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This page is updated each day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with spoiler-free recommendations about what games are worth watching later. For full details, see this post.

Updated: Sun., Jun. 25 @ 12PM

Jun. 25 (Group Stage Day 12)

Today we start the final pairs of games in each group, two time slots of two games played simultaneously.

B2. Iran (IRN) vs Portugal (POR)

upcoming

B1. Spain (ESP) vs Morocco (MAR)

upcoming

A2. Saudi Arabia (KSA) vs Egypt (EGY)

Both of these teams knew they were eliminated, so this was purely playing for pride and stats. Featuring the oldest player to play in a World Cup game (45-year-old Egyptian keeper Essam El Hadary, as well as Egyptian’s talisman, Mo Salah, it did have its moments! “You could not have scripted this any better,” and “That will go down in World Cup history as an iconic moment,” were statements made by the commentator in this match, despite it not affecting the knockout rounds.

A1. Uruguay (URU) vs Russia (RUS)

Both of these teams already knew they would advance to the knockout round, but were striving to finish in first, in hopes of a less-strong opponent there. This game featuring the host nation was pretty good, exciting & eventful!

Jun. 24 (Group Stage Day 11)

Today’s games, finishing the 3-per-day pace, were pretty good! I didn’t think any of them stood out especially over the others, though England vs. Panama would be my pick if you’re only watching one.

3. Poland (POL) vs Colombia (COL)

To wrap up this second glorious weekend of World Cup action we had the second game of the day in Group H. Robert Lewandowski’s Poland vs. James Rodríguez’s Colombia. These were both early favorites of this evenly-matched group, and were looking to get their first points. I felt like this was really similar to the previous game: not amazing but not bad, with more than one goal scored and some good play. Second half was more entertaining than the first.

2. Japan (JPN) vs Senegal (SEN)

👍 Good game, worth watching

For the second game of the day, Japan and Senegal met in Ekaterinburg. Leaders of Group H with three points each from winning their openers, either team could secure a spot in the round of 16 with a win. The teams were evenly matched in a game that Grant Wahl called “balanced and fascinating”. I felt it had some lulls, but overall a solid game with big moments.

1. England (ENG) vs Panama (PAN)

👍 Good game, worth watching

Day 11, the final day of 3-game days, began in Nizhny Novgorod, with the perennially over-scrutinized England playing CONCACAF debutantes Panama. England’s young team was eager to add to their three point balance before facing Belgium, while Panama were looking for anything they could get. It was quite a game! If you only watch one half, make it the first, though the last goal of the match was also a beauty, on its own merits and historically.

Jun. 23 (Group Stage Day 10)

What. A. Day. Big teams, playing in big games, with big consequences. Though I was admittedly “watching” the majority of these on a phone in a car, there wasn’t a bad game played today, in my book! If you lean toward interest in the Group F teams, then I suggest the third game, Germany vs. Sweden. But if you’re a neutral for those and just want to watch a fun 90 minutes of soccer, I recommend Belgium vs. Tunisia.

3. Germany (GER) vs Sweden (SWE)

👍 Good game, worth watching

The last game saw a German team, defending their 2014 win, eager to earn their first points of this tournament, take on a Swedish team trying to defend their three. This is one of those games where the group standings and the context of the possible results add 95% of the pressure. That is, if this same game had been played a few days ago, as the opener for each team, it would have been… okay. Some dramatic, exciting moments, but just… okay. As it was though, it wound up being one of the most gripping second halves of the group stage.

2. Korea Republic (KOR) vs Mexico (MEX)

👍 Good game, worth watching

For the middle match of the day we returned to Rostov-On-Don to see Korea vs. Mexico. The CONCACAF team brought the 3 points they won from their upset of Germany, while the AFC team are looking to earn any. I streamed this one on my phone on a road trip, mainly just listening to the audio. I really enjoyed Jorge Perez-Navarro and Mariano Trujillo on the call, and it was a pretty solid game!

