The 2014 World Cup finally begins today, and we’re super excited! The only game on the first day of the schedule pits host country Brazil against Croatia. But after that, there’s a lot of football to watch. So we’re making it easy on you by picking the five matches we think you should definitely watch during the first week of play.
Check out SI Kids’ World Cup Viewing Guide below, and check back Monday (and every Monday) for a new lineup of games we'll be watching — and you should, too!
Brazil vs. Croatia — Thursday, June 12, 4 p.m.
History is certainly on Brazil’s side in the tournament’s first match. No host of the World Cup has ever lost the opening game (though there have been six ties), and Brazil hopes to continue that trend. Croatia is no slouch of an opponent, but the loss of star forward Mario Mandzukic may prove crippling against a host team that is favored to win the Cup.
Spain vs. Netherlands — Friday, June 13, 3 p.m.
It’s déjà vu all over again. The 2010 World Cup championship will be replayed early this year, with Spain and the Netherlands battling it out in just the third game of the tournament. Spain came away with the 1-0 win four years ago, so Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal’s squad will be looking for revenge. In nine head-to-head matchups, the two teams are even, winning four each with one draw. Friday’s game will likely tip the scales.
England vs. Italy — Saturday, June 14, 6 p.m.
Led by star forward Wayne Rooney, England faces one of its toughest opponents in its opening match. If Rooney and company hope to make it out of a highly competitive Group D (that also includes Uruguay), a strong showing against Italy will be vital. Veterans Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon stand in their way, though, and the four-time World Cup champion Italians are favored to make it out of the group.
Germany vs. Portugal — Monday, June 16, 12 p.m.
Portugal’s star Cristiano Ronaldo is back from injury, but this tough first matchup will test whether or not he is 100 percent. These two teams opened the 2012 Euro Cup against each other, with a Mario Gomez goal lifting Germany to a 1-0 victory. Should Germany replicate that win on Monday, they will certainly be the favorites to escape with the top spot from this Group of Death.
Ghana vs. US — Monday, June 16, 12 p.m.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has his team poised to pull an upset in Group G, but it needs to get past Ghana with at least a draw before worrying about matching up with Germany and Portugal. Ghana sent the US home from South Africa four years ago in the round of 16, so the stakes are high in this one. If Klinsmann’s squad hopes to avenge that overtime loss, it will need to contain Ghana’s stars Kevin Prince-Boateng and Asamoah Gyan, who were responsible for both of the goals in Ghana’s 2-1 victory over the US in 2010.
What match are you looking forward to in the first week of World Cup action? Let us know in the comments section below!
For more World Cup coverage, check out SI Kids' Guide to the 2014 World Cup!
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images
2014 World Cup Viewing Guide: Week One
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