The 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14, much to the anticipation of 32 teams, more than 700 players and a countless number of fans.
In all, 64 matches will be played in 11 different cities throughout Russia. This is the first time the World Cup is being held in Eastern Europe.
The world’s biggest sports tournament will be broadcast in the U.S. on Fox Sports.
From which teams have qualified for the tournament to who is favored to win, here’s what you need to know about the 21st World Cup.
The World Cup will be broadcast exclusively on Fox Sports. Fans can watch live on FOX, FS1 and the Fox Sports app. Fox Sports’ website also includes a live television feature as well as highlights.
Fans can also create an original highlight reel on Fox Sports’ website of favorite teams, fans or years.
If you’re in Russia, make sure you’re at the right stadium for matches you want to watch. There are 12 venues hosting games.
Who is playing
Fans react as Spain’s national soccer team arrives at Pashkovsky international airport in the town of Krasnodar, Russia, to compete in the World Cup. (AP Photo/Evgeny Reznik)
There are 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup. And because Russia is hosting the tournament, its team automatically qualified, although it is the lowest-ranked participant.
See a full list of teams here.
The U.S. team did not qualify for the World Cup. At No. 9, Chile is the highest-ranked team not playing at the World Cup. Other notable absentees are Italy and the Netherlands, traditional powerhouses who are also ranked in FIFA’s top 20.
No country will supply as many coaches for the World Cup as Argentina. Five Argentine managers will be present in Russia: Jorge Sampaoli for Argentina, Jose Pekerman for Colombia, Ricardo Gareca for Peru, Hector Cuper for Egypt and Juan Antonio Pizzi for Saudi Arabia.
2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL MATCH SCHEDULE
Iceland has captured the hearts of many soccer fans as this year’s Cinderella team. With about 330,000 inhabitants, the Nordic country is comfortably the smallest to ever qualify for the Cup. Two years ago, Iceland played in the European Championship for the first time and got to the quarterfinals, famously eliminating England along the way.
Who is favored to win
The FIFA World Cup trophy is on display in Moscow. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Brazil is favored to win the World Cup, but Germany is also a major contender.
DINING RUSSIA-STYLE AT THE WORLD CUP
Germany won the last World Cup — which was hosted in Brazil — in 2014. Argentina was the runner-up. In 2010, Spain was the winner while the Netherlands came in second. The tournament was hosted in South Africa that year.
In 1998, France both hosted and won the World Cup.
How a team qualifies
Two years ago, Iceland played in the European Championship for the first time and got to the quarterfinals, famously eliminating England along the way. (Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke)
World Cup qualifications began in 2015, and by the end of 2017, teams knew whether they were heading to Russia or not.
The AFC organization, which includes Asia, sends its best four teams to the World Cup. The best three teams of the CONCACAF organization — which encompasses North America, Central America and the Caribbean — also head to the World Cup. But the fourth-best CONCACAF team and the fifth-best AFC team play in a two-game playoff — the winner going to the World Cup. This qualification round, Australia beat Honduras in the inter-confederation playoff match.
CONMEBOL, representing South America, sends its four best teams to the World Cup. The fifth-place team plays the winner of the OFC (Oceania) organization’s tournament. The winner goes to the World Cup. Peru punched their ticket to Russia after defeating New Zealand.
Winners of the inter-confederation playoff matchups are determined by an aggregate system of points scored. If a tie persists, the teams move to a penalty shootout.
Africa, the CAF organization, sends its five best teams to the World Cup, and the UEFA organization, which represents Europe, sends 13 — the highest number of the organizations. However, this year the UEFA has 14 teams qualifying for the World Cup as Russia is the host.
The first match
Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of the World Cup. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
There was only one match on June 14, the first day of the World Cup: Russia vs. Saudi Arabia. Russia won 5-0.
Russia is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament. According to FIFA’s monthly ratings, Russia dropped to No. 70, just below Saudi Arabia at 67.
Shelley Ng and The Associated Press contributed to this report.