World Cup guide
In 2018 the World Cup will be held in Russia, after they won the vote in 2010. It’s the 21st World Cup, and the first time Russia have hosted the global tournament.
Russia World Cup
Russia have spared no expense. Some 12 stadiums will provide the action this summer, and nine of them have been built from scratch just for the World Cup.
Tickets aren’t cheap, however, unless you are from the host nation. The cheapest group stage ticket for non-Russians will be £80.
As for the final, tickets are available up to £841.
But the hosts might struggle as they’re the lowest ranked side in the competition.
In this guide, you’ll find information on dates, groups and a breakdown of each team for the World Cup. Discover everything you need and more.
Plus, don’t forget to check out the latest odds on the World Cup here.
And the latest World Cup news here.
World Cup Dates
When does the World Cup start? It all kicks off with Russia versus Saudi Arabia on Thursday, 14th June. The group stages will run for two weeks, coming to an end on Thursday, 28th June.
The round of 16 takes place over four days from Saturday 30th June until Tuesday 3rd July.
It’s quarter-final time on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th of July, followed by the semi-finals on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th July.
And it all comes down to the 2018 World Cup Final, which will take place in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday 15th July.
As has been the format since 1998, 32 teams will head to Russia in eight groups of four. The top two from each group will go through to the round of 16.
Notable quartets include Group B, which has pitched reigning European champions Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo with their neighbours Spain.
Tournament fancies France are in Group C, with Lionel Messi and Argentina in Group D alongside England’s Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland.
Five-time World Cup winners Brazil begin in Group E, while 2014 World Cup champions Germany are in Group F.
In Group G, England’s World Cup fixtures see them play Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
World Cup and England Fixtures
Discover who is playing who, and when in the World Cup. Here is the list of fixtures, including the key England games. You can download the printable World Cup Wall Chart here.
World Cup Top Players
Take a trip down memory lane and check out our round-up of the historic list of top goalscorers and World Cup winners.
|World Cup Year by Year|
|Year||Host||Winner||Winning Manager||Top Scorer|
|2014||Brazil||Germany||Joachim Löw||James Rodriguez (6)|
|2010||South Africa||Spain||Vicente del Bosque||Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder,
David Villa, Diego Forlan (5)
|2006||Germany||Italy||Marcello Lippi||Miroslav Klose (5)|
|2002||Japan/South Korea||Brazil||Luiz Felipe Scolari||Ronaldo (8)|
|1998||France||France||Aime Jacquet||Davor Suker (6)|
|1994||United States||Brazil||Carlos Alberto Parreira||Hristo Stoichkow, Oleg Salento (6)|
|1990||Italy||West Germany||Franz Beckerbauer||Salvatore Schillaci (6)|
|1986||Mexico||Argentina||Carlos Bilardo||Gary Lineker (6)|
|1982||Spain||Italy||Enzo Bearzot||Paolo Rossi (6)|
|1978||Argentina||Argentina||Cesar Luis Menotti||Mario Kempes (6)|
|1974||West Germany||West Germany||Helmut Schon||Grzegorz Lato (7)|
|1970||Mexico||Brazil||Mario Zagallo||Gerd Muller (10)|
|1966||England||England||Alf Ramsey||Eusebio (9)|
|1962||Chile||Brazil||Aymore Moreira||Garrincha, Vava, Leonel Sanchez,
Florian Albert, Valentin Ivanov,
Drazan Jerkovic (4)
|1958||Sweden||Brazil||Vicente Feola||Just Fontaine (13)|
|1954||Switzerland||West Germany||Joseph Herberger||Sandor Kocsis (11)|
|1938||France||Italy||Vittorio Pozzo||Leonidas (7)|
|1934||Italy||Italy||Vittorio Pozzo||Oldrich Nejedly (5)|
|1930||Uruguay||Uruguay||Alberto Suppici||Guillermo Stabile (8)|
Want to read more on the World Cup history? We’ve got all the stats and facts you need on the global football competition with our guide.
World Cup Teams
Click the countries below to see the reviews and insights.
This is England’s 15th World Cup appearance and sixth in succession. They are one of eight nations to win the World Cup, doing so in 1966.
