The World Cup is upon us, the world festival of football, and you’ll need to have a read of our handy guide to be match ready…
1. Russia 2018 is the 21st edition of the World Cup, and the first to be held in Eastern Europe.
2. Thirty-two countries will play in 12 venues across 11 Russian cities with the aim of reaching the 65th game, the World Cup final, which will be held in the Luzhniki Stadium, the largest venue of Russia 2018.
3. There are eight groups of four nations. The top two teams in each group progress to the last 16.
4. The winner will pocket $38m. The total prize money for the tournament is $400m. It is estimated that hosting the tournament has cost Russia $12billion.
5. Four million tickets were put up for sale. England fans, who usually travel in large numbers, applied for just 26,670 of these. Russian fans are taking 216,134 tickets.
6. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was the top scorer in qualifying from Europe, with 16 goals, one more than Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (a former BESTFIT cover star, of course). Lewandowski’s efforts were matched by Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Sahlawi.
7. This year’s World Cup saw a record number of nations, 209, enter the qualifying stages.
8. Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history, and have won the tournament five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Brazilian legend Pele is the only player to have won three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
9. Eight teams have lifted the World Cup. England won it in ’66 of course. With brazil the record holders, the others are Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Argentina, France and Spain.
10. German legend Lothar Matthaus has played 25 matches at the World Cup, more than anyone else. Alongside Mexican Antonio Carbajal, he is one of only two players to have appeared in five World Cups.
11. Another German, Miroslav Klose, remains the record goalscorer, scoring 16 times in four tournaments. France legend Just Fontaine scored 13 goals in one tournament, in 1958.
11. Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside is the youngest player to appear at a World Cup at 17 years and 41 days.
12. Colombia’s Farid Mondragon became the oldest player to appear at a World Cup aged 43 years and 3 days. Cameroon’s Roga Milla is the oldest goalscorer in the competition’s history, aged 41 years, one month and eight days.
13. In 2014, Thomas Muller covered the most distance. In total, he ran 83,957m. Of the top five players who covered then most distance, four were German (Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm and Benedikt Hoewedes).
14. In 2014, Brazil were the most attacking team. They scored 11 goals, five less than Germany, but saw 28 shots blocked, 33 shots saved and 39 attempts miss the target.