Week one of the World Cup did not disappoint in excitement, controversy, and stars living up to their expectations. Brazil got off to a slow start, but ended up defeating Croatia, 3-1, in the tournament’s first game. Then there was the biggest upset of the first week: Costa Rica’s 3-1 win over Uruguay. The most dramatic finish came from Switzerland’s stoppage-time game-winner. Lionel Messi scored the deciding goal for Argentina against Bosnia-Herzegovina, proving that he is exactly the same player internationally as he is for Barcelona. And Netherlands striker Robin van Persie provided the highlight of the week with an insane diving header against Spain.
Phew! We’ve got three more weeks of this! Pace yourself with our picks for the games to watch in the World Cup’s second week!
Brazil vs. Mexico — Tuesday, June 17, 3 p.m.
The host team escaped with a win against Croatia last week with the help of some controversial calls. Brazil will face off against Mexico in a battle of the top two teams in group A. Mexico defeated Cameroon in its first matchup of the tournament, with Oribe Peralta scoring the only goal. After going through four different coaches in the qualifying rounds, Mexico is finally playing comfortably. If the Brazilians find themselves falling behind early as they did against Croatia, there may be no saving them this time around.
Colombia vs. Cote d’Ivoire — Thursday, June 19, 12 p.m.
Ivory Coast’s star Didier Drogba didn’t play many minutes against Japan on Saturday, nor did he have a goal or an assist. But his presence was felt nonetheless. With his team down 1-0 in the second half, the fearless veteran came into the match and lit a spark under Ivory Coast’s offense. Two goals within two minutes turned a deficit into a comfortable lead. Now Cote d’Ivoire finds itself pitted against a tough Colombia team that dispatched Greece with ease over the weekend. Ivory Coast’s defense will need to contain Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who had a goal and an assist against Greece, if they hope to come away with another victory.
England vs. Uruguay — Thursday, June 19, 3 p.m.
England put up a valiant fight in a 2-1 loss to Italy on Saturday, but that defeat was not nearly as surprising as the one Uruguay suffered to Costa Rica. The Group D standings were turned on their head through the first game. England clawed its way back from a deficit against Italy, but their youth seemed to catch up with them late in the game, as their shots on goal were well wide and their crosses off the mark. Uruguay’s only goal came off an Edinson Cavani penalty kick early in the first half, but they were without prolific scorer Luis Suarez. If he can come back healthy from his knee injury on Thursday, a young England team could find itself in a deep hole.
Italy vs. Costa Rica — Friday, June 20, 12 p.m.
Not many FIFA fans could have predicted that this matchup would be the most important one for Italy in Group D play. After coming from behind to shock Uruguay, the Costa Rican team has proven its worth. Italy looked dangerous in its first game, though, with veteran Andrea Pirlo showing that he is not over the hill just yet, and Mario Balotelli displaying that he is ready to take on the superstar role. If goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon comes back for this game, Costa Rica will have a difficult time repeating the magic of its first victory.
Switzerland vs. France — Friday, June 20, 3 p.m.
If you haven’t been following Switzerland up to this point, it’s time to start. The Swiss team beat Ecuador on Sunday in what was arguably the most exciting moment of the tournament so far. Haris Seferovic broke a 1-1 tie late in stoppage time to lift his team over Ecuador and put it in good position to make it out of group play. There were no surprises in France’s first game, as the Group E favorites toppled Honduras 3-0. This is the group’s biggest game so far, and will likely decide who comes out in the top spot.
What match are you looking forward to in the second week of World Cup action? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images
2014 World Cup Viewing Guide: Week Two