World Cup 2018 exclusive photos

World Cup 2018 Group Stage: CasinoHawks reports from Russia

The World Cup so far has been so full of surprises so far that it's got everyone on tenterhooks, not least those supporters who are lucky enough to be watching the action unfold live in Russia! Our colleague (and, we must say, an avid supporter of Sweden), Chris, is among this lucky bunch, and has already attended a couple of games, including the Group Stage matches between Sweden and South Korea and the one between Portugal and Morocco. On this page we'll be reporting what Chris had to say about the games he's watched so far, as well as about the spectators' reactions and expectations. So if you'd like to experience the World Cup from the viewpoint of a spectator/football expert, keep reading our exclusive World Cup updates below to find out exactly what's going on and what you can expect in the next days.

Did Morocco deserve better?

Morocco World Cup 2018


“I’ve just returned to my hotel room after watching Portugal defeat Morocco 1-0 together with nearly 80,000 spectators at the crowded Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. This is a result that, in all honesty, doesn’t truly reflect what has taken place during the match.

Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo was in the spotlight during this match, the player who apparently cannot fail to score a goal. Today, the 33-year old scored Portugal’s one and only goal after only four minutes into the game. Impressive, and most probably this isn’t the last goal we’ll see coming from Real Madrid’s key player. Morocco, on the other hand, failed to score.

Both Younes Belhanda and Nordin Amrabat in particular (in my opinion, the best-performing players during this match) posed a constant threat for Portugal, but the Moroccans lacked something when it came to tactics. To Boutaib’s defense though, it should be said that there’s probably no other striker in the world who can match Ronaldo.

The team's two defeats mean that Morocco is now out of the World Cup ahead of the last group game against Spain on Monday. A little sad, in my opinion. But at the same time this isn’t the first time in a World Cup that we have been charmed by an African team only to see it eliminated in the initial stages. Usually it is deemed to be due to the organization of the defense, but in Morocco’s case, this wasn’t the problem. It is the team’s offensive that was as outdated as it could get.

But in any case, Morocco has indeed left its mark on this World Cup, not least on the stands and in the streets of Moscow. Before the match, I took the route past Red Square to stumble across singing and dancing as early as 11 am. Even inside the arena, the Moroccan supporters stole the show. Like the players, they deserved a better outcome".

Senegal – one of the World Cup’s most underestimated teams

Moscow: "Before the match, I predicted that Senegal could very well be one of the tournament’s pleasant surprises. And after watching the team beat Poland 2-1 in today’s Group Stage match, I’m even more convinced. Senegal certainly know what they’re doing!

Following Sweden’s victory in Nizhny Novgorod, I arrived at an equally sunny and summery Moscow just before Poland’s World Cup match against Senegal in none other than Kim Källström's old home stadium - Spartak Stadium. This was a match that many, including myself, have described as a powerful duel between two key players, i.e. Robert Lewandowski and Sadio Mane.

Poland’s offensive was, in all honesty, non-existent and it’s understandable that the Polish fans openly expressed their dissatisfaction in the stands. For most part of the match, the team also found it difficult to get in possession of the ball and whenever they managed, both execution and action were too slow.

Senegal players celebrating - World Cup 2018


If Poland’s performance was a true disappointment, one can hardly say the same about their opponents. What I like about Senegal is their ability to combine speed with physics. That Sadio Mane is a first-class player is common knowledge, but this team can actually boast of much more than just this Liverpool star. From Koulibaly – one of Seria A’s best midfielders this season, to the relentless Gueye, to mention just two of its key players, Senegal is without any doubt a team capable of facing any other team in this World Cup.

Next, Japan is waiting for Senegal in Ekaterinburg on Sunday and three extra points will pave Senegal’s way onto the next stage for the first time in 16 years. Any other outcome would surprise me after witnessing this team’s efforts today.

Tomorrow I’m going to take the subway to the Luzhniki stadium to watch the European champions Portugal take on Morocco. Can Cristiano Ronaldo rescue his country after his hat trick against Spain? Given his current form, this is to be expected".

Portugal-Morocco current odds at LeoVegas Sport:

  • 1: 1.61
  • X: 3.75
  • 2: 6.50
  • Cristiano Ronaldo to score: 1.85

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Tuesday 19th June: No gameplay – but three points for Sweden!

Nizhny Novgorod: "Nope, this wasn’t simple. But it meant three points and it’s actually the only thing that matters in the World Cup Group stage. Now Sweden can dream of progressing beyond the Group Stage.

