The Russian reaction to the tournament should be fascinating to observe.
Ticket sales have been slow, the team looks average at best, and the pitch in St Petersburg’s new World Cup stadium does not look fit for purpose.
A recent friendly against Chile saw a 1-1 draw played out in a half-empty stadium, and it certainly doesn’t seem as if football fever has gripped Moscow.
FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Russia was controversial at the time, and as with the Confederations Cup in Brazil four years ago, it appears protests might take place in the host cities.
On the pitch, Russia will be hoping to put down a marker before next year.
The last two World Cup hosts suffered humiliating results in their respective tournaments, partly due to poor planning, so Russia will be looking to avoid a similar fate.
This will be their last chance of competitive football before the World Cup, so they will be keen to impress here.
At least their opening game against New Zealand gives them a chance of a good start.
It is effectively a Germany B team heading to Russia, but many believe they still might be better than the other seven nations’ best XIs.
Trophy aside, Joachim Löw must be hoping that his youngish players will be motivated enough by the prospect of winning a place in the squad for the real deal next year.
For those unfamiliar with the Bundesliga, this could be a first chance to see some fresh and exciting talent.
Forward Timo Werner and attacking midfielder Kerem Demirbay have had excellent seasons with RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim respectively, and they’ll both be hoping to carry that form over to the national team.
The best player in the world?
Love him or hate him, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal-scoring record is incredible, and few would argue that he is the best player at this tournament.
The last fourteen months or so have seen him achieve remarkable success for both club and country, and you know that he is always hungry for more.
Coming into this competition looking fresher than he has ahead of previous summer tournaments, Ronaldo surely owes his club manager Zinedine Zidane for using him more sparingly and wisely, especially as the Portuguese is now well into his thirties.
It was the number 7’s brilliance that helped Real Madrid beat Juventus in the UEFA Champions League earlier this month, and it would be no surprise to see him and Portugal in the final of this competition too.
Portugal’s superstar famously limped off in the final of Euro 2016, so he will doubtless be very keen to be the main man and take all the glory for himself this time around, as well it being another chance for him to stake his claim as being the greatest player on the planet.
Can Mexico’s manager redeem himself?
Juan Carlos Osorio is said to be haunted by last year’s 7-0 loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario: a record defeat that ensures the Mexican public remain sceptical of him.
Since that embarrassing night in California, Mexico have dominated CONCACAF, and El Tri are all but qualified for Russia 2018 with four games to go.
However, question marks remain on how effective they are against better sides.
Osorio is a fascinating character, heavily influenced by Marcelo Bielsa — he phoned the Argentine for advice after the 7-0 as he tried to come to terms with what had happened.
The two men chatted for hours on long walks in a small town in the south of Brazil over a number of days. According to the Mexican, Bielsa gave him lectures on the beautiful game, and Osorio went away re-energised.
More silverware on the cards for Chile’s golden generation
Over the past couple of years, Chile have deservedly won two successive Copa America titles, despite both finals going penalties against Argentina.
They will now want to test themselves on a more global stage again, and their matches against European sides will provide them with a different kind of challenge.
A draw against Russia and a surprise 3-2 defeat against a poor Romania mean La Roja are still yet to win outside of Chile since winning the Centenario in the USA.
They’ll be hoping to put that right in their opening match against Cameroon on Sunday.
Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez are two of the best players in the world in their respective positions, and much of the talk will invariably be about them, especially as the pair of them are subject to much transfer speculation at the moment, with Sanchez being the most likely to move.
What really makes Chile worth watching is their cohesion and fluidity; this is a side that has grown together over the best part of a decade.
Many commentators expect them to fade soon, and this tournament may prove to be their last (realistic) shot at glory.
Be sure to check out our Confederations Cup Preview podcasts for more information as our experts from across the globe analyse each and every team.