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The FIFA World Cup has begun, and billions (yes, billions) of soccer fans around the world will be glued to their televisions for the next month watching the international tournament.

The World Cup is the world’s most-watched sporting event. It’s held every four years and showcases the top men’s national soccer teams in a tournament to determine which country reigns supreme.

How The World Cup Works

Teams have to qualify for the World Cup in the preceding three years of the tournament, and 32 teams make the cut. Unfortunately, the United States did not qualify for this year’s World Cup–nor did our Canadian neighbors.

The nation hosting the World Cup (in this year, Russia) has an automatic bid into the tournament. They, along with the rest of the 32 teams, compete at venues around the host nation for about a month.

world cup final 2014
Over 1 billion TV viewers tuned in to watch the World Cup Final in 2014. [By Danilo Borges/copa2014.gov.br Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Group Stage

The first round of the tournament is known as the Group Stage. In this stage, teams compete within eight groups of four teams each.

The groups were drawn last winter in Russia, with seedings based off of each team’s FIFA ranking. Due to tournament rules, no group could have more than one team from each continent with the exception of Europe, which contains a large number of qualifying teams.

During the Group Stage, each group plays a round-robin tournament, meaning each team plays three matches against the other teams in its same group, for a total of six matches within each group.

Once all of the games have been played, teams within a group are ranked based on points, with three points being awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. The top two teams from each group advance to the next stage of the World Cup, known as the Knockout Stage.

Knockout Stage

Sixteen teams advance to the Knockout Stage of the tournament. In this stage, it’s win or go home.

The top two teams from each group play each other, and the winner advances to the next round, while the loser is out of the tournament.

Winners from each group advance to play the winners of another group in single-elimination games, until only two teams remain. The World Cup bracket below shows how the matchups work in a similar format to NCAA March Madness.

2018 World Cup bracket CBS

The final two teams left in the tournament advance to the World Cup Final, which takes place on July 15 in Moscow. The two teams that lose to these teams in the semi-final are the only ones who continue playing in the knockout rounds. These teams play a third-place playoff the day before the final.

The World Cup Final determines the International Champion for the next 4 years and establishes the nation’s supremacy in the world’s most popular sport.

Watching the World Cup

Soccer has been gaining popularity here in the United States over the last decade or so, and even though our nation’s home team won’t be participating in the World Cup, you can be sure that there will be plenty of Americans watching to see which country comes out on top.

While Buffalo, NY is more known for a different kind of “football,” it’s home to one of the best soccer bars in the country, according to The Travel Channel — among other places where you can watch the sport.

And any soccer fan will tell you that watching a match at a crowded bar amplifies the experience. Soccer fans are known for their passion, and watching the games with a large group of fellow fans makes the game more of a spectacle.

Most fans won’t have the chance to go to Russia for a game, but they’ll be watching at local pubs and restaurants supporting their favorite teams. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best places to watch the World Cup here in Buffalo.

Whether you’re a diehard soccer fan or looking to get into the sport, watching soccer at one of these local businesses will help give you the true World Cup experience.

Buffalo World Cup Viewing Locations

Mès Que – Located on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, Mès Que is considered the premier place to watch soccer in Buffalo. Travel Channel named it one of America’s Great Soccer Bars, and they’ll be showcasing all of the World Cup games with sound starting on June 14. The bar has seven TVs, and fans have the option of watching on the patio on the bar’s 60-inch outdoor screen when there’s nice weather. They have several activities planned, including a Weekday World Cup Happy Hour for fans to catch up on earlier matches and a “World Cup passport” program that will give fans the chance to win prizes for watching matches. The bar drew capacity-level crowds during the 2014 World Cup and even shut down part of Hertel Avenue for one U.S. match, so you can expect more of the same this time around despite the U.S. team not qualifying.

mes que hertel ave world cup soccer
Soccer fans can watch the World Cup inside or on the patio at Mès Que, named one of the top soccer bars in the U.S. [Image: Yelp]
(716) Food & Sport – Located downtown by the hockey arena, one of Buffalo’s most popular places to watch sports will be showcasing the World Cup games this summer. Fans will have the opportunity to watch the matches on the bar’s 38-foot video screen or on one of its 70 additional TVs. 716 wasn’t around during the last World Cup in 2014, but it should make for a popular watching spot this year due to the restaurant’s charged, live-game-like atmosphere. Check the events schedule on their website to find out when matches will be shown and make reservations.

