World Cup 2014: The week ahead in Brazil

Now it gets serious, who will be able to secure those final second-round places? Miguel Delaney reports

Today

A day with a lot of international reputations at stake. Cristiano Ronaldo’s entire World Cup legacy could come down to it, but USA’s whole connection to the sport could be made concrete. Although the States have reached a semi-final in 1930 and quarter-finals in 2002, this tournament has an even more meaningful feel about it. Their estimated 20,000 fans are the second highest travelling contingent after Argentina, and John Brooks’s late winner against Ghana has already gone down as one of the country’s most historic football moments. They seem on the cusp of something redefining, and a win over a side like Portugal would be a different level altogether. There are suggestions Ronaldo (right) will defy medical advice to prevent that, and prove himself on this stage.

Man to watch: Ronaldo

Kick-off times Belgium v Russia (5pm, BBC1); South Korea v Algeria (8pm, ITV); USA v Portugal (11pm, BBC 1)

Tomorrow

The first day of the deciding group games, and we have two effective play-offs. Given that even a stuttering Brazil are almost certain to wipe away an imploding Cameroon, the real interest looks set to lie elsewhere. Croatia must beat Mexico to secure a place in the second-round. Chile must beat the Netherlands to avoid a last-16 tie with Brazil. Given the admirable bravery of the Chilean team, however, the feeling is they would fancy any challenge right now.

Man to watch: Alexis Sanchez

Kick-off times Netherlands v Chile (5pm, ITV); Australia v Spain (5pm, ITV 4); Cameroon v Brazil (9pm, ITV); Croatia v Mexico (9pm, ITV 4)

Tuesday

The only competitive interest in England’s game is whether Costa Rica can secure the point to top the group. By contrast, Uruguay-Italy is another effective knockout match, even if the Italians have the benefit of playing for a draw. That would probably not be the best approach, however, with the devastating form of Luis Suarez. As regards who those teams will face, Ivory Coast will hope to stave off Greece, to at least claim second in the group behind Colombia.

Man to watch: Suarez

Kick-off times Italy v Uruguay (5pm, ITV 4); Costa Rica v England (5pm, ITV); Japan v Colombia (9pm, BBC 1); Greece v Ivory Coast (BBC 3) 

Wednesday

How do Switzerland recover from a beating like the 5-2 at the feet of the French? Can Didier Deschamps’s team – and the rampant Karim Benzema keep building momentum? Can they actually win this tournament? Given that Spain are out, and there are no longer any guarantees that at least one team will reach a certain level of quality, it really is open. Honduras-Switzerland and Ecuador-France could have real repercussions for the knockout stages.

Man to watch: Benzema

Kick-off times Nigeria v Argentina (5pm, ITV); Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran (5pm, ITV 4); Ecuador v France (9pm, BBC 1); Honduras v Switzerland (9pm, BBC 3)

Thursday

Eden Hazard said last week that he needs to score more goals to be properly considered alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, as an  element of debate persists about why he is so good for Chelsea but not for Belgium. He has scored just six goals in 46 matches for the national side, a figure he more than doubled in just 35 league games for the Blues last season, having hit 14. A potentially decisive fixture against Korea would be quite a place to start banishing doubts.

Man to watch: Hazard

Kick-off times USA v Germany (5pm, BBC 1); Portugal v Ghana (5pm, BBC 3); South Korea v Belgium (9pm, ITV); Algeria v Russia (9pm, ITV 4)

Friday

The first rest day of the tournament, but all eyes will likely be on Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari as he faces the press. Given the pressure Brazil are under, opponents like Chile and Netherlands wouldn’t exactly soothe moods.

Man to watch: Scolari

Saturday

The World Cup gets serious. The sudden-death second round begins, and no one gets any second chances. Potential ties of Brazil-Chile and Colombia-Italy would raise the pulse of even a tournament as energetic and exhilarating as this.

Man to watch: Neymar

Kick-off times Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B (5pm, TBD); Winner Group C v Runner-up Group D (9pm, TBD)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine