After four very long years of waiting, the 2014 World Cup has arrived.
The 32 nations competing in arguably the globe's biggest sporting event have descended upon Brazil to decide who will be crowned world champion. And while a few early favorites—Germany, Brazil, Spain and Argentina—have surfaced leading up to the action, anything is possible throughout the course of 90 minutes.
Before it can be narrowed down, though, each team will play its round-robin fixtures against every team in their respective groups to determine who will advance to the knockout stage.
Let's get right to it and take a look at every upcoming fixture, as well as some predictions for how each group will unfold.
|2014 World Cup Full Schedule|
|June 12||Brazil vs. Croatia||A||4 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|June 13||Mexico vs. Cameroon||A||12 p.m.||Natal||ESPN2|
|June 13||Spain vs. Netherlands||B||3 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN|
|June 13||Chile vs. Australia||B||6 p.m.||Cuiaba||ESPN2|
|June 14||Colombia vs. Greece||C||12 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ABC|
|June 14||Uruguay vs. Costa Rica||D||3 p.m.||Fortaleza||ABC|
|June 14||Ivory Coast vs. Japan||C||6 p.m.||Recife||ESPN|
|June 14||England vs. Italy||D||6 p.m.||Manaus||ESPN|
|June 15||Switzerland vs. Ecuador||E||12 p.m.||Brasilia||ABC|
|June 15||France vs. Honduras||E||3 p.m.||Porto Alegre||ABC|
|June 15||Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina||F||6 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ESPN|
|June 16||Germany vs. Portugal||G||12 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN|
|June 16||Iran vs. Nigeria||F||3 p.m.||Curitiba||ESPN|
|June 16||Ghana vs. United States||G||6 p.m.||Natal||ESPN|
|June 17||Belgium vs. Algeria||H||12 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ESPN|
|June 17||Brazil vs. Mexico||A||3 p.m.||Fortaleza||ESPN|
|June 17||Russia vs. South Korea||H||6 p.m.||Cuiaba||ESPN|
|June 18||Australia vs. Netherlands||B||12 p.m.||Porto Alegre||ESPN|
|June 18||Cameroon vs. Croatia||A||3 p.m.||Manaus||ESPN|
|June 18||Spain vs. Chile||B||6 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ESPN|
|June 19||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||C||12 p.m.||Brasilia||ESPN|
|June 19||Uruguay vs. England||D||3 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|June 19||Greece vs. Japan||C||6 p.m.||Natal||ESPN|
|June 20||Costa Rica vs. Italy||D||12 p.m.||Recife||ESPN|
|June 20||Switzerland vs. France||E||3 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN|
|June 20||Ecuador vs. Honduras||E||6 p.m.||Curitiba||ESPN|
|June 21||Argentina vs. Iran||F||12 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ESPN|
|June 21||Germany vs. Ghana||G||3 p.m.||Fortaleza||ESPN|
|June 21||Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Nigeria||F||6 p.m.||Cuiaba||ESPN|
|June 22||South Korea vs. Algeria||H||12 p.m.||Porto Alegre||ABC|
|June 22||United States vs. Portugal||G||3 p.m.||Manaus||ABC|
|June 22||Belgium vs. Russia||H||12 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ESPN|
|June 23||Australia vs. Spain||B||12 p.m.||Curitiba||ESPN2|
|June 23||Chile vs. Netherlands||B||12 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|June 23||Brazil vs. Cameroon||A||4 p.m.||Brasilia||ESPN|
|June 23||Croatia vs. Mexico||A||4 p.m.||Recife||ESPN2|
|June 24||Italy vs. Uruguay||D||12 p.m.||Natal||ESPN|
|June 24||Costa Rica vs. England||D||12 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ESPN2|
|June 24||Japan vs. Colombia||C||4 p.m.||Cuiaba||ESPN|
|June 24||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||C||4 p.m.||Fortaleza||ESPN2|
|June 25||Nigeria vs. Argentina||F||12 p.m.||Porto Alegre||ESPN|
|June 25||Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran||F||12 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN2|
|June 25||Honduras vs. Switzerland||E||4 p.m.||Manaus||ESPN2|
|June 25||France vs. Ecuador||E||4 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ESPN|
|June 26||United States vs. Germany||G||12 p.m.||Recife||ESPN|
|June 26||Portugal vs. Ghana||G||12 p.m.||Brasilia||ESPN2|
|June 26||South Korea vs. Belgium||H||4 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|June 26||Algeria vs. Russia||H||4 p.m.||Curitiba||ESPN2|
|June 28||Round of 16: 1A vs. 2B||-||12 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ABC|
|June 28||Round of 16: 1C vs. 2D||-||4 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ABC|
|June 29||Round of 16: 1B vs. 2A||-||12 p.m.||Fortazela||ESPN|
|June 29||Round of 16: 1D vs. 2C||-||4 p.m.||Recife||ESPN|
