Three days down, and the 2014 World Cup shows no sign of disappointing. We were treated to four matches yesterday – and in their own way, all four matches were entertaining affairs. Colombia got the ball rolling with a comfortable 3-0 win over Greece, as James Rodriguez demonstrated why he is and arguably always has been Jose Pekerman’s most important player. Costa Rica then shocked the world with an impressive come-from-behind win over Uruguay, who looked decidedly mediocre.
In the evening kick-off, Italy dismantled England to claim a deserved 2-1 victory as they displayed their competition credentials once again, before the Ivory Coast got their campaign off to a good start with a turnaround win against Keisuke Honda’s Japan. However, with no Barcelona representation in yesterday’s games, it’s a relief to see two Barça stars on the bill for today’s matches.
So, who else is ready to see Lionel Messi?
Switzerland vs Ecuador, Kickoff: 6pm CET
Before we see Lionel Messi lead out Argentina, we must first sit through two other important matches, both from Group E. Switzerland get the ball rolling in the early kick-off as they face off against Ecuador. While there’s no Barcelona representation, Barça Blaugranes have an interest as we root for the country of Xoel Cardenas’ birth. Xoel is busy covering the World Cup for the Telegraph and for Yahoo Sports – will he be celebrating a result, or will Switzerland emerge victorious as expected?
Certainly, they have the star power with the likes of Bayern Munich winger, Xherdan Shaqiri, and their team spirit is something to be admired. Unbeaten in qualifying, Switzerland are expected to progress from the group stage and therefore could face Argentina in the Round of 16 – just in case any Argentina/Messi fans need a reason to tune in.
France vs Honduras, Kickoff: 9pm CET
The other Group E fixture sees the dark horse France take on lowly Honduras in Porto Alegre. Of course, Real Madrid stars Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane are tipped to play a major role in France’s campaign, as is reported FC Barcelona target, Paul Pogba. However, keep an eye out for Real Sociedad winger, Antoine Griezmann, who looks set to profit from Franck Ribery’s injury to start in the French attack.
As we well know, Griezmann has the talent and this could cap off what has been a real breakout season for the La Real winger. Honduras may not be the strongest of teams, but they are physical, and France will have to watch out. Just 12 years ago, they were shocked by lowly Senegal – could history repeat itself in a similar shock tonight?
Argentina vs Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kickoff: 0am CET
It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for: Argentina kick-off their 2014 World Cup campaign tonight against Bosnia & Herzegovina in the tournament’s opening match at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Given its historical and cultural significance, it seems somewhat odd that Argentina will play the first match at the Maracana. Regardless, the pressure is on Sabella’s men to deliver as one of the tournament’s favourites.
Lionel Messi’s form curtailed at the end of the season, as many suggested that the mercurial forward was "saving himself" for the World Cup – can he deliver on the grandest stage of them all? Amidst all the furore, it’s worth keeping an eye on Bosnia. They were strong in qualifying and possess a proven goalscorer in Manchester City striker, Edin Dzeko. Could they pull off another early World Cup shock?
There you have it, the schedule for today – enjoy the matches!