With the 2018 Russian World Cup fast approaching, football fans all around the world are growing in excitement for the drama set to some. The England side, in particular, has a lot to prove and the nation will look on in earnest hoping they can take home the trophy for the first time in 52 years. Here's everything you need to know.
What are the dates?
- 14th June - 15th July
The first World Cup match is between Russia and Saudi Arabia and kicks off at 4pm BST on the 14th June. The final is at the same time on the 15th July. Here are the dates for the different rounds of the tournament:
- Group stage: 14th June - 28th June - Round of 16: 30th June - 3rd July - Quarter Finals: 6th July - 7th July - Semi Finals: 10th July - 11th July - Final: 15th July
How many teams are there?
In total, 32 teams will be competing for the trophy. Here are all of the 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
Who are favourites to win?
As of writing, Brazil and Germany are tight favourites to win, closely followed by Spain and France. Here’s a quick overview of the top 10 (courtesy of SkyBet):
- Brazil 9/2 - Germany 9/2 - Spain 11/2 - France 6/1 - Argentina 9/1 - Belgium 10/1 - England 16/1 - Portugal 25/1 - Uruguay 28/1 - Croatia 33/1
With 5 World Cup wins, it’s no surprise they are favorites, and the team has put on an impressive performance in recent months having won 4 of their last 5 matches and drawing one. They even beat main competition German 1-0 at the end of March.
At the same time, however, the German side are very impressive and are acting as defending champions. They’ve won it 4 times in total and hold the record for being runners-up the most times and being in the final most times.
What’s the England squad line-up?
The last time England won the World Cup was back in 1966 and the general consensus is that they are hungry to leave a mark in this year's tournament. In a dramatic turn of events, the 2014 side were knocked out by the much less acclaimed Iceland side, and they have a point to prove this year.
And perhaps they will do just that, as the team is almost entirely unrecognisable compared to the previous World Cup squad. Roy Hodgson has been replaced by Gareth Southgate, who has already achieved some impressive results. They didn't lose a match in 2017 and have continued that trend through 2018 as well. Here’s a look at the current predicted line-up (courtesy of The Telegraph):
- In goal: Joe Hart / Jordan Pickford / Jack Butland - Defence: Phil Jones / Harry Maguire / Danny Rose / Eric Dier / Kyle Walker / Kieran Trippier / Ryan Bertrand / John Stones - Midfield: Jesse Lingard / Fabian Delph / Ashley Young / Jordan Henderson / Raheem Sterling / Jack Wilshere / Dele Alli - Up front: Jamie Vardy / Marcus Rashford / Danny Welbeck / Harry Kane
However, Gareth Southgate will have the final call, so it will be some weeks yet til we know for sure which 23 men will be representing the nation. But needless to say, the country will watch on with hope as the World Cup’s 7th favourite team take on Tunisia in their opening match. Here’s the scheduled match line-up for England.
- England vs Tunisia, 7pm, Monday 18th June - England vs Panama, 1pm, Saturday 24th June - England vs Belgium, 7pm, Thursday 28th June
UK government safety warning
As of April, tensions between England and Russia are incredibly high. The recent poisoning of a former Russian spy living in England has caused backlash and left all foreign diplomats being expelled from the country. As such, is unclear as to how safe it is for England fans to visit Russia in June.
Many Russian vigilante groups have stated that England fans will 100% be a target of violence. If you are set to attend, then be aware that the Foreign Office has advised against “all but essential travel” whilst you are there. In a statement to the press, Theresa May made it clear that:
“While the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice”.
The most important thing to do is enjoy the World Cup from wherever you are, be that from a stadium in Russia or your sofa at home. The World Cup is a chance for nations to come together and enjoy one of the greatest sports ever made. We wish you best of luck to your home nation!