World Cup TV guide: how to watch all the action from Russia 2018

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 13th June 2018, 4:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th June 2018, 6:23 pm

The World Cup is here - and football fever is sweeping the nation.

But even to those who are obsessive over the beautiful game, 64 matches - sometimes as many as four a day - dragged out over a month can seem a little daunting.

Fear not: television coverage of events from Russia is once again extensive, but not so hard to wrap your head around.

Here's everything you need to know about watching Russia 2018 from your sofa.

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    Which TV channels are broadcasting the matches?

    The broadcasting duties for the World Cup will be split between the UK's two largest broadcasters: half the games will be shown on BBC, and half on ITV.

    Most of the games will be broadcast on BBC One and ITV1, though it's worth noting that some games will be appearing on BBC Two, BBC Four and ITV4 when we reach the closing matches of the group stages.

    We've noted which games will be broadcast where in our fixture guide below.

    The broadcasters of the games in the knockout stage of the tournament are subject to change, and both will be showing the final on Sunday 15 July.

    All of the action will be free to watch, and all games will also be available to stream online through the channel's relevant services (iPlayer and ITV Hub).

    When does it all kick off?

    The first blow of the whistle will be at 4pm on Thursday 14 June as host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the tournament's opening match. That game will be shown on ITV1.

    But before that, coverage of the opening ceremony begins on the same channel at 2.30pm.

    What's the plan for the opening ceremony?

    Robbie Williams fans, take note. The 90s pop icon will be headlining the opening bash, performing in front of a capacity crowd inside Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, where the final will be held a month later.

    He will be joined by more than 500 dancers, gymnasts and trampolinists, who are set to showcase the history of Russia and its culture.

    The ceremony itself kicks off at 3.30pm - just half an hour before the start of the first game - and will be a shorter than usual affair focusing on musical acts: opera singer Placido Domingo and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina are also set to appear.

    Pianist Denis Matsuev, and opera stars Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eivazov, Ildar Abdrazakov, and Albina Shagimuratova will also be representing Russia.

    There's no word yet on whether the official song of the tournament - which features Will Smith - will be performed, but it has been customary at previous World Cups for it to get a live airing.

    When are the matches on TV?

    Thursday 14 June 2018:

    Russia v Saudi Arabia, 4pm BST (6pm local), Group A, on ITV1 (Moscow, Luzhniki).

    Friday 15 June 2018:

    Egypt v Uruguay, 1pm BST (5pm), Group A, on BBC1 (Ekaterinburg).Morocco v Iran, 4pm BST (6pm), Group B, on ITV1 (St Petersburg).Portugal v Spain, 7pm BST (9pm), Group B, on BBC1 (Sochi).

    Saturday 16 June 2018:

    France v Australia, 11am BST (1pm), Group C, on BBC1 (Kazan).Argentina v Iceland, 2pm BST (4pm), Group D, on ITV1 (Moscow, Spartak).Peru v Denmark, 5pm BST (7pm), Group C, on BBC1 (Saransk).Croatia v Nigeria, 8pm BST (6pm), Group D, on ITV1 (Kaliningrad).

    Sunday 17 June 2018:

    Costa Rica v Serbia, 1pm BST (4pm), Group E, on ITV1 (Samara).Germany v Mexico, 4pm BST (6pm), Group F, on BBC1 (Moscow, Luzhniki).Brazil v Switzerland, 7pm BST (9pm), Group E, on ITV1 (Rostov-on-Don).

    Monday 18 June 2018:

    Sweden v South Korea, 1pm BST (3pm), Group F, on ITV1 (Nizhny Novgorod).Belgium v Panama, 4pm BST (6pm), Group G, on BBC1 (Sochi).Tunisia v England, 7pm BST (9pm), Group G, on BBC1 (Volgograd).

    Tuesday 19 June 2018:

    Colombia v Japan, 1pm BST (3pm), Group H, on ITV1 (Saransk).Poland v Senegal, 4pm BST (6pm), Group H, on ITV1 (Moscow, Spartak).Russia v Egypt, 7pm BST (9pm), Group A, on BBC1 (St Petersburg).

    Wednesday 20 June 2018:

    Portugal v Morocco, 1pm BST (3pm), Group B, on BBC1 (Moscow, Luzhniki).Uruguay v Saudi Arabia, 4pm BST (6pm), Group A, on BBC1 (Rostov-on-Don).Iran v Spain, 7pm BST (9pm), Group B, on ITV1 (Kazan).

