Welcome to our daily guide to Russia 2018, with all you need to know about today’s World Cup schedule, team news, TV details and betting.
What are today’s World Cup fixtures?
Just the one today. Hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia after the opening ceremony.
What time is the World Cup on today?
TV coverage starts at 14:30, with the ceremony starting at 15:30 and kick-off at 16:00
What TV channel can I watch the games on?
ITV1 and its HD sister station.
Where are the venues in which the games are taking place?
The opener will take place in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, remembered fondly by Manchester United fans as the location of their 2008 Champions League triumph over Chelsea. Slippy penalty spot apparently…
What is the team news?
Russia have been devastated by injuries, and 38-year-old Russia defender Sergei Ignashevich is expected to start after coming out of retirement. Fedor Smolov also replaces the injured Aleksandr Kokorin as Russia’s star man and match-winner.
Injury-free Saudi Arabia have the luxury of a selection headache, as their forward line remains uncertain following three friendly defeats. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and Muhannad Assiri are battling each other for a starting place.
What are the betting odds?
Saudi Arabia: 10/1
What is our prediction?
A low-quality football match. These are the two lowest-ranked sides in the competition. Russia haven’t won a game since October, and Saudi Arabia lost all three friendlies in the build-up. But, barring a drastic last-minute re-interpretation of the rules of football, they can’t both lose. Home advantage may give Russia the edge.
Predicted score: Russia 2 Saudi Arabia 0
What is the latest World Cup news?
Andrei Kanchelskis believes this Russia side may be the worst in the nation’s footballing history, and the press have hardly held back on the gloom. Wednesday’s Moscow times ran the headline ‘Aging (sic) and inexperienced: Why Russia is doomed to fail’. Bleak.
Spain sacked their manager just two days before their opening match, and hired a man with one year’s experience coaching a Segunda league side to an 8th placed finish. He was a great player though. Fernando Hierro replaces Julen Lopetegui heading into their first game against Portugal tomorrow.
Finally, Robbie Williams will perform at the opening ceremony, but given the teams involved ‘Let me Entertain You’ is unlikely to be followed by any actual entertainment.