Between 1974 and 2002, the defending champions were always involved in the opening match. However, from 2006 to 2018, the previous winners no longer qualified automatically and so it was decided that the host nation should be involved in the opening match.
Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 at the last World Cup back in 2018, extending the unbeaten run of tournament hosts when playing on their home soil in the first fixture. The last time the first game featured teams that are non-host nations was back in 1998 when Brazil overcame Scotland 2-1 at Stade de France.
How the changes affect England
The revised schedule means that the World Cup would begin on November 20, as opposed to the following day.
As such, there will be one fixture to be played on that day between Qatar and Ecuador. On November 21, there will now be three games to be played instead of four.
While England’s game against Iran will technically now become the second match of the tournament, the changes will not impact their plans. Instead, their game will kick off at the same time as originally planned of 4pm local time (1pm GMT).