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World Cup 2018: How to watch, when it starts, schedule and more

Don't miss any of the action when the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway in Russia this summer.

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It's the biggest tournament for the biggest sport on Earth, and it comes around only once every four years. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will feature 32 teams and 64 games across four glorious weeks of action in Russia. In the US, Fox and FS1 will broadcast games in English, and Telemundo and NBC Universo will broadcast games in Spanish. Here's what you need to know to catch all of the World Cup this summer. (Note: CNET may get a commission from subscriptions placed through services featured in this article.)

Which countries are playing?

Here's the draw for the 2018 World Cup:

  • Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
  • Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
  • Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
  • Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
  • Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
  • Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
  • Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
  • Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

FIFA

Click here for a full schedule of games for the 2018 World Cup.

Wait, the US didn't qualify?

Nope, the US men's national team didn't make it for the first time since 1986. But don't let the absence of the USMNT ruin your summer of soccer fun. There's modern-day Viking heroes Iceland (and a number of other teams) that you can adopt for the month.

Remind me who the best soccer players are.

Sure, here's a quick primer:

  • Lionel Messi has done everything in his career -- short of winning a World Cup for Argentina
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, fresh off his fifth UEFA Champions League victory, is hoping to capture Portugal's first World Cup title
  • Neymar leads Brazil, which hasn't won the World Cup since 2002, and 16 years qualifies as a long World Cup drought for the practitioners of The Beautiful Game

The above three players are probably the biggest names in soccer, at least to this American's untrained eye. You will likely also hear these names mentioned this summer while watching the World Cup:

  • Gabriel Jesus, Brazil's other star
  • Timo Werner, defending champ Germany's stellar young forward
  • Toni Kroos, Germany's do-it-all midfielder
  • Luis Suárez, Uruguay's all-time leading scorer and ear biter
  • Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, aka Isco, Spain's insanely skilful attacking midfielder

When does the knockout stage begin?

Things start to get serious at the end of June. The group stage runs from June 14 to June 28, and then the knockout stage begins on Saturday, June 30, when the winners advance and the losers go home.

I only care about the final. When's the final?

The 2018 World Cup champion will be crowned on July 15. The final match is set to start at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) on Sunday, July 15 from Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. It will be broadcast on Fox.

Where can I watch highlights?

Twitter and Snapchat have partnered with Fox Sports to show highlights in the US. You can see every goal scored from every game just moments after it happens on Twitter, in addition to game previews, recaps and other live programming from Moscow's Red Square with US soccer greats Landon Donovan and Alexi Lalas. On Snapchat, you can watch videos of behind-the-scenes highlights and reactions from soccer fans across the world.

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World Cup streaming options

You can use one of the big five live-TV streaming services or Fubo to watch the World Cup. In many markets, however, you can watch on-demand but not live content from Fox (and the other local networks), so be sure to check what Fox offers in your area for any service before committing. To help you test the waters, each service offers a free, seven-day trial.

DirectTV Now

DirectTV Now's cheapest, $35-a-month Live a Little package includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo. You'll need to spring for the $60-a-month Go Big plan to also get NBC Universo. Click here to check availability of live local channels in your area.

Fubo

Fubo costs $20 for the first month, then $45 per month, and includes Fox, FS1, Telemundo and NBC Universo. Click here to see if you can get a live feed of Fox in your area.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV costs $40 a month and includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo but not NBC Universo. Check to see which live channels Hulu offers in your area.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue's $40 Access plan includes Fox, FS1 and Telemundo, and the $5-a-month Español Pack will net you NBC Universo. Channel lineups vary by region, so check out which live, local networks you get on the PlayStation Vue Plans page.

Sling TV

Sling TV's $25-a-month Blue plan includes Fox and FS1, but neither the Blue nor Orange plan include Telemundo or NBC Universo. You can get NBC Universo (but not Telemundo) with the $10-a-month Best of Spanish TV add-on. Click here to see if you can get a live feed of Fox in your area.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is currently available in dozens of major metro markets. It costs $40 a month and includes Fox, FS1, Telemundo and NBC Universo.

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