From Russia with soccer love: A viewer's guide to watching World Cup

World Cup kicks off for first time in Russia

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Has it been four years already? 

It seems like yesterday Germany captured the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but diehard soccer fans love the fact four years have elapsed already and its time to kick off another. 

With the 2018 World Cup set to start in Russia, here is a quick viewers guide of how to watch, when to watch, and further details on the one-month spectacle that will draw billions of viewers worldwide.  

Fox takes over coverage
ESPN has long been the U.S. television provider of World Cup coverage, but that changes this year after Fox won a bidding war with ESPN, paying $400 million to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups (Fox has since been awarded the 2026 World Cup also for an undisclosed amount).
Games will be broadcast on both Fox and Fox Sports 1. 
Of course, Fox is going to have to get creative to attract viewers with the United States failing to qualify for the event. 

Breakfast and soccer
For those wanting to watch games and don’t have a traditional 9-to-5 job, you will need to view around breakfast and lunch plans. If you do have a 9-to-5 job, well, either use vacation days or get that DVR busy. With the time difference (seven hours for most of the sites), games in pool play will be on at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time. 
When the knockout phase begins, games will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 
All those times don’t seem conducive to going somewhere and watching the action with a beverage, but maybe you will be a lucky and find a local bar/restaurant that will open early and serve some bacon, eggs or pancakes. 

About the hosts
This will be the first time Russia hosts the World Cup, and its selection in 2010 was somewhat controversial given that it brought out corruption allegations in FIFA’s selection process. 
But nothing really came of those allegations, and Russia is set to host the world with 12 stadiums in 11 cities (two in Moscow), with all of the stadiums newly-built or renovated.
Russia is the largest country the world, but the host 11 cities are concentrated in the western portion of the country, so travel won’t be a major issue.
The team that will travel the most miles for its three pool play games is Egypt, which will have to go 7,316 miles between its three different game sites and base city of Grozny.   
By contrast, the United States in 2014 had to travel 9,000 miles in Brazil for its three pool play games. 

There are 32 teams divided into eight pools (named Group A and so forth down to H), and teams will play three games against opponents within their pool for the first two weeks.
The top two teams in each pool will advance to the round of 16, or the knockout stage as it's also known. 

Key dates

  • June 14 - First game, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia in Moscow (11 a.m.)
  • June 30 - Knockout stage, or round of 16, begins
  • July 6-7 - Quarterfinals
  • July 10-11 - Semifinals
  • July 15 - World Cup final in Moscow (11 a.m.)

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