P. J. Go | Mon 11/06/2018 - 09:27 EDT

Five Must-See Group Stage Matches at the FIFA World Cup 2018

Five Must-See Group Stage Matches at the FIFA World Cup 2018
With 32 countries and close to a hundred matches, it can get confusing paying attention to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Even the most hardcore fans need a break. Some matches mean more than others. We look at five of the biggest and best group stage match-ups. We factored in both skill and entertainment with significance and provided the full schedule and betting odds.

Top Five FIFA World Cup 2018 Group Stage Matches

The World Cup group stage spans two weeks from June 14 to June 28 with 96 total matches from 32 teams across eight groups. With all that’s happening, it’s tough to keep up and pay attention. We compiled five of the best group stage matches taking into consideration the level of competition, the significance of the match, and the potential results complete with date, time, and betting odds. All odds courtesy of Sports Interaction.

Spain vs Portugal

  • GROUP B
  • June 15 (Fri)
  • 2:00 PM ET

The Iberian heavyweights go head-to-head right away with the winner most likely going on to win the group. Spain is favoured to win at -118, underdog Portugal is at +345 and a draw at +240. 

Portugal won Euro 2016 and has the best player in the group in Cristiano Ronaldo but Spain has on their last two meetings in major international tournaments most recently beating them in penalties during Euro 2012. La Furia Roja is more talented on paper but Portugal makes scoring difficult for both sides. 

Despite a change in rosters, both teams still play a similar style last time they met. The Spaniards will control the tempo with their fluid ball control while Portugal will look to disrupt them and capitalize on the few scoring opportunities they get. With Ronaldo as the only viable scoring threat, it’s hard to see how they score.

The most likely result here is a 1-0 victory for Spain or a 1-1 draw. Lean on Spain to edge Portugal and also look to bet the under +2.5 goals at -175.

Spain (-118)

Argentina vs Croatia

  • GROUP D
  • June 21 (Thu)
  • 2:00 PM ET

Expect intense high-level football when these Group D frontrunners clash in their second match. Argentina is favoured at -108 while Croatia is +309 to pull off the upset. A draw is +236.

Argentina and Croatia are both brimming with talent. The South Americans have the best forwards led by prolific scorers like Lionel Messi but Croatia boasts elite playmakers like Ivan Rakitic. Despite all this talent, scoring might be hard to come by thanks to Croatia’s ball-dominant midfield.

Nine of Croatia’s last ten games have gone under +2.5 goals making the under bet at -154 in this spot worth a look. Despite all their talent, Argentina struggles to score. They only scored eight goals last tournament with Messi accounting for half of them. Croatia is explosive but has yet to beat a top-tier nation.

Croatia has the talent but have a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot. Argentina will find a way to grind out a victory backed by more poised players and a better goalkeeper. They should edge Croatia 1-0.    

Argentina (-108)

Germany vs Sweden

 

  • GROUP F
  • June 23 (Sat)
  • 2:00 PM ET

This will be a tougher test for Germany than odds indicate. Germany is heavily favoured at -248 while Sweden is a +678 underdog to win. A draw is +354.  

Sweden returns to the World Cup for the first time since 2006 and they have a veteran squad mixed with exciting playmakers and savvy defenders. While they don’t have Germany’s star power, they are arguably just as technical and disciplined as the defending champions.

The last two times these teams met, they drew 4-4 in the 2012 World Cup qualifiers and Germany edged Sweden 3-5 in 2013. The over +2.5 goals at -119 seems like a gimme bet especially if either team doesn’t get a win in their first matches, forcing them to push the attack more. 

Germany is the better team on paper but Sweden has the style to frustrate them. With an ageing group, the Swedish know this is do-or-die for them. They are hungrier and give the Germans a run for their money. A draw is a likely outcome. Alternatively, a double-chance on Draw/Sweden is +151.  

Draw (+354)

Poland vs Colombia

 

  • GROUP H
  • June 24 (Sun)
  • 2:00 PM ET

Expect fireworks when two elite goalscorers go head-to-head in the match that could decide the group’s winner. Colombia is a slight favourite at +136 while Poland is +216. A draw is +212.

