It seems like barely a few days have passed since the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and already we are ready to wrap-up the opening round of group stage fixtures, while the hosts Brazil prepare to play their second. Certainly, time has just breezed past – you know how the old saying goes and few would argue that watching the 2014 World Cup hasn’t been great fun this far.
Admittedly, that theory was tested last night as Iran and Nigeria predictably played out a goalless draw, the first of the tournament, but there was excitement and entertainment aplenty in the day’s other two fixtures. From a Barcelona perspective, it doesn’t get much better than seeing Portugal stumble, especially when it results in a red card for Pepe and a plethora of pouty faces and humorous reactions from an exasperated Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal crashed to a humbling 4-0 defeat against Germany.
Elsewhere, the mighty US of A defeated Ghana in the late kick-off, as Clint Dempsey and new American hero, John Brooks, grabbed the goals in a 2-1 victory over one of the surprise packages of the 2010 tournament.
With Neymar, Dani Alves and Brazil back in action tonight, we are expecting more excitement – will the hosts deliver?
Belgium vs Algeria, Kickoff: 6pm CET
Question: if a team is universally acknowledged as being "underrated" and therefore tipped as the "dark horses", are they "overrated"? In this writer’s opinion, the answer is "yes", at least in the case of Belgium. In my experience, you can’t talk about this World Cup without someone popping up in the conversation to proclaim that Belgium "could be the team to watch" – it’s like there’s some unwritten rule or something.
Anyway, I could write pages on my dislike of the overrated Belgians, but I’ll spare you because I’m short on time – they square off against Algeria this afternoon in what should be a straightforward affair. Cue a unanimous "told you so"’ from the Belgian bandwagon, even though Algeria are terrible…
Brazil vs Mexico, Kickoff: 9pm CET
Neymar! There are many reasons to watch this match – it’s importance in the scheme of Group A, the fact that it’s a rematch of the 2012 Olympic medal game, which was won by the Mexicans – but really, the best reason is Neymar. Neymar! He scored twice on the opening day and generally looked excellent – can he keep up that form and keep Brazil on course for glory? Find out tonight.
Russia vs South Korea, Kickoff: 0am CET
Despite the hardwork of Vladimir Putin, the Russian team does not yet include the best and the brightest from Ukraine. However, they remain a good side with an excellent manager in Fabio Capello. Unlike the Belgians, I genuinely believe Russia are a dark horse and could progress far in this tournament – but first, they must see off the threat of the hard-working South Koreans in tonight’s late kick-off.
There you have it, the schedule for today – enjoy the matches
- FC Barcelona News: 17 June 2014: Rakitic Joins Barcelona, Joan Gamper Opponent Announced
- Cesc Fabregas's Conversation With Jose Mourinho on Leaving Barcelona for Chelsea
- World Cup Match Review: Lionel Messi & Argentina Edge Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Official: Ivan Rakitic Joins FC Barcelona
- Gonzalo Higuaín, on Barça rumours: 'It would be a pleasure to play at Barcelona'