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FIFA Fever Grips The World; Indian Fans Look Forward to Explosive Action

Move aside the Men in Blue, it’s time to flaunt the colours of one’s ‘Doosri Country’. World’s greatest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup 2018 being played in Russia from June 14 to July 15, is set to kick off in a few hours from now and the world has already chosen their favourites from among the 32 teams.

Being the host country, Russia will be playing the opening match of FIFA World Cup 2018 on Thursday, June 14, against Saudi Arabia. Russia and Saudi Arabia are part of Group A, which also includes Egypt and Uruguay.

Russia has played in 3 FIFA World Cups ever since it became a separate country in 1991. Prior to 1991, Russia was part of the USSR and had reached the Quarter Final stage thrice. As Russia, however, the country hasn’t had a very impressive FIFA WC performance. It hasn’t proceeded beyond the group stage in its 3 FIFA WC appearances – in 1994, 2002 and 2014. Russia didn’t even qualify in 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Saudi Arabia has participated in 4 FIFA World Cups previously – 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006. Saudi Arabia reached Round 16 in 1994.

SonyLIV is the official Mobile and Internet broadcaster of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 and fans can catch the Russia-Saudi Arabia match live at 8.30 pm (IST) on or through the SonyLIV app from the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow City. Viewers can also tweet all the latest developments during the game using the official Twitter hashtags – #WorldCup, #RUS, and #KSA.

While 81,000 football fans will be cheering for the teams at the Luzhniki Stadium, there will be billions more across the world who will be catching up on all the football action on their TV sets or on digital platforms.

Incidentally, Luzhniki Stadium is the largest stadium in Russia as well as one of the largest stadiums in Europe. The stadium will also host the final match of FIFA World Cup 2018.

Ahead of the opening match, will be an entertainment extravaganza, which will see British pop singer Robbie Williams perform alongside Russian soprano Aida Garifullina. The interesting pairing would remind one of Sarah Brightman and José Carreras coming together to perform the song – ‘Amigos Para Siempre’ – at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in a Broadway-Opera combination.

The 32 teams are spread across 8 groups. Led by Neymar, Brazil, of course, remains a global favourite and fans would be looking forward to the team putting behind its 7-1 fiasco in FIFA WC 2014.

Defending champions Germany are known for the clinical way in which they demolish the opposition. Under Manuel Neuer’s captainship, the Germans won’t be giving up their crown that easily.

Argentina is looking for World Cup glory under Lionel Messi. Though the team’s performance has not been very consistent in recent times, the Messi factor can’t be ignored.

With several young talent on board, a refreshed France will be gunning for the top spot. A lot depends on the trio of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.

As the official broadcast partner of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, Sony Pictures Networks India will be airing the tournament on Sony Ten 2/HD in English and Sony Ten 3/HD in Hindi. The broadcaster is also introducing 6 language feeds to engage the regional fans of football.

Along with the match telecast, SPN will do a show called ‘Football Extraa’, where renowned Indian and international footballers like Sunil Chhetri, Bhaichung Bhutia, Gurpreet Singh, Robin Singh, Luis Garcia, Louis Saha and David James will discuss the finer aspects of the matches.

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