The 2014 World Cup is up and running after yesterday's opening ceremony and the opening match of the tournament. In a very exciting yet on so many levels very puzzling game between Brazil and Croatia the hosts who were crowned the victors, led by two goals scored by Barcelona forward Neymar.
It will be another busy day for Barcelona players and fans as up to eight players contracted to Barcelona could be in action today.
Mexico vs Cameroon, Kickoff: 6pm CET
First up on the schedule is a game from Group A as Mexico will take on Cameroon, who will surely feature Alex Song in the starting line-up. By most accounts this should be a tight game though Mexico are considered as favorites going in. Mexico don't have many big names in their squad, especially after Carlos Vela, despite being in excellent form, wasn't called up, but that's one of the things that could make them a team that could surprise many. They are a team, not a team of individuals. They will be led at the back by former Barcelona center-back Rafael Marques. In attack Mexico will also be featuring a former Barcelona player, Giovanni Dos Santos who will surely cause a lot of problems to the opposing defense.
Cameroon on the other hand will also field two former/current Barcelona players as in addition to Song, Samuel Eto'o will look to attract some interest in order to attract interest from clubs looking to add an experienced striker. While this game might not be a mouthwatering contest it will surely be a good introductory match to the next one on the list.
Spain vs Netherlands, Kickoff: 9pm CET
Ah, the pièce de résistance of the day and the repeat of the 2010 World Cup Final that saw Spain claim their first World Cup title.
If I had written this piece yesterday it would've said that this game could feature seven Barcelona players, but with Cesc Fabregas' transfer to Chelsea that number now stands at six. Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pedro could all start this match, but it's likely that Alba at least won't be in the starting line-up as he is suffering from wisdom tooth pain that could even force him to undergo surgery. But this is still largely the same Spanish team that won the title in 2010, at least the core of it is. The biggest X-Factor on the team is without a question Brazil-born Diego Costa who could single-handedly win Spain the title, but he could also cause enough trouble to cause the team to collapse.
Unlike Spain the Dutch aren't considered by most as favorites. While they do posses a lot of firepower up front that should cause all defenses plenty of problems, they are expected to have problems on defense of their own. Their defensive corps might be very talented, but it is also terribly inexperienced as the average age is just 24.1, and barely over 22 if you remove Ron Vlaar and Paul Verhaegh out of the equation. So, the biggest question is if the Dutch attack can cover for their defensive deficiencies.
Chile vs Australia, Kickoff: 0am CET
Of the games that will be played today this one is the most one-sided as Chile really shouldn't have any problems with Australia. Chile can field a team that can go a (very) far was this summer, but a lot will depend on the team's health as the bench gets pretty thin pretty fast. But as long as the Alexis', Vidal's and Isla's of Chile remain healthy they can surprise many people.
Australia might be a fixture on the World Cup, but simply put they don't have the talent to take points away from any of the team in their group. But then again, stranger things have happened in the world of football, I mean, in the 1966 World Cup North Korea beat Italy 1-0, so it's not fair to put the tombstone on Australia just yet.
There you have it, the schedule for today and Barcelona will have a stake in all three of them. Enjoy!