Groups E and F get underway on Wednesday as Spain, Germany and Belgium play their first matches of the tournament. Spain and Germany are heavy favorites to advance out of Group E. Can either Japan or Costa Rica play spoiler in the first matches? Belgium, meanwhile, takes on Canada in the Canadians’ first World Cup game since 1986.
Morocco vs. Croatia
5 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Is Croatia getting a World Cup 2018 boost in the odds? After making the final four years ago, Croatia is still led by the ageless Luka Modric. But this team is worse than the one that got to the last game of the tournament and don’t discount Morocco. This is a team easily capable of getting through the group stage. The tie could be the right side.
Germany vs. Japan
8 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Germany is the right side here, though don’t discount a Japan team that got an unlucky draw. Japan would be a team pegged to get out of a lot of other groups. We’re excited to see how Germany lines up and how Jamal Musiala impacts his first World Cup game. If there’s a question about Germany it’s on the back line. Can Japan exploit that?
Spain vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Fox
This is a game that’s going to be played primarily in Costa Rica’s half of the field and it’s not an exaggeration to say that Spain could have 75% of the possession. It’s going to be all about how Spain breaks down a Costa Rica team that will be content to put all 11 outfield players behind the ball and hit on the counter and on set pieces whenever possible. Under 2.5 goals at +115 feels worth it.
Belgium vs. Canada
2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Fox
Belgium will be without Romelu Lukaku after he was ruled out for the start of the tournament. But there’s still plenty of midfield and attacking talent in the side and Belgium has the best player in the tournament in Kevin De Bruyne. It won’t be surprising if Canada gets a result here, but we’ll take the favorites.