The tens of thousands of Swedish fans here under the sizzling summer at Nizhny Novgorod were loaded with song, beer and dance to the extent that they ran out of alcohol in the bars and restaurants in the great pedestrian street Bolshaia Pokrovskaia (!) A few hours before the match against South Korea kicked off.

In the first 10-15 minutes, the Swedish players could hardly even take control of the ball, which did not bode well overall, but there wasn’t really a single chance for a goal. The Swedish players’ nerves were at their worst when the half-time was over. The start of the second half was far from optimal, and a couple of sloppy balls would have meant a counterattack if the opponent had been Germany or Mexico. But after Sweden scored its puzzling goal on penalty in the 65th minute, things started to feel safer, although South Korea put on a really good fight towards the end of the game.

In the midst of all the celebration over these three points, we should still remember that in South Korea Sweden has faced what we consider to be possibly one of the two weakest teams along in Saudi Arabia. Germany in Sochi on Saturday will be quite a different story, but the Germans' shocking defeat when they played against Mexico certainly gives Sweden an edge – at least mentally. The worst thing that could happen would be an (expected) loss, and then they’ll be in good shape before their final match against Mexico".

World Cup 2018 interviews

NIZHNY NOVGOROD: "Good morning! Today at 15:00 local time it is finally time for Sweden's first Group Stage match against South Korea. Ahead of this important opening match in the World Cup I have decided to speak to a couple Swedish supporters. What do they have in common? They all believe in Sweden's potential, of course!

Interview with Samuel, 27 years, Switzerland

Samuel interview - World Cup 2018

Q: Where are you from? 

A: I'm not from Sweden, I live in Switzerland. 

Q: Why are you wearing the Swedish gear then?
A: My father is Swedish and has a Swedish passport. I didn't actually become a Swiss citizen until I turned 20.

Q: What is your favourite team in the World Cup? Switzerland or Sweden? 
A: It is hard to say. If Switzerland is doing well, I'm also happy. However, it would be tough to progress to the next stage.

Q: Who are you here with? 
A: I'm on my own.

Q: How long have you been here in Russia? 
A: I landed yesterday and plan to stay here for about two weeks. 

Q: How will you warm up for Sweden-South Korea on Monday?
A: I will probably go to the Fan Zone and drink something together with other supporters I met at the hotel. 

Q: What do you think of the World Cup atmosphere here in town? 
A: It's hard to say, because most Russians do not speak English. But there are many fans from other countries here too, so of course there will be a great vibe.

Q: Who will win the match on Monday? 
A: It is hard to say. Sweden has a very good defense but not such a great offensive. I think that Sweden will win by 1-0 or 2-0. 

Q: Who do you think shall score for Sweden? 
A: Emil Forsberg or Marcus Berg, any of them. 

Q: Who is your favorite Swedish player? 
Right now I would say Forsberg. 

Q: How far shall Sweden get in the World Cup?

A: I think they will survive the Group Stage, but then they will probably face Brazil and it will be tough. 

Q: Which team will win the World Cup? 
Germany seems strong and I believe in them. 

Q: Who will be the World Cup's top goalscorer? 
Thomas Muller will win again. 

Q: Which team will have most ball possession in Monday's match? 

Q: How many times will Ola Toivonen run offside? 
Haha, I have no idea. But maybe 4-5 times. 

Interview with Olivia, 17 years, from Stockholm

Olivia interview at the World Cup 2018

Q: Who are you here with? 
The family. 

Q:How long have you been here in Russia? 
We arrived here yesterday. 

Q: How will you warm up for the match on Monday? 
"We will put ourselves at different bars. 

Q: What do you think of the atmosphere here in town? 
It's awesome. 

Q: How will the match between Sweden and South Korea end? 
I think it will result in a 1-0 win for Sweden. 

Q: Who will score the goal? 
John Guidetti. 

Q: Who is your favorite player in Sweden? 
John Guidetti, because he is a great player.

Q: How far will Sweden go in the World Cup? 
They will reach the round of last 16. 

Q: Which team will win the World Cup? 

Q: Who will be the World Cup's top goalscorer? 

Q: Which team will get the most corners in the match between Sweden and South Korea? 

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Would you like more updates and insight directly from Russia? Visit our World Cup highlights section to learn about Chris's next adventure and to hear his opinion on the matches ahead of us!