Kick-off: Thursday June 21, 10pm Dubai time (9pm local time)
The undoubted underdogs of the group, Iran will rely heavily on the know-how of vastly experienced manager Carlos Queiroz.
The team will be buoyed by their impressive form during qualifying, where they put together an impressive ten-game unbeaten run to top South Korea by seven points.
Queiroz will know all about the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo, having managed him for both Portugal and Real Madrid, but unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to stop him.
Meanwhile, Spain look primed for a return to their glorious best after enduring a fallow period in their aftermath of their hat-trick of title wins (two European Championships and one World Cup) from 2008 to 2012.
Still the pass masters of world football, Spain remained unbeaten during qualifying and outlined their status as one of the favourites at Russia 2018 with a 6-1 demolition of Argentina in a recent high-profile friendly.
Promising to bring “the best football experience Dubai has ever seen”, Barasti will be launching two fan zones for the World Cup. The Barasti SuperDome will have giant screens, live DJs, room for 8,000 fans and more, right down on the beach. Meanwhile, the middle deck will have its air-conditioned tent and giant, 12-metre-wide screen as per usual, so there are two areas to choose from.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-1am; Thu-Fri 10am-2.30am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 318 1313).
This relaxed, poolside bar will be going big for the World Cup. Head along to Business Bay for a range of deals and promotions during the tournament. On top of the daily happy hour (offering food and drinks for Dhs30), you can get buckets of hops from Dhs159, a burger and a hops for Dh85 and a range of national cuisines during select matches from Dhs30. On top of that, correctly guess the score of the match and get two free drinks for the next game.
Open daily 10am-2am. DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay (04 551 1544).
Australia will be at the World Cup, so expect this place to be rammo for at least the first fortnight of the tournament. Found among the Shoreline apartments on the Palm, this Aussie-themed sports bar will do the trick. Home to some massive tellies, plus a decent brekkie and cracking burger, Palmies won’t be needing to head anywhere else for the month.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-midnight; Thu-Fri 10am-1am. Palm Jumeirah (04 427 0515).
Champions Sports Bar
Throughout the entire World Cup, this fantastic underground sports bar at the JW Marriott Dubai in Deira is offering a whopping great 50 percent off specially selected food and drink items from noon until 9pm every day. That’ll see you right for pretty much every game of the tournament (barring a few exceptionally late kick offs). With live music, pool and a whole bunch of neon lights, this is a darkened sports bar hidey hole at its best.
Open daily, noon-3am. JW Marriott Dubai, Deira (04 607 7977).
Fairmont The Palm Dubai’s World Cup Tent
A huge tent is being constructed at this top-notch hotel on the Palm – dedicated purely to showing every match of the World Cup. There’ll be two screens showing the games, and a range of promotions will be running throughout the month, along with a Dhs95 minim spend. Expect picnic benches, fake grass and all the other touches to make it feel like you’re in a proper fan zone.
Open throughout World Cup for fixtures only. Fairmont the Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 345).
With eight screens, a giant projector and a tonne of match day offers, Harvesters is running a fan zone for the tournament. Open every day from Thursday June 14 until Sunday July 15, the bar will be offering 20 percent off your bill if you’re wearing your team’s shirt, get five bottles of hops for Dhs110, and if you can correctly guess the score before kick-off, you’ll win some cool prizes.
Open daily noon-2am. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 276 963).
garden on 8
Media types who are looking for a quick escape from the office in time for kick off should leg it straight over to garden on 8, where the bar’s massive terrace will be covered over to create a special World Cup tent. With loads of screens (and one huge one) dotted around the terrace area, and with tonne of drinks promos, events and more to celebrate the tournament, you needn’t look further.
Open Sun-Wed noon-midnight; Thu-Sat noon-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).
It’s a crying shame that the Irish aren’t at this year’s World Cup (you can thank a Christian Eriksen-inspired Denmark for that), because this place would have somehow been even more awesome if the chaps from the Emerald Isle had made it to Russia. With more than 30 telly screens indoors and out (you might prefer indoor by the time summer rolls around), plus a whopping great projector at The Baggot, you will be hard pressed to find a better watering hole for the occasion.
Open daily noon-3am. Bonnington Hotel, Cluster J, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 378 0800).
