Saudi Arabia sprung one of the World Cup’s biggest ever upsets when they beat Argentina yesterday but today sees some of Europe’s big teams playing their first-round match in Qatar. City A.M. previews Wednesday’s games.
Group F: Morocco v Croatia, 10am, ITV
The wannabe co-hosts of the 2030 tournament, Morocco, take on 2018 finalists Croatia in the opening match of Group F. Having been part of France when the World Cup started 96 years ago, Morocco have qualified for the finals for just the second time this millennium. Croatia are appearing in their sixth World Cup having previously been part of Yugoslavia. They finished third in 1998 and second last time but haven’t gone beyond the group stages in their other three appearances.
Group E: Germany v Japan, 1pm, ITV
Four-time winners Germany begin their quest for a fifth title against Japan. Hansi Flick’s men have a strong history in the competition, having been in the top three 12 times and are looking to re-establish themselves on the world stage. Japan are at their seventh consecutive World Cup and have alternated between reaching the group stages and round of 16 in each of those appearances.
Group E: Spain v Costa Rica, 4pm, ITV
The 2010 champions Spain open their account against Costa Rica, having failed to make it to the last eight at each of the last two competitions. Costa Rica are in their sixth World Cup in the last seven tournaments and will be looking to match their best result of a quarter-final, in 2014. Spain’s captain, Sergio Busquets, has said he “will not make any decisions” on whether this is his final World Cup.
Group F: Belgium v Canada, 7pm, BBC
Canada, coached by Englishman John Herdman, are in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years and for just the second time in their history. They play 2018 third-placed team Belgium in their opening match. Belgium have said they will wear the same shirts during the group stages after Fifa asked them to remove the word ‘love’ from the inside of their collars while the next World Cup’s co-hosts, along with the USA and Mexico, will be looking to replicate Saudi Arabia’s shock result yesterday.