The greatest sporting spectacle on earth (arguably) is three days away. With 8 groups and 32 teams in the first round of the FIFA World Cup 2014, there is a lot of action underway. Here’s our pick of the 5 must-watch first-round games you should take your time out for, before the knockout madness begins.

Spain vs Netherlands, June 13, Group B:
Repeat of the World Cup Final of 2010- need we say more? The match will provide an opportunity to assess if these two teams still stake claim to the title or 4 years have slowed their stars (Sneijder? Iniesta? Xavi?) and dimmed their chances

The match takes place at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. To know more about the location and the venue, check here.

England vs Italy, June 14, Group D:
Two heavyweights of world cup football with a long history of memorable matches. England will turn up with the usual high expectations and will hope to make amends for their underwhelming record in recent tournaments. Italy will perhaps be the only team with no England-based players, still featuring a range-from wily old men like Pirlo and Buffon to mercurial youths like Balotelli and Cassano

The match takes place at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus. To know more about the location and the venue, check here.

Germany vs Portugal, June 16, Group G:
Potentially one of the most attractive games of football, although big-stage pressures may result in teams cancelling each other out. Joachim Loew’s Germany had edged out Portugal in the Euro 2012 opener, can they do it again? All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, can this be his World Cup?

The match takes place at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. To know more about the location and the venue, check here.

Spain vs Chile, June 18, Group B:
Spain will again have to answer questions on their ability to defend the title when they face Chile, a team that was second only to Argentina in terms of goals scored, through the qualifying stages.

The match takes place in the amazing Rio at the Estadio de Maracana. To know more about the location and the venue, check here.

Colombia vs Ivory Coast, June 19, Group C:
Radamel Falcao (Monaco paid 60 Mn Euros for him) may not be there but James Rodriguez – his  highly regarded (Monaco paid GBP 36 Mn for him) Colombian teammate will be. Against them will be the veteran warriors Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast. This is a toss-up for the second place we think in Group C with the potential for exhilarating football.

The match takes place at the Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia. To know more about the location and the venue, check here.

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