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The Big Draws: A Viewer’s Guide to Key Matches

6/10/2010 4:19 PM Eastern

Much like March Madness, no one
knows which minnows will take
out the whales and which favorites
will fall by the wayside, but the first
round of the World Cup promises to
have some major ratings draws. A
look at the dates on which the networks
will be expecting big things.

FIRST ROUND

JUNE 11: SOUTH AFRICA VS. MEXICO

The networks get a dream matchup for the World Cup
opener as massive draw Mexico takes on host South Africa
in what should be a spectacle on and off the field.

JUNE 12: ENGLAND VS. U.S.

This should be the most-watched soccer match in U.S.
television history. England has a massive following in
America, and the hype machine will be on full speed
heading into this high-profile affair.

JUNE 14: ITALY VS. PARAGUAY

A first look for U.S. fans at Italy, the defending champion.

JUNE 15: BRAZIL VS. KOREA DPR
(NORTH KOREA)

Always one of the biggest draws of the tournament for both
hard-core soccer and mainstream sports fans, Brazil comes
in having left behind one of its top guns, Ronaldinho.

JUNE 17: ARGENTINA VS. KOREA REPUBLIC
(SOUTH KOREA)

Argentina is picked by many experts to win the World Cup
and coached by a walking reality show, former superstar
Diego Maradona.


JUNE 18: SLOVENIA VS. U.S.

A game the Americans should win — and that is not a
statement made often in a World Cup.

JUNE 18: ENGLAND VS. ALGERIA

If the Brits lose to the “Yanks” in the opening match, you
may actually be able to see the English players’ throats
constricting prior to this contest.


JUNE 20: BRAZIL VS. IVORY COAST

ABC and Univision share the spoils in what could be the most
high-energy and end-to-end matchup of the first round.

JUNE 22: MEXICO VS. URUGUAY
AND FRANCE VS. SOUTH AFRICA

Two big matchups on the same day featuring two
teams most American-born soccer fans love to hate:
arch-rivals Mexico and France. The latter qualified
for the World Cup over the popular Irish team
thanks to a goal that came after a French player basically
picked up the ball and threw it back onto the
field, unbeknownst to the referee.

JUNE 23: SLOVENIA VS. ENGLAND
AND U.S. VS. ALGERIA

It is widely expected that England and the U.S. will
advance out of their group on this day. If England
does not, we’ll be treated to some of the most
wonderful newspaper headlines you can imagine
from across the pond.

JUNE 25: PORTUGAL VS. BRAZIL

On paper, the most high-octane matchup of the
first round, featuring two of the elite teams in the
world and several of the game’s most marketable
international stars.

THE REST OF THE TOURNAMENT

JUNE 26: Round of 16 begins

JULY 2-3: Quarterfinals

JULY 6-7:
Semifinals

JULY 11: Championship match

September