The focus today will be on the first game up. England need Italy to beat Costa Rica and preferably by as a large number of goals, ideally breaking their spirit completely. The odds suggest they’ll get their way. France and Switzerland decide who finishes top of their group, unless there’s a draw, and Ecuador play Honduras to finish off the day’s proceedings. Here’s a bite-sized look at each game:
Italy v Costa Rica – 5pm | Recife
- Gianluigi Buffon returns in goal for Italy after missing out against England with an ankle injury. He’s awesome.
- Costa Rica have never failed to score against a European team at a World Cup. Six from six. They’ve also never won two World Cup games back to back.
- Italy struggled with the conditions when they beat Japan 4-3 in Recife in June of last year. That game kicked off at 9pm local time. This one starts at 1pm.
Switzerland v France – 8pm | Salvador
- France were barely tested in their win against ten-man Honduras. Switzerland will give them a much harder game. The squad’s morale is apparently so fragile Deschamps couldn’t risk bringing along the talented Samir Nasri in case he started sulking. In France sulking is more contagious than yawning.
- Switzerland have only conceded two goals in their last six games. They could well neutralise France’s attack..get it? Neutral-ise? Ah I’m wasted on you guys.
- Ottmar Hitzfeld will retire from management after this tournament. A massively successful manager at club level who will be looking to go out on a high. Do not underestimate his ability to motivate the players as well as nailing the tactics.
Honduras v Ecuador – 11pm | Curitiba
- Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suárez took Ecuador to the last 16 of the World Cup in 2006. Ecuador manager Reinaldo Rueda was in charge of Honduras as recently as 2010.
- Both teams need a win but 8 of their previous 13 meetings (all friendlies) ended in a draw. Six of which finished with a scoreline of 1-1.
- James Ayovi has three goals in two games against Honduras. The awesomely named Carlos Costly scored a brace for Honduras in a 2-2 draw last year.
- Xabi Alonso told the press yesterday that Spain’s dominance of world football is over. We probably gathered that after a humiliating 5-1 thumping by Holland and then the lackluster defeat to Chile, but Alonso has incredibly well-kept facial hair so we appreciate his honesty in pointing out the obvious.
- Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng has predicted a ‘fight to the death’ when he faces his sibling – Germany’s Jerome Boateng – in Group G on Saturday. It sounds a little extreme from KP and Daddy Boateng has merely fueled the flames by suggesting his ‘only wish is that nobody gets hurt’. Spicy.
- And finally Cameroon boss Volker Finke has said he will get to the bottom of why Benoit Assou-Ekotto decided to headbutt team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo at the end of their 4-0 thrashing to Croatia. Early front-runners are that either Moukandjo was laughing at Assou-Ekotto’s ridiculous barnet, Assou-Ekotto gave Moukandjo’s sister a ‘like’ on Tinder, or the two were disagreeing over whether or not Roy Keane was right to walk out on Ireland in 2002. Hopefully we’ll find out the truth soon.