Ole, ole, ole! As far as we're concerned over the next month, that may as well translate to late nights, sleep deprivation and an overdose of football. The World Cup kicks off in Brazil next week, with 64 matches to determine which of 32 competing countries gets bragging rights for the next four years. The Socceroos may have drawn the group of death – set to play Chile, the Netherlands and reigning champions Spain – but it's only our nation's fourth World Cup, so we'll just enjoy every minute (and hey, miracles can happen, right?).
With most games kicking off at 2am, 5am or 8am, you can acquaint yourself with SBS, your couch and a blanket… OR you could venture out in the darkness and join hundreds of other devoted football fans in soaking up the action. Here's our pick of where to watch The World Cup in Melbourne – see you there!
THE BIRMINGHAM HOTEL | COLLINGWOOD
In recent times, one-time scuzzy hangout The Birmingham has transformed itself into a stylish pub full of tastefully vintage decor (think old-school typewriters, cash registers and bicycles) with a menu of classic pub grub and plenty of local craft beers on tap to boot. If you've wandered past on a weekend and seen the giant footy flags hanging above the front door, you'd know it's also become a great northside hub for live sport. The Birmy will screen World Cup games across several big screens, keeping its doors open outside of normal trading hours for the tournament.
CROWN SPORTS BAR | SOUTHBANK
Like an oasis among the seas of blinking, blinding gaming machines, Crown's Sports Bar has a hard-earned reputation as one of the best places in the CBD to catch the action. Whether your religion of choice is footy, soccer, rugby, cricket, tennis or basketball (for starters), chances are you'll find it here. With more than 20 screens to choose from, TAB facilities on site and a good variety of bar snacks and drinks, the bar stays open around the clock on weekends. If you're planning on catching any of the Socceroos' games, make sure you get there early as seating is limited. We're tipping this as one scorching hot spot to watch the World Cup action!
IMAX MELBOURNE | CARLTON
Think your Socceroos heroes like Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano are larger than life? They certainly will be at IMAX. The cinema's giant screen, the third largest anywhere in the world – 28 metres wide by 15 metres high – will be broadcasting World Cup action for the first time. There are only two matches on the schedule – Australia v Chile on June 14 and England v Italy the following morning – but it promises to be a novel way to get up close and personal with the fun from Brazil. Doors open at 7.15am on each day. And before you ask, yes, the coffee machine will be up and running for that dearly required pre-kick off caffeine fix.
THE HAWTHORN HOTEL | HAWTHORN
If you're still pondering where to watch The World Cup, might we suggest popular student hang, The Hawthorn Hotel. Luckily for the rest of us, venues populated by students normally mean plenty of drink specials – and that's the case this World Cup. The Hawthorn will stay open late for the Socceroos' three group stage matches, on June 14, 19 and 24, with $15 jugs of Boags and $6 Budweisers available during each. Get there early to secure a table and to take advantage of the menu of pizzas, burgers and pub favourites. Big screens are scattered throughout the venue, so you won't struggle for a decent vantage point.
ITALIAN CHEF | SOUTH YARRA
If we told you South Yarra's Italian Chef was screening the World Cup, you'd think they were just showing the Italian matches right? Wrong! In a show of United Nations-like diplomacy, the fine folk at Italian Chef will be screening a variety of key games including Australia, England, Japan and USA at both breakfast and dinner time. See? They're looking after all soccer fans! Stop by for brekkie on your way to work or for drinks comes nighttime and stay to watch the World Cup action play out. Goaaalllllll!!!!
GEORGE CINEMA | ST KILDA
St Kilda's George Cinema takes its football seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the cinema will be renamed The George Stadium this month as it celebrates what it calls the Festival of Football. All 64 matches will be shown on three huge screens, with ticket buyers able to choose three different options ranging from general admission to VIP private superboxes for the true fanatics. Add in food stalls, licensed bars, betting facilities and a mixture of stadium, lounge and beanbag seating and the venue's claim that 'there's no better place to watch the World Cup' doesn't sound off the mark. Scroll to the bottom for your chance to 1 of 3 double 'Lawn' passes, to the first game between Brazil and Croatia on the 13th of June!
PORTLAND HOTEL | MELBOURNE CBD
Spare a thought for the staff at the Portland Hotel. While plenty of pubs around town are opening their doors in the wee hours of the morning for Socceroos games, the Portland will screen all 64 games live. Those poor bartenders will end up as jetlagged as an airline hostess. The Russell Street pub will be equipped with extra screens over two levels and, in a nice touch, the flag of every competing nation hanging from the rafters. Beer devotees, take note – the Portland is home to plenty of local and imported lagers and ales as well as hand crafted ales from its onsite microbrewery, the James Squire Brewhouse. Portland Hotel is definitely one of our top picks for watching World Cup 2014!
HOYTS MELBOURNE CENTRAL | MELBOURNE CBD
There are a few cinemas across Melbourne hosting World Cup activities, but few are as centrally located as Hoyts Melbourne Central. The 12-screen state of the art multiplex, on level three of the shopping precinct, will open its doors nice and early for nine matches including all three of Australia's games, both semi finals and the final on the morning of July 14. Tickets are $10 for each game, or $22 including a breakfast burger and orange juice. And, of course, if the thought of eating in a cinema doesn't appeal, you've got dozens of cafes, food courts and take-away outlets on your doorstep.
IMPERIAL HOTEL | MELBOURNE CBD
With two giant screens and numerous plasmas, Bourke Street's Imperial Hotel is already known as one of the best venues in the city to catch local and overseas sporting action, including the NBA playoffs and the Superbowl. Taking advantage of its 24-license, the pub will ramp up the action for the World Cup. Every match will be screened live and loud, with buckets of Budweiser available for $20, breakfast served from 6am daily and meals served around the clock. With comfy booth seating and 14 beers and ciders on tap, we can't think of a single reason why you'd need to leave. Work? What's that?
THE LOCAL | PORT MELBOURNE
Living in Australia, it can be easy to forget that there are teams other than the Socceroos competing in the World Cup. Good thing Port Melbourne's The Local is around to remind us. The traditional, cosy pub, which has more than 20 beers on tap and one of the better pub grub menus this side of town, will screen World Cup semi finals and the final plus all of Australia, England and France's group stage matches. As for drink specials, four Budweisers for $25 throughout the tournament sounds good to us. Looking to nab yourself an English or French soul mate? Hot tip: The Local's the place to be.
WORLD RESTAURANT & BAR | SOUTHBANK
If you're looking for a sensational backdrop to your World Cup – but don't have the money to fly to Brazil – Southbank's World Restaurant & Bar could be just the ticket. Overlooking the banks of the Yarra, the restaurant and live music venue is in a prime position to soak up postcard-worthy city views. More than a dozen World Cup games, including all three Socceroos matches plus the finals, will be shown live and loud on the big screen.
Image Credits: Festival of Football Facebook