The 5 group stage matches in Russia you cannot miss


 

WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN—11 DAYS

 

 

The 2018 Russia World Cup is now less than two weeks away, with sides gearing up to face each other on the biggest stage in world football.

 

The groups have long since been decided, and now we can prepare for some of the mouth-watering fixtures about to be served up.

 

With the groups promising an array of high-octane action, ht180 sportsflags up some of the fixtures you should probably make a note not to miss...

 

**Portugal vs Spain

 

The two neighbours are set to go head to head for their first match of the tournament, in a showdown which is likely to set the tone for Group B.

 

The reigning European champions will be up against the vanquished World Cup winners of 2010, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo taking on Barcelona foe Gerard Pique.

 

With the Russia World Cup having the potential to be Ronaldo's last, the Real Madrid man will be looking to hit the ground running. If both teams start this one quickly, sparks will fly. Incidentally, the last time they met... Spain dumped Portugal out of Euro 2012 on penalties.

 

When is it being played? Friday, June 15th

 

Kick-off time: 19.00 (UK TIME)

 

**England vs Belgium

 

If all goes to plan this is set to be the big one for Gareth Southgate and his Three Lions side.

Both teams are expected to hold off any resistance from Tunisia and newcomers Panama, and will look to scoop an invaluable three points in this tie to kick on and attempt to win the group outright.

 

Southgate is poised to apply new formation and methodology to this tournament, while taking a fresh approach compared to the England bosses who have gone before him. Eden Hazard and co are therefore likely to be his first serious, competitive test.

 

When is it being played? Sunday, June 28

 

Kick-off time: 19.00 (UK TIME)

 

**Nigeria vs Argentina

 

The national scene has a funny habit of regularly serving up Argentina vs Nigeria showdowns.

 

One thing is almost certainly guaranteed though - goals. In the last three meetings between these two nations, of which Argentina triumphed in all three, the ball hit the back of the net no less than 15 times.

 

As with his arch rival Ronaldo, this is likely to be the final World Cup for Lionel Messi. One last shot at greatness and a chance to add the Jules Rimet to his legend. Nigeria must be careful the diminutive maestro doesn't use them as a punch bag to get warmed up for the latter stages.

 

When is it being played? Tuesday, June 26

 

Kick-off time: 19.00 (UK TIME)

 

**Egypt vs Uruguay

 

This could be set to be the most exciting fixture of Group A, due to the fact both teams could realistically win the group.

 

Despite Egypt only managing to make their first World Cup since 1990 by the skin of their teeth, talisman Mohamed Salah is expected to be back fit and, with him in the ranks, anything could happen.


Uruguay have named an impressively strong squad for the tournament, and time and time again show their mettle on the big stage.

 

Both sides should prove too much for fellow group companions Russia and Saudi Arabia, making this fixture a sure one to tune into.

 

When is it being played? Friday, June 15

 

Kick-off time: 13.00 (UK TIME)

 

**Germany vs Mexico

 

The opening game in Group F and it could be a fiery one.

 

Current world champions Germany are desperate to retain their trophy and status as the finest footballing nation on the planet, though an opening encounter with Mexico will be far from easy.

 

Juan Carlos Osorio's side will arrive in Russia with little expectations placed upon them, but an exciting squad with plenty to prove. Should Germany slip in the opener, subsequent fixtures with Sweden and North Korea could be set to be nervy affairs.

 

 

When is it being played? Sunday, June 17

 

Kick-off time: 16.00 (UK TIME)


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