World Cup match-ups to lose sleep for
With all due respect to fans of Ecuador and Honduras in Singapore, their Group E encounter is not likely to involve caffeine injections to stay awake. It's not a game to get pulses racing.
Fortunately, there are some pumping powerhouses participating in fixtures that will be required viewing.
Here are the best of the monster match-ups that you would be a fool - or an Ecuador or Honduras fan - to miss.
1) BRAZIL v CROATIA
(Group A June 13, all Singapore dates)
The opener will arguably determine the mood of the entire tournament. Brazil's overblown, over-budgeted preparations have polarised a nation.
Protests are planned around Sao Paulo ahead of the game, which will be discreetly pushed back from the stadium by the overt military presence (as part of Brazil's US$900 million security budget). Sport has stopped wars, but on this occasion the hosts will settle for temporary appeasement.
Brazil's performance in their opening game cannot be overstated. Win and they are on their way and Big Phil Scolari will galvanise national spirit and wrap it around his squad.
Lose or play poorly and fuel will swiftly be added to the protestors' fires. Neymar (above) proved at the Confederations Cup that he absorbed pressure, wearing it like a warm, familiar jacket.
But so does Luka Modric. The Champions League winner flourishes at the heart of Niko Kovac's 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mario Mandzukic at its apex.
Mandzukic (above) against Thiago Silva, Modric against Paulinho, Neymar against his own hype, the World Cup's PR army against the protestors; battles will be waged inside the stadium and across Sao Paulo. So much rides on this game.
2) SPAIN v HOLLAND
(Group B, June 14)
A replay of the 2010 World Cup final will either be one for the ages or retreading old ground. There's a fine line between being a classic vintage or slightly stale.
Neither side present quite the same threat of malevolence as they did four years ago. Despite being world and European champions, the Spaniards are viewed almost patronisingly, an endangered species on the verge of extinction.
They are giant pandas of the game; universally loved, but threatened by merciless predators. Tiki-taka once terrified, now it feels twee and quaint.
Holland are labelled an experimental side with no real identity. Some of the old guard are gone, Louis van Gaal has tinkered and Rafael van der Vaart has been sent home injured.
The Dutch strengths in attack - Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens - are in stark contrast to the Spaniards. Diego Costa is injured, Fernando Torres is less effective and David Villa is willing but he's 33. Spain's victory should come from midfield, where Andreas Iniesta is 30, Xabi Alonso 32 and Xavi 34. A defeat here means the losing side must beat Chile or they're heading home within 10 days.
3) JAPAN v COLOMBIA
(Group C, June 25)
Not a clash filled with superstars, perhaps, but Asia's hopes are likely to rest with the final game in Group C.
Of the four Asian nations, Japan have been presented with the best group. If Alberto Zacceroni's men can gather two or even three points from their opening games against the overrated Ivory Coast and the erratic Greeks, then qualification will defend on defeating the Colombians.
Radamel Falcao continues to recover from a ruptured cruciate ligament and coach Jose Pekerman will keep him in the squad if he feels there's even a slight chance of him being fit for this pivotal game.
His strength at set-pieces also happens to be Japan's more discernible weakness.
Asia's presence in the knockout stages is like to hinge on the attacking triumvirate of Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki killing off the Colombians.
4) ENGLAND v URUGUAY
(Group D, June 20)
Half of the Three Lions' first team and Luis Suarez have one thing in common: suffering.
Tears flowed freely when Liverpool let slip their greatest title chance in 24 years beneath the boot of the unfortunate Steven Gerrard (above).
The England skipper vowed to make amends in Brazil. Suarez (above) sang from a similar hymn sheet. Friends will become foes in Sao Paulo in a game likely to determine the balance of power in Group D.
With Italy being the elephant in the group, a draw is just about tolerable; a loss unthinkable.
The South American champions are expected to qualify and they have another incentive. If they finish top of the group, they'll probably avoid Brazil until the final.
For England, just reaching the knockout stages would be an achievement in itself. With Italy in the group, two into three obviously doesn't go. Suarez and Gerrard can only thoroughly ruin the other friend's World Cup.
5) ARGENTINA v BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
(Group F, June 16)
Argentina's opening game in Group F will establish their title credentials and Lionel Messi's likely impact on the tournament.
With a balanced 4-3-3 that includes Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando Gago and Javier Mascherano in central midfield and the breathtaking attacking quartet of Angel di Maria, Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Aguero, this game is likely to provide the first genuine football exhibition of the tournament.
Argentina delivered similar goal-scoring master classes four years ago, only to be humbled by the wily Germans.
But Alejandro Sabella is more tactically astute than Diego Maradona - he couldn't be any less - and Argentina should be the purist's choice in Brazil.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will offer Edin Dzeko, which doesn't even seem like a fair fight, does it?
6) GERMANY v PORTUGAL
(Group G, June 17)
This is the definitive battle between the tournament's under-achievers.
Portugal were expected to win Euro 2004 on home soil and possibly the 2006 World Cup. Germany are expected to win every tournament they contest.
Their biggest blunder at Euro 2012, when Joachim Loew's men were outmanoeuvred by the Italians in the semi-finals, was an unexpected psychological blow they are still recovering from.
Paulo Bento, on the other hand, hopes he can be the first manager to effectively lead a one-man team to World Cup glory since 1986.
Like Diego Maradona and his Argentina teammates, no one in a Portugal jersey comes close to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Germany's fortunes depend on Mesut Oezil, Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger finding the form and fitness that eluded them for large parts of last season.
The Portuguese depend on Ronaldo; no more, no less.