As Russia prepares to open the festivities for this year’s World Cup, we’re going to preview each group and discuss the exciting match ups to come. First up, Group A.

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

The Russians open up the tournament in Moscow with a match against Saudi Arabia. As hosts for the 2018 World Cup, Russia did not have to play in any qualifiers for the event. They did, however, play in a friendly against club side Dynamo Moscow, as well as International friendlies with Spain, Brazil and France, and Austria. Their final tune-up was with Turkey, who failed to qualify for the finals in Russia, and resulted in a 1-1 draw. Leaning on a strong effort from keeper Igor Akinfeev, the Russians look to start the tournament strong and emerge from Group A into the next round.

Saudi Arabia, in their first World Cup since Germany 2006, worked their way to the tournament through fixtures with Thailand, Australia, and Japan. The Saudi Arabian side earned their qualification through a hard-fought victory at home to the already-qualified Japanese side. Their qualification was quickly met with controversy, as manager Bert Van Marwijk who lead them to qualification, left his post in favour of Argentinian coach Edgardo Bauza. After only five matches in charge, Bauza was also relieved of his duties, to be replaced by Juan Antonio Pizzi, who previously lead Chile to the Copa America Centenario in 2016.

Egypt qualified for the campaign in exciting fashion, netting the go-ahead marker on a late penalty by Star Mohamed Salah. Salah, the core of this Egyptian side, is questionable to start the tournament after suffering an injury during the Champions League Final while playing for Liverpool. Through qualifiers with Chad, Ghana, and Uganda, the “Pharaohs” found themselves in qualifying position with a game still left to play. While aiming for a spot in the last 16, the Egyptians will be challenged to make it out of their group once the competition has started.

After failing to qualify for Germany in 2006, Uruguay has qualified for three-straight World Cup Tournaments. Skillful, and often controversial, Superstar Luis Suarez leads the 23-man roster alongside Paris Saint Germain’s Edinson Cavani. With wins in Bolivia and Columbia without their two stars, the Uruguayans had a promising start to their campaign. A 2-1 loss to Peru highlighted their defensive struggles, which were only reinforced during losses in their friendly matches with Ireland and Italy. After claiming their qualification with a win against Argentina, Uruguay play their final tune-up against Uzbekistan to prepare for the start of the tournament.