MATCHDAY PREVIEW – 13 June 2014 marks a first in FIFA World Cup™ history: the two finalists from the previous edition will go head-to-head in the group stage four years on. Reigning champions Spain go into the tournament having prolonged their stranglehold by defending their UEFA European Championship title at EURO 2012, where they beat Italy in the final. The Netherlands, on the other hand, suffered a hangover from their defeat in the South Africa 2010 showpiece and lost all three of their group fixtures at the EUROs, falling to Germany, Portugal and Denmark. However, having sailed through qualifying as usual, Arjen Robben and Co are out for revenge against La Roja.
Hotly fancied Chile, meanwhile, can ill afford to drop points against Australia if they are to gatecrash the European big guns' party in what is one of the so-called "Groups of Death".
Lastly, Samuel Eto'o's Cameroon are hungry for success, having failed to make it out of their group in any of their recent finals appearances (in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010). Nevertheless, despite a tumultuous qualifying campaign, it would be foolish to write off Mexico, who showed what they are capable of by lifting gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Mexico - Cameroon (Group A), Estadio das Dunas, Natal, 13:00 (local time)
Spain - Netherlands (Group B), Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 16:00 (local time)
Chile - Australia (Group B), Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 18:00 (local time)
Did you know?
Milla's milestones: Cameroonian legend Roger Milla is the holder of two interesting World Cup records. He is the oldest scorer at the finals, having plundered a consolation effort in Cameroon's 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Russia on 28 June 1994, at the age of 42 and one month. What's more, just four days earlier, the veteran had made history by lining up alongside 17-year-old Rigobert Song, 24 years and 42 days his junior, on the youngster's World Cup debut. This remains the largest ever on-pitch age gap between team-mates at the tournament.
Three into two doesn't go: Mexico and Croatia were previously paired in the same group back in 2002. In fact, 12 years ago to the day, El Tri drew 1-1 with Italy to sew up top spot, while Croatia – who had finished third overall at France 1998 – lost to Ecuador and ended up third again, only this time in the group, just a point behind the Italians.
Check it out
On just the second day of the tournament, Brazil 2014 is serving up a rerun of the showpiece between Spain and the Netherlands at South Africa 2010, in which Arjen Robben was famously thwarted by Iker Casillas. FIFA.com shines the spotlight on Robben and his frame of mind as he and the Oranje look to make amends for the disappointment of four years ago against La Roja.
On this day
Sunday 13 June 1982 has gone down as one of the most glorious days in Belgian football history. Ahead of the Opening Match at Spain 1982, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone willing to wager even a peso on Les Diables Rouges being anything other than whipping boys against defending champions Argentina. As it was, however, the 95,000-strong crowd at the Camp Nou were in for a surprise. Not only did the well-drilled Belgians succeed in nullifying the mighty Diego Maradona and Mario Kempes, but they went one better when Franky Vercauteren's pinpoint cross found Erwin Vanderbergh, who took a touch to steady himself before firing past onrushing Albiceleste goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol.
Play and win
Fancy getting your hands on an actual Kick-off Ball used in one of the matches at Brazil 2014? A few hours before each game, a set of three questions linked to the match will go live. Answer them correctly and you will be automatically entered into the prize draw for the match in question, as part of the Kick-off Ball Contest presented by adidas.
Former Netherlands star Ruud van Nistelrooy tweeted encouraging sentiments to his fellow countryman ahead of their South Africa 2010 Final rematch against Spain.
— Ruud van Nistelrooy (@RvN1776) June 12, 2014