Groups E and F begin on Wednesday when Spain, Germany and Belgium play their first matches of the tournament. Spain and Germany are big favorites to get out of Group E. Can Japan or Costa Rica play spoilers in the first games? Meanwhile, Belgium faces Canada in the Canadians’ first World Cup match since 1986.
Morocco vs. Croatia
5 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Are Croatia getting a 2018 World Cup boost in odds? After reaching the final four years ago, Croatia is still led by the eternal Luka Modric. But this team is worse than the one that reached the last match of the tournament and don’t rule out Morocco. This is a team easily capable of making it past the group stage. The tie could be on the right side.
Germany vs. Japan
8 a.m. ET Wednesday, FS1
Germany are the right side here, though don’t discount a Japan team that had an unfortunate draw. Japan would be a team destined to emerge from many other groups. We’re excited to see how Germany line up and how Jamal Musiala impacts in his World Cup opener. If there is a question about Germany, it is in the bottom line. Can Japan exploit that?
Spain against Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Fox
This is a game that is going to be played mainly in the Costa Rican midfield and it is not an exaggeration to say that Spain could have 75% of the possession. It will be about how Spain undoes a Costa Rican team that will be content to put all 11 outfield players behind the ball and hit on the counter-attack and off set pieces whenever possible. Less than 2.5 goals at +115 is 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 is still a lot of midfield and attacking talent in the team and Belgium have the best player of the tournament in Kevin De Bruyne. It won’t be surprising if Canada gets a result here, but we’ll stick with the favourites.