World Cup 2018: What time is the opening ceremony, where can I watch it and who is performing?

The World Cup gets underway this week, with all eyes on Russia as the country readies to stage the greatest show on earth.

Of course, any World Cup would not be compete without a distinctively corny/glamorous opening ceremony to kick things off.

Here, we provide you with what you need to know.

Follow all the latest World Cup news throughout the day here:

Live Updates

They’re ready to go. Are you? #WC2018 

He might have missed a second straight day of training due to a minor niggle but Marcus Rashford still seems in pretty good spirits, if his Twitter is anything to go by. 


He was filmed a couple of weeks ago, walking and doing keepy-uppys simultaneously. 


Now he’s tweeted a video of him doing it at a younger age. 


Safe to say, injury or not, he’s delighted to be out in Russia with England.

Even England have won a World Cup game more recently than these two! 


Will either of these sides break their long-awaited run for victory at a World Cup?

Excited yet or do I still have to try harder?


Less than an hour till World Cup 2018 coverage starts on ITV 1! 

And for those of you still wanting to learn more about VAR and what it’s going to look like during this World Cup, check Andrew Griffin’s article here: 



On the theme of referees, this World Cup is set to be the first ever to utilise the VAR system. 


For those who have avoided football all season long, that is Video Assistant Referee which gives officials the chance to see certain moments they missed during the live action. 


Despite the marked improvement in decision making, it’s had criticism for lack of communication with fans and disrupting the flow of games, but, do you think it’s a good addition to the World Cup? 


Let us know in the comments section below!


Under 2 hours now before ITV start their coverage of today’s opening World Cup game. 


Former Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg, who’s been in Saudi Arabia this year, has given a bit of insight into what to expect from them today.

Are Madrid deliberately trying to troll the National team? 

He may have struggled during his four games in charge of Crystal Palace but Frank de Boer is back, but in a different format. 


Here he is writing for the Independent about his time with Netherlands at the ’98 World Cup. 



Back to England news and it’s disappointing for Manchester United and Marcus Rashford fans. 


The 20-year-old, who scored England’s first goal in their most recent victory against Costa Rica has missed training for a second straight day.



It’s not been the best morning for Andrey. 


He just read Jack Pitt-Brooke’s article outlining Russia’s shortcomings before Arsenal’s fixtures were announced…


Manchester City at home and Chelsea away to start the Premier League 18/19 campaign.




Still not excited yet? Want a bit more knowledge to show off to friends?


Ahead of the 21st World Cup, Genting Bet put together 21 stats sure to impress, including fastest goal, highest number of red cards and even furthest miles travelled to qualify. 


And there’s one regarding the ‘longest gap between successive titles’: Can England change that? 


We’ll see.


The England squad paying their respects this morning, one year on from the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Looking past today’s opener, I’m sure a lot of you are excited about tomorrow night’s clash between Portugal and Spain.


If, like me, you’ve got Spain in your sweepstake, and are still reeling from yesterday’s incredible news of Julen Lopetegui’s sacking, read Miguel Delaney’s piece on the decision. 


It probably won’t make you feel any better, but it’s still a good read!


So why are Russia the lowest ranked side in the World Cup?


Check out the Independent’s very own Jack Pitt-Brooke who details their problems here:

Meanwhile, things haven’t been much better for Russia’s opponents, Saudi Arabia. 


The Green Falcons have lost their last three friendlies although two of them were respectable 2-1 defeats against Italy and Germany. 


Sandwiched between them was a demolition job as Peru put them to the sword, winning 3-0. 


And off the pitch, things don’t look much rosier with two managers fired since qualifying for their fifth World Cup. 


So, as far as calling today’s game is concerned, I’ll sit firmly on the fence.


But what about the teams themselves?


We’ll start with Russia who go into today’s opening game as the lowest rank side in the competition, 70th in Fifa’s official standings.


Perhaps automatic qualification as hosts has played its part in that, but, with no victory in their last five, and none since October 2017, ambition has faded for the 2008 European Championship semi-finalists. 


The first game of the World Cup sees Russia face Saudi Arabia at 16:00, but, before then, it’s the small matter of the Opening Ceremony.


Around 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will represent all things Russian before a closing firework display. 


And, England’s very own Robbie Williams will be performing alongside young Russian artist Aida Garifullina.


The former Take That star said: “I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the FIFA World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.”




Good morning and welcome to today’s Independent World Cup blog.


The 2018 Fifa World Cup kicks off today in Moscow with excitement building ahead of the biggest football tournament on the planet.

We’ll bring you all the latest news on that plus all the best pictures and video from Russia throughout the day right here so don’t touch that dial.
Without further ado, off we go.



What time is the World Cup opening ceremony?

The curtain will be raised at 3:30pm (BST) on Thursday 14 June, just 30 minutes before the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. 

Where is it taking place?

Moscow‘s Luzhniki Stadium will host the opening ceremony. A concert will also run concurrently in Moscow’s famous Red Square.

What will the opening ceremony involve?

Robbie Williams. What more could you ask for? I’ve got my fingers crossed for ‘Rock DJ’, ‘Let me entertain you’ and ‘Feel’. Absolute classics.

Dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists will also be performing in an opening ceremony that will pay homage to all things Russian, as you’d imagine.

“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance,” Williams said.

“I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the FIFA World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.

“We’d like to invite football and music fans to party with us in Russia, in the stadium, or to tune in their TVs a little earlier for an unforgettable show.”

Russia soprano Aida Garifullina will also be joining the English singer for what Fifa has described as a “musical extravaganza”. This means it must be good.

Pianist Denis Matsuev will be joined by global opera stars Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov, Roberto Alanya, Ildar Abdrazakov, Aida Garifullina and Albina Shagimuratova for the concert at Moscow’s Red Square.

How can I watch it?

ITV 1 are broadcasting the opening match so will be showing the opening ceremony.

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