World Cup fever is here; Ireland make eight changes for Australia Test

Morning Sports Briefing: keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

A general view of St Petersburg is seen ahead of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A general view of St Petersburg is seen ahead of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

So, the day has finally arrived. At 4pm this afternoon the 2018 World Cup will get underway with the titanic battle of ... Russia v Saudi Arabia. Okay, it’s not the most exciting of matches to open the tournament but it’s the World Cup, there’s football on the telly at 4pm on a Thursday, so does it really matter? Set up and ready to go in Moscow is our own Keith Duggan who this morning writes that a festive feeling has engulfed Russia as it prepares to open its arms to the footballing world.

Meanwhile, Ken Early writes from Moscow about yesterday’s big breaking story of Spain sacking their manager Julen Lopetegui just two days before their opening game against Portugal. It might not quite be Saipan but it’s not far off with one of the pre-tournament favourites thrown into disarray. Throughout the tournament you can follow every kick, thrill and spill on our World Cup website with our first liveblog getting underway at 3pm today for the opening game.

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