Both squads have one thing in common: prolific goal-scoring. Poland is led by Robert Lewandowski who is on a tear with 35 goals in his last 34 international apps starting in 2014. James Rodriguez won the golden boot in Brazil and will be supported by fellow goal-scoring phenom Radamel Falcao.

The over +2.5 goals is +126 and is a tasty bet considering both squads are heavy on the front but lacking at the back. Colombia is better-rounded and more experienced and the Poles have an unproven defence.

Colombia is better on paper but not significantly. Lewandowski has little support but his game-breaking ability can’t be ignored. These teams will fire on all cylinders. Back the underdogs to edge Colombia 2-1.  

Poland (+216)

Belgium vs England

 

  • GROUP G
  • June 28 (Thu)
  • 2:00 PM ET

The two World Cup dark horses meet to conclude the group stage in what could be a fun if not watered down game depending on how things shake up in the first two matches. Belgium is slight favourites at +143 with the comeback on England at +190. A draw is +229.

Belgium has an embarrassment of riches, especially on offence. Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard are world-class forwards who could both lead the World Cup in scoring. England has a balanced core led by Harry Kane, who is a bit hampered by injuries but still dangerous.

Since this is their last group match, both teams could have already qualified with wins over Tunisia and Panama making the under +2.5 goals bet at -111 one to poach.

This is almost a coin-flip but Belgium should win based on talent. Although the bet to make is a draw as both teams play conservatively.

Draw (+229)

FIFA World Cup 2018 Broadcast in Canada

These aren’t the only great matches around and World Cup fans can tune in to CTV, RDS, and TSN to see the rest. Likewise, online sportsbooks let Canadians bet on all games with countless options including live betting.

Date Broadcast Start Time (ET) Network
Thursday, June 14 Russia vs. Saudi Arabia 10am TSN/CTV
Thursday, June 14 Highlight Show 1:30pm TSN
Thursday, June 14 Match Of The Day 11pm TSN2
       
Friday, June 15 Egypt vs. Uruguay 7am TSN
Friday, June 15 Morocco vs. Iran 10:30am TSN
Friday, June 15 Portugal vs. Spain 1:30pm TSN
Friday, June 15 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Friday, June 15 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN2
       
Saturday, June 16 France vs. Australia 5:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 16 Argentina vs. Iceland 8:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 16 Peru vs. Denmark 11:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 16 Croatia vs. Nigeria 2:30pm TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 16 Highlight Show 5:30pm TSN
Saturday, June 16 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN2
       
Sunday, June 17 Costa Rica vs. Serbia 7am TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 17 Germany vs. Mexico 10:30am TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 17 Brazil vs. Switzerland 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 17 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Sunday, June 17 Match Of The Day 6pm TSN2
       
Monday, June 18 Sweden vs. Korea Republic 7am TSN
Monday, June 18 Belgium vs. Panama 10:30am TSN
Monday, June 18 Tunisia vs. England 1:30pm TSN
Monday, June 18 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Monday, June 18 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Tuesday, June 19 Colombia vs. Japan 7am TSN
Tuesday, June 19 Poland vs. Senegal 10:30am TSN
Tuesday, June 19 Russia vs. Egypt 1:30pm TSN
Tuesday, June 19 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Tuesday, June 19 Match Of The Day 8:30pm TSN
       
Wednesday, June 20 Portugal vs. Morocco 7am TSN
Wednesday, June 20 Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia 10:30am TSN
Wednesday, June 20 Iran vs. Spain 1:30pm TSN
Wednesday, June 20 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Wednesday, June 20 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Thursday, June 21 Denmark vs. Australia 7am TSN
Thursday, June 21 France vs. Peru 10:30am TSN
Thursday, June 21 Argentina vs. Croatia 1:30pm TSN
Thursday, June 21 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Thursday, June 21 Match Of The Day 11:30pm TSN
       
Friday, June 22 Brazil vs. Costa Rica 7am TSN
Friday, June 22 Nigeria vs. Iceland 10:30am TSN
Friday, June 22 Serbia vs. Switerland 1:30pm TSN
Friday, June 22 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Friday, June 22 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Saturday, June 23 Belgium vs. Tunisia 7am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 23 Korea Republic vs. Mexico 10:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 23 Germany vs. Sweden 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 23 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Saturday, June 23 Match Of The Day 6pm TSN2
       
