There are a few excuses for not watching every match of this year's World Cup.
Work is one. A general desire to go outside and feel the sunlight might be another. Any type of personal injury is understandable. Some other type of pressing engagement, like caring for your children or a spouse is fair game as well.
But saying you were unaware of when or where you could watch a match? After this article, you can take that flimsy excuse right out of your arsenal.
Below, you'll find the schedule and viewing information for every single group-stage match, as 32 teams battle it out to lay claim as the world's best, along with a few key storylines heading into this year's tournament.
|World Cup Group Phase Schedule|
|Date||Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||Group||TV|
|Thursday, June 12||4 p.m.||Brazil||Croatia||Group A||ESPN|
|Friday, June 13||12 p.m.||Mexico||Cameroon||Group A||ESPN2|
|Friday, June 13||3 p.m.||Spain||Netherlands||Group B||ESPN|
|Friday, June 13||6 p.m.||Chile||Australia||Group B||ESPN2|
|Saturday, June 14||12 p.m.||Colombia||Greece||Group C||ABC|
|Saturday, June 14||3 p.m.||Uruguay||Costa Rica||Group D||ABC|
|Saturday, June 14||6 p.m.||England||Italy||Group D||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 14||9 p.m.||Ivory Coast||Japan||Group C||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 15||12 p.m.||Switzerland||Ecuador||Group E||ABC|
|Sunday, June 15||3 p.m.||France||Honduras||Group E||ABC|
|Sunday, June 15||6 p.m.||Argentina||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Group F||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||12 p.m.||Germany||Portugal||Group G||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||3 p.m.||Iran||Nigeria||Group F||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||6 p.m.||Ghana||United States||Group G||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||12 p.m.||Belgium||Algeria||Group H||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||3 p.m.||Brazil||Mexico||Group A||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||6 p.m.||Russia||South Korea||Group H||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||12 p.m.||Australia||Netherlands||Group B||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||3 p.m.||Spain||Chile||Group B||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||6 p.m.||Cameroon||Croatia||Group A||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||12 p.m.||Colombia||Ivory Coast||Group C||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||3 p.m.||Uruguay||England||Group D||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||6 p.m.||Japan||Greece||Group C||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||12 p.m.||Italy||Costa Rica||Group D||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||3 p.m.||Switzerland||France||Group E||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||6 p.m.||Honduras||Ecuador||Group E||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||12 p.m.||Argentina||Iran||Group F||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||3 p.m.||Germany||Ghana||Group G||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||6 p.m.||Nigeria||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Group F||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 22||12 p.m.||Belgium||Russia||Group H||ABC|
|Sunday, June 22||3 p.m.||South Korea||Algeria||Group H||ABC|
|Sunday, June 22||6 p.m.||United States||Portugal||Group G||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||12 p.m.||Australia||Spain||Group B||ESPN2|
|Monday, June 23||12 p.m.||Netherlands||Chile||Group B||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||4 p.m.||Croatia||Mexico||Group A||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||4 p.m.||Cameroon||Brazil||Group A||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, June 24||12 p.m.||Italy||Uruguay||Group D||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 24||12 p.m.||Costa Rica||England||Group D||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, June 24||4 p.m.||Japan||Colombia||Group C||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 24||4 p.m.||Greece||Ivory Coast||Group C||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||12 p.m.||Nigeria||Argentina||Group F||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 25||12 p.m.||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Iran||Group F||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||4 p.m.||Honduras||Switzerland||Group E||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||4 p.m.||Ecuador||France||Group E||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||12 p.m.||United States||Germany||Group G||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||12 p.m.||Portugal||Ghana||Group G||ESPN2|
|Thursday, June 26||4 p.m||South Korea||Belgium||Group H||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||4 p.m.||Algeria||Russia||Group H||ESPN2|
|ESPN (All matches streamed via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app)|
Multiple Groups of Death
Perhaps no country was left more dismayed by their World Cup draw than the United States, as the Americans ended up in a group with the uber-talented Germans, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and the country that has beaten them in the past two World Cups, Ghana.
Any of those four teams could advance to the knockout phase, but the mighty Germans and solid Portuguese will be favored to move on. As Kyle Bonn of Pro Soccer Talk notes, the United State's best chance at advancing could be Germany dominating their first two games:
The group is Germany’s to lose, that much is given. So if that ends up being the case, the rest of Portugal, Ghana, and the US are fighting for the #2 spot. Therefore, if Germany doesn’t win the group in dominating fashion, it will have dropped points to those battling with the US for the second spot.
In addition, an interesting scheduling tidbit could end up benefiting the US should things play out. The United States plays Germany last in the group, which could be a positive if the Germans already have the group’s top spot locked up.
The US has already defeated a German “B” team 4-3 last June with a squad very similar to the one going to Brazil this summer. If the European powerhouses already have the group wrapped up, they could start a number of replacements, and the United States could have a chance to pick up a vital point or even three.
It's an interesting scenario. If Germany wins their first two games, they'll virtually be assured of advancing. And if the United States finds themselves in a position where they only need to draw against the Germans to advance—and the Germans have little incentive to start all of their regulars—the United States could be in a nice position to advance.
Is it a long shot? Yes. Do USMNT supporters need any type of hope they can get the brutal draw? Absolutely.
Group G is far from the only difficult one. Group B is headlined by the two clubs that contested the 2010 World Cup final—eventual winner Spain and the runners-up that year, the Netherlands—while Chile is also a very dangerous side. And then there is Group D, featuring three former winners of the Cup in Italy, Uruguay and England.
Can a World Cup have three Groups of Death? This year certainly seems to prove that the answer to that is yes.
Superstars Gunning For a World Cup Title
The argument isn't a new one, but if either Argentina or Portugal win the World Cup this year, it might be a moot point. You know the argument in question—who is the better player: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
That the two play in La Liga for rival teams—Messi for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid—which has only intensified their personal rivalry. Now, both will be looking to etch their places on the list of all-time greats, as Lionel Messi looks to crawl out from under the shadow of Maradona and Ronaldo looks to firmly place himself above all other Portuguese greats.
As you might expect, players from other countries have weighed in on the giants of the game. Uruguay's Luis Suarez told Helden Magazine (h/t Alex Young of Goal.com), that you simply can't compare the two:
Messi and Ronaldo are totally different players.
I can't say who's the better one of them. Messi has beautiful technique, scores a lot, is an excellent dribbler also because he's a little guy.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, looks like a machine. It all looks so perfect with him. He combines power with intelligence and always strikes the ball perfect. They're both on the same level.
It's hard to argue with that description. But while Suarez professed nothing but admiration for the pair, Daniele De Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Mark Doyle of Goal.com), "I've never faced Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in the World Cup. Maybe I will have the chance to take on these monsters this year!"
De Rossi's lack of fear is reminiscent of Luke Skywalker telling Yoda he isn't afraid.
Yoda's simple response? "You will be. You... will... be..."
Perhaps De Rossi will be as well.
The Host Nation
No nation has quite the love affair with the sport of soccer than Brazil, and no country has had as much World Cup success. But this year's Cup won't be without its share of controversy, either.
There were protests at the 2013 Confederations Cup, and there have been many since. Many citizens in Brazil have decried the huge costs of the event. The construction of some stadiums has been behind schedule, and there have also been casualties during the construction. To expect the event to go off without a few hitches might be a tad on the optimistic side.
It is an odd contrast when a nation's love of the game and love for a team that very well could win the competition butts up against the angst that comes from the costs and sacrifices required to host a World Cup. It will be an interesting relationship to watch unfold come June, and it is one that might not be pacified by a few beautiful goals from Neymar.
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