Sunday is when many people will regard the World Cup as truly beginning as Brazil launch their campaign in Group E.
All four teams in Group E will be in action, with Brazil facing Switzerland in Rostov.
The Samba stars are looking to banish memories of the finals in the homeland four-years ago when they were demolished 7-1 by eventual winners Germany, and they are very much ranked amongst the favourites.
Only four players – Marcelo, Paulinho, Fernandinho and Willian will be present from the thrashing at the hands of the Germans and coach Tite is looking to restore Brazilian pride and he is confident.
“This formation is a very strong one,” Tite said. “It gives us a lot of creativity and aggressiveness.”
Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic comes into the finals confident in his sides abilities.
“Everyone in our team likes to be together with the other players – and they are there for each other. And for me, that is key to any success. We have found a very good formula; and the results we have achieved help us to consolidate it.”
The other game sees Costa Rica face Serbia in Samara, and the Central American minnows are looking for a repeat of four years ago when they made the quarter-finals.
Oscar Ramirez is the first home-grown coach to take charge of Los Ticos and he is looking forward to leading his country.
“I do feel really proud of the fact that I’m the first Costa Rican-born coach to lead our team at a World Cup. I’m really happy, but it is a huge responsibility,” he said.
Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic is delighted with the harmony in his squad coming into the opening game.
“For the first time in a long time we have a good group, I have been through a lot and I know from experience how important the atmosphere it is,” said Krstajic.
See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.
Costa Rica 13:00 Serbia
Samara Arena, Samara
Live on ITV
? The Samara Arena
? Capacity: 45,000
— FIFA World Cup ? (@FIFAWorldCup) May 26, 2018
TEAM NEWS AND POSSIBLE LINE-UPS: Costa Rica’s star keeper Keylor Navas missed training this week but is expected to start.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas; Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Johnny Acosta, Cristian Gamboa, Bryan Oviedo; David Guzman, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Christian Bolanos; Marco Urena
Serbia: Vladimir Stojkovic; Branislav Ivanovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Dusko Tosic, Aleksandar Kolarov; Nemanja Matic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic, Filip Kostic; Aleksandar Mitrovic
KEY FACT: These two sides have never met before
Match odds from bet365: COSTA RICA 19/5 DRAW 9/4 SERBIA 19/20
bet365 Pick: Serbia to win @19/20
ANDY SAYS: Serbia are going to win this for me, won’t be easy but fairly comfortable…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: Costa Rica have a great World Cup record but I think they might just lose this one…1-2
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – A hot talent and one who is set to rise rapidly up the Index
Brazil 19:00 Switzerland
Rostov Arena, Rostov
Live on ITV
? Rostov Arena
⚽️ 4 Group Matches
1 Knockout Match pic.twitter.com/Ekxzf9l95n
— World Cup Photos (@WC2018Photos) June 3, 2018
TEAM NEWS AND POSSIBLE LINE-UPS: Roberto Firmino is set to miss out on a place in the starting line-up with Gabriel Jesus set to partner Neymar.
Brazil: Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.
Switzerland: Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schaer, Akanji, Rodriguez; Behrami, Xhaka; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic.
KEY FACT: Brazil have won 16 of their 20 opening matches at the World Cup
Match odds from bet365: BRAZIL 2/5 DRAW 19/5 SWITZERLAND 17/2
bet365 Pick: Brazil to win and Under 2.5 goals @12/5
ANDY SAYS: For me Brazil have no problems, comfortable win once they break the Swiss down…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: I am not sure how good this Swiss team after, think Brazil could win well…3-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Neymar – Number one ranked played on the Index, and for good reason