This is the latest installment of The World Cup According to Kempt™, our series on the stuff that really matters at this summer’s tournament in South Africa (kicking off June 11).

There are no bad World Cup games. (Well, maybe Switzerland-Honduras.) But as we scan the list of the 48 games to be played in the Group Stage over the next 15 days—starting today—there are a few that jump out to us as absolutely hooky-worthy.

(All times Eastern.)

South Africa v. Mexico
June 11, 10am, ESPN
The first game of the tournament. (Today! Right now! Find a TV!)

Argentina v. Nigeria
June 12, 10am, ESPN
The USA-England undercard is actually a mouthwatering clash between South America’s most talented and one of Africa’s most athletic. Also brings back fond memories of ’94, when a barely-in-shape Diego Maradona (now the pudgy coach of Argentina) fed Claudio Caniggia for a wonder goal against the Super Eagles.

England v. USA
June 12, 2:30pm, ABC
You might have heard about this one. It’s like 1776, with shinguards. And if you like what you see from the red, white and blue (our red, white and blue), you’ll want to check out the Americans’ two other Group Stage matches, June 18 against Slovenia (10am, ESPN) and June 23 against Algeria (10am, ESPN).

Ivory Coast v. Portugal
June 15, 10am, ESPN
Call it the Vanity Fair Cover Bowl. Didier Drogba against Cristiano Ronaldo. (Assuming Drogba can play with a broken arm. Which, if there’s one man who could do it, it’s Drogba.)

Brazil v. North Korea
June 15, 2:30pm, ESPN
Because it might be fun to watch North Korea take it on the chin.

Cameroon v. Denmark
June 19, 2:30pm, ABC
They’d have lovely children.

Ghana v. Germany
June 23, 2:30pm, ESPN2
This one got interesting on May 15. That’s when Ghanaian international Kevin-Prince Boateng fouled and injured German captain Michael Ballack in the final of an English club tournament, knocking Ballack out of the World Cup. The kicker? Boateng was born and raised in Germany, and his younger brother, Jerome, plays on the German national team. So it will be brother against brother on June 23. And also guy-who-injured-Germany’s-captain against pissed-off Germans.

Cameroon v. Netherlands
June 24, 2:30pm, ESPN2
Two of our favorite jerseys, going at it. Also, an African team against a country that knows a thing or two about African oppression. We anticipate a pretty passionate pro-Cameroon cheering section.

Portugal v. Brazil
June 25, 10am, ESPN
Maybe the juiciest matchup of the first round, when you take into account both the ability-to-play-soccer aspect (very high) and the history-of-making-another-country-your-bitch aspect (also very high). This is like England-USA, if you were from Lisbon or Rio. And it comes on a Friday. So do yourself a favor and make it a three-day weekend.

Chile v. Spain
June 25, 2:30pm, ESPN
It’s just so spicy.



  • Shawn Donnelly