Over the years there have been some cracking opening games to the World Cup, either with favourites falling to a shock defeat or a goal-fest between two powerhouses.
With the World Cup starting today, we’ve picked our top five favourite World Cup opening games of all time – enjoy!
Fingers crossed Russia vs Saudi Arabia can live up to these…
5. 1982 – Argentina vs Belgium
Back in 1982, Belgium were not as highly regarded in the world of international football as they are today. Their opening game for the Diables Rouge in Spain was against Argentina, who were favourites to win the competition.
The Belgians were dogged in their approach, and for the most part managed to keep Diego Maradona quiet for 90 minutes.
Belgium took the lead against the Argentines through a clever finish from Erwin Vandenbergh, and the Red Devils hung on for a shock victory over the favoured La Albiceleste.
Despite the defeat, it was the South American side who progressed further in the competition and four years later lifted the World Cup.
4. Argentina vs Cameroon 1990
Italy 1990 may go down as one of the best World Cups of all time, and it certainly had one of the best starts.
Argentina went into the game as reigning world champions, and faced a Nigeria side who at the time was completely unknown to the majority of the world. The Super Eagles had a clear tactic from the off: kick Argentina and their best player, Diego Maradona, out of the game.
In what was one of the dirtiest World Cup games in history, the Nigerians took the lead at the mid-way point of the second half through a header from Francois Omam-Biyik, which really should have been saved.
Amazingly the Nigerians held on to win the game 1-0 even after two of their players, Andre Kana-Biyik and Benjamin Massing, were sent off for consistent fouling.
3. Brazil vs Croatia 2014
Unlike in previous years gone by, the opening game of the 2014 World Cup promised to be a real battle between two nations that had the capabilities of going far in the competition as Brazil faced Croatia.
The hosts, cheered on by the overwhelming support of their fans, got off to the worst possible start as Real Madrid star Marcelo inadvertently knocked the ball into his own net with just eleven minutes on the clock.
The Blazers’ lead was short lived however, as Brazil’s talisman Neymar took the game by the scruff of the neck by scoring two goals to give the hosts the lead, with the latter coming from the penalty spot after Fred went down theatrically in the box.
Ex-Chelsea man Oscar finished the game with a toe-poke in the final minutes, and in doing so made sure that the hosts avoided what would have been a catastrophic start to their World Cup.
2. Germany vs Costa Rica 2006
It’s fair to say that the opening game at the World Cup in 2006 was a cracker. Hosts Germany faced Costa Rica at the Allianz Arena and in typical World Cup fashion there was a lorry load of goals.
It was Bayern Munich man Philipp Lahm who opened the scoring, curling in a beauty from just outside the Costa Rica box. Not soon after ex-Premier League star Paulo Wanchope equalised for the Costa Ricans.
All time World Cup leading goalscorer Miroslav Klose restored Germany’s lead before half time, and added a second after the break.
The scoring wasn’t finished there however, with Wanchope again adding his name to the score sheet late on, while Torsten Frings netted late on as the game finished 4-2 – a belter of an opener.
1. France vs Senegal 2002
Quite possibly the biggest opening game shock in World Cup history, as reigning World and European champions France lost 1-0 to Senegal in the summer of 2002.
France were without their talisman Zinedine Zidane for the game, and his presence on the pitch was missed as the French looked a shadow of their former selves.
Senegal scored what would be the winning goal in the first half, with former Fulham powerhouse Papa Bouba Diop scrambling the ball home after brilliant work from ex-Liverpool man El-Hadji Diouf.
The defeat left a mark on the French as they failed to get out of what was a relatively easy group, failing to score a single goal as they drew 0-0 with Uruguay before losing to Switzerland 2-0.