The World Cup is finally here. 64 games involving 32 countries over 31 days. There’s only one game to start us off, but perhaps that’s for the best. We wouldn't want anyone to be over-stimulated on the first day.
Brazil vs. Croatia (4PM ET, ESPN) For the hosts, it’s a chance to start off their first tournament on home soil since 1950 on the right foot, and overcome what’s likely the toughest challenge in their group. For Croatia, it’s a statement game: hold Brazil to a draw, or better yet pull out a victory, and all those precious narratives change. It’s probably the best game Group A will see, so it’s a fine chance to duck out from work early and down your first caipirinha of the tournament. (Here's our guide to places to watch it in NYC.)
What Else Is Going On?
Patchy turf at the stadium in Manaus is the latest in a long line of issues about Brazil’s readiness. The groundskeeping crew are executing “emergency plans” but it is not expected to be in good condition by the Group D match there between Italy and England on Saturday. The US is scheduled to play Portugal there on June 22nd.
The US and Belgium were scheduled for a closed-door friendly on Thursday, but it was scratched off the schedule Wednesday afternoon. The cause: Belgium coach Marc Wilmots didn’t want to risk getting stuck in traffic on the way to Sao Paulo.
Landon Donovan was added to a World Cup roster on Wednesday, but unfortunately, it was just ESPN’s. Donovan will make studio appearances for all the US games, which will get super awkward if Klinsmann’s choice to leave him home backfires.
Landon also wants you to remember your priorities during the World Cup:
The Onion helpfully put together a team guide if you’re still on the fence about who to support.
And because only FIFA can be more ridiculous than The Onion: FIFA president Sepp Blatter deftly sidestepped concerns about bribery, racism, and term limits when he suggested an intergalactic football competition. Oh Sepp, never change!