To steal from ESPN's most recent World Cup commercial, "every four years, the world has one time zone."
The World Cup transcends. It transcends work and school schedules, and really any other stupid commitment that might get in your way. It transcends whatever negative feelings some may have toward the sport. It transcends cultural differences, and for one month every four years, much of the world unites for the incomparable tournament.
Missing any of the fixtures means missing a piece of sports history, so let's take a look at when and where to watch every pre-knockout stage match, along with a glance at the tournament odds and most compelling groups.
Complete Group Play Schedule and Viewing Info
|Date||Group A Fixture||Time||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 12||Brazil vs. Croatia||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Sao Paulo||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 13||Mexico vs. Cameroon||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Natal||ITV1/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 17||Brazil vs. Mexico||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 18||Cameroon vs. Croatia||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Manaus||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 23||Cameroon vs. Brazil||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Brasilia||ITV(TBC)/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 23||Croatia vs. Mexico||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Recife||ITV(TBC)/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group B Fixture||Time||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 13||Spain vs. Netherlands||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Salvador||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 13||Chile vs. Australia||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Cuiaba||ITV1/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 18||Spain vs. Chile||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Rio de Janeiro||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 18||Australia vs. Netherlands||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Porto Alegre||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 23||Australia vs. Spain||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Curitiba||ITV(TBC)/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 23||Netherlands vs. Chile||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Sao Paulo||ITV(TBC)/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group C Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 14||Colombia vs. Greece||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||BBC1/ABC||BBC Website/ABC Go|
|June 14||Ivory Coast vs. Japan||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Recife||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 19||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Brasilia||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 19||Japan vs. Greece||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Natal||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 24||Japan vs. Colombia||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Cuiaba||BBC(TBC)/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 24||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||BBC(TBC)/ESPN2||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group D Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 14||Uruguay vs. Costa Rica||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||ITV1/ABC||ITV Website/ABC Go|
|June 14||England vs. Italy||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Manaus||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 19||Uruguay vs. England||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Sao Paulo||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 20||Italy vs. Costa Rica||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Recife||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 24||Italy vs. Uruguay||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Natal||ITV(TBC)/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 24||Costa Rica vs. England||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||ITV1/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group E Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 15||Switzerland vs. Ecuador||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Brasilia||ITV1/ABC||ITV Website/ABC Go|
|June 15||France vs. Honduras||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Porto Alegre||BBC1/ABC||BBC Website/ABC Go|
|June 20||Switzerland vs. France||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Salvador||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ ESPN Player|
|June 20||Honduras vs. Ecuador||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Curitiba||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ ESPN Player|
|June 25||Honduras vs. Switzerland||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Manaus||BBC(TBC)/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 25||Ecuador vs. France||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Rio de Janeiro||BBC(TBC)/ESPN2||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group F Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 15||Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Rio de Janeiro||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 16||Iran vs. Nigeria||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Curitiba||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 21||Argentina vs. Iran||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 21||Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Cuiaba||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 25||Nigeria vs. Argentina||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Porto Alegre||ITV(TBC)/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 25||Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Salvador||ITV(TBC)/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group G Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 16||Germany vs. Portugal||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Salvador||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 16||Ghana vs. United States||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Natal||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 21||Germany vs. Ghana||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 22||United States vs. Portugal||8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Manaus||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 26||United States vs. Germany||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Recife||BBC(TBC)/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 26||Portugal vs. Ghana||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Brasilia||BBC(TBC)/ESPN2||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|Date||Group H Fixture||Time (ET)||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|June 17||Belgium vs. Algeria||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||ITV1/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 17||Russia vs. South Korea||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Cuiaba||BBC1/ESPN||BBC Website/ESPN Player|
|June 22||Belgium vs. Russia||11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Rio de Janeiro||BBC1/ABC||BBC Website/ABC Go|
|June 22||South Korea vs. Algeria||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Porto Alegre||ITV1/ABC||ITV Website/ABC Go|
|June 26||South Korea vs. Belgium||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Sao Paulo||ITV(TBC)/ESPN||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
|June 26||Algeria vs. Russia||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Curitiba||ITV(TBC)/ESPN2||ITV Website/ESPN Player|
Note: Complete match schedule courtesy of FIFA.com
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||210-1|
Note: Complete Odds courtesy of Vegas Insider
Most Compelling Groups
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Since the spectacle moved to 24 teams in 1982, only once has there been a rematch of the World Cup final during the following tournament, which came in 1986 and 1990 when West Germany and Argentina met in back-to-back finals. It has never happened since the change to 32 teams in 1998.
