The 2014 World Cup has officially started (finally), and fans looking for their footy fix will be spoiled immediately on Day 2 of the tournament, with three great fixtures coming their way.
Chile will take on Australia in Friday's final fixture and Cameroon and Mexico will get things started, but the one match fans will be looking forward to the most is the repeat of the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands.
The 2014 World Cup won't be won or lost during a team's opening fixture, but setting the tone early is the best way to build momentum going into the knockout stages. Here is everything you need to know about Friday's fixtures:
|2014 World Cup Day 2 Schedule|
|Time||Home||Away||TV Guide||Live Stream|
|5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Mexico||Cameroon||ESPN2/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
|8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET||Spain||Netherlands||ESPN/BBC1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET||Chile||Australia||ESPN2/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
Mexico v Cameroon
People are expecting Brazil to easily handle Group A, but the path to the second ticket for the knockout stages seems less clear. Mexico and Cameroon both have the quality needed to make a surprising run in this tournament, and the winner of this fixture will have a good chance at surviving Group A.
Both teams have one thing in common: They have questions coming into the tournament.
Mexico's triumph at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London was followed by a disappointing qualifying campaign, and the run of friendlies the team played in preparation for Brazil saw little improvement.
As far as talent goes, La Verde have the advantage over The Indomitable Lions, but we haven't seen all that talent live up to the expectations in recent times. Javier Hernandez is wasting away on Manchester United's bench, and the host of domestic players haven't gelled the way Miguel Herrera would have hoped.
The charismatic Herrera has worked hard with this group, however, and if the forwards can be more clinical in front of goal, the Mexicans should be favourites for Group A's second spot.
Cameroon's trip to Brazil wasn't without incident, with The Guardian reporting the team refused to board the plane over disagreements regarding payment.
The team isn't exactly short on talent, with Joel Matip and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting looking very impressive during Cameroon's 2-2 draw against Germany. Qualifiers against Tunisia went rather smoothly, and The Indomitable Lions just might be Africa's best chance at making a run in this tournament.
Prediction: Mexico 1-1 Cameroon
Spain v Netherlands
These two teams may have faced each other in the final four years ago, but much has changed since then.
La Roja went on to win their second consecutive European title, and in 2013-14, every major European trophy was won by a Spanish club. Spain are at the top of the football world, and while Brazil and Argentina may be favourites to win the World Cup this year, punters are wary of going against the defending champions.
Holland, on the other hand, embarrassed themselves during Euro 2012, and the team has tried to reinvent itself in the past two years. Star players like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are still part of the squad, but a new generation of Dutch talent is about to get its first taste of big-stage action.
The loss of AS Roma's Kevin Strootman threw a wrench into the plans of Louis van Gaal, and the experienced manager has tried to overcome said loss with a new formation, the 5-3-2. Mexico may use this formation to devastating effects when they're clicking, but the Netherlands have yet to figure out its secrets.
Qualifiers went smoothly and preparations for the tournament were filled with ups and downs, and if the Dutch are on their game, they have a chance at getting revenge for what happened four years ago.
But the Spanish aren't in the habit of letting teams play up to their potential, using a lethal brand of possession-based football to carve their way into the opposing box. Holland aren't a counterattacking side, and plenty of their young players are yet to face a side as dominant at winning and holding onto the ball as Spain.
Prediction: Spain 2-0 Netherlands
Chile v Australia
There's no such thing as a guarantee in football, but Australia struggling against Chile is as close as you'll get.
The Socceroos are winless in official matches since 2012, per WhoScored.com. Let that sink in for a moment.
The Australians have a bit of a conundrum at the goalkeeper position, with Matthew Ryan impressing with Belgian side Club Brugge for much of the season and Mitchell Langerak not seeing much playing time with Borussia Dortmund.
Ryan is clearly talented, but the 22-year-old only has a few starts for Australia under his belt, and he lacks the physical prowess to be a top-level stopper, at just 6'.
Langerak is even less experienced at the international level, and while he has the build needed to play at the highest level, his performances for the Socceroos haven't always been great.
Their Group B rivals will look to score early and often in order to boost their goal differential, so while this will leave Australia room to play the counter, their last line of defence will have to be on point for at least 270 minutes.
Chile could be boosted by the return of Arturo Vidal, according to AS English:
One of the dark horses coming into the tournament, Chile will be boosted by the fact they're playing close to home. Even more, a second-place finish in Group B would mean a likely date with rivals Brazil in the next round, and as reported by FIFA's official website, the Chileans have a score to settle with the hosts.
Vidal isn't the only star Chile can field, but the squad's biggest strength is the relentless energy and sheer athleticism they use to overpower their opponents. Jorge Sampaoli likes to work with versatile players, and the team's ability to shift formations or tactics on the fly is remarkable.
Prediction: Chile 4-1 Australia
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!