Spain play the Netherlands on Friday in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for a repeat of the 2010 final in which La Roja prevailed after extra time.
The Dutch will be looking for revenge in Salvador in one of the best matchups of the group stages. Elsewhere, Mexico kick off their Group A campaign against Cameroon and Australia meet Chile on Day 2 in South America.
The opening group games are so crucial for each side, as an early loss can be very difficult to bounce back from. Day 2 signals the first full day of action with the games being played throughout the day across Brazil.
Read on for full viewing information for each game, as well as predictions for the outcome of Friday's encounters.
|Date||Time (ET/BST)||Group||Fixture||TV Info|
|June 13||12 p.m./5 p.m.||A||Mexico vs. Cameroon||ITV1/ESPN2|
|June 13||3 p.m./8 p.m.||B||Spain vs. Netherlands||BBC1/ESPN|
|June 13||6 p.m./11 p.m.||B||Chile vs. Australia||ITV1/ESPN2|
Spain to Overcome Dutch Threat
The reigning champions could hardly have asked for a more difficult opener to their campaign to retain the World Cup.
The Netherlands are a quality side and pushed Spain all the way in the 2010 final, although many would point to Nigel de Jong's infamous challenge on Xabi Alonso as evidence that the Dutch did not exactly play fair on that occasion.
Dutch skipper Robin van Persie believes his side are better prepared for this encounter than when the sides met in South Africa, per ITV Football:
Robin van Persie says that Holland are better prepared for the World Cup than in 2010 http://t.co/kCfU0qaEB8— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 12, 2014
And the Manchester United striker will be a real threat to Vicente del Bosque's side on Friday, his recent international record is sublime, per Opta:
8 - Robin van Persie has scored eight goals in his last eight games for the Netherlands. Class.— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 12, 2014
However, Spain look to have the better overall quality. They know how to win tournaments and will be looking for a better start in Brazil than when they lost to Switzerland in their 2010 opener.
Their all-round quality is phenomenal with the likes of Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas all likely to be playing at the Arena Fonte Nova.
Furthermore, Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa looks likely to be fit, providing a genuine strike option at the head of the attack.
Diego Costa insists he will be fully fit for Spain’s opening World Cup game with the Netherlands on Friday. http://t.co/v4sLp89SIV— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) June 10, 2014
Though the Netherlands will likely score, Spain's quality should prove too much for the Dutch to handle.
Prediction: Spain 2-1 Netherlands
Chile to Beat Australia, Mexico Too Much for Cameroon
Chile are one of the most exciting-looking outfits in the competition and are a real threat to both Spain and the Netherlands' chances of reaching the knockout rounds.
They should easily get off to a winning start against Australia, although the Socceroos will be desperate to shed their tag as the likely Group B whipping boys.
However, Jorge Sampaoli's exciting side have lost only three of their last 18 games and should see off the Aussies.
Their only concern is the fitness of Arturo Vidal, but the attacking prowess of Valencia's Eduardo Vargas and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez should provide them with enough quality for victory in Cuiaba.
Likewise, Mexico should have too much for Cameroon, despite El Tri's travails in qualifying for the tournament in Brazil.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera is very confident ahead of the encounter, going so far as to suggest that his side can win the World Cup:
Miguel Herrera speaking in press conference, ahead of Mexico game v Cameroon: "We can win the World Cup."— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTSUSA) June 12, 2014
While that may be stretching things, they should certainly be able to see off Cameroon in Natal, who do not have the squad of year's past, per the BBC's Farayi Mungazi, and sit 36 places below Mexico in the world rankings:
My prediction for Group A: Brazil to qualify along with Mexico. #Cameroon still missing the x-factor of old & could pick up wooden spoon.— Farayi Mungazi (@BBCFarayi) June 12, 2014
Chile and Mexico both look good to get off to winning starts in this year's World Cup, and should pick up three crucial points on Friday.
Prediction: Mexico 3-1 Cameroon, Chile 3-0 Australia