The four-year countdown is over, the World Cup finally kicks off on Thursday and it promises to be yet another scintillating tournament.
Group H contains Poland, Colombia, Senegal and Japan.
Sportsmail’s MARTIN KEOWN gives his rundown of each team in Group H, including the manager, the man to watch out for, their strength and their biggest weakness.
FIFA ranking: 8 Odds: 22-1
World Cup best: Third (1974, 1982)
THE BOSS: Adam Nawalka
Former midfielder, 60, who played for Poland at the 1978 World Cup and sold cars before qualifying as a coach. Lost on penalties to Portugal in the Euro 2016 last eight.
THE STAR: Robert Lewandowski
Facing the Bayern Munich striker is the ultimate challenge for a defender. He is an interesting bet for the Golden Boot.
THE PROSPECT: Piotr Zielinksi
An attacking midfielder, 24, who is comfortable on either flank and a fixture in the Napoli side that pushed Juventus close in Serie A this season.
Having one of Europe’s best strikers is a big plus… but he needs help alongside him.
They are over-reliant on Lewandowski. Poland let a 2-0 lead slip against South Korea in March after he went off — having to battle to a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
Robert Lewandowski is the ultimate challenge for a defender and a Golden Boot contender
FIFA ranking: 16 Odds: 40-1
World Cup best: Quarter-finals (2014)
THE BOSS: Jose Pekerman
The Argentine’s side were the surprise package in Brazil four years ago, reaching the quarter-finals.
THE STAR: James Rodriguez
Announced himself to the world in 2014 when he scored six goals to win the Golden Boot. After two seasons of struggle at Real Madrid, the 26-year-old bounces into Russia after a successful campaign with Bayern Munich.
THE PROSPECT: Yerry Mina
Game-time was limited for the Barcelona centre back, 23, this season… but now he can prove why he should start.
Firepower. Radamel Falcao has put nightmare spells in England with Manchester United and Chelsea behind him with 54 goals in the last two seasons for Monaco.
Inconsistency. Scraped over the line to qualify then in March followed up a win over France by drawing 0-0 with Australia.
James Rodriguez announced himself to the world in 2014, scoring six to win the Golden Boot
FIFA ranking: 27 Odds: 175-1
World Cup best: Quarter-finals (2002)
THE BOSS: Aliou Cisse
The former Birmingham and Portsmouth midfielder captained Senegal to the quarterfinals in 2002. Now he is at his first World Cup as a manager having spent two years coaching the Under 23 side.
THE STAR: Sadio Mane
The forward terrifies defenders with his blistering pace in Liverpool’s fearsome front three with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino.
THE PROSPECT: Keita Balde
The Spanish-born Monaco winger will use his pace to cut in from the left. The 23-year-old scored eight goals in 19 starts in Ligue 1 this season.
A strong spine including Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye. Five of their midfielders play in England, including captain Cheikhou Kouyate at West Ham.
I’m interested to see how Mane plays without Salah and Firmino. There will be pressure on his shoulders to supply the firepower for Senegal.
Sadio Mane terrifies defenders with his blistering pace in Liverpool’s fearsome front three
FIFA ranking: 61 Odds: 300-1
World Cup best: Last 16 (2002, 2010)
THE BOSS: Akira Nishino
Must find his feet quickly, replacing Vahid Halilhodzic, who was fired two months before the tournament.
THE STAR: Shinji Kagawa
Dortmund and former Manchester United star will be expected to pull the strings in midfield.
THE PROSPECT: Yoshinori Muto
The striker, 25, who studied economics at university, has been linked with Newcastle. Key strength The creativity of Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.
Squad heads to Russia unsettled after changing manager in April.
Former Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa will be expected to pull the strings in midfield
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.