Top five 2014 World Cup group matches

Top five World Cup group matches
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Sports Mole picks out five 2014 World Cup group matches that we are eagerly anticipating.

With six months until it gets underway, the draw for the group stages of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was made yesterday afternoon.

The 32 competing nations now know their fate, as well as which stadiums they will be playing their three encounters in.

Here, Sports Mole has trawled through the fixtures list to pick out the five matches that we are most eagerly anticipating.

1. Spain vs. Netherlands, June 13
It's the match that probably still has Howard Webb waking up in cold sweats. The English referee officiated the 2010 final between these two nations, which in truth was more of wrestling match than a football one. Thirteen players were cautioned, while Holland's Johnny Heitinga was red-carded. South Americans Chile are also in this group, so a victory in this opening fixture could well prove to be crucial.

2. England vs. Italy, June 15
It was the draw that prompted Football Association chairman Greg Dyke to make a cut-throat gesture. Not only do the Three Lions open up against four-time World Cup winners Italy, but they will meet in the Amazon capital of Manaus, where humidity is around 99%. As it is two European nations, all eyes will be on this game to see which one copes better with the conditions.

3. Germany vs. Portugal, June 16
Cristiano Ronaldo almost single-handedly sent Portugal to Brazil and this one has already been billed Germany vs. CR7. The strength in depth available to Joachim Low has seen his side named among the favourites to triumph next summer, but as Ronaldo showed recently against Sweden, he is capable of winning a match on his own. The last time that these two sides met at a World Cup, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored twice as Germany ran out 3-1 winners in 2006.

4. Netherlands vs. Chile, June 23
These two countries will meet in the final match of Group B. With Spain tipped to top the standings, this could well end up being the battle for second spot. Chile recently showed that they could hold their own among the elite of world football by drawing with Spain and slipping to a narrow defeat against Brazil. They also outclassed England at Wembley.

5. USA vs. Germany, June 26
It will be a case of divided loyalties for Jurgen Klinsmann, who will see his USA side's group campaign end with a clash against the country of his birth. The former Tottenham Hotspur striker scored 38 goals in 80 outings for Die Mannschaft and then guided them to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup as manager, when his assistant was current Germany coach Low.

A generic shot of the FIFA World Cup taken on October 20, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland
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