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World Cup day 15: who, what, and how to watch

The final day of group play is upon us!

England v Costa Rica - International Friendly Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

So here we are, at the final day of the group stages. It seems like only yesterday that Vladimir Putin was sheepishly shaking the hand of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia after host nation Russia scored the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup. Now, two weeks later, nearly all of the wheat has been separated from the chaff, Germany has been eliminated after finishing fourth(!) in the same group that Sweden won, and with only four matches remaining before the knockout rounds begin, there is still plenty of drama and intrigue ahead of the matches.

As it stands, the following teams have made it through the group stages and are on to the knockout rounds:

Group A - Uruguay (1) and Russia (2)

Group B - Spain (1) and Portugal (2)

Group C - France (1) and Denmark (2)

Group D - Croatia (1) and Argentina (2)

Group E - Brazil (1) and Switzerland (2)

Group F - Sweden? Sweden! (1) Mexico (2)

Although the survivors of Group G have been sorted, as both Belgium and England are through to the next round while Panama and Tunisia have already been eliminated, there is still the matter of deciding the winner of the group. Belgium have met and even exceeded their group-stage expectations, amassing two comfortable wins and looking sharp in the process. England spent their first match taking far too long to figure out Tunisia before putting the game to bed in stoppage time, but then went on to smash Panama resoundingly to the tune of 6-1, which brings us to the fun fact/painful reminder that Panama finished above the USMNT in World Cup qualification.

Since both teams have identical statistics across the board, a win for either side guarantees their finishing atop the group, a far simpler circumstance than nearly any group so far. Should their be a draw, it would come down to the “fair play” tiebreaker, wherein the team with the least amount of yellow/red cards accrued (currently England) would be deemed the winner of the group. This match should be a true acid test of each team’s “contender” status, and the first real test either team will face at this competition.

Danny Welbeck, Arsenal’s lone representative on the Three Lions, has not featured for the English side at all this World Cup, largely in part to being stuck behind Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford in the attacking pecking order. Unless there is a rash of injuries, don’t expect that to change in this important match.

Group H is not nearly as cut and dry as Group G, as Japan, Senegal, and Colombia are all very much alive in the hunt for knockout round qualification, with only Poland left out of the mix. Colombia rebounded well in their second match after an opening loss to Japan, as current Arsenal backup keeper David Ospina posted a shutout against former Gunner goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and Poland en route to a 2-0 win. The most direct way for Ospina to see himself playing in the next round is if Colombia beats Senegal. A draw can keep them alive, but only if Japan loses to Poland (who have scored one total goal over two matches). However, Japan and Senegal need a single point each to ensure going through, which means the pressure is largely on Colombia to produce a winning result.

Senegal v Colombia, Group H
Samara Arena
7AM PT | 10AM ET | 3PM BT | 5PM RT
US TV: Fox
US Stream: Telemundo

Japan v Poland, Group H
Volgograd Arena
7AM PT | 10AM ET | 3PM BT | 5PM RT
US TV: Fox Sports 1
US Stream: Telemundo

England v Belgium, Group G
Kaliningrad Stadium
11AM PT | 2PMM ET | 7PM BT | 9PM RT
US TV: Fox
US Stream: Telemundo

Panama v Tunisia, Group G
Mordovia Arena
11AM PT | 2PMM ET | 7PM BT | 9PM RT
US TV: Fox Sports 1
US Stream: Telemundo