Groups E and F kick off on Wednesday as Spain, Germany and Belgium play their first matches of the tournament. Spain and Germany are favorites Group E should drop out. Can Japan or Costa Rica play a spoiler in the first matches? Belgium, meanwhile, will face Canada in the Canadians’ first World Cup game since 1986.
Morocco vs Croatia
5 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Will Croatia get a World Cup 2018 boost? An aging Luka Modric leads Croatia, who reached the final four years ago. But this team is worse than it was coming into the last game of the tournament and don’t discount Morocco. This is a team that can easily get through the group stage. The tie may be right sided.
Germany vs. Japan
8 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Germany are the right side here, though don’t discount Japan, who unfortunately drew. Japan will be one of the teams to get out of many groups. We are excited to see how Jamal Musiala affects his first World Cup game and how Germany line up. If there’s one question about Germany, it’s in the back row. Can Japan use it?
Spain vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Fox
It is a game that will primarily be played in Costa Rica’s half of the pitch, and it is no exaggeration to say that Spain will likely have 75% of the possession. It will be all about how Spain break down a Costa Rica side that is content to put all 11 outfield players behind the ball and hit as many counters and set pieces as possible. Under 2.5 goals at +115 feels worth it.
Belgium vs. Canada
2 pm ET Wednesday, Fox
Belgium was without Romelu Lukaku after he was sent off earlier in the tournament. But there is still plenty of midfield and attacking talent, and Belgium have the best player in the tournament in Kevin De Bruyne. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Canada gets a result here, but let’s pick favorites.