World Cup 2014 draw: The 10 best matches of the group stage - including Uruguay v England, Brazil v Croatia and Spain v Netherlands

Our pick of the matches to look forward to in Brazil

Brazil v Croatia (June 12 Sao Paulo, 2100)

It'll be worth tuning in just to mock the opening ceremony which will precede the opening match of the World Cup. Hosts Brazil will expect to get off to a winning start against a team that qualified through a play-off against Iceland. This should give fans an early indication of whether Neymar and Co can handle the pressure of a home tournament.

Spain v Netherlands (June 13 Salvador, 2000)

This repeat of the final from the 2010 World Cup is perhaps the most exciting game of the group stage. That match was decided by Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner, but it was perhaps best remembered for the brutal way Netherlands approached the game as they tried to literally kick Spain off the park. Will we see a repeat of those tactics? Either way, it's doubtful Howard Webb will want to officiate this one again.

Ivory Coast v Japan (14 June Recife, 2300)

The Africans will look to lay a marker down in their first match of the tournament, but Japan, containing Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa and Mainz’s Shinji Okazaki will be no pushovers.

England v Italy (June 15 Manaus, 0200)

England start their campaign with a daunting match against Italy. In the quarter-final at Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson's side managed to take them all the way to penalties - but justice was served when the Italians progressed. England haven't beaten them in five attempts.

Uruguay v England (June 19 Sao Paulo, 2000)

England's second match will be against Uruguay. The game may be six months away, but already there's little doubt that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will somehow manage to take centre stage. Whether it's for the right or wrong reasons we'll have to wait and see.

Switzerland v France (June 20 Salvador, 2000)

These European neighbours meet in a group which also contains Ecuador and Honduras. It's deemed the easiest of the eight but this game will be crucial to both sides' hopes of progressing. France have some incredible talent at their disposal with the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri among their options. They could be brilliant to watch - that is if they haven't all fallen out with each other by then.

Germany v Ghana (21 June Fortaleza, 2000)

The sibling rivalry between the Boateng brothers continues when Germany, featuring Jerome, and Ghana’s Kevin-Prince face off in the group stage. This fixture also took place in 2010 World Cup group stage – Germany won 1-0 thanks to a Mesut Ozil effort.

Nigera v Argentina (21 June Cuiaba, 2300)

The teams meet yet again. In the last World Cup, Argentina defeated Nigeria 1-0 in Johannesburg in their first Group match. Gabriel Heinze scored the only goal of the game then, but Victor Moses, Shola Ameobi et al will be aiming for a different result this time round.

Belgium v Russia (22 June Rio de  Janeiro, 2300)

Can Fabio Capello work his magic against the high-flying Belgians. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne to name but a few will hope to make the former England head coach suffer.

USA v Germany (26 June Recife, 1700)

A case of divided loyalties for Jurgen Klinsmann, as the USA manager, takes on his home country. The legendary striker scored 38 goals in 80 appearances for Germany between 1990 and 1998. This time around, however, he only has eyes for the stars and stripes.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own