World Cup Schedule 2014: Full List of Dates and Picks for Group Stage

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World Cup Schedule 2014: Full List of Dates and Picks for Group Stage
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There are 21 days before the first group match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off. That's when host nation Brazil begin their bid to capture a sixth World Cup trophy.

But Brazil won't be the only fancied nation hoping to meet expectations and ascend to the summit of their respective groups. Nations such as Argentina, Spain, Germany and Italy will be under pressure to meet that minimum requirement.

Here's a reminder of how each group looks ahead of the big tournament:

Bleacher Report

With the tournament fast approaching and anticipation building, here is a breakdown of every group, including the date for each game, the predicted winners and a projection of the final standings.

 

How the Groups Will Play out

Group A Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 12 Brazil vs. Croatia Draw Brazil
June 13 Mexico vs. Cameroon Mexico Croatia
June 17 Brazil vs. Mexico Brazil Mexico
June 18 Cameroon vs. Croatia Croatia Cameroon
June 23 Cameroon vs. Brazil Brazil
June 23 Croatia vs. Mexico Draw

FIFA.com

Group A will be tougher than many expect for favorites Brazil. Croatia will pose more than a few problems, thanks to a deceptively talented squad, brimming with creativity in midfield and power up front.

Part of their threat in the middle will come from Luka Modric. Writing for USA Today Sports blog thebiglead.com, Mike Cardillo correctly dubs Modric "one of the world's most complete midfielders."

But despite Croatia's quality, a nervy Brazil will eventually outlast the competition. They will notably brush aside Cameroon, who will sadly play the role of group whipping boys.

 

Group B Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 13 Spain vs. Nethelands Spain Spain
June 13 Chile vs. Australia Chile Netherlands
June 18 Spain vs. Chile Spain Chile
June 18 Australia vs. Netherlands Netherlands Australia
June 23 Australia vs. Spain Spain
June 23 Netherlands vs. Chile Netherlands

FIFA.com

Group B will belong to current World Cup holders, Spain. Not as fancied as in previous tournaments, Vicente del Bosque's squad will send out an emphatic early reminder of their ample quality.

Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque knows he still has one of the best squads at the World Cup

The Netherlands won't wow their fans immediately but will steadily build up to some stylish football. Meanwhile, Chile will suffer from being placed in the same group as a pair of international heavyweights.

 

Group C Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 14 Colombia vs. Greece Colombia Colombia
June 14 Ivory Coast vs. Japan Draw Ivory Coast
June 19 Colombia vs. Ivory Coast Draw Japan
June 19 Japan vs. Greece Draw Greece
June 24 Japan vs. Colombia Colombia
June 24 Greece vs. Ivory Coast Ivory Coast

FIFA.com

Group C will be defined by its stalemates. There isn't much to separate the squads after Colombia, who should be group leaders by virtue of their firepower up front.

Japan and Greece will be plucky but won't match the quality of an Ivory Coast squad, featuring English Premier League stars like Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony.

 

Group D Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 14 Uruguay vs. Costa Rica Uruguay Uruguay
June 14 England vs. Italy Draw Italy
June 19 Uruguay vs. England Uruguay England
June 20 Italy vs. Costa Rica Italy Costa Rica
June 24 Italy vs. Uruguay Draw
June 24 Costa Rica vs. England England

FIFA.com

Group D will belong to an impressive Uruguay team that will let star striker Edinson Cavani run riot. BBC Sport South American football writer Tim Vickery highlights how the attack will need to carry Uruguay in Brazil:

The defensive unit and the holding midfielders have been together since the Copa America of 2007. There are some ageing limbs in there, owned by players now too slow to be caught in open space.

This, though, does not apply to the front pair. If Diego Forlan has declined to the point where he is now an option on the bench, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are bang in the middle of their footballing prime.

But as good as they will be, the South Americans will need some luck to get past a resilient, but limited England squad.

Italy will follow a time-honored pattern of doing just enough to navigate the group stages, while saving their best for the later rounds.

 

Group E Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 15 Switzerland vs. Ecuador Switzerland France
June 15 France vs. Honduras France Switzerland
June 20 Switzerland vs. France Draw Honduras
June 20 Honduras vs. Ecuador Draw Ecuador
June 25 Honduras vs. Switzerland Draw
June 25 Ecuador vs. France France

FIFA.com

This group will be the home of a few surprise packages. Players such as France schemer Clement Grenier will raise a few eyebrows, as will Switzerland striker Josip Drmic.

Ultimately, those nations will be too strong for Ecuador and a game Honduras squad. France will have just enough to see off Switzerland in the group's marquee tie.

 

Group F Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 15 Argentina vs. Bosnia And Herzegovina Argentina Argentina
June 16 Iran vs. Nigeria Nigeria Nigeria
June 21 Argentina vs. Iran Argentina Bosnia And Herzegovina
June 21 Nigeria vs. Bosnia And Herzegovina Draw Iran
June 25 Nigeria vs. Argentina Argentina
June 25 Bosnia And Herzegovina vs. Iran Draw

FIFA.com

Perhaps predictably, Argentina will dominate Group F. The South American nation just has too much talent in attack.

Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria simply won't be able to corral Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain. Argentina have flattered to deceive in recent tournaments, but while a comfortable group won't necessarily change that, it will help build momentum before the knockout phase.

 

Group G Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 16 Germany vs. Portugal Germany Germany
June 16 Ghana vs. United States Ghana Portugal
June 21 Germany vs. Ghana Germany Ghana
June 22 United States vs. Portugal Portugal United States
June 26 United States vs. Germany Germany
June 26 Portugal vs. Ghana Draw

FIFA.com

Germany will roar in front early in the so-called "Group of Death." Despite tough opposition, the Germans still have enough quality in midfield and attack to overwhelm.

Players such as Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus and Thomas Mueller will punish any defensive lapses. Being able to also call on midfielders as talented as Toni Kroos and Julian Draxler is a boost most squads can only dream of.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Young star Julian Draxler represents the excellent depth of the Germany squad.

Portugal will edge Ghana on tiebreakers, while the United States will suffer from deterioration among former key stars like Landon Donovan.

 

Group H Full Schedule, Picks and Final Standings
Date Match Winner Final Standings
June 17 Belgium vs. Algeria Belgium Belgium
June 17 Russia vs. Korea Republic Russia Russia
June 22 Belgium vs. Russia Draw Korea Republic
June 22 Korea Republic vs. Algeria Korea Republic Algeria
June 26 Korea Republic vs. Belgium Belgium
June 26 Algeria vs. Russia Russia

FIFA.com

Belgium won't quite be the force they are considered in many circles. Many of their players have name recognition without the actual talent to match it: centre-backs Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen are prime examples.

However, the Belgians will still have enough to just shave the group lead ahead of an exciting Russia squad. The Russians will offer plenty in attack but suffer from a fragility in defence.

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