Caffe Aroma – Looking for a place outside of the usual bar scene to watch the games? Caffe Aroma, located on Elmwood Ave., always draws large crowds during the World Cup, with many patrons congregating on their open patio to watch the screens inside. The cafe has a European feel, and during a crowded match you might swear you’ve been transported to soccer-crazed country like Italy or England. The cafe also has some of the most delicious coffee in the city to get you going for those early matches, fabulous wine and pastries and other food to snack on during the games.

Acropolis OPA – Acropolis might be known for its Greek food, but it’s also a fantastic place to watch sports. The Elmwood Ave. restaurant has a full bar and several large TV screens and plans to show all World Cup games airing during normal business hours. Acropolis opens at 9am during the week and 8am on weekends, so you can catch the early games while enjoying one of their breakfast specials.

Buffalo Wild Wings – The local outpost of this sports-themed restaurant and bar is located on Niagara Falls Blvd. in Tonawanda and will be showing the World Cup games regularly during the tournament. All Buffalo Wild Wings locations will also offer special World Cup-themed specials, including 5 wings for $5, drink deals, and a “Watch & Win” promo, which will allow customers to get a free select shareable appetizer on a future visit if there are at least 3 combined goals scored in a match. And with plenty of TVs lining the walls, there’s not a bad seat in the house to take in the action.

World Cup TV Schedule

Whether you’re watching at home or in a bar, restaurant or cafe, even non-soccer fans will enjoy watching the world’s best players compete on an international stage. World Cup viewers in Buffalo with Spectrum Cable have the unique opportunity to watch both US and Canadian coverage, which makes for an interesting viewing experience. In addition to watching the games on FOX (including the main FOX network and FOX Sports One), Buffalo residents with Spectrum Cable can also watch several of the games on the Canadian network CTV.

Fox Sports TV Schedule

GROUP PLAY

Thursday, June 14

11 AM – Russia vs Saudi Arabia (Group 1), Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FOX

Friday, June 15

8 AM – Egypt vs Uruguay (Group A), Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg, FS1
11 AM – Morocco vs Iran (Group B), St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FOX
2 PM – Portugal vs Spain (Group B), Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FOX

Saturday, June 16

6 AM – France vs Australia (Group C), Kazan Arena, Kazan, FS1
9 AM – Argentina vs Iceland (Group D, Spartak Stadium, Moscow, FOX
Noon – Peru vs Denmark (Group C), Mordovia Arena, Saransk, FS1
3 PM – Croatia vs Nigeria (Group D), Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, FS1

Sunday, June 17

8 AM – Costa Rica vs Serbia (Group E), Samara Arena, Samara, FOX
11:00 AM – Germany vs Mexico (Group F), Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FS1
2 PM – Brazil vs Switzerland (Group E), Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, FS1

Monday, June 18

8 AM – Sweden vs Korea Republic (Group F), Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FS1
11 AM – Belgium vs Panama (Group G), Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FS1
2 PM – Tunisia vs England (Group G), Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, FS1

Tuesday, June 19

8 AM – Colombia vs Japan (Group H), Mordovia Arena, Saransk, FS1
11 AM – Poland vs Senegal (Group H), Spartak Stadium, Moscow, FOX
2 PM – Russia vs Egypt (Group A), St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FOX

