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.
With the first two games played in Group A, it’s advantage Latin America.
To say the Amazon climate would benefit the West Africans is something of a cliche, as most of the Cameroon players are based in the Europe.
The opening two games at Brazil 2014 were not without controversy though.
In the opening game of the tournament, the soft penalty awarded to Brazil was hard on Croatia while Cameroon can thank the Colombian linesman for keeping their scoreline down; it should have been three.
These World Cup matches are so important that to let just one person with a flag or whistle be the all-deciding judge sometimes makes a mokery of the technology available to help judicate close calls in a fast-moving game.
If only football fans could be allowed to discuss the performance of players rather than the incompetence of officials.
Even without home advantage, Brazil would be expected to cruise past Cameroon, Croatia and Mexico in Group A.
While many will be looking to Neymar and Oscar to produce the goods for the hosts, Fred and Paulinho may be the ones who call the shots in the final third.
If all four are on fire, that’s a lot for the opposition to deal with; without the added threats of Dani Alves and Marcello raiding down the flanks from deep.
There may be some doubts if Julio Cesar is chosen to guard the goal behind Brazil’s central defenders, but if you score more goals than the oposition, victory is assured.
Cameroon had their best World Cup in Italia 90, when Roger Milla helped them make it to extra-time in the Naples quarter-final against England. This time out, Samuel Eto’o will be trying to show the world that an older striker can still offer an enthusiastic team a goal threat up front; although Jean Makoun may be the real player to watch.
Croatia set the world alight at France 98, when they finished third and Davor Suker was bagging the goals. With Mario Mandzukic suspended for the opening game against Brazil, Croatia may not get off to the best of starts against Brazil.
If Cameroon and Croatia share the points in the humidity of Manaus, a lot will then come down to how they deal with Mexico in the north-eastern venues of Natal and Recife.
Mexico meet Cameroon first, in Natal. Mexico will need to get off to a winning start, before meeting the hosts in Fortaleza, if they hope to reach the last 16 for the sixth time in succession.
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