World Cup Schedule 2014: Start Times, TV Coverage and More Fixture Info

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 11:  Xavi Hernandez of Spain runs with the ball during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Spain and Belarus at Iberostars Stadium on October 11, 2013 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Teams have been preparing for the start of the 2014 World Cup since the end of the last one. This makes every match extremely important for squads to accomplish their goal.

With each team only getting three matches in the group stage to earn a spot in the round of 16, any poor result could be devastating. Even the top contenders have to be at their best in every match to avoid missing out on necessary points that will help the team advance.

There will be a number of exciting contests to watch throughout the first phase of the World Cup, but here is a look at the toughest matches for each top contender in Brazil.

2014 World Cup Groups
Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
CroatiaNetherlandsGreeceCosta Rica
MexicoChileIvory CoastEngland
Group EGroup FGroup GGroup H
HondurasNigeriaUnited StatesSouth Korea


Brazil vs. Croatia

The first match of the tournament might end up being one of the best.

Brazil will look to electrify their home fans with an exciting attack full of talented young players like Neymar and Oscar. This adds to one of the best defenses in the world with experienced players who have had success in Champions League and other high levels of competition.

However, Croatia come into this battle with plenty of confidence and without pressure. Midfielder Luka Modric explained to Fox Sports why he is actually looking forward to the battle against Brazil: "It’s going to be the easiest game for us. There is no pressure in that game, we just need to enjoy it. We don’t have any pressure at all. We can only win from this game."

Modric is a big reason the European squad has a chance to make a run this summer. He was a major factor in Real Madrid's run to a UCL title this season and is part of a talented midfield with his national team.

The fact that Mario Mandzukic will be banned from the match after picking up a red card in qualifying will be huge, but Croatia still have enough talent to make this a difficult battle.

Brazil have to make sure they do not let the situation get the better of them as the young team tries to start off a run to a championship.


Spain vs. Chile

The reigning World Cup winners are expected to once again contend for the World Cup title. The midfield that features Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and others will be back and brimming with the confidence of past success.

Things will be difficult right away for Spain with an opening match against the Netherlands in what will be a rematch of the 2010 final. However, the stars from the Dutch squad are seemingly past their prime while the younger players are not yet ready for the big time.

Instead, it seems the bigger challenge for Spain in Group B will be Chile.

Former Italian star Alessandro Del Piero explains that Chile are one of South America's overlooked teams, via Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sports:

ESPN's Max Bretos considers the team at least a sleeper in Brazil:

With young talent all over the pitch, Chile can provide a serious challenge to Spain's attempt to repeat as World Cup champions.


Germany vs. Portugal

There are few teams with as much talent across the board as Germany. Even with various injuries, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Miroslav Klose and others will find ways to score, while Philipp Lahm will help prevent any good opportunities on the opposing end.

Add in arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer, and Germany will be incredibly difficult to beat.

Of course, if anyone is going to pose a challenge it will be Cristiano Ronaldo. The reigning Ballon d'Or winner has shown the ability to single-handedly carry his squad to victory with his knack for scoring from almost anywhere on the offensive end of the pitch.

Fortunately, he will not have to win by himself as Portugal have an experienced defense with quick midfielders capable of making plays with or without the ball. Ronaldo will simply be there to finish near the net when he gets a chance.

Germany have to make sure to stop the talented player while also attacking on offense. Otherwise, the squad could end up struggling right away in Brazil.

2014 World Cup Group Schedule
DateMatchGroupTime (ET)TVVenue
June 12Brazil vs. CroatiaA4 p.m.ESPNSao Paulo
June 13Mexico vs. CameroonA12 p.m.ESPN2Natal
June 13Spain vs. NetherlandsB3 p.m.ESPNSalvador
June 13Chile vs. AustraliaB6 p.m.ESPN2Cuiaba
June 14Colombia vs. GreeceC12 p.m.ABCBelo Horizonte
June 14Uruguay vs. Costa RicaD3 p.m.ABCFortaleza
June 14Ivory Coast vs. JapanC6 p.m.ESPNRecife
June 14England vs. ItalyD6 p.m.ESPNManaus
June 15Switzerland vs. EcuadorE12 p.m.ABCBrasilia
June 15France vs. HondurasE3 p.m.ABCPorto Alegre
June 15Argentina vs. Bosnia-HerzegovinaF6 p.m.ESPNRio De Janeiro
June 16Germany vs. PortugalG12 p.m.ESPNSalvador
June 16Iran vs. NigeriaF3 p.m.ESPNCuritiba
June 16Ghana vs. United StatesG6 p.m.ESPNNatal
June 17Belgium vs. AlgeriaH12 p.m.ESPNBelo Horizonte
June 17Brazil vs. MexicoA3 p.m.ESPNFortaleza
June 17Russia vs. South KoreaH6 p.m.ESPNCuiaba
June 18Australia vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.ESPNPorto Alegre
June 18Cameroon vs. CroatiaA3 p.m.ESPNManaus
June 18Spain vs. ChileB6 p.m.ESPNRio De Janeiro
June 19Colombia vs. Ivory CoastC12 p.m.ESPNBrasilia
June 19Uruguay vs. EnglandD3 p.m.ESPNSao Paulo
June 19Greece vs. JapanC6 p.m.ESPNNatal
June 20Costa Rica vs. ItalyD12 p.m.ESPNRecife
June 20Switzerland vs. FranceE3 p.m.ESPNSalvador
June 20Ecuador vs. HondurasE6 p.m.ESPNCuritiba
June 21Argentina vs. IranF12 p.m.ESPNBelo Horizonte
June 21Germany vs. GhanaG3 p.m.ESPNFortaleza
June 21Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. NigeriaF6 p.m.ESPNCuiaba
June 22South Korea vs. AlgeriaH3 p.m.ABCPorto Alegre
June 22United States vs. PortugalG6 p.m.ESPNManaus
June 22Belgium vs. RussiaH12 p.m.ABCRio De Janeiro
June 23Australia vs. SpainB12 p.m.ESPN2Curitiba
June 23Chile vs. NetherlandsB12 p.m.ESPNSao Paulo
June 23Brazil vs. CameroonA4 p.m.ESPN2Brasilia
June 23Croatia vs. MexicoA4 p.m.ESPNRecife
June 24Italy vs. UruguayD12 p.m.ESPNNatal
June 24Costa Rica vs. EnglandD12 p.m.ESPN2Belo Horizonte
June 24Japan vs. ColombiaC4 p.m.ESPNCuiaba
June 24Greece vs. Ivory CoastC4 p.m.ESPN2Fortaleza
June 25Nigeria vs. ArgentinaF12 p.m.ESPNPorto Alegre
June 25Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. IranF12 p.m.ESPN2Salvador
June 25Honduras vs. SwitzerlandE4 p.m.ESPN2Manaus
June 25France vs. EcuadorE4 p.m.ESPNRio De Janeiro
June 26United States vs. GermanyG12 p.m.ESPNRecife
June 26Portugal vs. GhanaG12 p.m.ESPN2Brasilia
June 26South Korea vs. BelgiumH4 p.m.ESPNSao Paulo
June 26Algeria vs. RussiaH4 p.m.ESPN2Curitiba
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