After months of build up, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is moments from kick off and the lineups for the opener, Russia vs Saudi Arabia, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow have been revealed.
The hosts, the lowest ranked side in the tournament, seem to be trotting out in a 4-1-4-1 formation:
— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) June 14, 2018
Skipper Igor Akinfeev starts in goal, behind a back-four of Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich and Yuri Zhirkov.
Yuri Gazinksy is the midfield enforcer, while Roman Zobrin, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin and Aleksandr Samedov line up behind centre forward Fedor Smolov.
Saudi Arabia, three placed above the 70th-ranked Europeans in the FIFA Rankings, are lining up in a 4-2-3-1.
Abdullah Al Mayoof starts between the sticks, with flat back-four of Yasir Al Shahrani, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Othman and Mohammed Al-Burayk in front of him.
Abdullah Otyf and Salman Al Faraj are in the midfield pivot while the likes of Yahya Al Shehri, Taisir Al Jassam and Salem Al Dawsan give forward Mohammed Al Sahlawi support up top.
The game is scheduled for a 20.30 IST kick off. Before the footballing action gets underway, however, the opening ceremony headlined by Robbie Williams and Russia soprano Aida Garifullina will take place.
Brazilian footballing legend Ronaldo is also expected to play a major part in the pre-tournament show, which is expected to run for an exact half-hour starting at 2000 IST.