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The Russia World Cup 2018 is just hours away now. Here’s our guide on how to watch every second of the action – a feast of pretty much non-stop football.

Last December’s draw put England in Group G with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama and the good news is that all three of the games have been scheduled at sociable times. You can hear the sighs of relief from office bosses all around the country.

The full World Cup 2018 fixture schedule is included below, with timings, venues and TV channels included.

Group stages
Thursday 14 June
Russia vs Saudi Arabia (Group A) – Moscow (Luzhniki) – 4pm – ITV

Friday 15 June
Egypt vs Uruguay (Group A) – Ekaterinburg – 1pm – BBC

Morocco vs Iran (Group B) – St Petersburg – 4pm – ITV

Portugal vs Spain (Group B) – Sochi – 7pm – BBC

Saturday 16 June
France vs Australia (Group C) – Kazan – 11am – BBC

Argentina vs Iceland (Group D) – Moscow (Spartak) – 2pm – ITV

Peru vs Denmark (Group C) – Saransk – 5pm – BBC

Croatia vs Nigeria (Group D) – Kaliningrad – 8pm – ITV

Sunday 17 June
Costa Rica vs Serbia (Group E) – Samara – 1pm – ITV

Germany vs Mexico (Group F) – Moscow (Luzhniki) – 4pm – BBC

Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E) – Rostov-on-Don – 7pm – ITV

Monday 18 June
Sweden vs South Korea (Group F) – Nizhny Novgorod – 1pm – ITV

Belgium vs Panama (Group G) – Sochi – 4pm – BBC

Tunisia vs England (Group G) – Volgograd – 7pm – BBC

Tuesday 19 June
Colombia vs Japan (Group H) – Saransk – 1pm – BBC

Poland vs Senegal (Group H) – Moscow (Spartak) – 4pm – ITV

Russia vs Egypt (Group A) – St Petersburg – 7pm – BBC

Wednesday 20 June
Portugal vs Morocco (Group B) – Moscow (Luzhniki) – 1pm – BBC

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (Group A) – Rostov-on-Don – 4pm – BBC

Iran vs Spain (Group B) – Kazan – 7pm – ITV

Thursday 21 June
Denmark vs Australia (Group C) – Samara – 1pm – ITV

France vs Peru (Group C) – Ekaterinburg – 4pm – ITV

Argentina vs Croatia (Group D) – Nizhny Novgorod – 7pm – BBC

Friday 22 June
Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) – St Petersburg – 1pm – ITV

Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) – Volgograd – 4pm – BBC

Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) – Kaliningrad – 7pm – BBC

Saturday 23 June
Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G) – Moscow (Spartak) – 1pm – BBC

South Korea vs Mexico (Group F) – Rostov-on-Don – 4pm – ITV

Germany v Sweden (Group F) – Sochi – 7pm – ITV

Sunday 24 June
England vs Panama (Group G) – Nizhny Novgorod – 1pm – BBC

Japan vs Senegal (Group H) – Ekaterinburg – 4pm – BBC

Poland vs Colombia (Group H) – Kazan – 7pm – ITV

Monday 25 June
Uruguay vs Russia (Group A) – Samara – 3pm – ITV

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (Group A) – Volgograd – 3pm – ITV

Spain vs Morocco (Group B) – Kaliningrad – 7pm- BBC

Iran vs Portugal (Group B) – Saransk – 7pm – BBC

Tuesday 26 June
Denmark vs France (Group C) – Moscow (Luzhniki) – 3pm – ITV

Australia vs Peru (Group C) – Sochi – 3pm – ITV

Nigeria vs Argentina (Group D) – St Petersburg – 7pm – BBC

Iceland vs Croatia (Group D) – Rostov-on-Don – 7pm – BBC

Wednesday 27 June
South Korea vs Germany (Group F) – Kazan – 3pm – BBC

Mexico vs Sweden (Group F) – Ekaterinburg – 3pm – BBC

Serbia vs Brazil (Group E) – Moscow (Spartak) – 7pm – ITV

Switzerland vs Costa Rica (Group E) – Nizhny Novgorod – 7pm – ITV

Thursday 28 June
Japan vs Poland (Group H) – Volgograd – 3pm – BBC

Senegal vs Colombia (Group H) – Samara – 3pm – BBC

England vs Belgium (Group G) – Kaliningrad – 7pm – ITV

Panama vs Tunisia (Group G) – Saransk – 7pm – ITV

Round of 16
(Matches in bold are potential England fixtures)

Saturday 30 June
Group C winner vs Group D runner-up – Kazan, 3pm (Match 50)

Group A winner vs Group B runner-up- Sochi, 7pm (Match 49)

Sunday 1 July
Group B winner vs Group A runner-up- Moscow (Luzhniki), 3pm (Match 51)

Group D winner vs Group C runner-up – Nizhny Novgorod, 7pm (Match 52)

Monday 2 July
Group E winner vs Group F runner-up – Samara, 3pm (Match 53)

Group G winner vs Group H runner-up – Rostov-on-Don, 7pm (Match 54)

Tuesday 3 July
Group F winner vs Group E runner-up – St Petersburg 3pm (Match 55)

Group H winner vs Group G runner-up – Moscow (Spartak), 7pm (Match 56)

