Brazil 2014: What time does the World Cup start?

The long awaited festival of football finally gets underway tonight - here's the lowdown

Youngsters play football in front of a World Cup mural in a Rio favela
(Image credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2014 Fifa World Cup finally kicks off in Sao Paulo this evening as tournament hosts Brazil face-off against Croatia at the 68,000-seat Itaquerao stadium. But what can we expect from the tournament and can it really live-up to the hype?

What time does the tournament begin?

The first game will kick off at 9pm BST, but like any sporting occasion worth its salt there is an opening ceremony to enjoy first. The celebration is due to begin at 7.15pm and will feature Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull. Coverage begins at 7pm on ITV.

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How will the tournament work?

The 32 participating teams have been divided into eight groups of four and the top two teams from each group will progress to the knockout stages.

What time are the games?

Tonight's Group A clash between Brazil and Croatia will kick-off at 9pm. Apart from the match-up between the Ivory Coast and Japan, which kicks off at 2am, all of this year's group games will take place at either 5pm, 8pm, 9pm, or 11pm.

When do England play?

England have three group games starting on Saturday evening:

  • ITALY, Manaus, Sat 14 June, 11pm, BBC1 from 10.20pm
  • URUGUAY, Sao Paulo, Thur 19 June, 8pm, ITV from 7pm
  • COSTA RICA, Belo Horizonte, Tue 24 June, 5pm, ITV from 4pm

If England make it out of their group they will go into the knockout stages

When are the knockout games?

The round of 16 takes palce between 28 June and 1 July. If England qualify they will play on Saturday 28 or Sunday 29 June at 9pm. The quarter finals will be held on 4 and 5 July, and the semi finals on the 8 and 9 July. The final takes place in Rio the following weekend

  • FINAL, Rio, Sun 13 July, 8pm, live on both BBC and ITV

How many games and how many players?

In total 64 separate games will be played in Brazil at 12 different venues. The group stage will involve 48 games played over two weeks; there are 16 games in the knock-out rounds, including a third place play off.

There are 736 players involved in this year’s tournament with each of the 32 participating nations allocated a 23-man squad for the duration of the tournament.

How many people will watch?

The 2014 World Cup is likely to be the most watched sporting event ever. In 2006 an estimated 715 million people watched the World Cup final held in Germany, and the 2010 competition was broadcast to more than 200 countries across 254 different channels. In terms of actual stadium attendance, more than three million spectators attended games in South Africa four years ago with an average attendance of 49,670 per game – the third highest rate in World Cup history behind USA '94 and Germany '06. According to FIFA a total of 2.3 million tickets have already been assigned for this year’s tournament in Brazil.

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