On 14 June, just a few moments before Russia and Saudi Arabia kick off the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, three international stars will thrill the fans in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Global music icon Robbie Williams will entertain the stadium crowd and the millions watching around the world, with celebrated Russian soprano Aida Garifullina joining him during the musical extravaganza.
The football glory that all players will be hoping to achieve on Russian soil will be represented by Brazil’s two-time FIFA World Cup champion Ronaldo.
But while there is a lengthy list of potential winners, discussion of pre-tournament favourites has tended to focus on four star-studded sides. With that in mind, and the big kick-off looming, FIFA.com takes a closer look at this quartet of leading contenders.
A team transformed under the astute leadership of Tite, Brazil were the first nation – besides the hosts – to book their place at Russia 2018. The ghosts of 2014 and that 7-1 walloping by Germany have been exorcised by some outstanding performances, including a recent 1-0 win over the world champions in Berlin. Gabriel Jesus, the goalscorer in that match, Alisson and Coutinho have also risen to prominence since the last World Cup, and number among several outstanding players in a strong, well-balanced and united Seleção squad.
Key player: Neymar
There was a collective intake of breath when Brazil’s talisman suffered a season-ending foot injury for Paris Saint-Germain in February. At 26, Neymar already has 55 goals for his country and is now joint-fourth place with Romario on the list of Brazil’s top goalscorers. His comeback against Croatia and his goal against Austria in recent friendlies, both featured brilliant pieces of skill, reminded everyone of this superb player’s capacity for the extraordinary.
“Brazil are a favourite at the World Cup. By the football presented, the campaign completed, by level, performance plus results… we are one of the teams [who can win the Trophy], yes.”
Predictors ready for opening match:
How will Portugal-Spain end up? And who will get the game’s first assist? What about Brazil-Switzerland? And which player will make the most passes in the game? How do you foresee Germany-Mexico finishing? And who will score the match’s first goal?
If you think you could make solid predictions on the aforementioned, and a lot more, then come and join the FIFA World Cup™ Match Predictor presented by Hyundai. Make a batch of predictions, or predict carefully and daily, it’s up to you. Our 48 Group Stage menu is waiting for you right now! Then it’s on to the knockouts!
Make each of the 64 matches in Russia even more interesting, and compete for prizes including an Apple Macbook and an iPad.