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The 2018 Fifa World Cup

A general overview

The 2018 tournament, held between June 14 and July 15, will see teams from 32 different countries battling it out to be crowned world champions.

England will be among them - but have they been drawn in the dreaded 'group of death'? Who should we be looking out for in the other groups and when do the big boys play each other?

These questions and more are answered in our comprehensive group-by-group guide...


  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt
  • Uruguay

Russia will be hoping home soil advantage propels them through to the knockout stages.

And if the form guide is anything to go by, they'll need all the help they can get.

The lowest-ranked team at the tournament, they haven't had to play any qualifiers, neither have they made it past the group stage of any tournament since Euro 2008 when they reached the semi-finals.

Stanislav Cherchesov's men will have have their work cut out again, with the likes of Luis Suarez's Uruguay and a Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt side looking to spoil the party.

Saudi Arabia may also fancy their chances against the hosts.


Thursday June 14 - Russia vs Saudi Arabia, 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.

Friday June 15 - Egypt vs Uruguay, 1pm, Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg.

Tuesday June 19 - Russia vs Egypt, 7pm, Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Wednesday June 20 - Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia, 4pm, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Monday June 25 - Saudi Arabia vs Egypt, 3pm, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Monday June 25 - Uruguay vs Russia, 3pm, Samara Arena, Samara



  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Morocco
  • Iran

The key clash in here will undoubtedly be between Spain and Portugal.

Head coach Julen Lopetegui has breathed new life into the Spain side, with the emergence of younger players including Real Madrid pair Isco and Marco Asensio.

But veteran midfielder Andrés Iniesta, 34, remains key, as does Portugal's 32-year-old superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who needs a World Cup winners' medal to complete a very impressive set.

Morocco, with rising stars such as Ajax's Hakim Ziyech in their ranks, and Iran will be have their sights set on causing an upset.



Friday June 15 - Morocco vs Iran, 4pm, Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Friday June 15 - Portugal vs Spain, 7pm, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

Wednesday June 20 - Portugal v Morocco, 1pm, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

Wednesday June 20 - Iran vs Spain, 7pm, Kazan Arena, Kazan

Monday June 25 - Iran vs Portugal, 7pm, Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Monday June 25 - Spain vs Morocco, 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad



  • France
  • Australia
  • Peru
  • Denmark

It's time for Didier Deschamps' young, exciting France side, boasting the talents of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Antione Griezmann, to justify the hype.

But topping Group C might not be the formality many are predicting.

Denmark, with Tottenham's in-form playmaker Christian Eriksen pulling the strings and chipping in with goals, offer a serious threat to their chances.

Similarly, Australia, once again pinning their hopes on evergreen talisman Tim Cahill, 37, are equally capable of upsetting the odds.



Saturday June 16 - France vs Australia, 11am, Kazan Arena, Kazan

Saturday June 16 - Peru vs Denmark, 5pm, Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Thursday June 21 - Denmark vs Australia, 1pm, Samara Arena, Samara

Thursday June 21 - France vs Peru, 4pm, Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Tuesday June 26 - Australia vs Peru, 3pm, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

Tuesday June 26 - Denmark vs France, 3pm - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow



  • Argentina
  • Iceland
  • Croatia
  • Nigeria

To cement his status as the greatest of his generation - and possibly ever - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi needs to lead his nation to a major tournament win.

His first task will be guiding Argentina out of the closest things Russia 2018 has to a 'group of death'.

Croatia, with Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic at the heart of their midfield, are strong on paper, while Nigeria have exciting young forwards including Arsenal's Alex Iwobi.

And Iceland have a history of knocking out big guns - just ask Roy Hodgson.



Saturday June 16 - Argentina vs Iceland, 2pm, Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

Saturday June 16 - Croatia vs Nigeria, 8pm, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Thursday June 21 - Argentina vs Croatia, 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Friday June 22 - Nigeria vs Iceland, 4pm, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Tuesday June 26 - Iceland vs Croatia, 7pm, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Tuesday June 26 - Nigeria vs Argentina, 7pm, Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg



  • Brazil
  • Switzerland
  • Costa Rica
  • China

Hotly-tipped Brazil should sail through to the knockout stages.

