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Entire planet has World Cup fever

Independent Online (IOL) logo Independent Online (IOL) 2018-06-14 Rodney Reiners
Punters at a zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand watch reef sharks 'predicting' the winner of #FifaWorldCup opening match: Russia v Saudi Arabia. Photo: Pongmanat Tasiri/EPA © Provided by Independent Media Punters at a zoo in Chiang Mai, Thailand watch reef sharks 'predicting' the winner of #FifaWorldCup opening match: Russia v Saudi Arabia. Photo: Pongmanat Tasiri/EPA

CAPE TOWN – Football will have the entire planet spellbound for the next four weeks, as the Fifa World Cup 2018 starts in Russia today.

Hosts Russia kicks things off in a Group A clash against Saudi Arabia (kick-off 5pm) and, by the time the tournament ends on July 15, 64 games will have been played, with 32 teams in action in 12 stadiums.

The African challenge will come from Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Egypt, with Mohamed Salah leading the attack, and Senegal, with Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, have the best chance of getting out of the group stages.

a man standing in front of a store: Pakistan does not feature at #FifaWorldCup but fans are lapping up shirts featuring the top footballers at the tournament. Photo: Rehan Khan/EPA © African Technology and Media Holdings (Pty) Ltd Pakistan does not feature at #FifaWorldCup but fans are lapping up shirts featuring the top footballers at the tournament. Photo: Rehan Khan/EPA

Spain, one of the hot favourites, yesterday sacked their coach, Julen Lopetegui, just two days before their clash against Portugal. Defending champions Germany are tipped to hold the trophy aloft again. Brazil, Spain, France and Argentina are primed to give Germany a run for their money.

The world’s best player, Lionel Messi, carries the hopes of Argentina. He hasn’t always reproduced his club form at international level, but this is his last chance to chisel his name among the greats who have won football’s most coveted prize.

France have probably the most gifted squad, while Spain will be keen to emulate their World Cup success of South Africa 2010.

Belgium, Columbia and Uruguay are possible upsets, while England are likely to be found wanting again.

Reinerss11

IOL Sport

The one player you need to know from every country competing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Provided by Business Insider)


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