The Three Lions qualified in unbeaten fashion, conceding just three goals. For the Finals, they’re in Group G, alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
Coach Gareth Southgate has a young and exciting team at his disposal, featuring Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli.
Find out more information on the latest odds and place your bets on England in the World Cup here.
Four-time champions Germany are making their 19th World Cup appearance, and their 17th in a row. Germany have reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last four World Cups.
The reigning champions cruised through qualifying, winning all of their 10 group games with a +39 goal difference.
Coach Joachim Low boasts one of the strongest squads on the planet, with the likes of Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich and Toni Kroos to call upon. Germany are in Group F, with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.
Brazil are the most successful nation in World Cup history. They’re five-time champions and they have appeared in every World Cup tournament.
Topping the CONMEBOL qualifying group, Brazil qualified for Russia way back in March 2017, becoming the first nation to do so, after the hosts.
Brazil have won 70 of their 104 World Cup matches, but lost 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals four years ago.
Selecao are in Group E, versus Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland.
Like England, France are making their 15th World Cup appearance, and their sixth in succession.
Each of France’s last 23 goals at World Cup finals have come from inside the box, a run dating back to the 1998 semi-finals. And set-pieces have accounted for nine of their last 16 World Cup goals.
The 1998 champions won seven of their 10 qualifiers, with Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann scoring four times apiece. Les Bleus boast an excellent squad, and coach Didier Deschamps is under pressure to deliver.
France will go in Group C, up against Peru, Australia and Denmark.
This will be Spain’s 11th-successive World Cup appearance, and their 15th in all.
Though they won the tournament in 2010, that was the only occasion Spain have reached the semi-finals in their last 12 attempts.
Spain breezed through qualification, winning nine of their 10 games, conceding only three goals. Gone are the glory days of Fernando Torres, David Villa, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, but plenty of talent remains in the La Roja squad.
They’ll go in Group B, against neighbours Portugal, plus Morocco and Iran.
Argentina will be making their 12th World Cup appearance in a row. It’s their 17th in total, and they’ve been crowned champions in 1978 and 1986.
They struggled in qualifying however, winning only seven of their 18 matches.
But they’ve progress beyond the group stages in 11 of their last 12 World Cups, and have won 12 of their last 15 group games.
In Lionel Messi, they boast a man many regard as the best ever. Argentina are in Group D, along with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.
Find out the latest news and odds on Lionel Messi in the World Cup here.
Reigning European champions Portugal are making their fifth-straight World Cup appearance and their seventh in total.
They won nine of their 10 qualifiers, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring 15 of their 32 goals. Only Spain and England conceded fewer than their four goals.
Portugal have reached the semi-finals twice, in 1966 and 2006. Only one of their 43 World Cup goals has been scored from outside the box, by Deco in 2006.
They’ll start their 2018 World Cup against Spain in Group B, before meeting Morocco and Iran.
Belgium were the first European side to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, scoring 43 goals en route to an unbeaten campaign.
The Belgians were quarter-finalists in 2014, and are tipped to go far this summer. They’re unbeaten in their last nine World Cup games, and have reached the second round in six of their last seven appearances.
Roberto Martinez has a riveting talent pool of players, including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, plus defensive stalwarts Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
Belgium will be out to top Group G, against England, Panama and Tunisia.
Including Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro’s World Cup history, this is Serbia’s 12th appearance in the finals.
But they’ve struggled on the big stage, losing five of their last six World Cup matches.
There’s talent in the Serbian team though, including striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and midfielder Dusan Tadic. The Eagles will be in Group E, taking on Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica.
Croatia needed to beat Greece in the play-offs to qualify, having won six of their 10 group games.
This will be the Croatians’ fifth World Cup appearance, with their best result being third on their tournament debut in France in 1998.
They’ve struggled since though, winning only one of their last seven World Cup matches. They’ve also lost each of their last three opening matches.
Mario Mandzukic will be their target man, with Luka Modric the play-maker. Croatia are in Group D, alongside Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.
Iceland are one of two debutants in the 2018 World Cup, the other being Panama.
The island nation topped their qualifying group, winning seven of their 10 games.
Iceland are the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup finals, with a population of 334,000.
