The 2014 FIFA World Cup Kicks Off Today. Here's What You Need to Know.
The 2014 World Cup kicks off this afternoon in Brazil. Brazil may or may not be ready to host the world's biggest soccer event, but ABC and ESPN are. The Mouse networks will televise all 64 games. They've published the full schedule here.
It all starts this afternoon, with host Brazil taking on Croatia. If Brazil fails to win convincingly, expect riots. I'm not kidding.
Click on the link above for the rest of the schedule.
Thursday, June 12 (all times Eastern)
4 p.m.: Brazil vs. Croatia at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo (ESPN)
Friday, June 13
12 p.m.: Mexico vs. Cameroon at Estadio das Dunas, Natal (ESPN2)
3 p.m.: Spain vs. Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador (ESPN)
6 p.m. Chile vs. Australia at Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 14
12 p.m.: Colombia vs. Greece at Estádio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte (ABC)
3 p.m.: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica at Estádio Castelao, Fortaleza (ABC)
6 p.m.: England vs. Italy at Arena Amazonia, Manaus (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Ivory Coast vs. Japan at Arena Pernambuco, Recife (ESPN)
The U.S. won't see action until Monday, when it takes on Ghana.
The U.S. is in a group of death, along with powerhouses Germany and Portugal, and our bogey team, Ghana. Ghana has eliminated the United States in the knockout rounds of the last two World Cups. The U.S. comes into the Cup playing as well as anyone right now and ranked in the top half, even without Landon Donovan, but getting out of that group will be a tall order. Honestly, I'd be surprised if anyone other than Germany and Portugal move on to the knockouts.
If the U.S. can't get far, personally, I'm rooting for Germany. I like several of their players and the way they play. Spain will be tough, as always. I also like the way Japan has looked lately, but they're probably too weak to get past the first knockout. England come in looking flat. If they don't fix that, they may not get to the knockout rounds either, which will be a humiliation for the birthplace of the sport. All the pressure is on Brazil, who comes into the tournament playing well, ranked #3 and is expected to do nothing less than win it all. Anything else will be considered a failure. Neymar will have to turn up big. I'm hoping Hulk has a good tournament, mainly because he's called "Hulk." Argentina look strong. Uruguay will do well if Luis Suarez is healthy. France and Belgium could surprise a lot of people. Especially Belgium. They have looked very sharp for going on a year now.
By the way, if you're on DirecTV, you'll get some added bonuses to watch the World Cup. Those include some extra mix channels so you can watch up to eight games on screen at the same time, plus extra camera angles.
Update: I am so in.