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World Cup Preview: How To Watch, When It Starts, Favorites

Ryan Mayer

Summer is here, which means backyard cookouts, soaking up the sun and, this year, the world's biggest international tournament. The 2018 World Cup gets started in just over a week, and though the Americans won't be participating (don't get us started), there's a bounty of good soccer to watch on TV over the coming weeks. World Cup watch parties are likely to happen at an establishment near you, and here's what you need to know going in.

When Does It Start?

The first match will feature the hosts, Russia, taking on Saudi Arabia in Group A action in Moscow on Thursday, June 14th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Yes, for those of you on the West Coast, that is right at the start of your work day, while it's an excuse for and early lunch for soccer fans on the East Coast. This is the lone match of the day, before the full round robin of group play gets started on Friday.

How To Watch

The entirety of the 2018 World Cup tournament will be shown on FOX and its family of sports networks. For a full schedule of the times and channels of the various matches, you can head here.

Favorites To Win

The SportsLine oddsmakers have pegged Brazil and Germany as the biggest favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the month-long tournament, with the Brazilians being slightly ahead of the Germans. Germany, you'll recall, won the 2014 World Cup on Brazil's soil and stomped the Selecao 7-1 in the semifinals. You can bet that loss still rings fresh in the Brazilians' minds. As for the rest of the Top 5 favorites according to SportsLine's model:

Brazil 7/2

Germany 4/1

France 6/1

Spain 6/1

Argentina 7/1

The Argentinians, led by Lionel Messi, made it to the final last time out, falling just short, as Germany took home a 1-0 victory.


Part of the intrigue come World Cup time is the group stage and which teams surprise in qualifying for the knockout rounds. Below you'll find the groups laid out for this year's tournament.

Group A- Russia (host), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

Group B- Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Group C- France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

Group D- Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

Group E- Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Group F- Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Korea Republic

Group G- Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

Group H- Poland, Japan, Colombia, Senegal

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