Russia To Play Saudi Arabia In 2018 World Cup Opener

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Following is a group-by-group perusal of what is expected from the early matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Russian Federation is hosting the event at 12 stadiums in 11 cities from June 14 to July 15. Those burdened with the unenviable task of being in the same group as the tournament favourites are, Costa Rica, Switzerland and Serbia, all of which are likely to be fighting it out for second spot in Group E. Argentina, drawn in one of the toughest groups in Group D, will be playing newbies Iceland alongside Dark Horses Croatia and Nigeria.

Being in a group with a much fancied France side desperate to go a step further in this tournament then they did at Euro 2016, means Peru, Denmark and Australia are all destined to be desperately vying to claim second place in Group C. Although Sweden's Ibrahimovic being replaced with its latest attacking inspiration Emil Forsberg is expected to reward the hard-working team, the remaining two - Mexico and South Korea do not seem to have the quality to challenge Germany, the defending champions. With Colombia, Poland, Japan and Senegal in action, the group may not be as celebrated as other groups of the tournament.

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Germany's former soccer player Miroslav Klose (C) speaks after presented the 2018 FIFA World Cup trophy during the Final Draw of the FIFA World Cup 2018 at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, capital of Russia, Dec. 1, 2017.

Former England striker Gary Lineker conducted the final draw together with Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya.

Popular Russian state-TV personality showman Ivan Urgant is to host the show surrounding the draw, in the Grand Kremlin Palace, which is to feature prominent Russian performers including pop star Alsou and singer Larisa Dolina. Absent from the tournament will be such perennial powerhouses as Italy, the Netherlands, and reigning South American champion Chile.

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With the clock ticking down to the start of the mega event, let's get started to get soaked in the fever of the World Cup.

A sub-plot from Group B is the appearance of Iran manager, Carlos Queiroz who boasts a managerial pedigree better than most at the tournament, Queiroz not only had two stints in charge of Portugal, but also spent time as Real Madrid manager and as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United.

In his remarks on December 1, Putin did not comment on the doping scandals facing his country.

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