Tuesday's latest World Cup news
◆The World Cup kicks off in Moscow on Thursday
◆736 players from 32 teams are set to descend on Russia in the coming days
◆Gareth Southgate's England fly out later today
◆The Three Lions' first game is on Monday against Tunisia in Volgograd
The 2018 World Cup is nearly here with the eyes of the globe turning towards Russia.
It promises to be an action-packed, drama-filled month as 736 players from 32 nations arrive for a feast of football. Brazil, Spain and Germany arrive as tournament favourites with Gareth Southgate's England heading in with plenty of hope if not much expectation. They face Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday before taking on Panama and Belgium in Group G.
They jet out to their training base in Repino later today with the tournament kicking off in earnest on Thursday afternoon when the hosts face Saudi Arabia.
We will have all the latest news, views, pictures and video direct from Russia throughout the day as we build up to the biggest football tournament in the world.
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Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has played down injury fears over Eden Hazard after the Chelsea player limped out of Monday's 4-1 friendly win over Costa Rica.
Hazard, Belgium's captain, hobbled off in the 70th minute after taking a blow to the foot, but Martinez says the injury is not serious.
"Eden is okay, he had a little trouble, but it's nothing to worry about," Martinez said in his post-match press conference. "I really enjoyed his performance. He was sharp and strong, he was majestic."
Good morning and welcome to today's Independent World Cup blog.
The 2018 Fifa World Cup kicks off in Moscow in just a matter of days 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.
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