MX23RW : Tuesday, August 14 17:08:45

World Cup 2018: Key dates to make the most of the group stage

The World Cup may still be five months away, but that doesn't mean you can wait to put the dates in your diary.

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The World Cup may still be five months away, but that doesn't mean you can wait to put the dates in your diary. It's time to start planning, because you're guaranteed to be invited to a wedding on the big game day!

Russia 2018 promises to be another fantastic tournament and the Group Stage has already thrown up a few interesting ties, not to mention a Super Saturday, which will see four games between 11am and 11pm.

Here are the big dates for your diary to really make the most of the 2018 World Cup Group Stage.

14 June, 2018
Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, 4pm

While Russia versus Saudi Arabia doesn't sound a thriller, nobody wants to miss the opening game of the FIFA World Cup. With the opening ceremony to enjoy, the excitement will then begin as the hosts get underway.

Russia are actually ranked below their opposition so it will be a good indicator of what sort of influence a home crowd have and just how the host nation will fare in the tournament.

June 15, 2018
Egypt vs. Uruguay, 1pm
Morocco vs. Iran, 4pm
Portugal vs. Spain, 7pm

Portugal vs Spain - what more could you want on a Friday evening? The Euro 2016 champions will want to get their hands on another piece of silverware in what could potentially be Cristiano Ronaldo's final World Cup.

The Spanish will no doubt be favourites and it could well be a real humdinger of a tie as both teams will be fighting for the Group B top spot. Egypt vs Uruguay could also be a nice lunchtime kickoff with Mo Salah going head to head with Luis Suarez.

June 16, 2018
France vs. Australia, 11am
Argentina vs. Iceland, 2pm
Peru vs. Denmark, 5pm
Croatia vs. Nigeria, 8pm

It's the one we're all waiting for - Super Saturday. 12 hours of football, perfect for settling down in the pub, downloading one of the best android betting apps for 2018 and backing a four-fold acca for a fantastic day of action.

While none of the games seems like particular thrillers, there could be some really important ones in terms of the groups. Both Peru vs. Denmark and Croatia vs. Nigeria could be key fixtures in the battle for qualification, while we all know what Iceland are capable of following Euro 2016.

Cancel all plans for June 16 - a football takeover is the order of the day.

June 18, 2018
Sweden vs. South Korea, 1pm
Belgium vs. Panama, 4pm
Tunisia vs. England, 7pm

The England fixtures have fallen quite lucky for the fans, with all of them post-5pm on working days. Tunisia offer the Three Lions to get off to a real good start with the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford likely to strike fear into the African nation's eyes.

Sweden versus South Korea could also be a big game in the race for second in Group F, with the two nations alongside Mexico in a three-way battle to finish behind the Germans.

June 24, 2018
England vs. Panama, 1pm
Japan vs. Senegal, 4pm
Poland vs. Colombia, 7pm

England's second game falls on a Sunday afternoon and is one that in reality should see the floodgates open. England will be hoping to seal their place in the round of 16 against Panama, making for a breathe-easy game against the Belgians in the final fixture.

Poland vs. Colombia could also be an interesting tie in Group H with both perhaps having their eye on the top spot.

June 27, 2018
South Korea vs. Germany, 3pm
Mexico vs. Sweden, 3pm
Serbia vs. Brazil, 7pm
Switzerland vs. Costa Rica, 7pm

Mexico vs. Sweden is the tie of Group F and will be a huge final fixture for both sides as they look to qualify. Assuming results as they should on paper, the winner could take all in this one. It's likely a game for which the Swedes will wish they still had the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but both sides have a chance in what will be a really close and edgy encounter.

June 28, 2018
Japan vs. Poland, 3pm
Senegal vs. Colombia, 3pm
England vs. Belgium, 7pm
Panama vs. Tunisia, 7pm

The third Thursday of the competition will see the climax of both England's group (G) and Group H. Poland and Colombia are favourites to make it through and face either England or Belgium, the likely candidates to make it through.

England will be confident against Roberto Martinez's men. They will know most of the players well and if Wales can beat them, as they did in the Euros, there's no reason the Three Lions can't conquer.

That said, England fans will be glad this tie is last up, with Southgate's men hopefully already confirmed for the round of 16. It will be a good indicator of where they are at, however.

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Jack Wilshere in the Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United on December 16, 2017
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