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Football fever: Where to watch the World Cup in Brussels
National flags are being draped from balconies, car wing mirrors are sporting Belgian colours, World Cup 2018 is underway.
Before the final whistle blows in Moscow on 15 July, all 32 national teams will have played three matches in the first group phase. Expect some noisy and colourful scenes as fans take to the streets to celebrate any wins.
That number is then whittled down to 16 as only two teams from each group go forward to the nailbiting knockout stage from 30 June.
If your favourite team is not competing or doesn’t make the cut, switch colours and join the locals in supporting the Red Devils. The BBC has tipped them as a potential winners and there’s a reasonable chance that they will make the semi-finals. And Belgium is off to a cracking start after a 3-0 victory over Panama on Monday evening..
Where to watch the matches (or places to avoid if you couldn’t care less!)
If you prefer the outdoor crowd experience, head to one of the many giant screens dotted around the capital. Several communes are planning to broadcast matches at outdoor sites: Molenbeek (the Edmond Machtens stadium), Jette (Place du Miroir), Saint-Josse, Watermael-Boitsfort (Place Payfa-Fosseprez), Evere (town hall), Woluwe (Place Dumon, Stockel), Auderghem (Place Pinoy), and two screens are planned in Schaerbeek.
Bars and cafes are usually authorised to screen matches as long as the screen is not visible from the street. In the city centre, there are no shortage of possible viewing sites. As well as the Irish pubs, sports bar The Big Game (near the Bourse) wants to guarantee you’ll catch every angle with no less than 25 screens, while Rooster’s bar boasts eight TV screens and two large projectors.
Café du Mundial is hosting a fun watch party in the Chiquitabanana warehouse at Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains, complete with five screens and football-themed food and drink. The Fan House, a pop-up bar located on the Grand Place, has free admission and live screenings of all the matches.
Other watering holes promising coverage, are the Fair Play in Woluwe, Bar du Patron in Auderghem and Le Central Brasserie in Jette. Place Luxembourg will certainly be a place to watch and party, especially on Thursday evening fixtures. Café Luxembourg, W XYZ bar at the Aloft Hotel and Fat Boys Sports Bar and Grill on Avenue de Cortenbergh in the EU quarter, are a couple of sure bets.
For craft beer drinkers, Le Barboteur on Avenue Louis Bertrand in Schaerbeek, will ensure your thirst is quenched as well as screening every game. For a younger student vibe, head to Korner Ixelles on Avenue de l'Université. It is taking reservations to guarantee a good seat for each match.
Hotel lobby bars could be a quieter option. Thon Hotel, Brussels City Centre, is screening every match in their World Cup Lounge. While the Crowne Plaza Brussels is organising a happy hour between 18.00-19.00 on match days in its Brasserie Deco Verre. At the Pentahotel on Chaussée de Charleroi, all games will be live streamed on seven TVs and one massive big screen.
Cheer on your favourite team from the relative comfort of The Football Village’s new home at the Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel on Avenue Louise. There’s a giant screen in the courtyard of hotel and viewing is also possible from indoor big TV screens (useful if the weather turns foul).
The Football Village welcomes fans of every nationality. There are afterwork parties hosted by @Seven, Gin Jeudi, Just A Night and Les belges jeunesses. Entrance is free, but you will be asked to purchase a 10€ drink card as cash payment is not accepted at the bar. The card is also valid for food, and may be used again on a second visit.
World Cup 2018 group stage
Group A Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Republic of Korea
Group G Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Calendar for Belgium’s Red Devils:
Monday 18 June, 17.00: Belgium – Panama
Saturday 23 June, 14.00: Belgium – Tunisia
Thursday 28 June, 20.00: Belgium – England
Photo : Luc Claessen / Belga