Knappen seeking to enter World Cup history books

The ball is rolling, the 2018 World Cup has begun. On Thursday, the hosts Russia opened the tournament with a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia. On Friday, four Schalke internationals will be hoping to make their mark on football’s biggest stage.

Schalke’s dribbling king Amine Harit gets the Royal Blues underway on Friday as Morocco take on Iran. “Playing in a World Cup is very special, it doesn’t happen every year,” said the excited 20-year-old ahead of the tournament. “This chance only comes around every four years.” Morocco have been waiting even longer for such an opportunity as they haven’t participated in a World Cup since 1998, before Harit had even turned one.

Marko Pjaca will also be hoping for a good start on Saturday with Croatia against Nigeria. Four years ago, Croatia went out in the group stages while the Super Eagles made the knock-out stages. The reigning champions start on Sunday with the mission of defending their title. Germany will play Mexico in their opener, Leon Goretzka will hope to feature.

Straight afterwards, Breel Embolo and Switzerland will take on Brazil. Despite the tough start, the 21-year-old is optimistic: “We feel ready. Both friendlies went well for us. We know that we have to tweak a few things to go far in the tournament. Still, we’re ready to the World Cup full of confidence.”

The first round of group matches with Royal Blues in action:

Friday 15th June, 17:00, Saint Petersburg
Morocco vs. Iran

Saturday 16th June, 21:00, Kaliningrad
Croatia vs. Nigeria

Sunday, 17th June, 17:00, Moscow
Germany vs. Mexico

Sunday 17th June, 20:00, Rostov
Brazil vs. Switzerland

Tuesday 19th June, 17:00, Moscow
Poland vs. Senegal