World Cup 2010: The Big Draws

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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. Following is 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 for this high-profile affair.

JUNE 14:
ITALY VS. PARAGUAY

A first look for U.S. fans at defending champ Italy.

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 biggest guns, Ronaldinho.

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

Argentina is picked by many experts to win the World Cup and is 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 match.

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 that 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

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