Brazil will be the focus of the sports world quite a bit over the next few years. In 2016, Rio de Janeiro will serve as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics. But first, cities around the nation will welcome fans from around the globe for the 2014 World Cup.
A total of 12 different venues are slated to host matches during the month-long event. Given the size of Brazil, some cities like Manaus are quite a distance away from the other sites, which will lead to some intense travel for certain national teams.
With that in mind, let's check out all of the important stadium details. Those are followed by a complete schedule for the marquee international event and a deeper dive into the host nation's chances of raising the World Cup trophy on home soil.
Cities Map via FIFA
Stadium Schedule via FIFA
|2014 World Cup - Stadium Locations|
|Rio de Janeiro||Estadio do Maracana||Group, Knockout & Final|
|Brasilia||Estadio Nacional||Group, Knockout & Third|
|Belo Horizonte||Estadio Mineirao||Group & Knockout|
|Sao Paulo||Arena de Sao Paulo||Group & Knockout|
|Salvador||Arena Fonte Nova||Group & Knockout|
|Fortaleza||Estadio Castelao||Group & Knockout|
|Porto Alegre||Estadio Beira-Rio||Group & Knockout|
|Recife||Arena Pernambuco||Group & Knockout|
|Manaus||Arena da Amazonia||Group|
|Natal||Arena das Dunas||Group|
|Curitiba||Arena da Baixada||Group|
|2014 World Cup - Tournament Schedule|
|June 12||4 p.m.||A||Brazil vs. Croatia||ESPN|
|June 13||12 p.m.||A||Mexico vs. Cameroon||ESPN2|
|June 13||3 p.m.||B||Spain vs. Netherlands||ESPN|
|June 13||6 p.m.||B||Chile vs. Australia||ESPN2|
|June 14||12 p.m.||C||Colombia vs. Greece||ABC|
|June 14||3 p.m.||D||Uruguay vs. Costa Rica||ABC|
|June 14||6 p.m.||D||England vs. Italy||ESPN|
|June 14||9 p.m.||C||Ivory Coast vs. Japan||ESPN|
|June 15||12 p.m.||E||Switzerland vs. Ecuador||ABC|
|June 15||3 p.m.||E||France vs. Honduras||ABC|
|June 15||6 p.m.||F||Argentina vs. Bosnia-H.||ESPN|
|June 16||12 p.m.||G||Germany vs. Portugal||ESPN|
|June 16||3 p.m.||F||Iran vs. Nigeria||ESPN|
|June 16||6 p.m.||G||Ghana vs. USA||ESPN|
|June 17||12 p.m.||H||Belgium vs. Algeria||ESPN|
|June 17||3 p.m.||A||Brazil vs. Mexico||ESPN|
|June 17||6 p.m.||H||Russia vs. South Korea||ESPN|
|June 18||12 p.m.||B||Australia vs. Netherlands||ESPN|
|June 18||3 p.m.||B||Spain vs. Chile||ESPN|
|June 18||6 p.m.||A||Cameroon vs. Croatia||ESPN|
|June 19||12 p.m.||C||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||ESPN|
|June 19||3 p.m.||D||Uruguay vs. England||ESPN|
|June 19||6 p.m.||C||Japan vs. Greece||ESPN|
|June 20||12 p.m.||D||Italy vs. Costa Rica||ESPN|
|June 20||3 p.m.||E||Switzerland vs. France||ESPN|
|June 20||6 p.m.||E||Honduras vs. Ecuador||ESPN|
|June 21||12 p.m.||F||Argentina vs. Iran||ESPN|
|June 21||3 p.m.||G||Germany vs. Ghana||ESPN|
|June 21||6 p.m.||F||Nigeria vs. Bosnia-H.||ESPN|
|June 22||12 p.m.||H||Belgium vs. Russia||ABC|
|June 22||3 p.m.||H||South Korea vs. Algeria||ABC|
|June 22||6 p.m.||G||USA vs. Portugal||ESPN|
|June 23||12 p.m.||B||Netherlands vs. Chile||ESPN|
|June 23||12 p.m.||B||Australia vs. Spain||ESPN2|
|June 23||4 p.m.||A||Croatia vs. Mexico||ESPN|
|June 23||4 p.m.||A||Cameroon vs. Brazil||ESPN2|
|June 24||12 p.m.||D||Italy vs. Uruguay||ESPN|
|June 24||12 p.m.||D||Costa Rica vs. England||ESPN2|
|June 24||4 p.m.||C||Japan vs. Colombia||ESPN|
|June 24||4 p.m.||C||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||ESPN2|
|June 25||12 p.m.||F||Nigeria vs. Argentina||ESPN|
|June 25||12 p.m.||F||Bosnia-H. vs. Iran||ESPN2|
|June 25||4 p.m.||E||Ecuador vs. France||ESPN|
|June 25||4 p.m.||E||Honduras vs. Switzerland||ESPN2|
|June 26||12 p.m.||G||United States vs. Germany||ESPN|
|June 26||12 p.m.||G||Portugal vs. Ghana||ESPN2|
|June 26||4 p.m.||H||South Korea vs. Belgium||ESPN|
|June 26||4 p.m.||H||Algeria vs. Russia||ESPN2|
|June 28||12 p.m.||R of 16||1A vs. 2B (Match 49)||ABC|
