Finally, today’s here!
The anxious wait for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is finally over as the tournament kicks off today at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. The 32 teams for the competition have all arrived and the first match of this year’s most-anticipated tournament kicks off at 4pm (Nigerian time) between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The competition ends on July 15.
The much awaited 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks off today with Host country Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at the 81,000 capacity Luzhniki Stadium.
The opener is expected to be watched by millions of spectators across the globe and will be coming after a planned breath taking opening ceremony in which English singer Robbie Williams will be performing.
The pressure no doubt will be on Russia who had automatic qualification as hosts and who will be playing in front of their home fans and expected to begin their campaign on a winning note.
The Coach Stanislav Cherchesov’s tutored side has not been in good form ahead of this summer’s finals, with defeats to Brazil and France in March forcing the hosts to double effort in preparation and whatever they have been able to do after those defeats will be showcased today in Moscow.
Permutations ahead of the opening match indicate that Russia stand 67% chance of winning while Saudi Arabia have 11% chance of pulling surprise a win with 22% chance of the tie ending in a draw.
A win against Saudi Arabia’s Green Eagles will be a huge ginger ahead of tough group clashes against Egypt and Uruguay. Many believe the cheapest tie the hosts can have is today’s opener.
In 1993 when the this two teams met in an international friendly played at the Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Sport City Stadium, Al Khobar, the Saudis ran away with a 4-2 victory
Interestingly both teams go into the opener with not so impressive pre-world cup runs. Russia have not been able to pull a win in their friendly ties leading the opener and Saudi Arabia on the other hand lost three matches against Italy, Peru and Germany. Formidable opponents you may say, likely to ginger them to want to fight to the finish to tell their countrymen that the friendly matches really don’t matter much but it is performance in the real championship that matters.
The second match for both teams will not be a tea party and it does appear that win for either side will be a good way to start as it may turn out to be the only victory they can record in the Group.
Russia may have massive home support but they will be sure to have strong challenge from the Saudis.
Interestingly it will be the first World cup where the goal-line technology or VAR system will be put into use, aside from that the Referees at the World Cup will wear specifically developed Hublot watches, designed to assist them with VAR.
The unique edition – that is limited to 2018 pieces and features 32 dials inspired by the flags of the participating countries in this summer’s tournament – will be connected to goal-line technology and an electronic video assistance
The newly-developed watch will be in use for the first time when hosts Russia kick-off the World Cup in their Group A game against Saudi Arabia on Thursday so the issue of officiating may not be a problem.
Thirty two countries qualified for the Russian showdown and five African countries Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia. Many expect Nigeria and Senegal to rise to the occasion building on their pedigree and experience. The game has started it is only naturally to sit tight enjoy battle royal as it unfolds, let the war begin!