Thanksgiving Day brings a celebration of World Cup football from early morning until mid-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 Union fan, get up early to see Cameroon. Olivier Mbaizo is the first Union player to make it into a World Cup team and while he’s unlikely to play, hopefully he’ll at least make it to TV at some point.
Here’s how to catch all the action.
FS1’s coverage window is from 4am to 10am, then Fox has coverage from 10am to 4pm. FS1 has an end of day studio show at 4pm and the late night shows are at 10:30pm on FS1 and Fox at midnight. Telemundo’s coverage runs continuously from 4am to 5:30pm and the late studio show is at midnight.
» READ MORE: The TV, radio and live streaming schedule for every game of the World Cup
Time: 5 am
Venue: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
FoxSports.com and TelemundoDeportes.com require authentication by participating pay TV providers. Peacock is the subscription streaming service from NBC and Telemundo. The first 12 games of the World Cup will be available on Peacock’s free tier, the rest will be behind the subscription paywall.
Fox also has free replays of every game on its Tubi streaming platform.
Betting Odds: Switzerland -140, Cameroon +440, draw +240.
» READ MORE: Fox’s World Cup coverage won’t cover controversy over Qatar, but Telemundo will on opening day
Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri. Of the 26 players in the Switzerland squad, he has the most national team career goals (coincidentally 26). But he’s had a disappointing first season with the Chicago Fire in MLS: seven goals and six assists in 29 games for the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference. It was his first game since October 9 when he lost to Ghana in a 2-0 warm-up game on Thursday. If he plays well in Qatar it will be a huge endorsement for MLS. If he doesn’t, the critics will notice.
Cameroon: Collins Fai. Admittedly, this is a homer pick, but it’s important for the Indomitable Lions. Fai is the start of the team and passed 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 by returning the team to a four-back setup. He’s unlikely to lose the job and, at 52, he has the fourth most caps of any player in the squad. But if you’re hoping to see Mbaizo play, you should know about the guy before him.
» READ MORE: Olivier Mbaizo is one of Philadelphia’s many connections to the 2022 World Cup
Time: 8 o’clock
Venue: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Betting Odds: Uruguay -145, South Korea +450, draw +250.
Uruguay: Federico Valverde. Forwards Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez are the big stars but Valverde is behind them a lot. The 24-year-old Real Madrid star has scored eight goals and four assists this season and has played in every game but one. This is his first world championship and he will be the leader of it Celesteis the new generation.
South Korea: son Heung-min. There’s no doubt who’s the big name here. He’s the captain, by far the biggest star, and the face of countless billboards in Seoul and beyond. And he will be even harder to miss than usual in Qatar because he will be wearing a face mask in late October after sustaining a facial fracture. But everything indicates that he will be ready to play at the World Cup.
» READ MORE: How much do you know about the World Cup and its history? Take our quiz.
Time: 11 clock
Venue: Stadium 974, Doha
Betting Odds: Portugal -250, Ghana +750, draw +350.
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo. It has to be him, right? You don’t have to like him, and a lot of people don’t. But for all of this team’s talent – and there’s plenty of it – there’s no doubt who commands the spotlight. If he wins it will be big news; If he loses, it will be even bigger news.
Ghana: Inaki Williams. Here’s one of the best personal stories from the World Cup. He was born in Bilbao, Spain, to parents who had emigrated from Ghana at great risk to their personal security. They made it, eventually settled, and he was good enough at football to play for the Athletic Club, the Basque Country’s revered footballing institution. In fact, he became only the second black professional player in the history of a team that only signs Basque players.
He probably would have played for Spain if that national team hadn’t overtaken him for six years. So this summer he made the big call to play for his parents’ home country. Not long after, Spain called in their brother Nico, who also plays for Athletic – and he’s in that country’s World Cup squad. There’s a long history of brothers playing at World Cups together, but the Williamses are only the second couple to play for different countries.
» READ MORE: Craig LaBan picks the best Philadelphia-area restaurants for the 2022 World Cup
Time: 14 o’clock
Venue: Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar (Men’s FIFA World Cup Group Stage)
Betting Odds: Brazil -230, Serbia +600, draw +350
Brazil: neymar. In both our top players to watch feature and our staff predictions, we’ve highlighted many other great players who will surround him. But in the end, he’s the five-time champion’s biggest star. So let’s place him here as the Seleçao begins their search for a 20-year-old weight for their record-breaking sixth title.
Serbia: Dusan Vlahovic. The 22-year-old from Italian giants Juventus is a prolific goalscorer and could be another star of the tournament. However, he missed his last four club games before going to Qatar due to an adductor injury.