Thanksgiving Day brings a feast of World Cup soccer from the early morning to the afternoon, with some of the world’s biggest stars in the spotlight.
Brazil, Portugal and Uruguay make their debuts in Qatar on Thursday. And if you’re a Philadelphia Union fan, you’ll want to wake up early to watch Cameroon. Olivier Mbaizo is the first Union player to make a World Cup team, and while he probably won’t play, hopefully he’ll at least get on TV at some point.
Here’s how to watch all the action.
FS1′s coverage window is from 4 am Eastern to 10 am, then Fox has coverage from 10 am to 4 pm FS1 has an end-of-day studio show at 4 pm, and the late-night shows are on FS1 at 10:30 pm and Fox at midnight. Telemundo’s coverage is nonstop from 4 am to 5:30 pm, and its late studio show is at midnight.
Group G: Switzerland vs. Cameroon
Time: 5 am
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
English TV/streaming: FS1 and FoxSports.com (Jacqui Oatley on play-by-play with analyst Warren Barton and referee expert Joe Machnik)
Spanish TV/streaming: Telemundo, TelemundoDeportes.com and Peacock (Sammy Sadovnik on play-by-play with analysts Natalia Astrain and Claudio Borghi)
FoxSports.com and TelemundoDeportes.com require authentication through participating pay-TV providers. Peacock is NBC and Telemundo’s subscription streaming service. The first 12 games of the World Cup will be available on Peacock’s free tier, then the rest will be behind the subscription paywall.
Fox will have replays of every game for free on its streaming platform Tubi, although it’s not known yet how quickly they’ll be posted.
Betting odds: Switzerland -140, Cameroon +460, tie +240.
Players to watch
Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri. Of the 26 players on the Swiss squad, he has the most career national team goals (coincidentally, 26). But he’s coming off an underwhelming first season with the Chicago Fire in MLS: seven goals and six assists in 29 games for the Eastern Conference’s third-worst team. When he played in a 2-0 warmup game loss to Ghana on Thursday, it was his first game since Oct. 9. If he plays well in Qatar, it’ll be a big endorsement for MLS. If he doesn’t, the critics will notice.
Cameroon: Collins Fai. This is admittedly a homer pick, but he matters for the Indomitable Lions. Fai is the team’s starting right back, and he overtook Mbaizo for the job. He won it during the Africa Cup of Nations when Cameroon switched to a 3-5-2 and Fai played the right flank of the five. Then he kept it through the team’s return to a four-back setup. He probably won’t lose the job, and he has the fourth-most caps of any player on the squad with 52. But if you’re hoping to see Mbaizo play, you should know about the guy ahead of him.
Group H: Uruguay vs. South Korea
Time: 8 am
Venue: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
English TV/streaming: FS1 and FoxSports.com (Ian Darke on play-by-play with analyst Landon Donovan and referee expert Joe Machnik).
Spanish TV/streaming: Telemundo, TelemundoDeportes.com and Peacock (Andrés Cantor on play-by-play with analysts Diego Forlán and Manuel Sol)
Betting odds: Uruguay -130, South Korea +430, tie +240.
Players to watch
Uruguay: Federico Valverde. Strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez are the big stars, but Valverde is a big deal behind them. The 24-year-old Real Madrid stalwart has eight goals and four assists this season, and has played every game but one. This is his first World Cup, and he’s set to be the leader of Celeste’s new generation.
South Korea: Son Heung-min. There’s no doubt about who the big name is here. He’s the captain, by far the biggest star, and the face of countless billboards in Seoul and beyond. And he’ll be even harder to miss than usual in Qatar, because he’ll be wearing a face mask after suffering a facial fracture in late October. But all signs are he’ll be ready to play in the World Cup.
Group H: Portugal vs. Ghana
Time: 11 am
Venue: Stadium 974, Doha
English TV/streaming: Fox and FoxSports.com (Derek Rae on play-by-play with analyst Aly Wagner, reporter Geoff Shreeves and referee expert Mark Clattenburg)
Spanish TV/streaming: Telemundo, TelemundoDeportes.com and Peacock (Copán Alvarez on play-by-play with analysts Eduardo Biscayart and Fernando Hierro)
Betting odds: Portugal -280, Ghana +800, tie +360.
Players to watch
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo. It has to be him, doesn’t it? You don’t have to like him, and a lot of people don’t. But for all this team’s talent — and there’s a lot of it — there’s no doubt about who commands the spotlight. If he wins, it’ll be big news; if he loses, it’ll be even bigger news.
Ghana: Iñaki Williams. Here is one of the World Cup’s best personal stories. He was born in Bilbao, Spain to parents who emigrated from Ghana at great risk to their personal safety. They made it, eventually settled, and he was good enough at soccer to play for Athletic Club, the Basque Country’s revered soccer institution. In fact, he became only the second Black professional player in the history of a team that only signs Basque players.
He would likely have played for Spain had that national team not passed him by for six years. So he made the big call this summer to play for his parents’ home nation. Not long after that, Spain summoned his brother Nico, who also plays for Athletic — and he’s on that country’s World Cup squad. There’s a long history of brothers playing at World Cups together, but the Williamses are just the second pair to play for different countries.
Group G: Brazil vs. Serbia
Time: 2 pm
Venue: Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar (FIFA men’s World Cup group stage)
English TV/streaming: Fox and FoxSports.com (John Strong on play-by-play with analyst Stuart Holden, reporter Jenny Taft and referee expert Mark Clattenburg)
Spanish TV/streaming: Telemundo, TelemundoDeportes.com and Peacock (Andrés Cantor on play-by-play with analysts Mauro Silva and Manuel Sol)
Betting odds: Brazil -230, Serbia +600, tie +360
Players to watch
Brazil: Neymar. In both our top players to watch feature and our staff predictions, we highlighted a lot of other great players who will surround him. But in the end, he’s the five-time champs’ biggest star. So let’s put him here as the Seleçao begin their quest to end a 20-year weight for their record sixth title.
Serbia: Dušan Vlahović. The 22-year-old from the Italian giant club Juventus is a prolific scorer, and could be another breakout star of the tournament. But he missed his last four club games before leaving for Qatar because of an adductor injury.
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