Russia 2018 World Cup: All you need to know ahead of next summer

Russia 2018 World Cup: All you need to know ahead of next summer

The line-up for the 2018 World Cup is complete and the groups have been drawn.

England will take on Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group F, and will face one of Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan should they reach the last 16.

But what are the other groups? What are the key dates? Where are the venues? And when will the matches be played? Here’s all you need to know as the countdown to the tournament continues…

What are 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 has missed out?

There will be some big names not in Russia.

Two-time champions Argentina almost missed out but eventually secured their place with a win over Ecuador, however Chile were eliminated after their final day 3-0 defeat to Brazil. Italy and Netherlands are also missing, while the USA failed to qualify, too.

As well as Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Turkey and Norway will also be watching the tournament from home.

Cameroon and Ghana both failed to qualify from Africa along with Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria, who had a dismal qualifying campaign. China will also not be in Russia, along with Ecuador and Venezuela.

What are the key dates?

The World Cup gets underway on Thursday, June 14, with hosts Russia kicking it all off against Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, the same venue where the final will take place on July 15.

Before the final, the round of 16 matches get underway on June 30, with the quarter-finals on July 6 and 7 and the semi-finals on July 10 and 11.

Where will it be played?

Russia is a vast country with 11 time zones, but all the venues for the World Cup are in the west to avoid too many travel issues.

There are 12 venues across 11 cities, with Ekaterinburg the furthest east and Kaliningrad the furthest west.

The stadium in Ekaterinburg – the Ekaterinburg Arena – includes one of the more unique features of all the venues as it has two temporary stands outside the original perimeter to ensure it meets the FIFA-sanctioned minimum of 35,000 spectators.

The biggest stadium will be the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the other venues are the Kaliningrad Stadium, Volgograd Stadium, Fisht Stadium, Kazan Arena, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Samara Stadium, Rostov-on-Don Stadium, Spartak Stadium, Saint Petersburg Stadium and Saransk Stadium.

When will matches kick off?

The opening match of the tournament will be played at 6pm Moscow time (4pm UK time) on Thursday, June 14.

Group stage matches will be played throughout the day, with some starting at 3pm Moscow time (1pm UK time) and others at 6pm and 9pm Moscow time (4pm and 7pm UK time).

The final will again be played at 6pm Moscow time.

Who are the favourites?

It’s a close-run thing for favouritism with Sky Bet, with Brazil and Germany rated as joint-favourites at 5/1.

France are third-favourites at 11/2, followed by Spain (7/1) and Argentina (8/1). England are rated at 16/1 outsiders, with Group G rivals Belgium given odds of 12/1.

The least fancied sides are Panama, who England will face in their second Group G game, and Saudi Arabia at 1000/1.

You will be able to follow the draw from the tournament across Sky Sports digital platforms.

Source: skysports.com

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