Sports desk – Russia is set to open the FIFA World Cup 2018 at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium Thursday as the greatest soccer players from across the globe take centre stage in Russia.
The event will focus on a series of musical acts. Around 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will also be performing in an opening extravaganza that will pay homage to all things Russian.
The host Russia will take on Asian Saudi Arabia after the opening session. Both teams will be looking to win this game, knowing that there are tougher opponents in Group A; Egypt and Uruguay.
The championship will be held at 12 stadiums in 11 cities of the country and will end on July 15. The final match will also take place at the Luzhniki stadium.
A total of 32 national football squads were divided into eight groups, four teams each. Hosts Russia were placed in Group A with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay.
On June 19, Russia will play with the Egyptian team in St. Petersburg, and on June 25 in Samara the hosts will meet with rivals from Uruguay.
The top two teams from each group advance to 1/8 finals.
The matches of the preliminary stage will be played on June 14-28. The games of the 1/8 finals are scheduled for June 30 – July 3.
Quarter-finals will take place on July 6-7, semi-finals will be played on July 10 and 11. The third-place match will be played on July 14 and the final will take place on July 15.
The renovated Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, which is capable to hold 81,000 spectators, will be the main arena of the tournament.
The new arena in St. Petersburg with the spectator capacity of 67,000 seats, will host one of the semi-finals and the third-place determining match. The remaining stadiums are capable to accommodate from 35,000 to 45,000 fans.
In Moscow, World Cup matches will also be held at the Spartak stadium.
The games of the tournament will also be played at the stadiums in Kazan and Sochi, Samara, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Volgograd, Kaliningrad and in Yekaterinburg.
Here is the breakdown of the rest of the groups:
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran,
Group C: France, Australia, Peru and Denmark,
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Morocco,
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia,
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea,
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England,
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.