Who among us really has the time to complete the “64-Game Challenge?”
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will begin Thursday in Russia with the first of 64 international soccer games that will take place over the next month. Total global viewing audiences will be in the billions with some games, the World Cup final for example, drawing numbers that might near the 10-figure mark on their own.
A fortunate few will complete the challenge but what about those who can’t realistically watch every World Cup game? How does he or she decide which to catch and which to miss?
We’re here to help.
Just 16 of the 64 games will be in the knockout phase. Don’t miss any of them. As for the other 48, we’ve identified the best of the bunch below.
Portugal vs. Spain at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 15, on FOX, Telemundo
The world gasped collectively when FIFA drew these teams into Group B, and the matchup instantly became the most highly anticipated game among neutrals. Spain’s firing of head coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup only has added intrigue to the game in which Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will attempt to lead his homeland past the country in which he lives and works … alongside a number of Spain’s players.
Croatia vs. Nigeria at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 on FS1, Telemundo
The so-called “Group of Death” should be fun for neutrals and teams that survive Group D. We expect Argentina to lead the way, with either Croatia or Nigeria finishing second. This contest will go a long way toward deciding which side progresses to the knockout phase.
Germany vs. Mexico at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 17, on FS1, Telemundo
The latest instance of Mexico’s quest for the quarterfinals couldn’t have a more difficult start. A moral victory over the reigning world champion would be nice for Mexico. A tangible point or three from the Group F opener would be even better for “El Tri.”
France vs. Peru at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 21, on FOX, Telemundo
Having qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years, Peru isn’t in Russia just to make up the numbers. France, one of the favorites to win the World Cup, will test the underrated South Americans in the middle game of Group C play … and vice-versa.
Nigeria vs. Argentina at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, on FOX or FS1, Telemundo
Nigeria’s 4-2 win over Argentina last November in an exhibition game wasn’t too significant until FIFA drew the familiar foes into Group D. The 2018 contest will be the two teams’ fifth World Cup meeting, which is amazing since Nigeria has competed at just six World Cups.
Senegal vs. Colombia at 10 a.m., on Thursday, June 28, on FOX or FS1, Telemundo
Group H might be the most competitive and unpredictable of the groups. Colombia should top it, but a slip against a dangerous Senegal could create chaos on the last day of the group stage.
England vs. Belgium at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, on FOX or FS1, Universo
This game is every Premier League fan’s dream, as most of Belgium’s team plays in England’s top flight. The Three Lions and Red Devils will be rivals to win Group G, and this game should determine bragging rights and knockout-round positioning.
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