Spain vs. Netherlands: This is a 2010 World Cup Final rematch, but not really. Spain returns 16 members of its 2010 squad. The Dutch have 16 players travelling to their first World Cup, including their starting goalkeeper and every defender. The major storyline – aside from monochromatic denim and beach frolicking – is Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal’s former captain will make a $46 million move from Barcelona to Chelsea. No one is more excited for today’s match than this Dutch guy, who drove more than 13,000 miles from San Francisco in a 1955 Chevy to be there.
Mexico vs. Cameroon: These two teams had eventful qualifying cycles. Mexico collapsed in the Hex, winning just two of 10 matches and qualifying through the fourth-place playoff. Cameroon was suspended from international competition by FIFA last summer, after the government tried to block Fecafoot president Iya Mohammed, jailed on embezzlement charges, from being reelected. If there’s one thing FIFA has cried out for, it is less government oversight.
Chile vs. Australia: Chile are every hipster’s surprise tournament team, when you ignore a probable Round of 16 pairing with Brazil. Australia are the team most likely to get goose-egged. Star Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal has been declared fit after undergoing knee surgery. But the question is at what percentage.
The Soccer Dictator: Sepp Blatter will run for FIFA overlord in 2015, reneging on a pledge to step down. This has irritated UEFA, as Michel Platini was the presumed heir apparent. Blatter has begun the pandering process and may have enough votes to circumvent Europe.
Platini is still undecided about challenging Blatter. As Mohammed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner found out, disloyalty has consequences. The French legend, whose two sons coincidentally received lucrative jobs at Qatari companies following the World Cup voting, may not provide much of “a breath of fresh air.”
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