Saturday, 28th June
Brazil vs Chile in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil and Chile have met three times at the World Cup Finals.
The first meeting was in the semi-final at Chile 1962. Brazil won (4:2) with Garrincha and Vava both scoring twice.
Colombia vs Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
Colombia and Uruguay have only met once at the World Cup Finals.
Although Uruguay won the Arica group game (2:1) at Chile 1962, both teams went out to USSR and Yugoslavia.
Sunday, 29th June
Netherlands vs Mexico in Fortaleza.
Holland and Mexico have only met once in a World Cup Finals; at France 1998.
The St. Etienne group game, on 25th June, ended in a (2:2) draw; meaning both teams qualified for the Second Round.
Holland went on to reach the semi-finals; where they lost to Brazil on penalties.
Costa Rica vs Greece in Recife.
Costa Rica and Greece have never met each other before in world football.
Costa Rica’s best World Cup performance was reaching the last 16 at Italia 1990; where they lost to Czechoslovakia (1:4) in Bari.
Greece have made it through to the Second Round, at the third attempt.
Monday, 30th June
France vs Nigeria in Brasilia.
France and Nigeria have never met at a World Cup Finals although they did play a friendly match in 2009. Nigeria won the game (1:0) in Saint-Etienne.
Germany vs Algeria in Porto Alegre.
Algeria and West Germany met in the group stage of Spain 1982. Algeria won the match (2:1) in Gijon.
The two teams also played a friendly in Algiers, back in 1964. Algeria won that game too (2:0).
Tuesday, 1st July
Argentina vs Switzerland in Sao Paulo.
Argentina and Switzerland have only met once at a World Cup Finals, in the England 1966 group stage.
Argentina beat Switzerland (2:0) in Sheffield; then lost to eventual winners, England (0:1) in the quarter-final.
Belgium vs USA in Salvador.
Belgium and USA played each other in a group game at the first World Cup, in Uruguay 1930.
United States won that game (3:0) and qualifed for the semi-finals; where they lost miserably to Argentina (1:6).
If USA were to win this game, they could meet Argentina again.
After Group E’s opening games it was very much advantage France and Switzerland.
Ecuador may have led Switzerland for most of the first half in Brasilia but the Swiss replied after inspired second-half substitutions by Ottmar Hitzfeld – Mehmedi The Remedy – and scored the vital winning goal in injury time, just when Ecuador seemed content to settle for a point.
The France vs Honduras game reminded me of the song, Let’s Get Physical.
Getting close proved to be the downfall of Honduras.
To keep the group interesting, we really need both games to end in a draw; though I’d be happy to see Honduras lose out on a chance to reach the knockout round.
Like England’s group, Group E is a Latin America vs Europe affair; without an African or Asian team in sight.
If England’s recent draws against Ecuador and Honduras are anything to go by, France and Switzerland could find things closer than they’d like.
Switzerland might have beaten Spain, the eventual World Cup winners, last time around but they never really set the tournament alight.
Of course Franck Ribery will be missed, but France should have enough to get out of the group ahead of Switzerland and Ecuador; unless all four teams end up with three points.
This group does look that tight, but let’s hope I’m far from right on that score.
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