1. Belgium (BEL) vs Tunisia (TUN)

👍 Great game, very worth watching

Welcome to Day 10, which kicked off with Group G in Moscow: Belgium, on three points, faced Tunisia, with none. It was a beautiful sunny day in Moscow, with a sun-shower of summer rain in the second half. The goals rained down, too, and they didn’t wait until after halftime to start. Also nice to see little hacking, fouling, & playing the ref. A really fantastic game.

Jun. 22 (Group Stage Day 9)

Picking the best game from today is a tough one! They were all pretty fun, though I didn’t feel like any were amazing. The second half of the Brazil game is worth checking out, with the star power and headlines it will surely create, but the other two games, with less famous players but everything on the line, were also solid. Happy World Cup Friday, pick whichever matchup intrigues you. You can’t go wrong!

3. Serbia (SRB) vs Switzerland (SUI)

👍 Good game, worth watching

And the final match of Day 9 wrapped up Group E, with Serbia vs. Switzerland. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was looking to add 3 points to Serbia’s current three point, while Shaqiri & Co. tried to build on the single point they earned against Brazil on Sunday. This was a pretty good game! It had action in both halves but as in both earlier games it really opened up in the second.

2. Nigeria (NGA) vs Iceland (ISL)

👍 Good game, worth watching

For the second game it was back to Vologograd, for a Group D clash between Victor Moses & the Super Eagles of Nigeria, with zero points, and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s Iceland with the one point they earned against Argentina. This was another closely-fought, cagey first half, but things opened up more in the 2nd half, which had more action.

1. Brazil (BRA) vs Costa Rica (CRC)

👍 Okay game, second half better than the first

A beautiful sunny day in St. Petersburg to start Day 9 with today’s only game featuring one of the favorites. Neymar, his hair cut and his ankle apparently holding together, looked to lead the rest of a stacked Brazil squad with just one point against formidable goalkeeper Keylor Navas & Los Ticos (Spanish for “the ticos”), with zero points. The first half of this was mostly fouls & frustration, but the second half opened up more and wound up with some exciting & memorable moments.

Jun. 21 (Group Stage Day 8)

Today saw both Group C games and one from Group D. Some teams’ fates were sealed, others will still look ahead to their third and final matches. As for recommendations, I have two suggestions. One: just watch Denmark vs. Australia, a solidly fun game. Or, if you’re more intrigued by the bigger, more star-studded teams, watch one half each of the other two: the 1st half of France vs. Peru, and the 2nd half of Argentina vs. Croatia.

3. Argentina (ARG) vs Croatia (CRO)

👍 Okay game, second half better than the first

For the final game of the day it was time to tune back in the Messi Show. With zero goals (despite a PK chance in the opener), the pressure on this poor guy must be unbelievable. The Argentines, with a single point from their first game, took on Luka Modric’s Croatia, with three. I didn’t find the first half of this one to be much fun, though The Guardian live blog called it “very intriguing” and asserted that “the second half promises to be quite the event.” They weren’t wrong about that last part, as the final 45 minutes were a lot more exciting. Part horror show, part art exhibit, it had some remarkable moments.

2. France (FRA) vs Peru (PER)

👍 Okay game, first half better than the second

The second match of the day, also from Group C, was that overly talented France team (who barely got the 3 points from Australia in their opener) facing a Peru squad that dominated their opener but failed to get any points from it. The first half had some lovely attacking play going both directions, but the second half was a much more clamped-down affair, with a few moments of exciting offense but not a lot else. At least both teams’ jerseys, possibly my favorites in the tournament, looked great. Not having that ugly and unreadable Adidas font for the players’ names helped. I’m writing about fonts here, that’s how much fun the second half of this game was.

1. Denmark (DEN) vs Australia (AUS)

👍 Good game, worth watching

Day 8 started with Group C in the brand new Samara Stadium, as Christian Ericksen’s Denmark, on three points, faced Aaron Mooy’s Australia, on zero. It was a lively game from the opening whistle, with both the Danish Dynamite and the Socceroos playing open, attacking ball. This was a fun one!