It’s their second major tournament in succession, after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. They’ll meet Lionel Messi and Argentina in Group D, plus Croatia and Nigeria.
After a 12-year absence, Poland are back in the World Cup finals. It’s their eighth appearance in total.
They won eight of their 10 games in qualifying, with Robert Lewandowski scoring 16 of their 28 goals.
Poland have lost six of their last eight World Cup games, and have only drawn five of their 31 World Cup matches. They haven’t reached the knockout stages since 1986.
Adam Nawalka’s men will be in Group H alongside Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
Sweden defeated Italy in the play-offs to book their place in the 2018 World Cup. It’s their first appearance since 2006 and their 12th in all.
They were runners-up when hosts in 1958, but have made it beyond the second round only once since then, in 1994.
Sweden are unbeaten in their last nine World Cup group games, but have kept only three clean sheets in their last 24 finals matches. They’re in Group F with Germany, Mexico and South Korea.
Want to find out more about the latest on Sweden in the World Cup? Check out the odds here.
Switzerland will be appearing in their fourth-straight World Cup, after knocking out Northern Ireland in the play-offs.
The Swiss were quarter-finalists in 1954, but haven’t gone beyond the second round since. They’ve won 11 of their 33 World Cup finals matches.
Switzerland are in Group E, versus Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Denmark needed play-offs to book their place in Russia, defeating the Republic of Ireland last Autumn.
This will be the Danes’ fifth World Cup, and they’ve gone beyond the group stages in three of their previous four appearances.
Denmark have won eight of their 16 World Cup matches, drawing only twice. Their last appearance was in 2010. All of their 27 World Cup goals have been scored from inside the box.
Christian Eriksen was their top-scorer in qualifying. Denmark are in Group C against France, Peru and
Uruguay finished second in the CONMEBOL table, to book their third-straight spot in the World Cup finals.
It’s their 13th participation in all, becoming world champions in 1930 and 1950.
With just one defeat in their last eight group games, Uruguay often find their way into the second round. But they’ve failed to reach the quarter-finals in five of their last six tournaments.
In Barcelona star Luis Suarez, Uruguay have a top-class striker, and they’re in Group A alongside Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
Colombia edged out Peru and Chile to grab an automatic spot in Russia, in what is their sixth World Cup appearance.
They shone four years ago in Brazil, scoring 12 goals en route to the quarter-finals.
That was their best World Cup performance, and their four wins in 2014 was more than they had won from their previous four tournament appearances combined.
James Rodriguez top-scored for his nation in qualifying, and the Real Madrid ace starred in 2014. Colombia have never played a 0-0 in the World Cup, and are in Group H with Poland, Japan and Senegal.
Want to place a bet on Colombia in the World Cup? Check out the latest odds.
After a 36-year absence, Peru are back in the World Cup after defeating New Zealand in the play-offs.
It’s the Peruvians’ fifth World Cup appearance, with their best result a quarter-final place in 1970.
They’ve lost eight of their 15 World Cup matches, and have come up against the eventual winner in each of their last four tournaments.
Peru held Argentina home and away in qualifying, and will place France, Australia and Denmark in Group C.
Mexico are one of the World Cup’s most regular visitors, this is their 16th finals appearance.
They came through qualifying with just one defeat in ten games, and they’ve progressed beyond the group stages in each of their last six appearances.
But they’ve been knocked out in the second round on each occasion, and have lost 25 of their 53 World Cup matches. Their best result has been two quarter-final finishes when they were hosts in 1970 and 1986.
The Mexicans are in Group F and will face Germany, South Korea and Sweden.
This will be Costa Rica’s fifth appearance at the World Cup, and they were quarter-finalists in Brazil four years ago.
They came through qualifying fairly comfortably, losing just twice to finish behind Mexico in the CONCACAF region.
The Costa Ricans scored at least three goals in each of their previous World Cup entries, and have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four finals matches.
They’ll meet Brazil in Group E, in addition to Switzerland and Serbia.
Panama will be making their World Cup debut this summer, after claiming the final automatic CONCACAF qualifying spot.
They reached Russia despite winning just three of their 10 qualifying games, and they posted a negative goal difference.
