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World Cup Tournament Begins Thursday

Spain won 2010 World Cup / Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil kicks off on Thursday with a match between Brazil and Croatia, but there are plenty of story lines to cover before the first game. Despite being the reigning champs, Spain is seeking revenge. Spain may have won the FIFA World Cup in South Africa four years ago but were humbled 3-0 by hosts Brazil in the FIFA Confederations Cup final just last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo was back on the pitch for team Portugal as they concluded their World Cup preparations with a 5-1 win over the Republic of Ireland yesterday. The Real Madrid striker, who missed his country’s previous two warm-up games because of thigh and knee injuries, wasn’t at his best during the one-sided friendly. Portugal will start their World Cup assault against Germany in Group G. Germany received good news on the injury front, goalkeeper Manual Neuer has been given the green light to face Portugal in the team’s opening match on Monday. The goalie has been on the shelf with a shoulder injury for the last month.

The US Men’s National Team will face Ghana in their opening match on June 16. The U.S. has never won the World Cup and only eight nations have: Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France and Spain.

[Metro Networks Inc.]

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