FIFA World Cup 2018: Football showpiece set to begin in Russia

Published: June 14, 2018 12:36:50 | Updated: June 14, 2018 17:36:35

Courtesy: FIFA

The long-awaited FIFA World Cup 2018 begins today (Thursday) with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the opening match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The match will kick off at 9.00pm Bangladesh Standard Time (BST).

Football's showpiece event features 32 teams, including holders Germany, competing in 64 games over 32 days, report agencies.

The 21st edition will be played out in 12 stadiums, across 11 cities, spread over 1,800 miles.

The 30-minute glittering opening ceremony will begin at 8:30pm (BST) with 500 local performers, including dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists, rendering the show.

Brazil's two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo will show off the trophy to 81,000 fans inside the stadium.

World Cup organisers earlier announced that British singer Robbie Williams will perform at the World Cup opening ceremony.

Robbie Williams will open the World Cup programme with Russia soprano Aida Garifullina joining the English singer for what FIFA has described as a "musical extravaganza".

A fireworks display is set to bring the ceremony to a close before the World Cup competition returns four years on from Germany's Mario Gotze's decisive contribution in Brazil.

Germany, who defeated Argentina in the 2014 final, are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since 1962, while Brazil seek a record-extending sixth world title.

The month-long tournament is expected to attract one and a half million fans to Russia and an estimated global television audience of over three billion viewers.

There are eight groups, each containing four teams, with the top two advancing to the last 16. The final takes place at the same Luzhniki Stadium on 15 July (21:00 BST).


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