Neighbourhood Social House & Eatery
Head over to Courtyard by Marriott, Greens Community, and you’ll be able to get your hands on some selected drinks for Dhs40 during happy hour from 6pm until 8pm with which to enjoy the game. Head over at 5pm for the day’s earlier kick off, and you’ll be able to enjoy the bar’s “power hour”, with another 20 percent taken off happy hour prices – coming in at a very reasonable Dhs32 each.
Open daily noon-2am. Courtyard by Marriott, Greens Community (04 885 2222).
Player Sports Lounge
This brand-new bar at the Sofitel Downtown recently opened, and there’s a good chance this sports bar has the best views of any sporty spot in the city. With screens available on practically every surface, you’ll always have a great view of the match.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am; Thu-Fri noon-3am. Sofitel Dubai Downtown, Downtown Dubai (04 503 6128).
If you’re after a sophisticated spot for catching the game, with some cool tunes, a decent 50 percent off happy hour, some bar sports and even a game of bowling while you watch the match, then look no further than The 44. This sports bar-meets-gentleman’s club at the Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City has a load of screens and tonnes going on.
Open daily noon-2am. Westin Dubai, Al Habtoor City (04 437 3333).
The Big Easy
Named after golfing legend Ernie Els, The Big Easy is going to be showing all the matches this year, and has got a Dhs125 minimum spend in place for the group stage matches. For the knockout stages it’ll be Dhs3459 per person, but on Tuesdays both guys and girls will be able to get five glasses of bubbly or mixed drinks for just Dhs100 from 5pm until 8pm.
Open Sun-Thu 5pm-11.30pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-3.30pm, 5pm-11.30pm. The Els Club, Dubai Sports City (04 425 1000).
The Tap House
This gastropub on the Palm Jumeirah’s Club Vista Mare is going all out for the World Cup. With one massive screen and loads of smaller tellies knocking about, the bar already has the hardware for it, but it’s also going to be running something called the Rewards Passport. Spend Dhs200 at the bar until the end of the tournament, and you’ll get 50 different special offers on food and drink to use daily during the World Cup until the final on Saturday June 15.
Open daily noon-2am. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 514 3778).
We think it’s the Best Sports Bar in Dubai – so much so that we gave it that very title at our Music & Nightlife Awards earlier this year. With dozens of screens dotted around this London Underground-themed pub in JBR, this is one spot where you’ll never miss a kick. There’s a strong daily happy hour (with drinks available for Dhs27), plus great grub, pool tables and more. With a huge projector screen in the middle of the bar, this will be one of the most popular spots in town during the tournament.
Open daily noon-3am. Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, JBR (04 408 4257).
Tr!BeCa Kitchen + Bar
This New York-inspired bar (based on the neighbourhood of the same name) is running a really cool promotion during the World Cup. You’d want to hope to be Brazilian or German, because throughout the tournament, Tr!BeCa is offering a free drink to everyone whose national team wins. Bring your ID to prove your nationality, and if your boys have only gone and done it, you’ll get a free bevvie.
Open daily noon-3am. JA Oceanview Hotel, JBR (050 345 6067).
This brand-new bar only opened a fortnight before the World Cup kicks off, so expect a super shiny finish and wide-eyed enthusiasm from all the bar staff. Not only will the bar have a special set of promotions running for the World Cup (coupled with what it’s calling the “longest happy hour on Sheikh Zayed Road”), but the bar will also serve a bunch of high-class bar snacks – think golden fries, and the like. With 11 screens in total,
Open daily noon-2am. Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316).
Head along to this lofty bar at the Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, where you’ll find some big screens ready to show the game. For every match during the tournament, you’ll be able to get unlimited select drinks during each match for Dhs150 per person. If all the action gets too much, head out on the terrace for some perfect views northwards towards Downtown Dubai.
Open daily 11am-2am. Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 377 2356).
Usually a nightclub, this JBR spot is transforming itself for match day throughout the tournament, and is giving away some big prizes too. Daily prizes are being given away include free entry to any chosen match day plus a free drink, ranging up to a table worth Dhs5,000 for ten people to enjoy the final. There’ll also be live entertainment after the last match of each day.
Open daily, 4pm-3am. Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, JBR (052 634 1040).