vs Croatia. The capacity of the stadium is 45,000 seats.

Samara Arena

world cup 2018 - Samara arena

Samara Arena, called after the city of Samara is also a brand new stadium with a capacity of 45,000 seats. The crowd that will attend matches at the venue will definitely be satisfied. FIrst, they will have the chance to see the game between Russia and Uruguay, and also a game from the Round of 16 and from the Quarter Finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Mordovia Arena

world cup 2018 - Mordovia arena

Mordovia Arena is a stadium placed in the city of Saransk. It can house up to 44,000 fans and is another freshly-built stadium in Russia. It will host only games from the Group Stage with the most intriguing being Peru vs Denmark.

Volgograd Stadium

world cup 2018 - Volgograd stadium

Volgograd Stadium in Volgograd is yet another brand new arena in Russia and just like other new stadiums has a capacity of 45,000. The most interesting match that is going to be played here is the clash between Nigeria and Iceland.

Kaliningrad Stadium

world cup 2018 - Kaliningrad stadium

Kaliningrad Stadium situated in Kaliningrad can accommodate up to 35,000 fans and is the smallest stadium of all that will host matches from the 2018 World Cup. Despite only games from the Group Stage will be held here, there are 2 games that will surely attract a lot of audience: Croatia vs Nigeria and England vs Belgium.

  How are the groups at the World Cup arranged? What are the groups of the 2018 World Cup in Russia?

The FIFA World Cup Group Stage in the last nearly 20 years consist of 32 teams which are divided in 8 groups. The draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was held on 1 December 2017. The qualified teams were divided into 4 pots according to the FIFA Rankings. Pot 1 consisted of the hosts from Russia, which qualified automatically and the best 7 teams from the FIFA Ranking. Pot 2 contained the next 8 best teams and the same applied to Pot 3 and 4.

The World Cup in Russia is the first one which uses the FIFA Ranking for all 4 pots, because in the past, only Pot 1 was based on rankings. As on previous World Cup tournaments, only the first two teams from each group qualify for the Round of 16. Each victory gives the winner 3 points, the draw gives each side 1 point and a loss gives the losing side nothing.

Group A

Group A consists of the teams of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Here, the favourites for reaching the Round of 16 are Russia and Uruguay. The hosts will definitely want to win the group since that will ensure them an easier opponent in the Knockout Stage. That will not be easy at all since they will face Uruguay, who performed very well both at the last World Cup and the Copa America.

Group B

In Group B are the last 2 teams which won the Euro Cup – Spain and Portugal along with not so intriguing squads like Morocco and Iran. Here, again firm favourites are Spain and Portugal and the most important game in the group will be the clash between the two Iberian countries.

Group C

In Group C the teams of France, Australia, Peru and Denmark will have to show which two teams are worthy proceeding to the Knockout Stage. It goes without saying that France are the main contenders of occupying the first place while Denmark and Peru will have to give everything they have in order to take the second spot.

Group D

Group D can be considered as the group of death. It consists of the teams of Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland. Here, except Argentina, which are favourites of the bookmakers, all 3 teams have their chances of proceeding to the Round of 16. Also, teams like Iceland, which reached the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016, and Croatia which have players like Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Mario Mandžukić can definitely give Leo Messi a run for his money.

Group E

Group E consists of the teams of Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica. Brazil are the firm favourites here, with all 3 other teams capable of reaching the Knockout Stage. Costa Rica performed fantastic on the last World Cup 4 years ago and they will definitely want to repeat that performance while both Switzerland and Serbia will want to delight their fans.

Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea are the teams that form Group F.Germany are considered to win the group, and how could not they be, they are the defending world champions. It seems that the teams of Mexico and Sweden are going to be the contenders for the second place in the group.

Group G

Group G will oppose the teams of Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England. Here, the clash between the two European teams will decide which team will finish first and which second. Any other standing on the first two places at the end of the Group Stage will be considered as a huge surprise.

Group H

Group H is one of the less glamorous groups at the 2018 World Cup. Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan form this group and will have to show which of the 4 teams will reach the Knockout Stage. May be, the only team that is predicted to surely qualify for the Round of 16 is Colombia which has a real world-class players in the face of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao.

  Which will be the biggest and most emotional matches at the group stages?

