Filed by Gentry Estes
A cold beer. Warm cheese dip. Nachos, a recliner and a grin.
I’ve been waiting four years for this.
The 2006 World Cup opened today as host Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the first of 63 matches in the coming month. Most days, there will be at least three games on television.
So for those unable to watch soccer for an entire day (yes, I know the sport moves slowly), here’s a list of the marquee first round games not to miss:
—; Saturday, June 10: Argentina-Ivory Coast, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Is darkhorse contender Ivory Coast for real? One of the world’s traditional powers gets to find out first.
—; Sunday, June 11: Angola-Portugal, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Tiny Angola gets a crack at its former Colonial master is what’s sure to be a heated contest.
—; Monday, June 12: United States-Czech Republic, noon, ESPN2
Two newcomers among the world’s elite figure out who really belongs there.
—; Tuesday, June 13: Brazil-Croatia, 3 p.m., ESPN2
It can be a treat just to watch the top-ranked Brazilians play.
—; Wednesday, June 14: Germany-Poland, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Like an SEC football game, this border war will overflow with intensity.
—; Friday, June 16: Netherlands-Ivory Coast, noon, ESPN2
The highly regarded Dutch can’t take this lightly if they want to advance.
—; Saturday, June 17: United States-Italy, 3 p.m., ABC
This could be the biggest victory in U.S. soccer history if it happens.
—; Sunday, June 18: France-South Korea, 3 p.m., ABC
Host nations from the past two World Cups meet to decide the top of Group G.
—; Tuesday, June 20: Sweden-England, 3 p.m., ESPN
Mighty England hasn’t beaten Sweden in its last 10 tries.
—; Wednesday, June 21: Portugal-Mexico, 10 a.m., ESPN
Similar teams with similar success. This could be for a second-round spot.
—; Thursday, June 22: Czech Republic-Italy, 10 a.m., ESPN2
The U.S. takes on Ghana at the same time, and will likely need a good result from this game to get out of Group E.
—; Friday, June 23: Togo-France, 3 p.m., ESPN
Remember the loss to Senegal is the opening game of 2002? France sure does.
E-mail Gentry Estes at firstname.lastname@example.org