Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup? SI's Expert Predictions and Knockout Brackets

Kazan Arena , Kazan. Smolov Dzagoev Fernandes Ignashevich Kuzyayev. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that the logo was inspired by "Russia's rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation", and FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated that it reflected the "heart and soul" of the country. The top line of upcoming matches table Soccer - World - World Cup lets you click-through to higher categories of Odds Portal betting odds comparison service. Eckert instead released a shorter revised summary, and his and therefore FIFA's reluctance to publish the full report caused Garcia to resign in protest.

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Remove or add teams to and from your list of favorites Teams In Your Area Add more favorite teams from the list below based on your geolocation. The only real shock winner, in fact, was West Germany in , and subsequent history indicates what a shock that was.

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United States of El Tri: The Little Nation That Can: A surprising number of NFL players will be glued to every match in Russia, rooting on athletes who have become fast friends. Then when the NFL kicks off this fall, soccer stars the world over will return the favor. Sign Up for our Newsletter Don't get stuck on the sidelines!

Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox! Email Address Enter valid email address Password. Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara all hosted six matches, including one quarter-final match each, while the Otkrytiye Stadium in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don hosted five matches, including one round-of match each.

Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk all hosted four matches, but did not host any knockout stage games. Base camps were used by the 32 national squads to stay and train before and during the World Cup tournament. Costs continued to balloon as preparations were underway.

Platov International Airport in Rostov-on-Don was upgraded with automated air traffic control systems, modern surveillance, navigation, communication, control, and meteorological support systems. Saransk Airport received a new navigation system; the city also got two new hotels, Mercure Saransk Centre Accor Hotels and Four Points by Sheraton Saransk Starwood Hotels as well as few other smaller accommodation facilities.

The last facility commissioned was a waste treatment station in Volgograd. In Yekaterinburg, where four matches are hosted, hosting costs increased to over 7. Preference, especially in the key areas, was given to those with knowledge of foreign languages and volunteering experience, but not necessarily to Russian nationals.

Free public transport services were offered for ticketholders during the World Cup, including additional trains linking between host cities, as well as services such as bus service within them.

The full schedule was announced by FIFA on 24 July without kick-off times, which were confirmed later. Russia was placed in position A1 in the group stage and played in the opening match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 14 June against Saudi Arabia , the two lowest-ranked teams of the tournament at the time of the final draw.

The Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg hosted the first semi-final on 10 July and the third place play-off on 14 July. The opening ceremony took place on Thursday, 14 June , at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, preceding the opening match of the tournament between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia. Former Brazilian World Cup-winning striker Ronaldo walked out with a child wearing a Russia shirt.

English pop singer Robbie Williams then performed two songs before he and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina performed a duet while other performers emerged, dressed in the flags of all 32 teams and carrying a sign bearing the name of each nation.

Dancers were also present. Competing countries were divided into eight groups of four teams groups A to H. Teams in each group played one another in a round-robin basis, with the top two teams of each group advancing to the knockout stage. Ten European teams and four South American teams progressed to the knockout stage, together with Japan and Mexico. For the first time since , Germany reigning champions did not advance past the first round.

For the first time since , no African team progressed to the second round. For the first time, the fair play criteria came into use, when Japan qualified over Senegal due to having received fewer yellow cards. Only one match, France v Denmark, was goalless. Until then there were a record 36 straight games in which at least one goal was scored.

All times listed below are local time. The ranking of teams in the group stage was determined as follows: In the knockout stages, if a match is level at the end of normal playing time, extra time is played two periods of 15 minutes each and followed, if necessary, by a penalty shoot-out to determine the winners.

If a match went into extra time, each team was allowed to make a fourth substitution, the first time this had been allowed in a FIFA World Cup tournament. Twelve own goals were scored during the tournament, doubling the record of six set in In total, only four players were sent off in the entire tournament, the fewest since A player is automatically suspended for the next match for the following offences: The following awards were given at the conclusion of the tournament.

The award was sponsored by Hyundai. FIFA also published an alternate team of the tournament based on player performances evaluated through statistical data. Prize money amounts were announced in October The tournament logo was unveiled on 28 October by cosmonauts at the International Space Station and then projected onto Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre during an evening television programme.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that the logo was inspired by "Russia's rich artistic tradition and its history of bold achievement and innovation", and FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated that it reflected the "heart and soul" of the country. The official mascot for the tournament was unveiled 21 October , and selected through a design competition among university students.

A public vote was used to select from three finalists—a cat, a tiger, and a wolf. The first phase of ticket sales started on 14 September , The general visa policy of Russia did not apply to participants and spectators, who were able to visit Russia without a visa right before and during the competition regardless of their citizenship.

A Fan-ID was required to enter the country visa-free, while a ticket, Fan-ID and a valid passport were required to enter stadiums for matches. Fan-IDs also granted World Cup attendees free access to public transport services, including buses, and train service between host cities. Fan-ID was administered by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media , who could revoke these accreditations at any time to "ensure the defence capability or security of the state or public order".

The official match ball of the World Cup group stage was " Telstar 18 ", based on the name and design of the first Adidas World Cup ball from It was introduced on 9 November After the group stage, "Telstar Mechta" was used for the knockout stage.

The word mechta Russian: The difference between Telstar 18 and Mechta is the red details on the design. Its music video was released on 8 June Thirty-three footballers who are alleged to be part of the steroid program are listed in the McLaren Report. The choice of Russia as host has been challenged. Controversial issues have included the level of racism in Russian football, [] [] [] and discrimination against LGBT people in wider Russian society.

Allegations of corruption in the bidding processes for the and World Cups caused threats from England's FA to boycott the tournament. Garcia , a US attorney, to investigate and produce a report on the corruption allegations.

Eckert's summary cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing, but was denounced by critics as a whitewash. On 3 June , the FBI confirmed that the federal authorities were investigating the bidding and awarding processes for the and World Cups. In response to the March poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal , British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that no British ministers or members of the royal family would attend the World Cup, and issued a warning to any travelling England fans.

The British Foreign Office and MPs had repeatedly warned English football fans and "people of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent" travelling to Russia of "racist or homophobic intimidation, hooligan violence and anti-British hostility". At the close of the World Cup Russia was widely praised for its success in hosting the tournament, with Steve Rosenberg of the BBC deeming it "a resounding public relations success" for Putin, adding, "The stunning new stadiums, free train travel to venues and the absence of crowd violence has impressed visiting supporters.

Russia has come across as friendly and hospitable: All the foreign fans I have spoken to are pleasantly surprised. FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated, "Everyone discovered a beautiful country, a welcoming country, that is keen to show the world that everything that has been said before might not be true.

A lot of preconceived ideas have been changed because people have seen the true nature of Russia. The elimination of the US national team in qualifying led to concerns that US interest and viewership of this World Cup would be reduced especially among "casual" viewers interested in the US team , especially noting how much Fox paid for the rights, and that US games at the World Cup peaked at