The 2014 World Cup marks the 20th time countries from around the globe have gathered to determine which national team stands above the rest. It's a truly worldwide tournament on a scale few, if any, other sporting events can match.
Four years ago, it was Spain emerging with the coveted trophy. The dominant European side certainly earned the title by knocking off talented sides from Germany and the Netherlands over the final two rounds, highlighted by a thrilling 1-0 extra-time win in the final.
Now La Roja are back with hope of defending their title. The AFP (via The Advertiser) passed along comments from Andres Iniesta, who scored the goal that won the title for Spain in 2010, about the opportunity in front of them:
It is the greatest feeling of happiness, joy and pride to be able to score the goal and win a World Cup, which is something very few countries have won.
It was a beautiful thing and now we have the chance to defend it.
We are going with the intention to retain it. We know we have to go step by step because a World Cup is incredibly difficult, but I think we should be confident that we will be able to do something significant at the World Cup.
Which team will win the 2014 World Cup?
Spain is among four top contenders heading into the tournament. Germany, Argentina and host nation Brazil are the other three. There's a solid group of secondary hopefuls with a chance to raise the trophy if everything falls perfectly, but that quartet is a step above the rest at the outset.
As for the United States, getting drawn into the "Group of Death" alongside Germany, Portugal and Ghana was a major setback. While it doesn't mean the team doesn't have a chance to advance, the journey is definitely a lot more difficult than expected.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann also dealt the fanbase a surprise by cutting all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan from the final roster. Ian Darke of ESPN summed up the thoughts of many:
Shocked by Landon Donovan being left out by USA. Big and bold call by Jurgen Klinsmann who knows he will face music if decision backfires.— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) May 23, 2014
Above all else, it should be an outstanding edition of the World Cup. From the high number of national teams with legitimate hopes of a deep run to the football-crazy host nation getting a chance to welcome the world, the elements are in place for a memorable month.
FIFA takes a lot of heat, and in many cases it's deserved. But one month every four years it puts on a spectacular showcase. This time should be no different. So let's check out the complete viewing schedule for all the action from Brazil.
2014 World Cup Schedule
|June 12||4 p.m.||A||Brazil vs. Croatia||ESPN|
|June 13||12 p.m.||A||Mexico vs. Cameroon||ESPN2|
|June 13||3 p.m.||B||Spain vs. Netherlands||ESPN|
|June 13||6 p.m.||B||Chile vs. Australia||ESPN2|
|June 14||12 p.m.||C||Colombia vs. Greece||ABC|
|June 14||3 p.m.||D||Uruguay vs. Costa Rica||ABC|
|June 14||6 p.m.||D||England vs. Italy||ESPN|
|June 14||9 p.m.||C||Ivory Coast vs. Japan||ESPN|
|June 15||12 p.m.||E||Switzerland vs. Ecuador||ABC|
|June 15||3 p.m.||E||France vs. Honduras||ABC|
|June 15||6 p.m.||F||Argentina vs. Bosnia-H.||ESPN|
|June 16||12 p.m.||G||Germany vs. Portugal||ESPN|
|June 16||3 p.m.||F||Iran vs. Nigeria||ESPN|
|June 16||6 p.m.||G||Ghana vs. USA||ESPN|
|June 17||12 p.m.||H||Belgium vs. Algeria||ESPN|
|June 17||3 p.m.||A||Brazil vs. Mexico||ESPN|
|June 17||6 p.m.||H||Russia vs. South Korea||ESPN|
|June 18||12 p.m.||B||Australia vs. Netherlands||ESPN|
|June 18||3 p.m.||B||Spain vs. Chile||ESPN|
|June 18||6 p.m.||A||Cameroon vs. Croatia||ESPN|
|June 19||12 p.m.||C||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||ESPN|
|June 19||3 p.m.||D||Uruguay vs. England||ESPN|
|June 19||6 p.m.||C||Japan vs. Greece||ESPN|
|June 20||12 p.m.||D||Italy vs. Costa Rica||ESPN|
|June 20||3 p.m.||E||Switzerland vs. France||ESPN|
|June 20||6 p.m.||E||Honduras vs. Ecuador||ESPN|
|June 21||12 p.m.||F||Argentina vs. Iran||ESPN|
|June 21||3 p.m.||G||Germany vs. Ghana||ESPN|
|June 21||6 p.m.||F||Nigeria vs. Bosnia-H.||ESPN|
|June 22||12 p.m.||H||Belgium vs. Russia||ABC|
|June 22||3 p.m.||H||South Korea vs. Algeria||ABC|
|June 22||6 p.m.||G||USA vs. Portugal||ESPN|
|June 23||12 p.m.||B||Netherlands vs. Chile||ESPN|
|June 23||12 p.m.||B||Australia vs. Spain||ESPN2|
|June 23||4 p.m.||A||Croatia vs. Mexico||ESPN|
|June 23||4 p.m.||A||Cameroon vs. Brazil||ESPN2|
|June 24||12 p.m.||D||Italy vs. Uruguay||ESPN|
|June 24||12 p.m.||D||Costa Rica vs. England||ESPN2|
|June 24||4 p.m.||C||Japan vs. Colombia||ESPN|
|June 24||4 p.m.||C||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||ESPN2|
|June 25||12 p.m.||F||Nigeria vs. Argentina||ESPN|
|June 25||12 p.m.||F||Bosnia-H. vs. Iran||ESPN2|
|June 25||4 p.m.||E||Ecuador vs. France||ESPN|
|June 25||4 p.m.||E||Honduras vs. Switzerland||ESPN2|
|June 26||12 p.m.||G||United States vs. Germany||ESPN|
|June 26||12 p.m.||G||Portugal vs. Ghana||ESPN2|
|June 26||4 p.m.||H||South Korea vs. Belgium||ESPN|
|June 26||4 p.m.||H||Algeria vs. Russia||ESPN2|
|June 28||12 p.m.||R of 16||1A vs. 2B (Match 49)||ABC|
|June 28||4 p.m.||R of 16||1C vs. 2D (Match 50)||ABC|
|June 29||12 p.m.||R of 16||1B vs. 2A (Match 51)||ESPN|
|June 29||4 p.m.||R of 16||1D vs. 2C (Match 52)||ESPN|
|June 30||12 p.m.||R of 16||1E vs. 2F (Match 53)||ESPN|
|June 30||4 p.m.||R of 16||1G vs. 2H (Match 54)||ESPN|
|July 1||12 p.m.||R of 16||1F vs. 2E (Match 55)||ESPN|
|July 1||4 p.m.||R of 16||1H vs. 2G (Match 56)||ESPN|
|July 4||12 p.m.||Quarter||W53 vs. W54 (Match 57)||ESPN2|
|July 4||4 p.m.||Quarter||W49 VS. W50 (Match 58)||ESPN|
|July 5||12 p.m.||Quarter||W55 vs. W56 (Match 59)||ABC|
|July 5||4 p.m.||Quarter||W51 vs. W52 (Match 60)||ESPN|
|July 8||4 p.m.||Semis||W57 vs. W58 (Match 61)||ESPN|
|July 9||4 p.m.||Semis||W59 vs. W60 (Match 62)||ESPN|
|July 12||4 p.m.||3rd||L61 vs. L62||ESPN|
|July 13||3 p.m.||Title||W61 vs. W62||ABC|
FIFA.com and ESPNMediaZone.com