Head coach Dario Gomez has plenty of World Cup experience however. The 62-year-old was in charge of Colombia in 1998, and Ecuador in 2002.
Panama’s World Cup bow begins in Group G, against Belgium, England and Tunisia.
Nigeria will be making their sixth World Cup appearance, after topping their qualifying group.
The Super Eagles have reached the second round three times before, in 1994, 1998 and 2014.
No African side has featured in the World Cup more than Nigeria, who have won five of their 18 finals matches.
They have won only one of their last 12 World Cup games, however, and are in Group D against Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.
After missing out in 2010 and 2014, Tunisia are back for the first time since 2006. It’s their fifth World Cup appearance.
They won their first ever World Cup game in 1978, but have failed to win a finals match since, drawing four and losing seven.
Tunisia have kept only one clean sheet in those 12 matches, and will meet England (as they did in 1998) plus Belgium and Panama in Group B this summer.
Morocco are back in the World Cup finals for the first time in 20 years. It’s their fifth appearance in total.
They went unbeaten in qualifying, but have won only two of their 13 matches in the finals.
Their best result was a second round spot in 1986, and have lost five of their last seven games.
All of Morocco’s 12 World Cup goals have come from open play, and they’re in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran.
Egypt sparked scenes of mass celebration when they qualified for the World Cup last year. It’s their third appearance and their first since 1990.
They topped their group in the final round of African qualifying, but are winless when it comes to finals matches.
In Mohamed Salah they have a world class striker however, and the Liverpool ace scored five of Egypt’s eight qualifying goals.
Heralded for their heroics in 2002, Senegal are making their second World Cup appearance this summer.
They reached the quarter-finals 16 years ago, famously defeating then-reigning champions France in the group stages.
Senegal went unbeaten in the final round of CAF qualifying, scoring 10 goals. Aliou Cisse’s side take on Poland, Colombia and Japan in Group H.
Saudi Arabia are making their fifth World Cup appearance, but it’s their first since 2006.
Their best result came in 1994, when they reached the second round on their World Cup debut in the USA.
They finished behind Japan in qualifying, but have ended bottom of their group on their last three World Cup appearances.
Saudi Arabia are in Group A, and will play the World Cup opener against Russia, before games against Uruguay and Iran.
Iran are no strangers to the World Cup. This is their fifth appearance with their first coming back in 1978.
After making it to Brazil, however, it’s the first time Iran have reached successive finals. They comfortably topped their qualifying group.
But Iran have never progressed beyond the group stages, and have won only one of their 12 World Cup games.
Coach Carlos Quieroz has plenty of international experience however. He took Portugal to the second round in 2010. Iran are in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
This will be Australia’s fifth World Cup appearance and their fourth in succession.
But the Socceroos booked their place in Russia the hard way. After finishing third in their group behind South Korea and Saudi Arabia, Australia narrowly defeated Syria in the play-offs before beating Honduras in the final round.
The Aussies’ best World Cup result is a second round place in 2006, when they were unlucky not to defeat eventual champions Italy. Tim Cahill is their top World Cup scorer with five goals.
Australia have won just two of their 13 World Cup games, and will meet Denmark, Peru and France in Group C.
This will be Japan’s sixth World Cup appearance, and their sixth in succession following their debut in 1998.
Japan’s best result is a pair of second round appearances in 2002 and 2010. They’ve lost nine of their 17 World Cup finals games.
They saw off Saudi Arabia and Australia to top their qualifying group, and will play Poland, Senegal and Colombia in Group H.
South Korea are the most frequent Asian nation in the World Cup. This is their 10th appearance in the finals.
Their best result is a fourth-placed finish as co-hosts in 2002, but they have won only one of their last nine World Cup games.
They only just avoided the play-offs in qualifying, winning just four of their 10 games. South Korea take on Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F.
There’s plenty of pressure on Russia, who are hosting the World Cup for the first time.
This will be their 11th appearance in the finals, with their best result a fourth place as the Soviet Union in England in 1966.
Russia could be in for a difficult tournament however. They’re one of the lowest-ranked nations in the event, and have been lacking in form lately.
But they’re in Group A, alongside Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so they could yet reach the knockout stages on home soil.