Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Russia 2018: Top 10 FIFA World Cup games to watch in the group stage

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is steadily approaching, so grab your calendars and be ready to circle down some important dates. As always, there are tougher groups, easier groups and intriguing ones, and there are also numerous matches that already have fans of the sport salivating. Here are the top 10 games from the group stage that you need to be glued in front of a TV or mobile device to watch this summer (ordered by dates):

1. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, June 14 at 11 a.m. ET

It's the opening game at the cup, and you can't miss it. The openers are always fun because the host is playing and it's a chance for them to get off to a flying start or for the sky to start falling.

2. Portugal vs. Spain, June 15 at 2 p.m. ET

Arguably the tastiest match of the group stage, both teams feel that they can win the whole cup. You've got the 2010 World Cup champs in Spain and the reigning Euro 2016 winners with Cristiano Ronaldo. A lot of these players know each other so well, and it's always fun when neighboring countries and rivals get together.

3. Argentina vs. Iceland, June 16 at 9 a.m. ET

This could be Lionel Messi's last chance at winning the World Cup, and Argentina opens with tiny but fierce Iceland. Argentina should win, but they were also 0-0 against Iran in 2014 until Messi's late magic. Iceland has chance to pull off a shocker, though it isn't expected.

4. Mexico vs. Germany, June 17 at 11 a.m. ET

Probably the second best match-up of the group stage. If either team loses this one, pressure is on big time the rest of the group stage. A lot at stake.

5. Belgium vs. Panama, June 18 at 11 a.m. ET

Belgium is, again, a dark horse, but this is also Panama's first ever World Cup. It's always amazing to see the faces of the fans of such a small nation as they experience this for the first time. Panama probably won't do much, but they are just happy to be there.

6. France vs. Peru, June 21 at 8 a.m. ET

Peru has shown as much heart as any team in qualifying and have tons of speed in attack. They've gutted out some good results, like 0-0 at Argentina late in qualifying, and will be looking to do something similar here.

7. Uruguay vs. Russia, June 25 at 10 a.m. ET

Uruguay seems to almost always get paired with the tournament hosts, and they usually do a good job against them (2011 Copa America in Argentina and 2010 World Cup in South Africa come to mind). This could be the match Russia needs to win to get through.

8. Nigeria vs. Argentina, June 26 at 2 p.m. ET

The Super Eagles just crushed Argentina 4-2 in a friendly last month, but that wasn't a game that tells us much. It's still fun when they get together, and this is the fourth time out of the last five World Cups that they have been in the same group.

9. Mexico vs. Sweden, June 27 at 10 a.m. ET

Assuming El Tri doesn't beat Germany in the first game, this would be the one Juan Carlos Osorio's team has to have to get through. Mexico and Sweden will likely be fighting for second place, with this one the decider.

10. England vs. Belgium, June 28 at 2 p.m. ET

Both teams may have their fate sealed by this time, but they are going to want to try and avoid likely Poland or Colombia in the next round (I'd rather play Poland). These are two talented teams that haven't lived up to expectations, so they'll want to enter the knockout stage with momentum.

How to Watch the FIFA World Cup 2018 Live

For an entire month every four years, the FIFA World Cup dominates the sporting spotlight. And for both diehard or fair-weather soccer fans cheering on their country (or another one if theirs didn’t make the cut like the US men’s team), it’s an electrifying four weeks.
Here’s what you need to know about the World Cup 2018:

FIFA World Cup 2018

Russia is hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup. Games will take place across the country from Moscow to Sochi. The World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14 and ends on Sunday, July 15.
When is the first World Cup game of 2018
The first World Cup game of 2018 is between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and it begins at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. It’s the only match being played on Day One. The matches begin in earnest on June 15 with games between Spain and Portugal, Morocco and Iran, and Egypt and Uruguay.

What is the World Cup 2018 schedule?
The schedule can be found on the FIFA World Cup website. The 64 World Cup matches are broken up into two phases: the group phase and the knockout phase.
Teams have been organized into eight groups (A through H), during which they play teams from their group. Winners in those groups move onto the knockout phase. You can see the group phase matchups here and knockout phase dates and times here.

How to watch the World Cup 2018 on TV.

If you are watching from the U.S. and haven’t cut the cord, you have a few options, depending on your language preference. For English, World Cup games will be televised on Fox Sports and FS1 (a television schedule can be found here). If you want to watch in Spanish, the NBC Universal owned Telemundo and NBC Universo will broadcast games. (A schedule can be found here.) Fox Sports GO and are also streaming the games, and you can sign in via your TV provider to watch on the go.

How to watch the World Cup 2018 via a streaming device.

For those without cable or satellite television, you’ll be able to watch games through a streaming service that carries Fox, FS1 or Telemundo like Sling TV, YouTubeTV, FuboTV, DirectTV Now, etc. Though some like Sling and DirectTV Now offer short free trials, the aforementioned streaming services all require subscriptions, so you will need to shell out between $25 to $45 per month, depending on the package you get.
You’ll also need to make sure that whatever streaming service you sign up for is compatible with your cable box alternative — a Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku device, Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-Ray player, game consul, etc.

How to watch the World Cup 2018 without paying for a subscription?

There are several options if you are a cord cutter who doesn’t want to pay for a streaming service. First, you can buy a digital antenna, which should be able to pick up Fox and allow you to watch games on live TV. Second — though the games are airing early given the time difference — you can always look up local bars showing World Cup games. How much you spend on booze and bar food is up to you.

The World Cup 2018, beyond football fandom.

As previously mentioned the FIFA World Cup is also a huge business venture across industries. Despite the amount it takes to organize present a World Cup, FIFA can rake in a profit. During the 2014 Brazil games, FIFA brought in a revenue of $4.8 billion. The organization spent $2.2 billion and made $2.6 billion in profits. The overall revenue came from TV rights ($2.4 billion), sponsorships ($1.6 billion), and ticket sales ($527 million).