Has it been an agonizing four years waiting for the World Cup to return? Well, your wait is finally over. The 2018 World Cup kicked off from Russia on Thursday, June 14, and will be pumping nonstop soccer into your eyeballs for the next month.
Here is everything you need to know.
The 32 qualifying teams have been separated into eight groups of four teams each. Here’s how that process worked.
Two teams will advance from each group, while the bottom two teams will be eliminated. Every team plays the other teams in their group one time, for three group stage matches apiece. Teams are given three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. The two teams with the most points advance. Goal differential is the first tiebreaker, followed by goals scored, and then head-to-head results.
After the group stage, the 16 remaining teams go into a knockout bracket. The winner of Group A plays the runner-up from Group B, the winner of Group B plays the runner-up from Group A, and so on. There a set bracket — no re-seeding. Group stage games can end in ties, but knockout stage games will go to extra time, then penalty kicks if necessary.
How to watch the World Cup
Games will be broadcast in English on FOX and FS1, while the Spanish broadcast will usually be on Telemundo, and occasionally on other NBC networks. You can find the listings for each day, including listings for other countries, on Live Soccer TV.
All of the games will be streamed online in the United States as well. You can watch for free on Fox Sports Go or Telemundo Deportes en vivo if you log in with your TV provider. Games will also be available on subscription services like Fubo and Hulu.
2018 World Cup schedule, standings and bracket
All times are ET.
The Final 2018 World Cup Group Standings
Round of 16
France 2-0 Uruguay
Brazil 1-2 Belgium
Sweden 0-2 England
Russia 2-2 Croatia (Pens 3-4)
France 1-0 Beglium
England vs. Croatia — Wednesday, July 11, 2 p.m.
Third place match
Belgium 2-0 England
France vs. Croatia — Sunday, July 15, 11 a.m.
The pre-tournament favorites
According to the oddsmakers, Brazil (who lost to Belgium in a quarterfinal clash) was the pre-tournament favorite to win the tournament. They were followed by Germany (who shockingly failed to escape the group stage), then Spain (ousted by the hosts in the round of 16), France (still alive!) and Argentina (also exiting in the knockout round).
The biggest stars in Russia
Neymar — Brazil’s superstar just returned from injury and looked like he was back to his best during warmup games. He was injured for Brazil’s famous 7-1 loss to Germany during the last World Cup, and he’ll want revenge this time around.
Paul Pogba — France’s superstar midfielder is known as much for his hairstyles as his play, though that’s only because he’s been a touch out of form lately. If France can figure out how to best utilize him, they have a chance to win the tournament.
Harry Kane — England’s center forward was in a tight golden boot race for Salah in the Premier League most of the season. The Three Lions’ success or failure is likely to be pinned on his ability or inability to score goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo — Even at 33 years old, with over 900 pro games on his legs, Ronaldo is still one of the best in the world. This is almost certainly his last chance to win a World Cup with Portugal.
Lionel Messi — Considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, but his Argentina team is in shambles. It barely qualified for the World Cup, and the Albiceleste defense is extremely suspect. Messi will need to be at his absolute best for Argentina to have a chance.
Mohamed Salah — Possibly the heir to Messi and Ronaldo’s throne, Salah dominated the Premier League with Liverpool this season. He’ll be playing through a shoulder injury while trying to lead Egypt to glory.
If you’re looking for some more under-the-radar players who made it to Russia, we have 10 of those for you.