England get their campaign underway with a massive tie against Italy in Group C, but fortunately no matter how bad they are they won’t top Spain’s rotten performance on Friday night against Holland. Before the Three Lions inevitably play out a low scoring draw however, Colombia and Greece kick proceedings off and that is closely followed by a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay giving Costa Rica a spanking.
Plus if that’s not enough there’s a super-bonus-extra game as Ivory Coast go toe-to-toe with Japan in the early hours if anybody is still standing. Got all that? Good.
Colombia v Greece – 5pm | Belo Horizante
- It’s a clash of styles. Colombia’s South American flair versus Greece’s southern European ‘we’ll do anything we need to do not to lose’ pragmatism. Juicy.
- Colombia won their only previous meeting between the two teams. That was a 2-0 win back in 1994 just before the World Cup.
Uruguay v Costa Rica – 8pm | Fortaleza
- Group C kicks off with Uruguay giving Costa Rica a but of a spanking. Probably.
- The Uruguayans have won six and drawn two of their all time meetings with the central Americans, but interestingly, only once have they won by more than one goal. You’re perfectly within your rights not to have found that interesting.
England v Italy – 11pm | Manaus
- It’s the big one – not just for England fans, but also for all the temporary Italy fans that have emerged in Scotland, Wales and Ireland in recent days.
- England won their most recent game against the Italians back in 2012, but haven’t beaten them in a competitive match since qualifying for the 1978 World Cup.
Cote D’Ivoire v Japan – 2am | Recife
- There’ll be lots of familiar faces on show when Ivory Coast and Japan meet. Some – like Didier Drogba – you’ll be able to easily recognise, while others – like Shinji Kagawa – will look different on account of not looking glumly on from the subs bench.
- Japan edge the head to head record 2-1, but the Ivorians are the favourites to win this one. They haven’t played out a draw yet. Hmmm … interesting.
- Roy Hodgson has asked England fans to ‘believe’ as the Three Lions prepare to kick off thier World Cup campaign. The gaffer is looking for support and encouragement which unfortunately will probably come via garish tattoos, unnecessarily large flags and throwing plastic furniture at a German.
- There’s more stadium concerns in the press as England prepare to face Manaus. not only is the pitch having to be painted green but now the changing rooms aren’t even going to be ready in time. Luckily Joe Hart has come out in the papers to make the point that both teams have to play on the same pitch so it’s not necessarily a disadvantage. What he didn’t say was the disadvantage is actually having Glen Johnson at right-back.
- Tony Adams has appeared from out of nowhere to kindly point out that Hodgson has made a complete clusterf*** by not bringing John Terry to Brazil. According to former England captain Adams, JT should definitely start and England should defend the box because that’s where 85 per cent of goals come from. Cheers Tony. Sound advice there.
- Bacary Sanga has become the latest World Cup star who took some time out of France’s preparations to do some business. After winning the FA Cup with Arsenal, he’s packing up his elaborate hairstyle and hitting the well trodden path that runs from the Emirates all the way to Manchester City. He joins for free.
- After Croatia’s controversial defeat to Brazil, defender Vedran Corluka showed some commendable bitterness in his post-match comments. He wasn’t happy about the refereeing which certainly went in the host’s favour and he wasn’t shy talking about it:
“If this continues, I think no one should play against Brazil. We can just give them the World Cup and everyone can go home. Nishimura shouldn’t be allowed to referee another game. It is embarrassing.”
- Oddly enough, the Marcelo own goal that gave Croatia the lead was the first own goal Brazil have conceded in World Cup football. That’s nice trivia, but not so good for this guy: