Portugal’s opening clash with Spain is perhaps the standout encounter of the Group stage, with hosts Russia kicking things off with a low-key tie against Saudi Arabia. Elsewhere, reigning champions Germany take on Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in their opening encounter.
Football Cup in Russia, group stage and road to final, tournament scheme with schedule, all countries after the draw
Each nation involved in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia must name their preliminary playing squads initially, which features a list of 30 players. Having done so, managers must then narrow this list down to a group of just 23, with at least three having to be goalkeepers. Players featuring in final squads for the tournament can be replaced if they suffer a serious injury up to 24 hours before their teams first World Cup encounter, while players must also refrain from competitive action between the 21st May and 27th May, aside from those involved in the UEFA Champions League Final on May 26th. Many European nations have a break during the winter months to offer their leading players a rest period, however the English Premier League is one of the few to continue playing without such a time.
The World Cup often provides some of the most unforgettable moments, with a whole host of players hoping to shine for their country in Russia in 2018. The likes of Ronaldo, Miroslav Klose and Andres Iniesta have all starred over recent history, however next year’s tournament is set to once again bring some of the biggest names on the planet together. Euro 2016 winners Portugal kick-start their campaign with an encounter against rivals Spain, with Cristiano Ronaldo going head-to-head with team mates Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal.
Cristiano Ronaldo / Source: Shutterstock.com / Foto by: Rui Alexandre
Elsewhere, having played a significant role in helping Argentina to narrowly reach the finals, Lionel Messi will be looking to add five World Cup goals to date. Meanwhile, Messi’s former Barcelona team mate Neymar Jr has been in scintillating form following his world record transfer to PSG, with the Brazilian looking to make up for his sides embarrassing 7-1 semi-final defeat against Germany four years ago. Such talents help to make the likes of Brazil, Spain and Argentina among the favourites for the title, along with nations such as Germany and France.
Cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi and Kaliningrad will help to host the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia, with both new and existing stadiums being utilised. The number of stadiums used foe the finals now sits at 12, with Krasnodar and Yaroslavi having been dropped as options before the draw was made. The following are the final stadiums that have been chosen to host matches during the finals:
- Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (81,000)
- Otkrytiye Arena, Moscow (45,360)
- Kazan Arena, Kazan (45,379)
- Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg (68,134)
- Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad (35,212)
- Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod (44,899)
- Volgograd Arena, Volgograd (45,568)
- Mordovia Arena, Saransk (44,442)
- Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don (45,000)
- Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi (47,659)
- Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg (35,696)
- Cosmos Arena, Samara (44,918)
Five of the stadiums used in the Finals will be brand new, while another two have been either rebuilt or renovated in order to meet FIFA guidelines for the tournament.
Prize money for the Finals in Russia was confirmed and announced in October 2017, with the amount available for the tournament winners having reached a record high. The 2018 World Cup winners will receive a massive $38 million, while the runners up in Russia will earn themselves $28 million. Total prize money for the tournament now sits at $400 million, with those exiting at the Group stage still earning $8 million each.