All you need to know about the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Saif Ahmed Chowdhury / 19 April 2018

Less than two months to go for world's biggest sports event.

In less than two months time, on 14 June – world’s biggest sports event – the 21st FIFA World Cup kicks off at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, as the hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia.​

Of the thirty-two nations qualified to play at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, twenty countries competed at the previous edition of the tournament in 2014. Both Iceland and Panama qualified for the first time, with the former becoming the smallest country in terms of population to reach the World Cup.

Other teams returning after absences of at least three tournaments include: Egypt, returning to the finals after a 28-year absence from their last appearance in 1990; Morocco, who last competed in 1998; Peru, returning after a 36-year absence (since 1982); and Senegal, competing for the second time after reaching the quarter-finals in 2002.

It is the first time three Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland and Sweden) and four Arab nations (Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia) have qualified for the World Cup.

On the other hand, the four time champions Italy is the most notable country that failed to qualify for the World Cup. Their dreams ended after they lost their play-off match against Sweden.

The other notable countries are three-time runner-up Netherlands, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners Cameroon, back to back Copa América champion Chile, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners New Zealand and 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners USA.

The draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was held on 1 December, 2017. Thirty-two teams were drawn into eight groups of four.

Groups:

GROUP A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
GROUP B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
GROUP C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
GROUP D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
GROUP E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
GROUP G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
GROUP H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

Schedule:

Date Match Venue Kick-off
Thursday June 14  Russia v Saudi Arabia (A)  Moscow (Luzhniki)  4pm GMT
Friday June 15  Egypt v Uruguay (A)  Ekaterinburg  1pm
Friday June 15  Morocco v Iran (B)  St Petersburg  4pm
Friday June 15  Portugal v Spain (B)  Sochi  7pm
Saturday June 16  France v Australia (C)  Kazan  11am
Saturday June 16  Argentina v Iceland (D)  Moscow (Spartak)  2pm
Saturday June 16  Peru v Denmark (C)  Saransk  5pm
Saturday June 16  Croatia v Nigeria (D)  Kaliningrad  8pm
Sunday June 17  Costa Rica v Serbia (E)  Samara  1pm
Sunday June 17  Germany v Mexico (F)  Moscow (Luzhniki)  4pm
Sunday June 17  Brazil v Switzerland (E)  Rostov-on-Don  7pm
Monday June 18  Sweden v South Korea (F)  Nizhny Novgorod  1pm
Monday June 18  Belgium v Panama (G)  Sochi  4pm
Monday June 18  Tunisia v England (G)  Volgograd  7pm
Tuesday June 19  Poland v Senegal (H)  Moscow (Spartak)  1pm
Tuesday June 19  Colombia v Japan (H)  Saransk  4pm
Tuesday June 19  Russia v Egypt (A)  St Petersburg  7pm
Wednesday June 20  Portugal v Morocco (B)  Moscow (Luzhniki)  1pm
Wednesday June 20  Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (A)  Rostov-on-Don  4pm
Wednesday June 20  Iran v Spain (B)  Kazan  7pm
Thursday June 21  France v Peru (C)  Ekaterinburg  1pm
Thursday June 21  Denmark v Australia (C)  Samara  4pm
Thursday June 21  Argentina v Croatia (D)  Nizhny Novgorod  7pm
Friday June 22  Brazil v Costa Rica (E)  St Petersburg  1pm
Friday June 22  Nigeria v Iceland (D)  Volgograd  4pm
Friday June 22  Serbia v Switzerland (E)  Kaliningrad  7pm
Saturday June 23  Belgium v Tunisia (G)  Moscow (Spartak)  1pm
Saturday June 23  Germany v Sweden (F)  Sochi  4pm
Saturday June 23  South Korea v Mexico (F)  Rostov-on-Don  7pm
Sunday June 24  England v Panama (G)  Nizhny Novgorod  1pm
Sunday June 24  Japan v Senegal (H)  Ekaterinburg  4pm
Sunday June 24  Poland v Colombia (H)  Kazan  7pm
Monday June 25  Uruguay v Russia (A)  Samara  3pm
Monday June 25  Saudi Arabia v Egypt (A)  Volgograd  3pm
Monday June 25  Spain v Morocco (B)  Kaliningrad  7pm
Monday June 25  Iran v Portugal (B)  Saransk  7pm
Tuesday June 26  Denmark v France (C)  Moscow (Luzhniki)  3pm
Tuesday June 26  Australia v Peru (C)  Sochi  3pm
Tuesday June 26  Nigeria v Argentina (D)  St Petersburg  7pm
Tuesday June 26  Iceland v Croatia (D)  Rostov-on-Don  7pm
Wednesday June 27  South Korea v Germany (F)  Kazan  3pm
Wednesday June 27  Mexico v Sweden (F)  Ekaterinburg  3pm
Wednesday June 27  Serbia v Brazil (E)  Moscow (Spartak)  7pm
Wednesday June 27  Switzerland v Costa Rica (E)  Nizhny Novgorod  7pm
Thursday June 28  Japan v Poland (H)  Volgograd  3pm
Thursday June 28  Senegal v Colombia (H)  Samara  3pm
Thursday June 28  England v Belgium (G)  Kaliningrad  7pm
Thursday June 28  Panama v Tunisia (G)  Saransk  7pm

 

LAST 16
Saturday June 30  1C v 2D (Match 50) Kazan  3pm
Saturday June 30  1A v 2B (Match 49) Sochi  7pm
Sunday July 1  1B v 2A (Match 51) Moscow  3pm
Sunday July 1  1D v 2C (Match 52) Nizhny Novgorod  7pm
Monday July 2  1E v 2F (Match 53) Samara  3pm
Monday July 2  1G v 2H (Match 54) Rostov-on-Don  7pm
Tuesday July 3  1F v 2E (Match 55) St Petersburg  3pm
Tuesday July 3  1H v 2G (Match 56) Moscow (Spartak)  7pm

 

QUARTER-FINALS
Friday July 6  Winner 49 v winner 50 (57)  Nizhny Novgorod  3pm
Friday July 6  Winner 53 v winner 54 (58)  Kazan  7pm
Saturday July 7  Winner 55 v winner 56 (60)  Samara  3pm
Saturday July 7  Winner 51 v winner 52 (59)  Sochi  7pm

 

SEMI-FINALS
Tuesday July 10  Winner 57 v winner 58  St Petersburg  7pm
Wednesday July 11  Winner 59 v winner 60  Moscow (Luzhniki)  7pm

 

THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF
Saturday July 14 Losers of two semi-finals  St Petersburg  3pm

 

FINAL
Sunday July 15 Winners of two-semi-finals  Moscow (Luzhniki)  4pm

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