Ticos look to their team’s first challenge Saturday

Nearly all eyes are on Brazil where the World Cup opened Thursday with a dazzling inauguration and the first game. Most Costa Ricans and friends will be in front of the television Saturday for the first game of the country’s national team.

Uruguay vs. Costa Rica

The Ticos’ cup opener begins at 1 p.m. local time and will be televised throughout the country on Repretel (Channel 6), Teletica (Channel 7), and ESPN on cable.

Again the underdog, Costa Rica begins its brutal slate against La Celeste and its talented roster featuring forwards Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. Uruguay has never lost to Costa Rica, garnering six wins and two ties in the all-time series.

The Ticos suffered another loss this week as defender Heiner Mora was ruled out of tournament play with a micro-fracture in his heel, adding to a list of key injuries that have marred their roster.

The opener will be played at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. Costa Rica’s squad then travels to Recife to play Italy Friday and faces England in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, June 24.

Ghana vs. United States

The U.S. opens play Monday at 4 p.m. local time and will also have its match aired on Repretel, Teletica, and ESPN stations.

In what has recently become an international rivalry, the Black Stars have eliminated the U.S. from consecutive World Cups. This time around the most likely opportunity for the U.S. to win in group play may be Ghana, as both Germany and Portugal loom as the favorites to advance from Group G.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s squad plays Ghana at Estadio Das Dunas in Natal. They then travel to Manaus for the match with Portugal  Sunday, June 22. Group play concludes for the Stars and Stripes when they square off against Germany Thursday, June 26.

Brazil’s sparkling debut

Host-country Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the 2014 World Cup opener despite falling behind early from a goal accidentally scored by one of the team’s own players, Marcelo.  Led in attack by their 22-year-old superstar, Neymar, the Brazilians proved why they were picked as the favorite to win another World Cup title.

Neymar scored two goals, including one on a controversial penalty when forward Fred fell in the box after a seemingly soft push from Croatia’s Dejan Lovren. Brazil put the game away when Oscar scored the third goal in extra time just after the Croatians came close to scoring the tying goal.

The protest continues

Demonstrators did not stop filling Brazil’s streets just because the games had begun on Thursday. In Rio de Janeiro, some protestors were again met with tear gas by police. They remain outraged with the Brazilian government, which has spent $11 billion on the event while social programs continue to run underfunded.

Though the number of protestors dropped as attention shifted to Brazil’s game, those remaining said they will continue to march throughout the World Cup barring immediate changes made by the government they label as corrupt.

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