1. 2018 will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, 88 years after the initial tournament in Uruguay (1930) and for the first time in Russia.
2. 32 countries will compete in the 2018 World Cup, with Iceland and Panama making their debuts in the competition. Slovakia were the last team to make it past the group stage on their debut in 2010.
3. The tournament will take place in 12 stadiums across 11 cities. Moscow is the only city with two arenas (Luzhniki and Spartak).
4. Since 1986 (included), the world champion came first in the group stage.
5. Other than South Africa (2010), all hosts have reached the second round. In 30% of cases (6/20), they have been champions (the last was France in 1998).
6. All World Cups have been won by European (11) or South American (9) sides.
7. Brazil has won the World Cup more than any other side, with 25% of the titles (5/20). It is also the only country to have competed in every competition.
8. There have only been four times when a team has won all of their games at a World Cup (Uruguay, 4/4 in 1930), Italy (4/4 in 1938) and Brazil (6/6 in 1970, 7/7 in 2002).
9. Germany will hope to be the first national team to win back to back World Cups since Brazil in 1962. Only Brazil (5) have more titles than Germany (4).
10. The last two reigning champions were knocked out in the group stages: Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
11. Portugal are aiming to be the fourth team to win the European Championships and the World Cup consecutively, like West Germany (Euros 72, World Cup 74), France (World Cup 98, Euros 00) and Spain (Euros 08, World Cup 10, Euros 12).
12. Italy failed to qualify for the first time since 1958, being the only one of eight teams to have won the competition who won’t compete in Russia.
13. Mexico has qualified without winning the trophy more than any other country (16 times).
14. Switzerland are the only country to avoid conceding in a World Cup campaign, with no goals conceded in 4 games in 2006.
15. 11 of the 62 games England have played in World Cups have ended 0-0, more than any other team.
16. Brazil has had the most red cards in the history of the competition (11), with Argentina (10) and Uruguay (9) not far behind.
17. Peru, who competed in the first World Cup, will play in the competition for the first time since 1982, the longest absence of any side that will be in Russia.
18. The record for most goals in the competition
stands at 171 (in 1998 and 2014), while that with least goals from 64 games is 145 (in 2010).
19. Germany has scored the most goals in the last three World Cups (14 in 2006, 16 in 2010, 18 in 2014).
20. The most goals in a single World Cup match occurred on June 26, 1954: Austria beat Switzerland 7-5.
21. Frenchman Just Fontaine still holds the record for the most goals scored in a World Cup (13, in 1958), while Russian forward Oleg Salenko has bagged more than any other in a single World Cup match: five goals against Cameroon, on 28 June 1994.
22. Among the current players, Thomas Muller has the most World Cup goals, with 10 (5 in each of the last two tournaments); He is six goals shy of all-time top scorer Miroslav Klose (16).
23. Thomas Müller also holds the record for assists in World Cups amongst current players (6); only Diego Maradona (cool, Grzegorz Lato and Pierre Littbarski (7) can boast more assists than him since 1966.
24. The last player to reach ten goals in a single World Cup was Gerd Müller, in 1970; since then, the best has been Ronaldo in 2002 (cool.
25. Miroslav Klose, Pelé and Uwe Seeler have all scored in four World Cups; the only players who could reach this landmark in Russia are: Tim Cahill, Rafael Marquez, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa.
26. The Mexican Antonio Carbajal and the German Lothar Matthäus have played in more World Cups (5) than any other footballer; only Rafael Marquez could reach this tally in Russia.
27. Every World Cup has been won by a coach who is the same nationality as his team.
28. Uruguay’s Oscar Washington Tabárez will be at his fourth World Cup; more than any other coach at Russia 2018 (he has six wins, three draws and six defeats in the competition).
29. Helmut Schön is the coach with the most matches in the history of World Cups, 25 and all with Germany.
30. Playing as Russia (not the USSR), the hosts have never managed to overcome the group stage in a World Cup (1994, 2002, 2014), finishing in third position on each occasion.
31. Germany were the only UEFA team to win all their qualifiers, and had the best goal difference (+39).
32. England will play their 15th World Cup, this being their sixth straight qualification, matching their best streak in the competition (between 1950 and 1970).
