World Cup Bracket 2014: Group Stage Projections, Fixtures, Locations and More

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJune 11, 2014

AMMAN, JORDAN- NOVEMBER 13: Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Oday Zahran of Jordan compete for the ball during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier: Intercontinental Play-off First Leg between Jordan and Uruguay on November 13, 2013 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images)
Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

The 2014 World Cup is finally set to begin, and a number of enticing group-stage fixtures await as the top 32 national teams vie for the ultimate prize.

Most of the groups are even across the board, but the draw left a couple of foursomes that catch the eye and all but guarantee a few highly touted nations to be eliminated early on. 

That only increases the ante for these group-stage fixtures, as every nation knows its World Cup fate is on the line every time it takes the pitch. An early loss to an inferior foe could prove detrimental to its chances with bigger and better nations upcoming. 

Let's take a look at every group-stage match and who is likeliest to advance out of each group.

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
FIFA.com
2014 World Cup: Group Projections
Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
BrazilSpainColombiaItaly
CroatiaNetherlandsGreeceUruguay
MexicoAustraliaJapanEngland
CameroonChileIvory CoastCosta Rica
Group EGroup FGroup GGroup H
FranceArgentinaGermanyRussia
SwitzerlandBosnia-HerzegovinaPortugalBelgium
HondurasIranUnited StatesAlgeria
EcuadorNigeriaGhanaSouth Korea
Steven Cook's predictions

Note: Highlighted teams predicted to advance to knockout stage.

 

Italy vs. England

Two of the most well-known international teams will battle in one of the first matches in Brazil as Italy and England duel for a leg up in Group D.

The Italians haven't made much noise internationally since their 2006 World Cup victory, but they changed that in a big way at the 2012 European Championship. Mario Balotelli's ascension into the role of star striker and some young talent infused with the typical experienced starting 11 made for a run to the finals that ended with a loss to Spain.

Italy figures to be a serious contender down the line, but England doesn't at the moment after having to fight to even get into the field of 32 heading to Brazil. However, there's enough skill up front with Wayne Rooney and enough experience throughout the lineup to compete for 90 minutes with any team—even Italy.

It would be surprising to see either team give the other much leeway by being too aggressive early on. Uruguay looms in Group D and will be ready to pounce following an early win over Costa Rica that will give them an advantage heading into matches with both Italy and England.

Two teams with plenty of experience throughout the midfield should make for a tactical game that will only reach the attacking thirds often if Balotelli and Rooney get going for their respective sides.

 

Ghana vs. United States

The United States national team will open up with likely its easiest test of the group stage, but it won't feel as such when Jurgen Klinsmann's squad lines up against Ghana.

Instead, it will be as if they're facing a team that knocked them out of the last World Cup—oh wait, they are. The last time these two faced each other, Ghana outlasted the U.S. in extra time of the knockout stage at the 2010 World Cup.

Klinsmann has had his players honed in ever since the 23-man roster was set, per the team's official Twitter:

The Americans outshot Ghana and didn't trail possession, but they only connected on Landon Donovan's penalty attempt throughout the 120 minutes. Klinsmann will be imperative on getting his players in positions to get good looks on early, as history indicates Ghana is only harder to score on as time goes on.

What makes the USA's opener dually important is what lies ahead. Germany and Portugal are the final two teams the Americans will face, making the game against Ghana easily the most winnable—even though it's a hard-enough match as it is.

 

Spain vs. Netherlands

It's all but fitting that the 2010 World Cup final is being repeated on just the second day of action in Brazil.

Spain and Netherlands collided for an epic final four years ago that ended in Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner that sent the Spanish toward lifting the championship trophy. 

Now, they will face off for early positioning in Group B—a group they are both widely expected to advance out of. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque could only describe the pairing as "fate," per UEFA.com's Alfredo Rodriguez:

It is fate that we play them again in our first match, the same as the final of the last World Cup. Let's see if we are capable of beating the Netherlands again; they have certainly changed since that World Cup final. I have always said that Dutch football has always been very powerful, and it will be a difficult group.

Both of these teams look a good bit different with four years separating their historic match, but the regular core for each looks just about the same. Like in 2010, it will be a chess match.

But unlike four years ago, both teams won't be pressing like their lives depend on it. They both know that it's just the first of three group-stage matches, and by far the toughest test for each—Spain and Netherlands should play like it, with neither giving up much throughout their opening 90 minutes in Brazil.