|June 30||Round of 16: 1E vs. 2F||-||12 p.m.||Brasilia||ESPN|
|June 30||Round of 16: 1G vs. 2H||-||4 p.m.||Porto Alegre||ESPN|
|July 1||Round of 16: 1F vs. 2E||-||12 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|July 1||Round of 16: 1H vs. 2G||-||4 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN|
|July 4||Quarterfinals||-||12 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ESPN2|
|July 4||Quarterfinals||-||4 p.m.||Fortazela||ESPN|
|July 5||Quarterfinals||-||12 p.m.||Brasilia||ABC|
|July 5||Quarterfinals||-||4 p.m.||Salvador||ESPN|
|July 8||Semifinals||-||4 p.m.||Belo Horizonte||ESPN|
|July 9||Semifinals||-||4 p.m.||Sao Paulo||ESPN|
|July 12||Third-Place Match||-||4 p.m.||Brasilia||ESPN|
|July 13||Final||-||3 p.m.||Rio De Janeiro||ABC|
|2014 World Cup Groups|
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Cameroon||Chile||Ivory Coast||Costa Rica|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
Germany, Portugal to Escape Group of Death
Featuring four teams that made it out of the group stage in the 2010 World Cup, Group G has been pegged as the "group of death" ever since the fateful draw took place.
But simply by glancing at the list of teams in Group G and their respective rosters, there's absolutely no doubt as to which two national teams are best suited to escape it still alive—Germany and Portugal.
Germany is a shoo-in favorite to make the semifinals with a stacked roster and plenty of weapons, but Portugal has a commodity no one else can match—Cristiano Ronaldo—and some complementary pieces that can mesh well at times.
The Portuguese may get off on the wrong foot, as they will face Germany in their opener, but with Ronaldo playing some of the best football of his career heading into Brazil, he won't let his squad be knocked out by the likes of the U.S. and Ghana. The talent gap is simply too large for Portugal's attack not to come through at least a few times.
Meanwhile, Germany may not even draw a game en route to the knockout stage, and a positive result against Portugal in the opener will be the start of a deep run.
England to Stumble, Fall Victim to Tough Group
The English have long been due a thrilling run deep into the World Cup, but once again, this year isn't shaping up to be the year for Roy Hodgson and company.
Group G may be the group of death, but Group D boasts the three best teams of any foursome, as England join Italy and Uruguay in the group. Costa Rica rounds it out.
The English come into Brazil touting a noticeably young roster that is sure to undergo some growing pains, and it hasn't left hopes too high back home for the national team. According to Reuters (via The Guardian), even the British government has put a low ceiling on the team's upcoming performances.
Meanwhile, Italy is coming off a Euro 2012 final run that shows the squad (still) isn't too old and that the infusion of now 23-year-old striker Mario Balotelli can take it to the next level.
On the other end of the spectrum, Uruguay made the World Cup semifinals in 2010. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have blossomed into world-class attackers, and Diego Forlan—the hero from four years ago—is still chugging along.
Facing Italy in their opener, the Three Lions won't quite be up to par with their opponents early on, and that will put them at a disadvantage in the group with Uruguay likely to coast past Costa Rica. From that point on, it's an uphill battle for Hodgson's crew.
Belgium Will Win Group over Russia
With Group D and Group G filled with standout national teams, that leaves groups with notably less intrigue like Group H—where Belgium, Russia, Algeria and South Korea will vie for two round-of-16 spots.
Although it isn't heavy on international intrigue like some other nations, Belgium is loaded with star players who are no strangers to competing against world-class players from the other nations, and they'll take that mentality into the group stage.
Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku both have been tearing up the pitch in England, and they've been building up for this chance to shine on the international stage. Vincent Kompany leads a defense that can afford to fly around a bit more thanks to the Manchester City defender's reliability.
Russia will be the big test for Belgium, but that doesn't come until the latter's second match in Brazil. The Belgium squad will face Algeria first, which didn't score a single goal in its 2010 World Cup appearance, and building confidence from that will allow Belgium to slip past Russia and take out South Korea to dominate Group H.
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