Belgium vs. Algeria
Where: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte. Be careful: the whole place belongs to brawling Colombians now.
What I'm watching Belgium for: To see if a team that has its dreaded "Golden Generation" of players can forget that anyone ever called them that, and just play well in the World Cup. Striker Romelu Lukaku is your flashpoint player here, but he's got a lingering ankle injury that might slow him down a bit.
What I'm watching Algeria for: Flying down the wings and being stubbornly resistant to Belgium's charms. Algeria is sneaky good across the board, but especially so along the flanks where they can probably gouge a goal or two out of Belgium. There are many teams you might want to play in the first game of group play in a place very far away from home. Algeria is not one of them.
Intangibles: The Golden Generation curse; brawling Colombians disrupting match with festive fisticuffs
Announcers: Adrian Healey, Efan Ekoku
Watchability: A solid and feisty 7/10
Brazil vs. Mexico
Where: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza. Site of what's considered to be the loudest rendition of the Brazilian national anthem ever, sung during the 2013 Confederations Cup while violent protests raged outside.
Go ahead and cut off the second verse, FIFA. Brazil will just keep singing.
What I'm watching Brazil for: Consistent attack, which will not be a problem given Brazil's superiority at nearly every point on the field and their penchant for walking their defenders up the pitch. Translated: everyone can score for Brazil, and that's really hard to defend, especially when you are not as good at soccer as they are.
What I'm watching Mexico for: The usual underdog business of shaking a few things loose in midfield and seeing if a goal or two falls out of things. Giovani Dos Santos was superb in Mexico's first match, so he's the primary source for any small hope El Tri has here.
Intangibles: The northern beach breeze making Brazil sleepy. That's it, really.
Announcers: Fernando Palomo, Alejandro Moreno
Watchability: 6/10, provided Mexico doesn't collapse beneath the pressure of the Brazilian attack. (They might, but even then it's fun to watch Brazil run romperhouse all over anyone.)
Russia vs. South Korea
Where: Arena Pantanal, Cuaiba
What I'm watching Russia for: To see if they function well without star midfielder Roman Shirokov, out with a back injury.
What I'm watching South Korea for: To see if they function, period. Ghana beat them 4-0 a week ago, so sliding into the Cup backwards isn't a great sign for a team that made the tourney by goal differential to Uzbekistan.
Intangibles: Russian fans. The ultimate match time wild card.
Announcers: Daniel Mann, Kasey Keller
Watchability: 4/10, but with a possible uptick if South Korea crackles to life and makes Russia sweat this one out.