The World Cup is the most anticipated football event on the planet and despite the fact each game is very important, here are the most awaited matches from the Group Stages.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia – 14 June

The first game at the 2018 World Cup is going to be also one of the most emotional ones, too. Although no one expects a spectacular game between the teams of Russia and Saudi Arabia, the hosts will definitely want to satisfy their fans, boost their confidence and make a flying start to the competition. That is also what bookies think since the odds at Ladbrokes Russia to win the game are 1.3, while a win for Saudi Arabia is estimated at 13.

Portugal vs Spain – Group B, 15 June

The two teams from the Iberian peninsula will have to decide who will finish first and who second in Group B. Spain have all the experience and one of the brightest talents while Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo. The Spanish team form has declined in the last years, but now, with young stars like Isco and Marco Asensio they will try to show they are in Russia to win the World Cup. Spain are the favourites which is reflected by the current odds for this match: 1.91 at William Hill but Portugal proved they can win even when they are outplayed and without their biggest star.

Argentina vs Iceland – Group D, 16 June

Argentina are among the title contenders for this edition of the World Cup. With their atomic attack consisting of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain and subs like Angel di Maria and Javier Pastore, they are force to be reckon. Against them is a team that showed whole Europe that when 11 players act like one, they can beat almost anybody. They reached the Quarter Final on the 2016 Euro Cup with not a single superstar in their team. This game will surely show what is more important – to have stars, or to have heart and bravery.

Germany vs Sweeden – Group C, 23 June

Sweden made a real feat when they first finish ahead of Netherlands, who failed to reach the World Cup, in the Qualifying Group and after that past Italy, four-time World Cup winners in the play-offs. Yes, Sweden don’t play neither attacking, nor beautiful football, but they will surely defeat any team which underestimates them. According to bet365, however, that will not be the case in this match since a win for Germany is calculated at 1.5 while a win for the Blue-Yellow is a staggering 7.0.

Germany, on the other hand, are the current World Cup champions and will definitely want to show the world that they still got it. On the 23th of June we will see whether Sweden are worthy of their nickname, the GIant-Killer or Germany will secure their first place in Group C.

England vs Belgium – Group G, 28 June

England have always been one of the main title contenders when it came to World Cups and Euros and they always disappointed. This year is the same, they qualified with ease from they qualifying group and bookmakers put them next to teams like France, Brazil, Argentina and Germany. The match against Belgium will show whether this English team has what it takes to make something memorable, or everything is the same.

Belgium, on the other hand, have their strongest generation with players such as Hazard, Lukaku, de Bruyne and Kompany which are all world class material. Belgium, just like England will want to prove that they are worthed of being held in such high regard both from fans and specialists, so this promises to be one of the most intriguing games in the Group Stage. A prove for that are the close odds bookmakers give for the two teams: a win for England is 2.75 and a win for Belgium is estimated at 2.40, both odds can be found at Betway.

  Who is the favourite for winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia?

Brazil and Germany are regarded as the teams with highest chances of winning the World Cup. Most of the bookmakers give them equal chances of success with some of them giving the slight edge to Brazil. The German squad was left by leading players who were the backbone of their squad which triumphed in Brazil 4 years ago. In the same time, it is not sure in what condition will Neymar be. Recent news has it that Dani Alves will also not participate due to injury, so we think that really Germany should have a slight advantage over Brazil if both teams reach the Final.

France and Spain are the other 2 nations who have the biggest chances of reaching the final and winning, with Argentina being on fifth place according to the latest odds.

France have generation which reminds a lot on that which won the World Cup back in 1998, so players like Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann will want to bring the cup to France 20 years later.

Argentina, on the other hand, were very close to winning the World Cup Finals 4 years earlier if it wasn’t the goal from Mario Götze. Argentina definitely have the best attack in the world – Messi, Aguiero and Higuain, but for all the years they have played together, they didn’t manage to win anything memorable. The World Cup in Russia will be their swan dance and we will either witness the greatness of this generation for a last time, or just remember them as a squad which didn’t reach their full potential.

  When and where the final match will take place?

The Final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be played at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 15 June from 18:00 MSK. After the game, the world will know the 21st World Football champion. Who is your favourite?

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