Wednesday, June 20

8 AM – Portugal vs Morocco (Group B), Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FS1
11 AM – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia (Group A), Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, FOX
2 PM – Iran vs Spain (Group B), Kazan Arena, Kazan, FOX

Thursday, June 21

8 AM – Denmark vs Australia (Group C), Samara Arena, Samara, FS1
11 AM – France vs Peru (Group C), Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg, FOX
2 PM – Argentina vs Croatia (Group D), Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FOX

Friday, June 22

8 AM – Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E), St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FS1
11 AM – Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D), Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, FOX
2 PM – Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E), Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, FOX

Saturday, June 23

8 AM – Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G), Spartak Stadium, Moscow, FOX
11 AM – Korea Republic vs Mexico (Group F), Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, FOX
2 PM – Germany vs Sweden (Group F), Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FOX

Sunday, June 24

8 AM – England vs Panama (Group G), Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FS1
11 AM – Japan vs Senegal (Group H), Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg, FOX
2 PM – Poland vs Colombia (Group H), Kazan Arena, Kazan, FOX

Monday, June 25

10 AM – Group A: Uruguay vs Russia, Samara Arena, Samara, FOX; Saudi Arabia vs Egypt, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd FS1
2 PM – Group B: Iran vs Portugal, Mordovia Arena, Saransk, FOX; Spain vs Morocco Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, FS1

Tuesday, June 26

10 AM – Group C: Denmark vs France, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FOX; Australia vs Peru, Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FS1
2 PM – Group D: Nigeria vs Argentina, St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FOX; Iceland vs Croatia, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, FS1

Wednesday, June 27

10 AM – Group F: Mexico vs Sweden, Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg, FOX; Korea Republic vs Germany, Kazan Arena, Kazan, FS1
2 PM – Group E: Serbia vs Brazil, Spartak Stadium, Moscow, FOX; Switzerland vs Costa, Rica Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FS1

Thursday, June 28

10 AM – Group H: Senegal vs Colombia, Samara Arena, Samara, FOX; Japan vs Poland, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, FS1
2 PM – Group G: England vs Belgium, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, FOX; Panama vs Tunisia, Mordovia Arena, Saransk, FS1

ROUND OF 16

Saturday, June 30

10 AM – Group C1 vs Group 2D, Kazan Arena, Kazan, FOX
2 PM – Group A1 vs Group B2, Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FOX

Sunday, July 1

10 AM – Group B1 vs Group A2, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FOX
2 PM – Group D1 vs Group C2, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FOX

Monday, July 2

10 AM – Group E1 vs. Group F2, Samara Arena, Samara, FS1
2 PM – Group G1 vs. Group H2, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, FOX

Tuesday, July 3

10 AM – Group F1 vs Group E2, St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FS1
2 PM – Group H1 vs Group G2, Spartak Stadium, Moscow, FOX

QUARTERFINALS

Friday, July 6

10 AM – A1-B2 Winner vs C1-D2 Winner, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, FS1
2 PM – E1-F2 Winner vs G1-H2 Winner, Kazan Arena, Kazan, FS1

Saturday, July 7

10 AM – E2-F1 Winner vs G2-H1 Winner, Samara Arena, Samara, FOX
2 PM – A2-B1 Winner vs. C2-D1 Winner, Fisht Stadium, Sochi, FOX

SEMIFINALS

Tuesday, July 10

A1-B2-C1-D2 Winner vs E1-F2-G1-H2 Winner, St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FOX

Wednesday, July 11

A2-B1-C2-D1 Winner vs. E2-F1-G2-H1 Winner, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FOX

THIRD-PLACE MATCH

Saturday, July 14

10 AM – St. Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, FOX

FINAL

Sunday, July 15

11 AM – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, FOX

CTV Schedule

  • All weekend matches on June 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th, 30th, July 1st, 7th, (nothing on 8th), 14th (3rd Place Match), 15th (Final)
  • Semifinal 1: Tuesday, July 10, 1pm
  • Semifinal 2: Wednesday, July 11, 1pm

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