Coach Adenor Bacchi - aka Tite - has transformed the national side since taking over in September 2016, adding stability and organisation to the Samba flair.

Forwards Neymar, Coutinho and Jesus are complemented by tough-tackling anchors Casemiro and Paulinho. The 7-1 drubbing to Germany at the 2014 World Cup is now a distant memory.

There isn't much to suggest any of their Group E opponents are capable of denting their hopes of registering a 100% record going into the knockout stages.



Sunday June 17 - Costa Rica vs Serbia, 1pm, Samara Arena, Samara

Sunday June 17 - Brazil vs Switzerland, 7pm, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Friday June 22 - Brazil vs Costa Rica, 1pm, Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Friday June 22 - Serbia vs Switzerland, 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Wednesday June 27 - Serbia vs Brazil, 7pm, Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

Wednesday June 27 - Switzerland vs Costa Rica, 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod



  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • Sweden
  • South Korea

If World Cup history tells us anything, it's not to rule out Germany.

This time around, the defending world champions will be pinning their hopes on a new look, youthful team featuring the likes of Leroy Sane, Timo Werner and Julian Draxler.

Toni Kroos remains key, pulling the strings in midfield.

Standing in their way are three good, if a tad unremarkable teams in Sweden, Mexico and South Korea.

Familiar faces such as Mexico's Javier Hernandez, now plying his trade at West Ham, and Sweden's Victor Lindelof, of Manchester United, will be among those tasked with sending the Germans home.



Sunday June 17 - Germany vs Mexico, 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

Monday June 18 - Sweden vs South Korea, 1pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Saturday June 23 - South Korea vs Mexico, 4pm, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

Saturday June 23 - Germany vs Sweden, 7pm, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

Wednesday June 27 - South Korea vs Germany, 3pm, Kazan Arena, Kazan

Wednesday June 27 - Mexico vs Sweden, 3pm, Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg



  • Belgium
  • Panama
  • Tunisia
  • England

Are England finally set to emulate the heroes of 1966 by bringing the World Cup home?

If it is the Three Lions' time to shine, they'll have to play their way out of a group that includes a particularly star-studded Belgium team.

Gareth Southgate's men will have to be at their best to beat the Belgians, whose side includes Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, to name a few.

Thankfully, wins over Tunisia and Panama should be little more than formalities for Harry Kane and co.



Monday June 18 - Belgium vs Panama, 4pm, Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

Monday June 18 - Tunisia vs England, 7pm, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Saturday June 23 - Belgium vs Tunisia, 1pm, Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

Sunday June 24 - England vs Panama, 1pm, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod

Thursday June 28 - England vs Belgium, 7pm, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Thursday June 28 - Panama vs Tunisia, 7pm, Mordovia Arena, Saransk



  • Poland
  • Senegal
  • Colombia
  • Japan

A tough group to call, each of the four teams are well capable of beating one another.

Poland have star striker Robert Lewandowski, fresh from bagging 16 goals in qualifying, but looked suspect at the back in a 4-0 hammering by Denmark.

While Senegal boast match winners such as Liverpool's Sadio Mane, they qualified in controversial circumstances - their 2-1 defeat to South Africa was replayed after the referee was accused of match-fixing.

Colombia will be aiming for a repeat, or improvement on, their show four years ago, when they reached the quarter-finals in convincing fashion, thanks largely to forward James Rodriguez.

And Japan are no slouches either, with former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kgawa and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki among their ranks.



Tuesday June 19 - Colombia vs Japan, 1pm, Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Tuesday June 19 - Poland vs Senegal, 4pm, Otkrytie Arena, Moscow

Sunday June 24 - Japan vs Senegal, 4pm, Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Sunday June 24 - Poland vs Colombia, 7pm, Kazan Arena, Kazan

Thursday June 28 - Japan vs Poland, 3pm, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd