World Cup 2018: Five Group Stage Match­es to Watch

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick­ing off, we’re pre­view­ing the group stage match­es you should add to your calendar.

World Cup 2018: Five Group Stage Match­es to Watch

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick­ing off, we’re pre­view­ing the group stage match­es you should add to your calendar.

As the 2018 edi­tion of the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Moscow, the biggest stars in world foot­ball take cen­ter stage in the world’s biggest tournament.

Much hype sur­rounds this year’s tour­na­ment, due in large part to the slate of games on tap. With all eyes on the games best square, clear your sched­ule for these five games that you won’t want to miss.

Spain v Por­tu­gal — Fri­day, June 15 (7pm BST, 2pm EDT)

The sec­ond match of Group B sees the EURO 2016 cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal against their neigh­bors in the east Spain, the 2010 World Cup champions. 

Bal­lon d’Or win­ner, and arguably the great­est play­er in the world, Chris­tiano Ronal­do leads the line for a young por­tuguese side look­ing to take the momen­tum they gained from win­ning their first major tro­phy into their open­ing match against their bit­ter rivals. They’ve nev­er fin­ished high­er than third in the world cup, and haven’t made it past the round of 16 in each of the last two cups. 

On the oth­er side, the some­what aging Span­ish squad is look­ing the right the ship after their ear­ly exit in the 2014 World Cup, which saw them elim­i­nat­ed after the group stage, their ear­li­est exit since 1998. The squad fea­tures many famil­iar faces — the likes of Ser­gio Ramos, Andres Ini­es­ta, David Sil­va, Koke and Diego Cos­ta all feature. 

We’ll have post match analy­sis with more details on the match com­ing soon. 

Brazil v Cos­ta Rica — Fri­day, June 22nd (1pm BST)

Brazil is look­ing to evis­cer­ate mem­o­ries of their stun­ning defeat in the 2014 World Cup at the hands of Ger­many this sum­mer. The 2018 edi­tion of the Seleção is one of the deep­est, most tal­ent­ed squads in the field. They are loaded at every sin­gle posi­tion and it’s easy to see why they are many experts’ pick to win this year’s tournament. 

Ney­mar is the biggest name, but don’t for­get they also fea­ture Rober­to Firmi­no, Dou­glas Cos­ta and Gabriel Jesus up top. And their mid­field is no slouch either — with Countin­ho, Willian, Casemiro and Fer­nand­in­ho all expect­ed to start. 

They’re expect­ed to run through the group stage, so tune into this one against a tough Cos­ta Rica side, which qual­i­fied on the final day of the CON­CA­CAF hexag­o­nal, elim­i­nat­ing the Unit­ed States from the competition. 

Ger­many v Swe­den — Sat­ur­day, June 23rd (7pm BST, 2pm EDT)

The Ger­man side is tal­ent­ed in their own right as well, with world-class play­ers at every posi­tion and a world-class coach to lead them. All-time lead­ing scor­er Miroslav Klose will not be a part of this year’s tour­na­ment, and gold­en boy Mario Goet­ze, who scored the win­ner in 2014, also missed out on the squad. So the pro­duc­tion will need to come from else­where. Look for Tomas Muller to take the reins along­side Mar­co Reus and Mesut Ozil. The defend­ing cham­pi­ons Ger­many are seek­ing to repeat for the first time since Brazil in 1962.

The Swedes will have to find pro­duc­tion from some­where, as Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic will not fea­ture for the Blågult.They make their return for the first time since 2006, where they were knocked out by Ger­many in Munich. So this matchup will sure­ly fea­ture a few fireworks. 

We’ll have all the analy­sis of this matchup right here fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the match. 

Aus­tralia v Peru — Thurs­day, June 26th (4pm BST, 11am EDT)

Assum­ing France plays up to their poten­tial, the sec­ond spot in Group C could very well be up for grabs in this one. So antic­i­pate the final group stage match between these two sides to be an end-to-end match with plen­ty of chances between the sides. Both teams will need all three points to have a shot advanc­ing to the knock­out round. 

Eng­land v Bel­gium — Thurs­day, June 28th (7pm BST, 2pm EDT)

This is arguably England’s most tal­ent­ed squad to fea­ture in the World Cup since 2002. They are young, dynam­ic and pacey, and under Gareth South­gate they look to final­ly have solid­i­fied a style that suits the tal­ent of the ros­ter. Raheem Ster­ling is one of the sides most cru­cial fea­tures, and he will lead a line that fea­tures lead­ing goal scor­er Har­ry Kane and young­ster Mar­cus Rashford. 

But the Bel­gians are equal­ly as tal­ent­ed and equal­ly as dynam­ic as the young three lions squad. The same squad reached the quar­ter-finals in 2014 and will be look­ing to win the group. The Red Dev­ils are going to rely heav­i­ly on Eden Haz­ard, but will also look to Romelu Lukaku to shoul­der a lot of the goal-scor­ing load. 

This match is the biggest of England’s recent group stage fix­tures, and we’ll have more on this one fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion as well.

Make sure you fol­low us on Twit­ter for all the analy­sis on some of the biggest match­es from the group stage.