Friday, June 13th, 3 p.m. EDT - Spain vs. The Netherlands: Fans won’t have to wait long for the first big match up of the tournament. The group stages will treat us to a rematch of the 2010 final with two of the finest attacking forces in the cup. Neither team is quite what it was in 2010, as both are now four years older and present no signs of younger players emerging to replace the aging ones. Holland has always had a problematic defense— a problem that seems to have gotten worse.
What to Expect: Lots of goals. Lots of slick passing. Lots of pretty people in the crowd.
Prediction: Both teams have faded a bit, but Holland more than Spain. Don’t be surprised if the Dutch defense gets embarrassed. Spain 4, Netherlands 2.
Saturday, June 14th,6 p.m. EDT – England vs. Italy: Another early matchup between two of the biggest names of European football. The two teams competed in a thrilling match in the quarters of Euro 2012, and should provide a great game for strategists.
What to Expect: Almost the exact opposite of the Spain vs. Holland match. Expect gritty defending, crunching tackles, English crosses and a low score.
Prediction: England’s defense is not the fearsome brick wall of previous years. England 0, Italy 1.
Saturday, June 14th, 9 p.m. EDT– Ivory Coast vs. Japan: If you want a good fight between two promising underdogs, this is your match up. Even if they don’t make it out of the group stage, it’ll be fun to see Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba take flight one last time.
What to Expect: A fast, full-throttle game between the best teams in Africa and Asia respectively.
Prediction: The Ivory Coast will ultimately be too much for the Japanese. Ivory Coast 2, Japan 1
Sunday, June 15th, 3 p.m. EDT – France v Honduras: France’s World Cup 2010 was an embarrassment on every level. Controversial former coach Raymond Domenech was known to pick his team based on their astrological charts (really), a habit that resulted in some odd choices. He fought with famously moody star striker Nicolas Anelka, who quit in disgust. The team refused to train and crashed out in a very easy group. This year, things promise to be different, with a new manager and much of the dead wood (and the problematic Samir Nasri) cleared out. Honduras, on the other hand, has never scored a World Cup goal.
What To Expect: This French team seems to have its merde together, and should be too much for the stubborn Hondurans.
Prediction: France 3, Honduras 0
Sunday, June 15th, 6:00 p.m. EDT – Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Though the Bosnian team is fearsome, this is really all about Argentina. More than just Messi and 22 other guys, the Argentinian team contains some of the most lethal strikers in the business. With the possible exception of their goalkeeper, the team has stars in every position. If you want to see a team totally dominate, this is probably the match you want to watch.
What to Expect: If you’re hoping for David vs. Goliath, this is probably not the match you are looking for. This will be Oberyn vs The Mountain.
Prediction: Argentina 5, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1
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