|June 28||4 p.m.||R of 16||1C vs. 2D (Match 50)||ABC|
|June 29||12 p.m.||R of 16||1B vs. 2A (Match 51)||ESPN|
|June 29||4 p.m.||R of 16||1D vs. 2C (Match 52)||ESPN|
|June 30||12 p.m.||R of 16||1E vs. 2F (Match 53)||ESPN|
|June 30||4 p.m.||R of 16||1G vs. 2H (Match 54)||ESPN|
|July 1||12 p.m.||R of 16||1F vs. 2E (Match 55)||ESPN|
|July 1||4 p.m.||R of 16||1H vs. 2G (Match 56)||ESPN|
|July 4||12 p.m.||Quarter||W53 vs. W54 (Match 57)||ESPN2|
|July 4||4 p.m.||Quarter||W49 VS. W50 (Match 58)||ESPN|
|July 5||12 p.m.||Quarter||W55 vs. W56 (Match 59)||ABC|
|July 5||4 p.m.||Quarter||W51 vs. W52 (Match 60)||ESPN|
|July 8||4 p.m.||Semis||W57 vs. W58 (Match 61)||ESPN|
|July 9||4 p.m.||Semis||W59 vs. W60 (Match 62)||ESPN|
|July 12||4 p.m.||3rd||L61 vs. L62||ESPN|
|July 13||3 p.m.||Title||W61 vs. W62||ABC|
|FIFA.com and ESPNMediaZone.com|
Outlook for Host Nation
Brazil enters the tournament as one of four top contenders. Argentina, Germany and the defending champions from Spain make up the rest of that top-tier group. It would be an upset if one of those sides didn't win the title, even with a strong cast of secondary championship hopefuls.
As always, serving as the host nation can be either a positive or a negative. The amazing amount of crowd support can serve as a huge advantage. But a team must understand how to overcome the added pressure that comes along with that support.
The Selecao handled the situation perfectly one year ago in the Confederations Cup, which is basically a test run for the World Cup. They won the tournament with some truly outstanding performances, including a 3-0 win over Spain in the final.
Now they are expected to replicate the result on a much grander stage.
Vaishali Bhardwaj of Goal.com passed along comments manager Luiz Felipe Scolari made in the Times of India. He said it's up to them to turn the entire World Cup experience into a positive one for the country:
When Brazil play in the World Cup, people expect them to win it. That's not extra pressure, but that's normal for a Brazilian fan, as well as for a Brazilian footballer. If you realize this, the job will be easier.
I know there are issues [with how the tournament has been organized]. People are not happy. We have a duty to make them happy by winning the cup for them.
At the outset, it looks like Brazil has a great chance to do exactly that. The squad features everything you look for in a championship side.
The Selecao feature experience at the back, highlighted by Thiago Silva and Dani Alves, strength in the midfield thanks to Oscar and Paulinho and an attacking superstar capable of turning an entire match around on his own in Neymar.
Add in the home-field advantage and it's not hard to see why Bloomberg's simulations picked Brazil to raise the World Cup trophy, as noted by the outlet's David Stringer:
The journey won't be easy, of course. Group A could be trickier than it looks on paper with an underrated Croatia side and Mexico, which could bounce back on the big stage after a lackluster qualifying campaign. Cameroon also has some star power led by Samuel Eto'o.
Then the Round of 16 would feature a matchup against a side from Group B, which features Spain, Chile, the Netherlands and Australia. The first three of those teams are all dangerous.
Yet, despite the numerous hurdles that lie ahead, it's nothing Brazil can't handle. As long as it displays form on the same level or higher than the Confederations Cup, a deep run should be in the cards. And anything can happen once the tournament reaches the semifinals.
A lot will depend on the success of Neymar, who was the best player in last summer's tournament but went through some dry spells with Barcelona at the club level. If he gets back into top form, Brazil should prove itself as the team to beat.
And with a raucous crowd behind them, the Selecao will be an incredibly tough out.