Sunday, June 24 England vs. Panama 7am TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 24 Japan vs. Senegal 10:30am TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 24 Poland vs. Colombia 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Sunday, June 24 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Sunday, June 24 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Monday, June 25 Uruguay vs. Russia 9:30am TSN
Monday, June 25 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt 9:30am TSN2
Monday, June 25 Iran vs. Portugal 1:30pm TSN
Monday, June 25 Spain vs. Morocco 1:30pm TSN2
Monday, June 25 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN/TSN2
Monday, June 25 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Tuesday, June 26 Denmark vs. France 9:30am TSN
Tuesday, June 26 Australia vs. Peru 9:30am TSN2
Tuesday, June 26 Nigeria vs. Argentina 1:30pm TSN
Tuesday, June 26 Iceland vs. Croatia 1:30pm TSN2
Tuesday, June 26 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN/TSN2
Tuesday, June 26 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Wednesday, June 27 Korea Republic vs. Germany 9:30am TSN
Wednesday, June 27 Mexico vs. Sweden 9:30am TSN2
Wednesday, June 27 Serbia vs. Brazil 1:30pm TSN
Wednesday, June 27 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica 1:30pm TSN2
Wednesday, June 27 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN/TSN2
Wednesday, June 27 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Thursday, June 28 Senegal vs. Colombia 9:30am TSN
Thursday, June 28 Japan vs. Poland 9:30am TSN2
Thursday, June 28 England vs. Belgium 1:30pm TSN
Thursday, June 28 Panama vs. Tunisia 1:30pm TSN2
Thursday, June 28 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN/TSN2
Thursday, June 28 Match Of The Day 11:30pm TSN2
       
Saturday, June 30 1C vs. 2D 9:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 30 1A vs. 2B 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Saturday, June 30 Highlight Show 11:30pm TSN2
Sunday July 1 Match Of The Day Midnight TSN2
       
Sunday, July 1 1B vs. 2A 9:30am TSN/CTV
Sunday, July 1 1D vs. 2C 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Sunday, July 1 Highlight Show 9pm TSN
Sunday, July 1 Match Of The Day 9:30pm TSN
       
Monday, July 2 1E vs. 2F 9:30am TSN
Monday, July 2 1G vs. 2H 1:30pm TSN
Monday, July 2 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Monday, July 2 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Tuesday, July 3 1F vs. 2E 9:30am TSN
Tuesday, July 3 1H vs. 2G 1:30pm TSN
Tuesday, July 3 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Tuesday, July 3 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Wednesday, July 4 Match Of The Day 3pm TSN
Wednesday, July 4 Match Of The Day 10pm TSN
       
Thursday, July 5 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN2
       
Friday, July 6 Quarterfinal 1 9:30am TSN
Friday, July 6 Quarterfinal #2 1:30pm TSN
Friday, July 6 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Friday, July 6 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Saturday, July 7 Quarterfinal 3 9:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, July 7 Quarterfinal 4 1:30pm TSN/CTV
Saturday, July 7 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Saturday, July 7 Match Of The Day 5pm TSN2
       
Sunday, July 8  Match Of The Day 4pm TSN
Sunday, July 8  Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Monday, July 9 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Tuesday, July 10 Semifinal 1 1pm TSN/CTV
Tuesday, July 10 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Tuesday, July 10 Match Of The Day 8pm TSN
       
Wednesday, July 11 Semifinal 2 1pm TSN/CTV
Wednesday, July 11 Highlight Show 4:30pm TSN
Wednesday, July 11 Match Of The Day 9:30pm TSN
       
Thursday, July 12 Match Of The Day 3pm TSN
       
Friday, July 13 Match Of The Day 3pm TSN
       
Saturday, July 14 3rd Place Match 9:30am TSN/CTV
Saturday, July 14 Highlight Show 12:30pm TSN
Saturday, July 14 Match Of The Day 4pm TSN
       
Sunday, July 15 Final 10am TSN/CTV
Sunday, July 15 Highlight Show 2pm TSN
Sunday, July 15 Match Of The Day 7:30pm TSN

Category : Picks and Parlays

Tag : Fifa , Football , Soccer , World cup

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