33. France have qualified for their 15th tournament and a sixth participation in a row, their best ever streak.
34. Spain conceded the joint fewest goals in the UEFA Qualifiers (three goals in 10 matches, just like England), and were one of the four undefeated sides (9W 1D), along with Belgium, Germany and England.
35. It will be the first World Cup for Roberto Martínez. He’s the first foreign coach to lead Belgium at a major competition since Doug Livingstone in Switzerland 1954.
36. Counting the records of Yugoslavia as well as Serbia and Montenegro, this will be the 12th World Cup for Serbia, but it is only their second participation as an independent country (as of 2010).
37. Sweden have kept a clean sheet in just three of their last 24 World Cup matches.
38. Switzerland reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the last time in 1954, when they were the hosts; since then, they have never passed the second round.
39. Poland have lost six of their last eight World Cup matches without scoring in any of those defeats; they have also let in at least one goal in each of those eight games (their last clean sheet coming in 1986).
40. Cristiano Ronaldo was the player who participated directly in the most goals (18) in the UEFA Qualifiers: 15 goals and three assists.
41. Croatia have lost the first game in their last three World Cups, the two most recent both against Brazil (2006 and 2014).
42. All of Denmark’s 27 goals at World Cups have come from inside the box.
43. Iceland are the country with the smallest population to ever compete at a World Cup, with 334,000 residents.
44. Brazil are the only side to have competed in every World Cup (21), have the most titles, 25% of tournaments, and the last to win back to back titles (1958 and 1962).
45. Only Bolivia (18) scored less goals than Argentina (19) in CONMEBOL qualifying.
46. Edinson Cavani was the top scorer in CONMEBOL qualifying with 10 goals for Uruguay.
47. James Rodriguez was the top scorer for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup and the 2018 qualifiers, being involved in eight of his country’s last 10 games in World Cup competitions, scoring six and assisting two.
48. Teofilo Cubillas has scored 10 and assisted two of Peru’s 19 World Cup goals (63%).
49. Mexico have been knocked out in the last-16 of the last six World Cups. They have only lost two of their last 17 group games (eight wins, seven draws).
50. Excluding penalties, Costa Rica were one of three unbeaten teams in the 2014 World Cup (alongside Germany and Holland).
51. Panama have qualified for their first World Cup. Slovakia were the last debutant to go beyond the group stages (2010).
52. No African country has qualified as often as Nigeria since their debut in 1994. 2018 will be their sixth World Cup.
53. Tunisia won their first World Cup game (3-1 vs Mexico June 2 1978) and has not won in any of their 11 games since (four draws, seven defeats). Bulgaria hold the record of 17 games without a win between 1962 and 1994.
54. Morocco wree the only country not to concede in the third round of CAF qualifiers for Russia 2018 (6 games).
55. Mohamed Salah was the top scorer in the third round of CAF qualifiers, scoring five of Egypt’s eight goals.
56. It will be the second major tournament for Aliou Cisse as a coach, after he reached the quarter final of the African Cup of Nations in 2017. As a player, he captained Senegal in their only World Cup (2002).
57. Five of the last eight goals scored by South Korea in the World Cup have come from outside the area. 12 of the last 13 have come in the second half.
58. Japan have only topped their group once: as hosts in 2002.
59. Tim Cahill has scored five of Australia’s 11 World Cup goals (45%). He’s one of nine players to have scored in the last three World Cups.
60. Iran have qualified for back to back World Cups for the first time in their history. They’ve never got beyond the group stage, winning just one of their 12 games, drawing three and losing eight. Their win was a 2-1 victory against USA in 1998.
61. Since qualifying for the World Cup, Saudi Arabia have fired two coaches: Bert van Marwijk and Edgardo Bauza.
62. Russia’s coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, played in the USA 1994 6-1 victory against Cameroon. In that match, Oleg Salenko scored five goals, a record in a World Cup game.
63. Only Brazil (21) have played more World Cups than Germany (19), this being their 17th consecutive.
64. Since winning the title in 1966, England have reached the semi-finals on only one occasion (1990), and have been the first in their group in only one of their last five tournaments (2006).
65. Scotland haven’t qualified for the World Cup.
66. None of the last 14 Spain matches in the World Cup ended in a draw (10W 4L).
67. Belgium have qualified for the 13th time in the World Cup, being the European country with the most participations outside the top 5 (Germany, Italy, Spain, England, France).
