Sport

Unmissable World Cup Group Games

Those drinks you'd planned for 16 June? Cancel them. That meal on the 17 June at the new place you've been meaning to try? Reschedule it. It's time to start planning your diary around the biggest games the World Cup's group stages have to offer.

While some of you may be planning to watch every game going (we salute those staying up for the Ivory Coast v Japan - 2am, 15 June), we thought we'd call your attention to the unmissable games from the group stages. Ten matches, ten important dates for your diary. Enjoy.

_______________________________________________________

12 June - 21:00

Brazil v Croatia

With the hosts in full carnival, you don't want to miss a spectacle of feathers, sequins and high-pace football. Brazil looked unsettled in their last friendly, jeered off the pitch after scraping a 1-0 win over Serbia. Could Croatia cause an opening game upset on a par with 2002's France v Senegal? Probably not, but you'd feel a fool if you missed it.

_______________________________________________________

13 June - 20:00

Spain v Netherlands

The opening clash of group B is set to be crucial in deciding who'll finish as the group winners. With tempers fraying in the Netherlands camp and Spain looking to open with a convincing title defence, the rematch of 2010's final promises to be a lively affair.

_______________________________________________________

14 June - 23:00

England v Italy

Pirlo. Rooney. Balotelli. Sturridge. One of these names will surely prove decisive in guiding their country to a vital 3 points in group D. It won't be pretty, but it could be the most enthralling game that England appear in this competition.

_______________________________________________________

16 June - 17:00

Germany v Portugal

Another all-European encounter that promises a glut of big names. Germany were in prolific form against Armenia, slotting in six goals in their final friendly, while Portuguese hopes will rest on the fitness of Ronaldo.

_______________________________________________________

17 June - 20:00

Brazil v Mexico

Neymar stole the show when these two nations met in last year's Confederation Cup, the Brazilian fizzing in a spectacular volley that ended Mexican hopes after just nine minutes. We've a feeling the hosts could run away with this one.

_______________________________________________________

19 June - 20:00

Uruguay v England

Best call ahead and reserve a table at your local - it's going to be heaving. Will the horse placenta have worked its magic on Suarez? Will Uruguay dump England out of the World Cup before we've even played our final game? Let's hope not...

_______________________________________________________

Shortlist logo

news straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter
Read our privacy policy

22 June - 17:00

Belgium v Russia

Another group decider, the Belgians are being tipped by many to be the 'dark horses' of this World Cup. We'll get our clearest indication as to whether they've got what it takes when they face off against group H's likely runners up, Russia.

_______________________________________________________

24 June - 17:00

Italy v Uruguay (and Costa Rica v England)

While we're sure you'll be watching the England game, group D (and England's fate) could be decided by the outcome of the clash between Italy and Uruguay. If possible, you'll want to watch how this pans out in a venue that's showing both games.

_______________________________________________________

25 June - 21:00

Ecuador v France

The strongest nations from group H meet in the final game of this group. France should come out on top, but they've managed to fluff their lines in the last few major international competitions. Ecuador could cause an upset here.

_______________________________________________________

26 June - 17:00

Portugal v Ghana

Thursday 26 June sees the final set of group games played out, with Portugal v Ghana easily the pick of the bunch. The Germans are likely to top group G, so the dreams of one nation will end in this game. They've never faced each other before, so history will quite literally be made whatever the outcome.