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2014 World Cup Kicks Off Today in Brazil

World Cup
The 2014 World Cup officially kicks off today and continues through July 13. (Courtesy image)

A month-long saga that captivates sports fans around the globe has officially arrived, as the 2014 World Cup debuts June 12 with host country Brazil taking the pitch to compete against Croatia in Sao Paulo.

With first kick schedule for 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday afternoon, it is possible many soccer – or football – fans in the Los Angeles area will either take a late or extended lunch to take in the opening match.

A viewing party for the opening match between Brazil and Croatia will be held at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. In fact, the Paley Center, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, will televise several games there through July 13.

If you cannot catch the Brazilians and Croatians on Thursday afternoon there is still plenty of World Cup to watch, as the quadrennial sporting event continues through July 12.

This year’s World Cup features 32 teams competing against each other in eight groups. The schedule is pretty top heavy, with almost 50 games taking place in the first 15 days of the international tournament.

Group play dominates the first half of the World Cup. The United States is in Group G, which is considered the “Group of Death.”

Included in Group G are Germany, Ghana, and Portugal. In the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the United States was eliminated both times by Ghana.

Speaking of the United States and Ghana, both teams open the 2014 World Cup against each other on Monday, June 16 at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. The game will be in Natal, Brazil, and televised on ESPN.

The United States again takes to the pitch on Sunday, June 22, when we face Portugal in Manaus, Brazil. That match will also be televised live on ESPN at 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

On Thursday, June 26, the United States plays its final Group game against Germany. First kick is at 9 a.m. at Recife, Brazil and will be televised lived on ESPN.

Other matches are also on ABC and ESPN2. The final match will be on ABC.

Outside of Group G, there are seven other four-team sets in this year’s World Cup. The groups are as follows:

A – Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

B – Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Argentina

C – Colombia, Greece, Cote d’Ivoire, Japan

D – Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

E – Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

F – Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

H – Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korean Republic

After each country plays its three matches, the top two teams of each group advance to the knockout stage. The two nations who do not lose any games during the knockout stage will face each other in the World Cup Final.

Spain is the defending World Cup champion; however, Germany’s Deutsche Bank predicts England will win this year’s international soccer tournament.

Some players to watch include Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Wayne Rooney (England), David Villa (Spain), Paul Pogba (France), and Robin Van Persie (Netherlands).

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