Unlike the usually safer, more conservative group stage games have a more free-for-all feeling, and certainly witness the larger number of upsets
Fifa World Cup group stage matches have been a treasure trove for the discerning football fan – with upsets, routs, thrillers, and even terribly boring goalless fiascos all thrown into the mix.
While battles between minnows or middle-of-the-road teams are often nail-bitingly exciting, and the occasional David and Goliath situation proving to be a shocking upset exhilarating, group stage clashes between the big guns are what fans of the sport of football look forward to the most. This world cup offers six such succulent setups.
Portugal vs Spain – Group B, June 16
Current Euro champions Portugal face off against their Iberian neighbour in the second match of Group B on June 16. The match promises to be an absolute cracker, with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo up against his Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. Will Ronaldo’s heroics help Portugal push past a star-studded Spanish team? Or will La Furia Roja return to being the immovable object they once were?
Germany vs Mexico – Group F, June 17
Mexico holds the dubious honour of having qualified for the most number of World Cup competitions without ever having won the title. This year, they begin their campaign against reigning champions Germany. While most people would say Germany is just too strong for their Latin challenge, the match promises to be entertaining.
Brazil vs Switzerland – Group E, June 18
How can any Brazil fan miss the first match of the Seleção? Up against a Swiss team that topped the second round of European qualifiers over the likes of Italy, Denmark, Croatia, and Sweden, Neymar and his boys will have to reach deep into their bag of tricks to emerge victorious.
Argentina vs Croatia – Group D, June 22
It would be criminal not to include an Argentina match in this list, and this one seems to be the most interesting in their group. With a line-up boasting the likes of Rakitic, Perisic, Modric, and Mandzukic, the Balkan nation is sure to put fear into the hearts of every Albiceleste admirer. Also, Messi.
England vs Belgium – Group G, June 29
For the final match of the group stages, we have two teams that are incredibly strong on paper, but have a history of choking under pressure. Will the Britons will finally find their footing and avoid the disaster of their last campaign, or will Belgium outmanoeuvre them with sheer flair?
There is every chance that these matches may turn out to be little more than tepid, insipid affairs, but until such happens, they have every football fanatic salivating.