    Thursday 21 June 2018:

    Denmark v Australia, 1pm BST (4pm), Group C, on ITV1 (Samara).France v Peru, 4pm BST (8pm), Group C, on ITV1 (Ekaterinburg).Argentina v Croatia, 7pm BST (9pm), Group D, on BBC1 (Nizhny Novgorod).

    Friday 22 June 2018:

    Brazil v Costa Rica, 1pm BST (3pm), Group E, on ITV1 (St Petersburg).Nigeria v Iceland, 4pm BST (6pm), Group D, on BBC1 (Volgograd).Serbia v Switzerland, 7pm BST (8pm), Group E, on BBC1 (Kaliningrad).

    Saturday 23 June 2018:

    Belgium v Tunisia, 1pm BST (3pm), Group G, on BBC1 (Moscow, Spartak).South Korea v Mexico, 4pm BST (6pm), Group F, on ITV1 (Rostov-on-Don).Germany v Sweden, 7pm BST (9pm), Group F, on ITV1 (Sochi).

    Sunday 24 June 2018:

    England v Panama, 1pm BST (3pm), Group G, on BBC1 (Nizhny Novgorod).Japan v Senegal, 4pm BST (8pm), Group H, on BBC1 (Ekaterinburg).Poland v Colombia, 7pm BST (9pm), Group H, on ITV1 (Kazan).

    Monday 25 June 2018:

    Uruguay v Russia, 3pm BST (6pm), Group A, on ITV1 (Samara).Saudi Arabia v Egypt, 3pm BST (5pm), Group A, on ITV4 (Volgograd).Spain v Morocco, 7pm BST (9pm), Group B, on BBC1 (Kaliningrad).Iran v Portugal, 7pm BST (9pm), Group B, on BBC4 (Saransk).

    Tuesday 26 June 2018:

    Australia v Peru, 3pm BST (5pm), Group C, on ITV1 (Sochi).Denmark v France, 3pm BST (5pm), Group C, on ITV4 (Moscow, Luzhniki).Nigeria v Argentina, 7pm BST (9pm), Group D, on BBC1 (St Petersburg).Iceland v Croatia, 7pm BST (9pm), Group D, on BBC4 (Rostov-on-Don).

    Wednesday 27 June 2018:

    South Korea v Germany, 3pm BST (5pm), Group F, on BBC1 (Kazan).Mexico v Sweden, 3pm BST (7pm), Group F, on BBC2 (Ekaterinburg).Serbia v Brazil, 7pm BST (9pm), Group E, on BBC and ITV1 (Moscow, Spartak).Switzerland v Costa Rica, 7pm BST (9pm), Group E, on ITV4 (Nizhny Novgorod).

    Thursday 28 June 2018:

    Japan v Poland, 3pm BST (5pm), Group H, on BBC1 (Volgograd).Senegal v Colombia, 3pm BST (6pm), Group H, on BBC2 (Samara).Panama v Tunisia, 7pm BST (9pm), Group G, on ITV1 (Saransk).England v Belgium, 7pm BST (8pm), Group G, on ITV4 (Kaliningrad).

    Saturday 30 June 2018:

    LAST 16: Winner C v Runner up D, 3pm BST (5pm), Round of 16 (Match 49), on ITV (Kazan).LAST 16: Winner A v Runner up B, 7pm BST (9pm), Round of 16 (Match 50), on ITV (Sochi).

    Sunday 1 July 2018:

    LAST 16: Winner B v Runner up A, 3pm BST (5pm), Round of 16 (Match 51), on BBC (Moscow, Luzhniki).LAST 16: Winner D v Runner up C, 7pm BST (9pm), Round of 16 (Match 52), on ITV (Nizhny Novgorod).

    Monday 2 July 2018:

    LAST 16: Winner E v Runner up F, 3pm BST (6pm), Round of 16 (Match 53), on BBC (Samara).LAST 16: Winner G v Runner up H, 7pm BST (9pm), Round of 16 (Match 54), on BBC (Rostov-on-Don).

    Tuesday 3 July 2018:

    LAST 16: Winner F v Runner up E, 3pm BST (5pm), Round of 16 (Match 55), on ITV (St Petersburg).LAST 16: Winner H v Runner up G, 7pm BST (9pm), Round of 16 (Match 56), on BBC (Moscow, Spartak).

