World FootballDownload App

World Cup Preview 2014: Dates, Start Times, Locations and More Info

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 05:  Neymar of Brazil  during the International Friendly match between South Africa and Brazil at FNB Stadium on March 05, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

Four years after Spain showed it was the best in the world, 32 teams will try to earn that honor at the 2014 World Cup.

The most popular international event in sports will kick off on June 12 in a battle between host country Brazil and Croatia. The action will continue throughout the month until July 13, when a new champion is crowned in the finals at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Between these two dates, legends will be made and great plays will be remembered as well as the bad mistakes. Fans from around the world will stop what they are doing to root for their country, while every player will do his best to make the most of this opportunity to shine on the global stage.

It is an event that you do not want to miss, so check out this full schedule for the group stage followed by a breakdown of the top contenders this summer.

 

2014 World Cup Group Stage Fixtures
DateMatchGroupTime (ET)Venue
June 12Brazil vs. CroatiaA4 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 13Mexico vs. CameroonA12 p.m.Natal
June 13Spain vs. NetherlandsB3 p.m.Salvador
June 13Chile vs. AustraliaB6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 14Colombia vs. GreeceC12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 14Uruguay vs. Costa RicaD3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 14Ivory Coast vs. JapanC6 p.m.Recife
June 14England vs. ItalyD6 p.m.Manaus
June 15Switzerland vs. EcuadorE12 p.m.Brasilia
June 15France vs. HondurasE3 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 15Argentina vs. Bosnia-HerzegovinaF6 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 16Germany vs. PortugalG12 p.m.Salvador
June 16Iran vs. NigeriaF3 p.m.Curitiba
June 16Ghana vs. United StatesG6 p.m.Natal
June 17Belgium vs. AlgeriaH12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 17Brazil vs. MexicoA3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 17Russia vs. South KoreaH6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 18Australia vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 18Cameroon vs. CroatiaA3 p.m.Manaus
June 18Spain vs. ChileB6 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 19Colombia vs. Ivory CoastC12 p.m.Brasilia
June 19Uruguay vs. EnglandD3 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 19Greece vs. JapanC6 p.m.Natal
June 20Costa Rica vs. ItalyD12 p.m.Recife
June 20Switzerland vs. FranceE3 p.m.Salvador
June 20Ecuador vs. HondurasE6 p.m.Curitiba
June 21Argentina vs. IranF12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 21Germany vs. GhanaG3 p.m.Fortaleza
June 21Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. NigeriaF6 p.m.Cuiaba
June 22South Korea vs. AlgeriaH12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 22United States vs. PortugalG3 p.m.Manaus
June 22Belgium vs. RussiaH12 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 23Australia vs. SpainB12 p.m.Curitiba
June 23Chile vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 23Brazil vs. CameroonA4 p.m.Brasilia
June 23Croatia vs. MexicoA4 p.m.Recife
June 24Italy vs. UruguayD12 p.m.Natal
June 24Costa Rica vs. EnglandD12 p.m.Belo Horizonte
June 24Japan vs. ColombiaC4 p.m.Cuiaba
June 24Greece vs. Ivory CoastC4 p.m.Fortaleza
June 25Nigeria vs. ArgentinaF12 p.m.Porto Alegre
June 25Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. IranF12 p.m.Salvador
June 25Honduras vs. SwitzerlandE4 p.m.Manaus
June 25France vs. EcuadorE4 p.m.Rio De Janeiro
June 26United States vs. GermanyG12 p.m.Recife
June 26Portugal vs. GhanaG12 p.m.Brasilia
June 26South Korea vs. BelgiumH4 p.m.Sao Paulo
June 26Algeria vs. RussiaH4 p.m.Curitiba
via FIFA.com

 

Top Contenders

Spain

Not only have Spain won the last three major international events (Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012), but the squad retains most of the top contributors from these squads. In fact, the best players appear to still be performing as well as in their prime.

Rob Train of ESPN FC breaks down the strength of the team in the midfield:

Spain's midfield is as set in stone as King Arthur's sword and it will take a lot more than a few good performances from others to dislodge it. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso will provide the engine room, with Xavi dictating play from the middle and Andres Iniesta a little further forward. However, with only Sergio Busquets under 30, the wilting heat will mean tired legs around the 70-minute mark. 

The good news is that even when the veterans get tired, there are still a number of elite players capable of coming in and contributing at a high level.

With world-class talent at virtually every position and plenty of winning experience, Spain should once again be a top contender in Brazil.

The squad will do its best to keep possession throughout matches and work to get the best shots near the net. Meanwhile, opponents will struggle to get more than a few opportunities on the attack at all in the match.

Although the Netherlands and Chile will create a difficult group stage, the defending champs should be able to make a deep run this summer.

 

Brazil

When you think about dominant national teams, Brazil should immediately come to mind. The nation has won five World Cups, most recently in 2002.

While the current squad has a long way to go to reach the level of those most recent champions, manager Luiz Felipe Scolari thinks highly of the group, via Fernando Duarte of The Guardian:

Indeed they are less experienced. But their technical ability and their physical prowess enthuse me. We need to take a moment when drawing comparisons. The 2002 Seleção was more seasoned and had quality players but not even Ronaldo and Rivaldo could do things on their own. Of course, the 2014 team will be judged by their results but these boys have shown that, if they work hard, as they have been doing, we can beat anybody.

The team features young stars like Neymar, Oscar and others who make up arguably the most exciting group in the tournament. Almost everyone on the roster is capable of making an outstanding play that will be watched in highlights for years.

While Brazil lack the experience of some of the other top contenders, they won the Confederations Cup with a dramatic victory over Spain in the finals. There will be a lot of confidence and energy playing at home, and they should be able to use it to win a title.

 

Germany

While many people will pick Brazil to win it all at home, the nation's best player in history is picking against them, via Yahoo!:

Plenty of experts agree with Pele based on the way Germany's roster is constructed. The squad is loaded from front to back with talent all over the pitch.

Manuel Neuer anchors the group in net after becoming one of the top keepers in the world over the past few years. In front of him will be an experienced back line and defensive midfielders like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and possibly Philipp Lahm depending on where he is placed.

This group will ensure that no more than a few goals are scored against Germany in the entire tournament.

Meanwhile, an attack that includes stars from Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and other Champions League contenders throughout Europe will ensure that the team finds a way to get the ball into the back of the net.

Things will be a bit difficult early with Portugal and the United States in the group, but the Germans should remain top contenders throughout the summer.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices