If you’re just waking up to the fact that England’s World Cup adventure is on a knife edge – or just waking up – let’s start with the good news.
Last night saw a €1 million free bet payout kick in with Paddy Power on certain markets after Italy beat England 2-1. The not-so-good news is that many of the traveling faithful might be home before the postcards if the Three Lions don’t get at least a draw against Uruguay on Thursday night (8pm).
Luis Suarez should return for the the Uruguayans whose 3-1 loss to Costa Rica puts the game into the ‘make-or-break’ category so beloved by TV pundits trying to justify a 10-day jolly in Brazil without uttering one, meaningful, sentence.
Tonight’s game look a little more pedestrian, with Switzerland and Ecuador (5pm) offering the ideal excuse to extend that afternoon nap on the couch, while France v Honduras (8pm) will let us know whether the French squad’s implosion in 2010 was just a once-off – or whether they really do hate the sight of each other.
Game of the day should be Argentina v Bosnia, but with a late one pulled last night, you’ll need more staying power than Andrea Pirlo with the Monday morning blues looming.
Switzerland v Ecuador – 5pm | Brasilia
- The words ‘edge’ and ‘seat’ are unlikely to be used in this Group E opener. The Swiss arrive having W12, D5 and lost just one of their last 18 as they qualified unbeaten from their group to live up to the national stereotype of efficiency.
- Ecuador, with their more volatile South American tendencies, have yet to draw a game at the World Cup finals – winning three and losing four.
France v Honduras – 8pm | Porto Alegre
- The French will be keen to make amends for a dismal performance in South Africa in 2010 and warmed up for this with an 8-0 win over the laid-back, Jamaicans.
- Despite playing in their third World Cup finals, Honduras have yet to win a Group stage match.
Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina – 11pm | Rio
- The side have met twice in friendlies with Argentina winning both games (5-0, 2-0), the most recent in November last year.
- Bosnia’s Edin Dzeko is their star striker hitting the net 10 times in the qualifiers – second only to wonder-goal getter, Robin Van Persie.
- Cristiano Ronaldo is winning his battle to be fit in time for Monday’s Group G smash up with Germany (5pm) where fans and match stewards are being asked to check under their seats at half-time should Mesut Ozil go missing from midfield.
- And in an about face that made US President Bill Clinton’s ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ look like a slip of the tongue, German legend Franz Beckenbauer has told FIFA that he will now co-operate with their corruption inquiry – the day after been threatened with a 90-day ban for non co-operation.
- Meanwhile, back in Premier League land, West Brom fans’ ‘shock’ that Tim Sherwood was going to be appointed their club’s manager are now ‘horrified’ that Everton’s academy manager Alan Irvine has gotten the job on a one-year rolling contract.