Jun. 20 (Group Stage Day 7)

Today we saw the completion of second games in Groups A & B, with some intriguing pairings on the menu. And there was plenty on the line, too, as more than one team sealed their fate with respect to getting out of the group (or not). Yet I wound up pretty disappointed, not finding much to love about two of these three. If you really want to see the Spanish stars play, their match against Iran isn’t the worst, but if you’re open to any of of today’s games, I recommend: Portugal vs. Morocco.

3. Iran (IRN) vs Spain (ESP)

😒 Not a great game

Today’s final match finished up Group B’s second matches. Iran had 3 points, though they hadn’t scored a goal of their own yet, and Spain had just 1, after their victory in the first game got Ronaldo’d. It’s probably not a spoiler to reveal that long stretches of this game saw Spain camping around the Iranian goal, trying to crack the a resolute and effective defense. There’s a certain kind of fun tension that can come from one-sided matchups like this, and this game had its moments, but all in all I didn’t find it that entertaining.

2. Uruguay (URU) vs Saudi Arabia (KSA)

🙁 Poor game, not worth watching

This is the second game for Uruguay, who were looking to clinch advancement from Group A with a win, and a Saudi Arabia team hoping to avoid elimination after being pummeled by Russia in their opener nearly a week ago. Luis Suarez made his 100th appearance for La Celeste (Spanish for “The Celeste”) in a cagy, tight game. Even though I tend to like Uruguay, I found this game a grind and din’t enjoy much about it.

1. Portugal (POR) vs Morocco (MAR)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

We began the day in Moscow with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal against a less star-studded but skillful, attacking Morocco. An American also made his appearance in a World Cup match, as MLS’ Mark Geiger was the match ref. Portugal had one point from their first game, and Morocco had zero – meaning the African team faced elimination with a loss. An early goal set the pace, as both sides pushed hard for the win, with open, attacking play.

Jun. 19 (Group Stage Day 6)

None of today’s games were bad, and they all had something remarkable happen. So if you have particular interest in any of them, you won’t go wrong. But if you’re picking from any of the three, I suggest: Russia vs. Egypt, which for me was a good match throughout and a great one in the second half.

3. Russia (RUS) vs Egypt (EGY)

👍 Good game, worth watching

For the last game of the day, we returned to Group A, playing in St. Petersburg. The hosts, with three points, faced an Egypt team with zero, but with Mohamed Salah back in the starting lineup after being mugged by Sergio Ramos in Kiev. The first half was tough & cagey, both teams striving but not a ton of excitement. At the start of the second half, “Own Goal” extended its lead in the golden boot race. And then it started pouring, literally and figuratively. The rest of the game was open, exciting, and eventful.

2. Poland (POL) vs Senegal (SEN)

👍 Okay game, worth watching

Today’s second game featured Robert Lewandoski’s Poland as the seeded team in Group H (thanks to their gaming of FIFA’s rankings), in their first-ever competitive meeting with Senegal. Overall it was another decent game! Things happened, some surprising! One of those things characterized, alternatively, as “one of the most wackadoodle, weirdest, most unfortunate goals you’ll ever see in a World Cup” (Steve Davis) or “total mismanagement by the officiating crew” (Dr. Joe).

1. Colombia (COL) vs Japan (JPN)

👍 Okay game, worth watching

Day 6 started with a cross-Pacific contest between two teams who also faced each other in the group stage of 2014: Colombia and Japan. With Falcao and Rodriguez healthy for Los Cafeteros I expected a somewhat one-sided game. And though I’m striving to keep from spoiling big game events, I figure when something huge like a straight red card happens within the first five minutes, it’s not robbing you of much suspense. For a neutral, I’d say this game was not bad! It wasn’t thrilling throughout, but it had its moments, even after that crazy start.

Jun. 18 (Group Stage Day 5)

Three games today, finishing Group F and both initial Group G matchups. If you’re a neutral looking for one of the three to watch start to finish, my recommendation is: Belgium vs. Panama. It’s the best of the bunch overall. England might be tempting for EPL fans, and it has its moments, but it also has long stretches of not much goin’ on.

