Aside the matches that will attract enormous viewership from the Nigerian audience, these are the top 10 games that many football fans have been looking forward to watching…
BRAZIL vs. CROATIA, June 12, Group A
It’s the opening game, so it’s going to command huge attention all around the world. The World Cup’s most successful and celebrated nation – Brazil will be kicking off the festival in their own country against Croatia, the entire atmosphere around it is expected to be unique. The Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side are not playing a heavyweight country, they are facing thoroughly awkward opposition, who will arguably reveal even more about them at the early point of the tournament and perhaps tell whether Brazil will still be there in the closing game.
SPAIN vs. NETHERLANDS, June 13, Group B
This is a group stage match with the highest dimensions and storylines, not only because it is an immediate repeat of the 2010 final match. It is also a chance to very quickly see just how far Spain have improved since their historic win four years ago, whether they should still be considered favourites, and if the Netherlands are now anywhere near the kind of quality required to reach the final again. And, of course, it will revive all the emotions and incidents of soccer city.
ENGLAND vs. ITALY, June 14, Group D
This is another early heavyweight game and a relatively quick rematch from a recent tie. While the Euro 2012 quarterfinal between these teams ended 0-0, Italy’s eventual penalty shootout victory was arguably a justified result given that the 120 minutes of football illustrated just how tactically advanced and exciting Cesare Prandelli’s team were, and how England have improved from their 2010 disappointment.
ARGENTINA vs. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA, June 15, Group F
This fixture pits two of the most exciting football teams in the tournament against each other right from the start. Argentina will be parading stars like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Bosnia-Herzegovina the only debutante in this year’s World Cup will rely on their power strike of Edin Dzeko. Beyond that, there is the attacking quality of both sides, and a potential decider for first place.
GERMANY vs. PORTUGAL, June 16, Group G
Regarded as one of the most glamorous games in the group stage, it is a meeting between two of the greatest teams in the world and some of the greatest players in the world. The German Machine will come up against the power of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, Contraeo, the trio who just conquered Europe as Madrid players.
BELGIUM vs. ALGERIA, June 17, Group H
Belgium parade some of the young talents in the world of football and this match will show just how serious they are. Because, for all the excitement Marc Wilmots’ team inspired in the qualifying campaign, it’s only when the tournament properly begins that you get a true sense of a team and their ability to adapt. A match against Algeria is a true test of their ability.
SPAIN vs CHILE, June 18, Group A
It is going to be one of the grand games of the tournament, and is generally one of the most engaging, a great champion’s attempts to shake off the effects of time and keep standing as the finest of all. The fact Spain beat an upwardly mobile Chile to fully illustrate their mettle in the last World Cup will add another dimension to this game, and could decide this group, particularly after the opening game with the Dutch.
COLOMBIA vs IVORY COAST, June 19, Group C
Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez against Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba, this is a fixture tipped to be entertaining. Colombia have only got past the opening round once. Ivory Coast have had the misfortune to always be placed in a group of death. Both should fancy their chances of going further, which could make this a particularly exhilarating occasion.
URUGUAY vs ENGLAND, June 19, Group D
This will be the most exciting fixture of group, and it boils down to one major strand: the sensational Luis Suarez against the country he now calls home. Will he devastate England in the manner he has done to so many of the Premier League’s defences? And will there be any controversy or firestorm out of it?
SWITZERLAND vs. FRANCE, June 20, Group E
The French have provided some of the dominant stories of the past few international tournaments, and the fascination with them will only increase after the dramatic manner in which they qualified. There’s also the fact that their Swiss neighbours have put together a team with a lot of potential, and pose a very awkward challenge.