Los Angeles Times




Where: Stadium 974

Time: 8 a.m. PST

TV: Channel 11, Telemundo, Peacock Premium

The buzz: Cristiano Ronaldo, internatio­nal soccer’s all-time leading scorer, has won everything except a World Cup. At 37, this is his last chance. This will be his fifth attempt and he comes with a strong supporting cast, including Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio, Manchester City defenders Rúben Dias and João Cancelo, and midfielder Bernardo Silva. But Portugal appears to be trending in the wrong direction, exiting in the round of 16 in the European Championsh­ips and needing wins over Turkey and North Macedonia in a playoff just to get to Qatar. Ghana is the youngest team, averaging 24.7 years of age, and the lowest ranked, standing 61st. Little is expected, especially given the group it is in. Ghana’s most accomplish­ed player is Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew, the brother of midfielder André Ayew, Ghana’s all-time leader in appearance­s (110) and the active leader in goals (23).


Where: Lusail Iconic Stadium

Time: 11 a.m. PST

TV: Channel 11, Telemundo, Peacock

The buzz: This is an intriguing opening matchup: Brazil, the heavy favorite, against dark-horse Serbia, which has the talent to play deep into the tournament. The five-time champions from South America are loaded, boasting an attack led by Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Richarliso­n, a midfield that includes Casemiro and Fabinho, ageless captain Thiago Silva on the backline and the best pair of goalkeeper­s in Alisson and Ederson. All but four of the 26 players on its roster play in top-five European leagues. Brazil has lost just twice in the last three years, both to Argentina. Serbia will be no pushover though. Its front line features Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, the country’s alltime leading scorer. But the Serbs have played a weak schedule this year and have not faced a World Cup qualifier in 2022.

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