With this group, we'll be assured of history.
Granted, Spain and Netherlands have both shown some weaknesses since the the 2010 final. La Roja lost to Croatia and needed penalties to beat Portugal during the 2012 Euro Cup (although they eventually wont the tournament) and were defeated soundly by Brazil in the 2013 Confederations Cup final. Oranje, meanwhile, were trounced in the same Euro Cup, losing to Denmark, Germany and Portugal.
Still, it would be wrong to overlook either side.
Marcelo: I think Spain are the best team in the world right now. I don't think that has changed because we won the Confederations Cup.— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) May 29, 2014
The Dutch, comparatively, romped through World Cup qualifying, going 5-1-0 by an aggregate score of 21-3 in 2013.
Spain is still dripping with talented playmakers in the midfield, and the Netherlands still feature world-class attacking talents like Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. You are going to be hard-pressed to find a better group-stage match than this one.
Oh, and one of them might not even make the knockout stages. Chile, led by Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez, is an extremely dangerous side, especially on South American soil.
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group D features three very good teams with extensive World Cup history but also plenty of question marks.
Uruguay's question mark—the health of Luis Suarez—is arguably the biggest of the tournament, but while the status of the reigning Premier League Player of the Year's knee could drastically shift this group, Oscar Tabarez's squad is plenty feared one way or another.
He is a fighter and come maybe the first or the second game in the World Cup, I am sure he will be ready and raring to go. But it’s not just all about Luis. Obviously he is outstanding but they’ve got other good players and a very good team, so we’ll look at different ways and options of how to deal with that and counteract that.
Indeed, the presence of Edinson Cavani (and possibly 2010 Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan) should help the Charruas remain dangerous up front, while being in South America will also prove to be beneficial.
Italy, the favorite to take the group if Suarez is unable to make an impact, is coming off a dreadful 2010 showing. However, the Azzurri have experienced difference-makers in Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, and they've looked better on the international level since the hiring of Cesare Prandelli.
Then you have England. The Three Lions have a lot of youth on the roster but are undeniably talented.
All three squads, who have combined for seven World Cup titles, are easily among the best 16 nations in the world, but they won't all be advancing to the Round of 16 for the knockout stages.
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA
Let's start at the top.
Germany is the deepest team in the world, as most other countries would gladly take Joachim Low's reserves, while Portgual features the reigning Ballon d'Or winner in Cristiano Ronaldo, a player capable of taking over a game by himself.
On the "bottom," we have Ghana and United States, the unlikeliest of rivals. Ghana, an extremely physical side that is dangerous on the attack, have made it out of the group stages the last two tournaments, eliminating the Red, White and Blue both times.
Assuming Germany advances, who will be the second country to survive Group G?
"I didn't even think about Germany and Portugal," midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah told Goal.com's Kent Mensah. "What came into my mind was, 'These USA people again?'"
Although Jurgen Klinsmann made headlines by not selecting American legend Landon Donovan to the squad, he still has an extremely talented midfield led by Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey and had his team playing extremely well during World Cup qualifying.
Other than Germany failing to advance, there can be no surprises from this group. All four squads are talented enough to make a deep run in Brazil, entrenching this as the unequivocal Group of Death.