Hosts Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening clash of the tournament on Thursday, while today sees three mouth-watering contests.
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is set to lead the line as Egypt take part in their first World Cup fixture since 1990 against Uruguay, before Morocco face Iran in Group B.
All eyes will then be on Sochi as European champions Portugal play a Spain team still getting over the shock exit of manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the competition.
Each morning during the tournament we’ll bring you an overview of what’s coming up that day. Here’s what you can expect on day two of the 2018 World Cup…
Who’s playing today?
Egypt v Uruguay (Group A) – Yekaterinburg (Central Stadium), 1pm
Morocco v Iran (Group B) – Saint Petersburg (Krestovsky Stadium), 4pm
Portugal v Spain (Group B) – Sochi (Fisht Olympic Stadium), 7pm
What’s the deal?
Uruguay – who boast a fearsome forward line of Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and PSG’s Edinson Cavani – get proceedings underway with a lunch-time encounter against Egypt in Yekaterinburg, before attention turns to Group B.
With Spain and Portugal to come, Morocco and Iran will both be desperate to get off to winning starts when they go head to head this afternoon, but it is this evening’s contest at the Fisht Olympic Stadium that most people are talking about.
The two Iberian rivals meet in one of the standout games of the group phase and who would bet against Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo being the main man in Sochi?
Egypt v Uruguay: I have gone for Uruguay. I just think with Uruguay having Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in attack, they could be dark horses as they are two of the best forwards about right now.
PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Morocco v Iran: I think Morocco will just win this one – it will be an awkward match for both sides, but Morocco will just have too much for Iran. It is one of those games again that whoever loses it is probably out of the World Cup.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Portugal v Spain: I have gone for Portugal to win this one actually. I watched Spain play Tunisia in a friendly on Friday night, and I thought they were poor and had run out of ideas. And Portugal are a better defensive team than Tunisia, you saw that when they won the Euros last time out. And then they have that X-factor in Cristiano Ronaldo, while they will be more of a threat when they break than Tunisia were. So, I have gone for Portugal to win this game.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (9/1 with Sky Bet)
Three to watch
Luis Suarez: The forward’s last World Cup ended in disgrace after he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, resulting in a nine-game ban.
However, after another impressive campaign with Barcelona last season, during which time he contributed 31 goals and 18 assists in 51 matches in total, expectations are high back in Uruguay that this could be his tournament.
And with 51 international goals to his name, the 31-year-old will be relishing the chance to play an Egypt side appearing in their first World Cup for 28 years.
Mehdi Benatia: The powerful Juventus centre back will line up in the heart of the Morocco back line when they kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran this afternoon.
Benatia’s goal against Ivory Coast in November helped his team qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 and if the North Africans can secure a clean sheet in their Group B opener, then three points should be on the cards.
And as well as being a dominant presence at the back, the defender is also a huge threat in the opposition box from set plays.
Isco: There will be a plethora of technically accomplished players on display in Sochi, and none more so than Real Madrid’s playmaker.
The 26-year-old reminded everyone of his talent when scoring a brilliant hat-trick in his side’s 6-1 thrashing of Argentina in a friendly in March and he should have a crucial role to play in their Group B opener with Portugal.
Also look out for…
Will Salah be shouldering all Egypt’s hopes?
Egypt manager Hector Cuper confirmed that Mohamed Salah is “almost 100 per cent” fit to feature against Uruguay in their World Cup opener today.
The forward scored 44 goals in total for Liverpool last season, only to injure his shoulder in his side’s Champions League final defeat to Real in May.
But with Salah having now recovered, the hopes of a nation will once again be resting on his shoulders…
The Spain game
Fernando Hierro takes charge of Spain for the first time tonight in their first Group B clash with Portugal and the attention of the world will be on the former Madrid captain.
Hierro, who won 89 caps during a glittering career, replaced Julen Lopetegui as Spain boss on Tuesday, immediately plunging the 2010 world champions into crisis.
So expect cameras to be firmly fixed on the 50-year-old throughout this encounter as he looks to get his country off to a winning start in Sochi.
England news conference
Gareth Southgate’s players will be back on the training pitch in Repino; catch part of their morning session on Sky Sports News from 9.15am, UK time. One of Southgate’s players will also face the media at around 1.30pm.
Stat of the day
Cristiano Ronaldo was directly involved in more goals than any other player in the 2018 European World Cup qualifiers (18), scoring 15 goals and assisting a further three. However, he has never scored against Spain (340 minutes).
On this day
The highest score in a World Cup finals match was recorded. Hungary defeated El Salvador 10-1 in a group match in Spainin 1982 with Laszlo Kiss being the first substitute to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals.
What the papers say
“Hoy Jugamos Todos” (Today we play together) say Marca ahead of Spain’s massive Group B clash with Portugal on Friday evening, while Mundo Deportivo say “Como Una Final” (Like a final).
Portuguese newspaper O Jogo depict the national team in armour, with the headline “Cortina de Ferro” (Iron Curtain). Make no mistake, this is huge…
Spanish newspaper Sport also weigh in on Antoine Griezmann’s decision to stay at Atletico Madrid, calling it “Bochorno” (Embarrassment).
La Republica in Uruguay, who kick off against Egypt on Friday, say “Sueno Celeste” (Celestial Dream).
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