Your ‘Must Watch’ World Cup Guide
By Wesley Uhler
Few events in sports can compare to the World Cup. The history, the passion, and the anticipation that builds every four summers makes for the greatest sports theater one could imagine. The world’s most popular game will be showcased for the next month in Brazil, and people from all across the globe will be tuned in. With so much to see, I am here to tell you the players, teams, and games you can’t miss throughout the coming weeks.
Must See Games:
*note: all times listed are eastern standard time
- Spain vs Netherlands – June 13th at 3 p.m.
This one is a no-brainer. The first full day of World Cup action will feature a rematch of the 2010 final in South Africa, which Spain won in extra time. Both teams are in the top 15 of the FIFA world rankings, and will be looking to begin this World Cup campaign with 3 points.
- England vs Italy – June 14th at 6 p.m.
Two of FIFA’s perinatal contenders, England and Italy, both enter this World Cup surrounded by question marks and doubts. Though both are currently ranked in the FIFA top 10, many pundits and analysts have little faith in England or Italy advancing very far in Brazil. The proud European nations will seek to eliminate that doubt with a big performance in their first match.
- Germany vs Portugal – June 16th at Noon
The two favorites to advance out of the Group G “group of death” will meet for their first match of the 2014 World Cup, in a game that has huge implications for the rest of the group. Both nations are ranked in the FIFA top 5 and both will want to come away from this game with points. Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo vs Germany defender Philipp Lahm should be one of the best matchups of the tournament.
- Uruguay vs England – June 19th at 3 p.m.
This game is a must watch for one reason: Luis Suarez against England. Suarez is a lightning rod, “love him or hate him” forward who led the English Premier League in scoring this past season with Liverpool. Suarez is no stranger to controversy, having been in the middle of biting incidents twice, racism allegations, and even claiming the English media has tried to run him out of Liverpool and the Premier League.
- USA vs Germany – June 26th at Noon
The United States could enter this game needing a point or points to advance. An even greater storyline, however, is already in place as former Germany coach and current USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann will face his former assistant Joachim Low with Deutschland bragging rights on the line. This will be a huge storyline in Germany, especially if Klinsmann’s squad knocks off his former team.
Must Watch Players:
- Lionel Messi – The greatest player of his generation, quite frankly, has failed on the World Cup stage. While Messi has won just about every team and individual award possible at the club level, he has underperformed for Argentina. Argentina’s front line will be one of the most feared in World Cup history, and they will be playing close to home in South America. If Messi is truly one of the greatest to ever play the game, he must deliver on the game’s biggest stage.
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Similar to Messi, many agree Ronaldo is one of the greatest ever. Even more believe he was the best footballer on the planet this past season, adding to the pressure he has to deliver for Portugal. In 2006 at age 21, Ronaldo helped lead Portugal to the semifinals, where they fell 1-0 to France. In 2010, Portugal lost to eventual champion Spain 1-0 in the Round of 16. Should Portugal hope to advance to the knockout stage and beyond, Ronaldo will have to be the best player on the pitch.
- Luis Suarez – As I mentioned earlier, Suarez is likely the most controversial footballer on the planet. The hatred of Suarez really began four years ago, when he intentionally committed a handball in the quarterfinals to save Uruguay’s hopes against Ghana. Uruguay would go on to win the game in extra time penalties, in what was one of the wildest finishes in World Cup memory. One thing most can agree on about Suarez is this: no one wears their emotions on their sleeve and has the burning desire to win more than Luis Suarez.
Must Watch Dark Horse Teams:
- Nigeria – One of the hottest teams on the planet and in the group many believe to be the weakest, Nigeria have a great chance to advance to the knockout stage. After winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria went through World Cup qualifying undefeated.
- Belgium – For a country smaller than most American states, Belgium is loaded with talent. Keeper Thibaut Courtois is one of the best young goalies in the world, the defense includes Manchester City and Arsenal captains Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, and the forward position is stacked with some of the best young attackers in the world in Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.