3. Tunisia (TUN) vs England (ENG)

😒 Not a great game

In today’s final match the Three Lions faced The Eagles of Carthage, and both teams also fought the Million Mosquitos of Volgograd. The first half started strong, with fast, if one-sided, attacking soccer. An early injury sub threatened to throw off one team’s plans, and not long after that the grind slogged in. Or maybe the slog ground in? Anyway, something happened to this game. Not that it was uneventful, but most of the last two thirds weren’t that fun to watch. If you do gut this one out, hang in there until (or fast-forward to) stoppage time.

2. Belgium (BEL) vs Panama (PAN)

👍 Good game, worth watching

The powerhouse/dark-horse (powerhorse?) of Belgium, ranked third in the world (according to the commentators every few minutes), faced the scrappy, aging, and wily Panama. The CONCACAF team made their World Cup debut in what some (I) consider to be the USA’s rightful spot, with a number of current & former MLS players (hi, Blas!). This was a much more entertaining game than the earlier one! Even before anyone was on the scoreboard, the play was more open and flowing. Shots! Saves! Gamesmanship! Good game.

1. Sweden (SWE) vs Korea Republic (KOR)

🙁 Poor game, not worth watching

A Sweden team made their first appearance on the world stage without the outsized presence of Zlatan, facing off against a Korea Republic team featuring Tottenham forward Son Heung-min. Both teams knew they need points before games against Group F opponents Germany and Mexico, but this was an ugly, physical, grudge match. By halftime there had been 25 fouls and barely any attempts on goal. That the main excitement in this game came entirely from VAR is kind of symbolic of the beauty it completely lacked.

Jun. 17 (Group Stage Day 4)

If you only watch one of today’s games, I recommend: Germany vs. Mexico! I didn’t think any of today’s matches were bad, but for combination of star power, storylines, and excitement, that was the one for me.

3. Brazil (BRA) vs Switzerland (SUI)

👍 Okay game, worth watching

My report for this one was delayed by a couple of hours due to travel, followed by DVR weirdness that made me fall back to plan C: the Fox Sports app on my Roku. I had to wait for the game to be over to start it, but then it worked fine! Like this game, which was also fine. It was a Brazil team that seems more solid than 2014’s, taking on a Switzerland squad with Shakiri and some other guys. I was happy to see a couple of my favorite Liverpool players (Coutinho & Firmino), and this game did have its moments! But it was also a tense, closely-fought game in the middle of the field at times, which wasn’t prettiest. If you want to see Neymar and the rest of the Brazilian stars, you won’t have a bad time at all.

2. Germany (GER) vs Mexico (MEX)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

On this side: Germany, holders of the 2014 World Cup trophy – and favorites to keep it in 2018. On the other: Mexico, the U.S.’s chief CONCACAF rival, with attacking talent and a burning desire to get past the round of 16 for once. This game was a fun one, with both sides attacking & counterattacking vigorously. Some good highlights will come from this one, but it was an entertaining match, start to finish!

1. Costa Rica (CRC) vs Serbia (SRB)

👍 Okay game, worth watching.

A fellow-CONCACAF team made its first appearance at the 2018 World Cup, as Costa Rica took on possible dark-horse side Serbia. Lots of MLS players on one side, lots of names ending in “-ich” on the other. This game wasn’t goalless but neither was it… goalful? Is that a word? Now it is! Play was open, back and forth, and generally pretty good. There were definitely some exciting moments. Waking up for the early games continues to reward.

Jun. 16 (Group Stage Day 3)

An incomplete report today, but if you’re looking for a game or two to replay from day 3, my best recommendation is either France-Australia or Argentina-Iceland. I give the former the edge for entertaining play, but the latter does have an advantage for storylines and History (Messi, Messi, Messi).

