The World Cup is underway, and after Thursday's Brazil-Croatia table-setter, the games come thick and fast beginning today.
On Friday's docket:
- Mexico vs. Cameroon (9 am PT, ESPN2/Univision): Plenty of folks around these parts are excited to see Mexico finally in action, and with their Group A opener coming against Cameroon, they have to feel like this game is both winnable and must-win for their prospects of advancing. If you want to impress World Cup newbies in your office or family, feel free to memorize Mexico's announced starting XI for this game and impress them with your prediction prowess. Meanwhile, the Indomitable Lions are probably the least-fancied team in the group, but that doesn't mean they'll be pushovers.
Alineación de México ante Camerún: Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodríguez, Moreno, Márquez, Layún, Vázquez, Guardado, Herrera, Dos Santos y Peralta— FEMEXFUT (@FEMEXFUTOFICIAL) June 12, 2014
- Spain vs. Netherlands (12 pm PT, ESPN2/Univision): The rematch of the 2010 World Cup final is a quirk of the draw, but it should be a fascinating game, if for nothing else than to see where these teams are at four years on. Spain is the rare dominant champion that is entering this tournament with rather dampened prospects, either out of a collective sense of boredom over their accomplishments the last six years or because they're getting older. The Netherlands, however, are one of the enigmas of the tournament, also known as "Holland being Holland," with heaps of talent, reports of player squabbling, a coach with an outsized personality, and questions concerning the cohesion of this group. Who ya got in Spain-Netherlands II: Electric Boogaloo?
- Chile vs. Australia (3 pm PT, ESPN2/Univision): Here's a game that's tricky if you're a neutral. Chile should be a fun team to watch and one that may very well give the big boys a run for their money in the tournament. Who doesn't want to see them do well? Meanwhile, Australia look like they are going to be cannon fodder for the other three teams in Group B. They're underdogs, and who doesn't love an underdog? Plus, the parallels of Australian and American soccer mean the countries are kindred spirits on the international stage. So, who should you root for? Meh, just revel in being a neutral for once, and let this one wash over you.
Brazil opens the World Cup, plays like a team with the weight of a soccer-crazed country on their shoulders, but manages a 3-1 win over Croatia, who probably could have won if only their goalkeeper had faster reflexes and one of their center backs wasn't so clumsy. Then again, if Brazil had a more clinical forward to finish, they probably wouldn't have left the door open to Croatia at all. At any rate, Brazil rejoices.
- Well, except for the many Brazilians in the streets protesting and striking over a number of very real and very reasonable grievances. The protests last year during the Confederations Cup gave Brazilian authorities time to mount a plan to counteract the latest movement, and they got to work on it right away.
- In the most depressing news of the day, kids released three doves in the stadium as a symbol of peace and whatnot. Reportedly, two of those doves died in quick succession. Seriously, doves, stay safe.