It promises to be an action-packed, drama-filled month as 736 players from 32 nations arrive for a feast of football. Brazil, Spain and Germany arrive as tournament favourites with Gareth Southgate’s England heading in with plenty of hope if not much expectation. They face Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday before taking on Panama and Belgium in Group G.
They jet out to their training base in Repino on Tuesday with the tournament kicking off in earnest on Thursday afternoon when the hosts face Saudi Arabia.
It promises to be a month filled with colour, emotion and a boatload of memories for everyone watching in Russia and around the world.
Here’s Miguel Delaney on why the World Cup really is unparalleled in world sport.
A riot of colour, emotion and memories: the World Cup stands alone in the field of sport.
Robbie Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina will entertain the crowd at the opening ceremony of the World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium.
They will be joined by Brazil’s two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo at the ceremony that will be held just 30 minutes before the kick-off to the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance,” said Williams.
“I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the Fifa World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.”
The underlying theme of celebrating not only football but also the host country will be represented by a performance from Garifullina.
“I never imagined I would be part of this huge celebration, the World Cup, happening in my own country,” said the soloist from the Vienna State Opera.
“The image that I will be presenting to the whole world will be very symbolic and associated with a dream coming to life.
“And, on 15 July, we will find out for whom this precious dream will come true, back on the same stage, after a month-long festival of football in Russia.”