68. Serbia haven’t passed the group stage in their last two World Cups (2006, 2010), losing five of their last six games in that phase; with only one victory, against Germany in 2010 (1-0).
69. Since reaching the final in 1958 as the home team, Sweden have beaten the second round on only one occasion: in the USA, 1994, when they finished third.
70. It will be the second big competition for Vladimir Petković as coach of Switzerland, after having remained undefeated at EURO 2016 (1W 3D, eliminated by penalties).
71. Poland has qualified for their eighth World Cup, their first since 2006.
72. Portugal have lost one of their last nine group stage games (0-4 vs Germany in 2014), winning five and drawing three since.
73. There have been five red cards in Croatia’s last four World Cup games (three for Croatia, two for their opposition).
74. Denmark have qualified from the group stage in three of their last four World Cups, but have never gone beyond the quarter finals, which they only reached once in 1998.
75. Gylfi Sigurdsson was the top scorer (4) and played most games (10, equal to Birkir Saevarsson and Ragnar Sigurdsson) for Iceland in qualifying.
76. It will be Tite’s first World Cup since he took charge of Brazil in June 2016. In qualifying he racked up 41 points (12 wins, five draws, one loss), the best tally in CONMEBOL qualifying since Argentina’s 43 points to qualifying for 2002.
77. Since 1978, only Germany (5) have reached the final more than Argentina (4).
78. Uruguay were the first World Cup champions in 1930 and won it again in the second running of the tournament in 1950. However, they’ve only got beyond the last 16 once in their last six attempts (4th place in 2010).
79. None of the last 18 matches Colombia have played in a World Cup ended goalless. Only the USA (33) and Austria (29) have played more games without a 0-0.
80. Peru have qualified for their fifth World Cup after beating New Zealand in the play-off.
81. Mexico have qualified for their 16th World Cup; only Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina have qualified for more.
82. Costa Rica have qualified for their fifth World Cup, getting out of the group on two of their four attempts (1990 and 2014).
83. It will be Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez’s third World Cup, after coaching his native Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002 (knocked out of the group stage both times).
84. Nigeria have won only one of their last 12 games in the World Cup (three draws, eight defeats), beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in 2014.
85. Tunisia have kept just one clean sheet from 12 games (0-0 vs West Germany in 1978).
86. None of Morocco’s 12 World Cup goals have come from a set piece.
87. It will be Hector Cuper’s first World Cup as a coach, he was also coach of Egypt for the African Cup of Nations in 2017, losing the final 2-1 to Cameroon.
88. Senegal have qualified for their second World Cup, reaching the quarter final in 2002.
89. South Korea have qualified for their 10th World Cup, more than any other Asian country. They haven’t failed to qualify since 1986.
90. Japan have won just two of their last 11 World Cup games (three draws, six defeats): against Cameroon and Denmark in 2010.
91. Australia have only qualified from the group once, in 2006, when they were beaten in the last 16 by champions Italy.
92. It will be Carlos Queiroz’s third consecutive World Cup as a coach, the second in a row with Iran. His best campaign was with Portugal in 2010, when they were knocked out in the last 16 by future champions Spain.
93. Saudi Arabia have qualified for their firth World Cup, their first since 2006, finishing last in their group in all of their last three attempts.
94. It will be Julen Lopetegui’s first major competition as a coach, his only experience was as third choice goalkeeper with Spain at USA 1994 where he didn’t play.
95. France have only topped their group in two of the last nine times they have competed (1998 and 2014), and have won just three of their last 12 group stage games (five draws, four draws), against Togo, Honduras and Switzerland.
96. It will be Gareth Southgate’s first major competition as a coach. In 1998 he played two games for England at the World Cup.
97. 2018 is Joachim Low’s sixth major competition as Germany boss, reaching the semi-finals every time (2nd in Euro 2008, 3rd at South Africa 2010, semi-finalist at Euro 2012, champions in Brazil 2014, semi-finalist at Euro 2016).
98. The last eight Belgium goals at World Cups came after the 70th minute.
99. Henrik Larsson was the last Swede to score in the competition (vs England, June 20 2006) and is the country’s top scorer in the competition with five goals.
100. David Villa has scored nine of the last 20 Spain World Cup goals and is one of the nine players to have scored in the last three competitions.