Quarter-finals
Friday 6 July
Winner match 49 vs Winner match 50 – Nizhny Novgorod, 3pm (Match 57)

Winner match 53 vs Winner match 54 – Kazan, 7pm (Match 58)

Saturday 7 July
Winner match 55 vs Winner match 56 – Samara, 3pm (Match 60)

Winner match 51 vs Winner match 52 – Sochi, 7pm (Match 59)

Semi-finals
Tuesday 10 July
Winner match 57 vs Winner match 58 – St Petersburg, 7pm (Match 61)

Wednesday 11 July
Winner match 59 vs Winner match 60 – Moscow (Luzhniki), 7pm (Match 62)

Third place play-off
Saturday 14 July

Loser match 61 vs Loser match 62 – St Petersburg, 3pm

Final
Sunday 15 July

Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm

BIG STORY

AFCON 2019 QUALIFIER: Ahmed Musa, Ighalo, Awaziem Shoots Eagles To Victory Over Seychelles

Peter Okunoren

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Goals from Skipper Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Jude Ighalo were all the Super Eagles needed to revive their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 African Cup of Nations slated to hold in Cameroon.

Gernot Rohr opted for the trio of Ighalo, Musa and Iheanacho to lead the team’s attack, while debutant Samuel Kalu, Wilfried Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi were saddled with the midfield role.

The Nigerian side, who started the game on the front foot, broke the hosts’ resistance through Musa’s streamer, which beat Collins Esther after 15 minutes from kick off.

Portugal-based Awaziem doubled the lead from a tap in the 34th minute of the tie.

On resumption for the second half, Nigeria kept piling pressure on The Pirates of Seychelles.

They kept the momentum until Kalu was infringed on in the box and the referee awarded a spot kick to Nigeria.

Ighalo stepped up to convert the kick in the 57th minute as Nigeria maintained a comfortable lead.

Nigeria now has three points from two games in the qualifiers.

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Messi Hails Ronaldo, Tips Juventus To Win Champions League Trophy

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Barcelona ace, Lionel Messi has said that Juventus are clear favourites to win this season’s UEFA Champions League now that they have forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo left Madrid as their all-time highest goalscorer to join the Italian giants earlier this summer in a 100-million-euro deal.

Messi believes that Madrid is less strong without Ronaldo, adding that he was surprised by the Portuguese’s decision to leave the Santiago Bernabeu to joined Juve.

“Real Madrid is less strong without Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad, as obviously, he is one of the best in the world,” Messi told Catalunya Radio.

“Juventus are a clear favourite to win the Champions League now they have Cristiano Ronaldo. I was surprised by his decision, as I didn’t expect him to leave Madrid or go to Juventus. It’s a very good team.”

Messi added, “We’ve gone out in the quarter-finals for three years running and the last one was the most painful for the way it came about. We have to aim for the trophy because we can do it.

“We missed out because of details, in the Pep Guardiola era against Inter, and Chelsea. Other clubs are strong, have a lot of money and sign many players, like the two Manchesters, Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG, various Italian clubs, they all have a lot of money.

“Plus when things don’t go our way, we struggle to react, as we did against Roma. We did not react the right way during the game.”

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Nigeria vs Seychelles: Why I Invited Ighalo – Rohr

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Despite criticism in some quarters over the inclusion of Odion Ighalo in the 28 players invited to prosecute the country’s September 7 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifier against Seychelles in Victoria, Head Coach Gernot Rohr, has appeared unperturbed.

The German tactician has rather stuck to his decision as the national team gets set to open its camp in Abuja before jetting out for the September 7, away clash.

He noted that though Ighalo who last scored for the Eagles a year ago against Cameroon in Uyo, missed begging chances against Argentina in Russia which failed to impress some of the fans, he nonetheless deserves another opportunity to make amends.

He insisted that Ighalo still has a role to play in his formation to secure the maximum 3 point in the crucial duel adding that “this is an opportunity for him(Ighalo) prove his critics wrong.”

Rohr continued, “He has been scoring in China and he is very motivated to do so for the Super Eagles now.”

On Sunday, the 29-year-old striker scored his 16th goal in the Chinese Super League. The Nigerian international emerged the hero of Changchun Yatai after he scored the equaliser to make sure they didn’t lose at home to Hebei CFFC in a game which ended 2-2.

The former Watford striker who scored 15 goals for Changchun Yatai last season put a smile on the faces of Changchun Yatai fans as he scored in the 89th minute to level the goal margin.

A breakdown of the 28-man squad released on Friday showed that 24 players were listed as regulars, while four players were listed as stand-by, comprising Uche Agbo who plays for Standard Liege, Belgium, Eze Stephen who stars with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Musa Mohammed starring for Hnk Gorica, Croatia and Blessing Eleke.

The 24 invited players are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC) and Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa).

Eight defenders were invited including Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Semi Ajayi (Rotterdam United, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain) and Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany).

Rohr picked six midfielders comprising Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto, Portugal) and Joel Obi (AC Chievo Verona, Italy)

Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia) leads the list of strikers which include Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone FC, Italy); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England) and Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux FC, France).

Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor revealed on Friday that the invited players are expected to fly directly to Seychelles, arriving on Monday, 3rd September, while the one player (goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa) and team officials travelling from Nigeria will fly into Victoria on Sunday, 2nd September.

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