The majesty and spectacle that is the World Cup brings with it the kind of hope and optimism around the world that you rarely find in sports. This isn't just a case of team pride, as countries stand united to watch their team win the most prestigious sporting event in the world.
Day 1 of the 2014 World Cup was a tune-up which gave host country Brazil a chance to show off its skills against Croatia. Day 2 is when the action really kicks into gear with three matches, each one featuring a powerhouse club.
There's no time to breathe now that the event has started, so just sit back and enjoy the majesty of the world's biggest sporting event. We are here to make life easier with a look at the schedule and some predictions for Day 2.
|Date||Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||Group||TV|
|Thursday, June 12||4 p.m.||Brazil||Croatia||A||ESPN|
|Friday, June 13||12 p.m.||Mexico||Cameroon||A||ESPN2|
|Friday, June 13||3 p.m.||Spain||Netherlands||B||ESPN|
|Friday, June 13||6 p.m.||Chile||Australia||B||ESPN2|
|Saturday, June 14||12 p.m.||Colombia||Greece||C||ABC|
|Saturday, June 14||3 p.m.||Uruguay||Costa Rica||D||ABC|
|Saturday, June 14||6 p.m.||England||Italy||D||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 14||9 p.m.||Ivory Coast||Japan||C||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 15||12 p.m.||Switzerland||Ecuador||E||ABC|
|Sunday, June 15||3 p.m.||France||Honduras||E||ABC|
|Sunday, June 15||6 p.m.||Argentina||Bosnia-Herzegovina||F||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||12 p.m.||Germany||Portugal||G||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||3 p.m.||Iran||Nigeria||F||ESPN|
|Monday, June 16||6 p.m.||Ghana||United States||G||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||12 p.m.||Belgium||Algeria||H||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||3 p.m.||Brazil||Mexico||A||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 17||6 p.m.||Russia||South Korea||H||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||12 p.m.||Australia||Netherlands||B||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||3 p.m.||Spain||Chile||B||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 18||6 p.m.||Cameroon||Croatia||A||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||12 p.m.||Colombia||Ivory Coast||C||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||3 p.m.||Uruguay||England||D||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 19||6 p.m.||Japan||Greece||C||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||12 p.m.||Italy||Costa Rica||D||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||3 p.m.||Switzerland||France||E||ESPN|
|Friday, June 20||6 p.m.||Honduras||Ecuador||E||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||12 p.m.||Argentina||Iran||F||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||3 p.m.||Germany||Ghana||G||ESPN|
|Saturday, June 21||6 p.m.||Nigeria||Bosnia-Herzegovina||F||ESPN|
|Sunday, June 22||12 p.m.||Belgium||Russia||H||ABC|
|Sunday, June 22||3 p.m.||South Korea||Algeria||H||ABC|
|Sunday, June 22||6 p.m.||United States||Portugal||G||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||12 p.m.||Australia||Spain||B||ESPN2|
|Monday, June 23||12 p.m.||Netherlands||Chile||B||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||4 p.m.||Croatia||Mexico||A||ESPN|
|Monday, June 23||4 p.m.||Cameroon||Brazil||A||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, June 24||12 p.m.||Italy||Uruguay||D||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 24||12 p.m.||Costa Rica||England||D||ESPN2|
|Tuesday, June 24||4 p.m.||Japan||Colombia||C||ESPN|
|Tuesday, June 24||4 p.m.||Greece||Ivory Coast||C||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||12 p.m.||Nigeria||Argentina||F||ESPN|
|Wednesday, June 25||12 p.m.||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Iran||F||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||4 p.m.||Honduras||Switzerland||E||ESPN2|
|Wednesday, June 25||4 p.m.||Ecuador||France||E||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||12 p.m.||United States||Germany||G||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||12 p.m.||Portugal||Ghana||G||ESPN2|
|Thursday, June 26||4 p.m||South Korea||Belgium||H||ESPN|
|Thursday, June 26||4 p.m.||Algeria||Russia||H||ESPN2|
Day 2 Predictions
Mexico vs. Cameroon
Mexico aren't starting the World Cup on a high note with star Javier Hernandez out of the starting lineup against Cameroon. They also endured several trials on their journey to Brazil, including going through three managers until settling on Miguel Herrera last year.
On top of that, Mexico have to contend with an underrated Cameroon squad. Unfortunately there are bigger issues happening in the real world for Cameroon, who refused to fly to Brazil for the World Cup until the last minute due to a salary dispute, according to The Guardian.
Both Mexico and Cameroon are volatile right now, but the latter have more going for them with one of the top defenses. Paul Doyle of the The Guardian noted the versatility that manager Volker Finke has available:
If Matip does not play at the back, he could start in midfield, where Finke has good options. Alex Song and Enoh Eyong have been stalwarts under the German but Stéphane Mbia’s superb season with Sevilla must tempt the manager to include him. ...
Finke could alter his usual 4-3-3 formation to include both [Samuel] Eto’o and [Vincent] Aboubakar: the manager must decide whether that is a necessary disruption or another one that Cameroon could do without.
Mexico are still better on paper, but they haven't played up to their potential in years. Consider this a mild upset by the Cameroonian squad.
Prediction: Cameroon 2, Mexico 1
Spain vs. Netherlands
This is easily the best match of the day, which isn't difficult to understand considering it's a rematch of the 2010 final. The Netherlands have their work cut out to upend the defending World Cup champions, but it's not an impossible task.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal is pulling out all stops to ensure that his side get off to a good start by announcing he will switch up his defensive alignment, according to Siew-Joe Lee of The Metro:
We are in for a surprise this World Cup, Louis van Gaal has decided to abandon the traditional 4-3-3 and convert to a more defensively stable 5-3-2. The system wherein the back line is formed by three centre-backs and supported by two wing-backs sacrifices an offensive player for security in the back. A very calculated move by the Dutch mastermind, as the defense is the weakest point of the squad.
Spain have more talent than any other country in the world. Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa are still very much at the peak of their powers, while Xavi Hernandez is still a key figure to have on the roster as a wily veteran and presence for the younger guys to look to in big spots.
This is Spain's time, so why wouldn't they come out strong right out of the gate? The Netherlands will provide a challenge, and it's good to see them not resting on their laurels, but they're still looking up at the defending champs.
Prediction: Spain 3, Netherlands 1
Chile vs. Australia
As good as the Spain-Netherlands matchup should be, Chile vs. Australia has no dramatic stakes at all. Australia doesn't even register on FIFA's World Ranking list leading up to the World Cup, while Chile is in the top 15.
The one thing that does give Australia a glimmer of hope is a lingering knee issue to Chilean star Arturo Vidal, though he was able to train with the team on Wednesday, according to FIFA.com.
Even if Vidal isn't able to play or isn't at full strength, there's not enough firepower for Australia to storm out of the gate. Captain Mile Jedinak has been ridden hard in the last year, even talking about exhaustion to Sebastian Hassett of the Sydney Morning Herald:
It’s been pretty exhausting, sure, but when you hear the words “World Cup”, that’s all that has to be said. All the motivation you ever needed is right there. Mention those teams we’re playing against – Chile, The Netherlands, Spain – and any fatigue just fades away.
Even though Jedinak is brushing it off, there's no doubt that there's a lot of tread on those tires, and he could be behind the eight ball in this opening matchup against high-quality opponents.
Chile are flying under the radar before the World Cup, but an early victory can bring this talented side to the forefront.
Prediction: Chile 2, Australia 0
If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter.