So...how about that first round?
Of the six favorites to win the tournament, only France and Belgium won their first games, which leaves a lot of good teams in jeopardy. We highlight the five games you need to watch as we enter the “Moving Day” stage of the opening round.
Portugal v. Morocco
Moscow, Wednesday @ 8:00am ET/ 5:00am PT, FS1
These two teams played exciting games and sit at opposite ends of a very tight group. Portugal was able to draw Spain in dramatic fashion thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick, while Morocco just couldn’t hold on after a 95th minute own goal saw them lose to Iran. Both teams need to win in order to improve their resumes and their chances to qualify for the group stage. Portugal’s flashy attack against Morocco’s stalwart defense should make for one of the better matchups this tournament.
France v. Peru
Ekaterinburg, Thursday @ 11:00am ET/ 8:00am PT, Fox
Les Bleus were able to clinch three points in a less-than-convincing win over Australia thanks to a late Paul Pogba volley. Peru played an exciting game against Denmark and proved to have a spark, but could not get the points to move from bottom of the table. France showed some shocking weaknesses including poor ball management and sloppy passing. This Peru team’s attacking front, headed by captain Paolo Guerrero, could exploit France’s glaring mistakes and make this group interesting.
Argentina v. Croatia
Nizhny Novgorod, Thursday @ 2:00pm ET/ 11:00am PT, Fox
Croatia top this group after dispatching Nigeria with patient play and phenomenal ball control which saw captain Luka Modric shine in midfield. Meanwhile, La Albiceleste left more questions than answers as Lionel Messi was unable to convert an important penalty to take all three points from Iceland. To put it bluntly: Argentina need to win this game or Messi could be leaving his last World Cup early.
Germany v. Sweden
Sochi, Saturday @ 2:00pm ET/11:00am PT, Fox
Who would’ve thought that Sweden would be atop the Group of Death after the first game? (If you raised your hand, you’re lying.) Die Mannschaft needs to pick up the pieces from their 1-0 loss to Mexico and get ready to face a Sweden team that committed twenty fouls against South Korea in their win yesterday. A draw will not be enough for the defending champions, as we are now reaching the do-or-die phase. A convincing win of at least three goals will see Germany hop the Blågult in one game.
Poland v. Colombia
Kazan, Sunday @ 2:00pm ET/11:00am PT, Fox
It’s Lewy versus James in a battle of Bayern stars in a game that many people thought would decide the winner of this group. Instead, two poor performances see both teams sitting at the bottom of the group. The team that wins this game could find a way back up the table and into the Round of 16. However, it’s hard to say who that would be after watching these two games.