    Friday 6 July 2018:

    QUARTER-FINAL: Winner 49 v Winner 50, 3pm BST (5pm), Quarter-final (Match 57), on BBC (Nizhny Novgorod).QUARTER-FINAL: Winner 53 v Winner 54, 7pm BST (9pm), Quarter-final (Match 58), on BBC (Kazan).

    Saturday 7 July 2018:

    QUARTER-FINAL: Winner 55 v Winner 56, 3pm BST (6pm), Quarter-final (Match 59), on ITV (Samara).QUARTER-FINAL: Winner 51 v Winner 52, 7pm BST (9pm), Quarter-final (Match 60), on ITV (Sochi).

    Tuesday 10 July 2018:

    SEMI-FINAL: Winner 57 v Winner 58, 7pm BST (9pm), Semi-final (Match 61), on ITV (St Petersburg).

    Wednesday 11 July 2018:

    SEMI-FINAL: Winner 59 v Winner 60, 7pm BST (9pm), Semi-final (Match 62), on BBC (Moscow, Luzhniki).

    Saturday 14 July 2018:

    3rd/4th PLAY-OFF: Loser 61 v Loser 62, 3pm BST (5pm), Third-place playoff (Match 63), on ITV (St Petersburg).

    Sunday 15 July 2018:

    FINAL: Winner 61 v Winner 62, 7pm BST (9pm), Final (Match 64), on BBC and ITV (Moscow, Luzhniki).

    Who are the pundits on BBC and ITV this year?


    Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan will lead the coverage, joined by Match of the Day regulars like Alan Shearer, Phil Neville, Jermaine Jenas, Danny Murphy, and Martin Keown.

    Also on the team are England footballing legends Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand, England women's football star Alex Scott, Chelsea and Ivory Coast favourite Didier Drogba, and Jurgen Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup with Germany.

    Spanish international Cesc Fabregas has also been announced as a pundit, and Pablo Zabaleta, who played in the 2014 World Cup Final, will also be on the team.

    The BBC's punditry team - led by Gary Lineker - are ready to tackle the World Cup (Photo: BBC)


    Mark Pougatch and Jacqui Oatley are the lead presenters for ITV's coverage.

    They'll be joined by a big line-up of pundits - the 'headliner' or which is arguably Gary Neville - including a trio of former Manchester United players in Patrice Evra, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs.

    Celtic legend Henrik Larsson is also on the team, as are Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, and Chelsea Ladies star Eni Aluko.

    Referee Mark Clattenburg will be offering his insight on the tournament's controversial decisions, while former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic and current Republic of Ireland head coach Martin O'Neill round out the team.

    Who are the commentators?


    Anybody who's watched a match on the BBC in recent years will be familiar with Guy Mowbray, Jonathan Pearce and Simon Brotherton, who will be the Beeb's leading voices during games.

    They'll be joined by co-commentators Mark Lawrenson and Kevin Kilbane. But it's Vicki Sparks who's the one to watch here; she'll be making history as the first woman to commentate at a World Cup on British TV.


    ITV's go-to footballing voices will be in force to provide commentary on the games; Clive Tyldesley, Sam Matterface and Jon Champion will be your main commentators.

    Glenn Hoddle, Ally McCoist and Iain Dowie will be ITV's co-commentators.

    What else is there to watch?

    The coverage of the World Cup will be extensive, but it's not just the games themselves that will be vying for your attention.

    Match of the Day will be providing highlights of all the games on the days when the BBC is showing fewer live games than ITV, and ITV return the favour on the days the BBC gets to have all the fun with their 'World Cup Highlights' show.

    Both will be broadcast around 10.30pm on their respective channels, and the BBC will be putting together highlights from every game on YouTube.

    Following England's final group game against Belgium on Thursday June 28, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid are set to host a one-off, late-night version of their breakfast show called 'Good Evening Britain'.

    We're going primetime!Say hello to Good EVENING Britain! Read more:

    — Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 6, 2018

    Aside from all the usual radio coverage on 5 Live - who are broadcasting every game as it happens - the station also gives us Robbie Savage's World Cup Breakfast every morning of the tournament.

    There's even more tidbits online: the BBC will be offering viewers the chance to watch games in 'virtual reality' through their app; as if you are in a private box at the stadium.

    ITV are also collaborating with freestyle footballing duo F2 who will produce highlights packages - goals and moments interspersed with their own impressive ball trickery - and Mark Pougatch and Jacqui Oatley will be fronting numerous official podcasts throughout the tournament.

    [Main image: Shutterstock]