4. Croatia (CRO) vs Nigeria (NGA)

😒 Not a great game

The first-ever competitive meeting between these two teams cap off the longest group-stage day of the tournament. Who will get a better start in Group D, if anyone? The good thing is, I got to watch this game on a nice big TV and with a cold beer in hand. The less-good thing is, it was a little big of a slog. It had its moments, but it wasn’t what anyone would call “gripping”. If you’re picking from any of today’s games, and you’re not a Croatia or Nigeria fan, just watch the highlights (it won’t take long).

3. Peru (PER) vs Denmark (DEN)

🤷‍♂️ Status unknown 😞

Tragically, I was on the road for all but final stoppage of this one. Bummer! Really wanted to see these two. I heard fan support was strong, and it wasn’t goalless, at least.

2. Argentina (ARG) vs Iceland (ISL)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

Another big game, this one with tournament favorite Argentina making their 2018 debut against Iceland, the fan-favorite wonder-team of the Euros two years ago. The over-worn storylines for this are all Messi, Messi, Messi: after Ronaldo’s debut yesterday, literally everyone alive today wonders, what will Messi do in response? This one is a cagey match with some attacking flair and some staunch defending, and it doesn’t end in a goalless draw. Not what I’d call one for the ages, but it’s not bad!

1. France (FRA) vs Australia (AUS)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

In blue: France. one of the tournament favorites, a team pool so full of great players that the #1 preview factoid was that they couldn’t even fit them all on the roster. In yellow: Australia. Enthusiastically-supported underdogs with zero players in high-budget Adidas commercials. The first half is tense, back-and-forth, with a free kick every time you turn around. The second sees the action heat up further, with both VAR and goal-line technology making their technological mark on proceedings. It’s a pertty good match! Whether it’s the best, if-you-only-watch-one-watch-this-one game remains to be seen…

Jun. 15 (Group Stage Day 2)

3. Portugal (POR) vs Spain (ESP)

👍 Great game, so worth watching

The earlier games reminded me of average (or worse) opening bands at a concert with a big headliner. Sometimes the main act rewards you for your patience, and sometimes it doesn’t. This time, at least, it did, and then some.

This game featured some of the biggest stars playing today, representing teams that are contenders to go deep in this tournament. One might worry about conservative, tentative play in an opening game like this, but don’t. This game lifts off the launchpad right away and keeps the afterburners going nearly the whole time. Start this one at the beginning, and watch till the end.

Games like this are why god gave us soccer. Enjoy!

2. Morocco (MAR) vs Iran (IRN)

😒 Not a great game

Two teams with rosters very light on star power slugged it out for 90 minutes. Players spent a good bit of time rolling or lying on the ground, some of it legitimate, some less so. As with the earlier game, something(s) finally happened very late. In the interim, however, I didn’t see a lot of pretty soccer.

1. Egypt (EGY) vs Uruguay (URU)

😒 Not a great game

Group favorites Uruguay face the Pharoahs, who start without their star, Liverpool striker Mo Salah. The first half had even, end-to-end play but not much of real interest. The second half continued in the same vein, though at least a few blistering shots were finally taken. There’s a flash of action late, but for neutrals it’s a long wait to get there.

Jun. 14 (Group Stage Day 1)

There’s only one game today, so if you want to watch one, the choice is easy!

Russia (RUS) vs Saudi Arabia (KSA)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

Previews I saw couldn’t help pointing out that these are “the two worst teams at the tournament”, and though there wasn’t a lot of dazzling play, this was a pretty entertaining game! Plus it’s the first game, featuring the hosts, those make it more worthwhile, too. You’ll be rewarded by seeing a few good saves, some defending that won’t go into any textbooks, and some pretty nice goals, including one real golazo. Worth sticking around to the final whistle.

Welcome to Russia!

Jun. 11 (pre-tournament friendlies)

Belgium (BEL) vs Costa Rica (CRC)

👍 Good game, worth watching.

This was a classic red vs. yellow, ketchup vs. mustard game, with both teams playing full strength in their final pre-tournament tuneup. There was some heroic defending, and great saves, but ultimately more than one very pretty goal. One player got at least a brace. Both halves are good, but if you only watch one half, watch: the first.