England are on the way home (boo), while Costa Rica should go through top (yay for the underdogs), but there is still plenty to sort out in Group D with Uruguay and Italy going toe-to-toe to see who sneaks through as runners-up. In Group C Colombia are through, but any one of Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece could get through as well so there’s plenty at stake as we give you a rapid-fire run through.
England v Costa Rica | Belo Horizonte | 5pm
- Costa Rica top the group after shocking Uruguay 3-1 on the opening day and then beating Italy 1-0 on Friday evening. They have never previously played England.
- Roy Hodgson is giving a load of squad players a taste of World Cup action and has made changes going into this game. Even Frank Lampard is getting a run-out and Phil Jones is playing right-back. Ross Barkley starts in the role just behind Dancing Danny Sturridge who’ll have more time for Subway now.
- Despite the form lines suggesting Costa Rica should win this, England are the 10/11 favourites after attracting a load of patriotic pennies. A draw would be enough for Costa Rica to claim top spot and you can back them to win or draw at 10/11 which looks a much smarter bet.
Italy v Uruguay | Natal | 5pm
- Plenty to play for here and a win for either side would see them through. A victory combined with an England win and a decent goal swing could even see one of these sides top the group.
- The bookies can’t split them at 7/4 each in the betting and in nine previous meetings they have played out four draws. A stalemate here would send Italy through and Uruguay out on goal difference.
- Luis Suarez is the go-to guy for Uruguay. In the game against England he was influential with 51 touches (only two Uruguay players had more) and four shots – two of which were on target and found the net. He’s 4/1 to open the scoring tonight.
Japan v Colombia | Cuiaba | 9pm
- Colombia are through but need at least a draw to guarantee topping the group after comfortably seeing off Greece and Ivory Coast. Japan on the other hand played out one of the most depressing 0-0 draws with Greece last time out and need a win combined with a negative result for Ivory Coast.
- These sides have played twice before – Colombia won a 2003 Confederations Cup game and then they drew 0-0 in a Kirin Cup match seven years ago. We have no idea what competition that is either.
- Colombia should win but Japan are dangerous going forward and scored 30 goals in Asian qualifying. Although they didn’t score against Greece they attempted 18 shots, so the smart bet might be Colombia to win and both teams to score at 10/3.
Greece v Ivory Coast | Fortaleza | 9pm
- A point for Ivory Coast is enough to see Didier Drogba and co through to the second round. A win and a loss for Colombia plus a healthy goal swing could even see them top the group. Greece have to win and hope Japan lose to sneak through in second.
- These sides haven’t played each other before, but based on their two previous results Ivory Coast look considerably better beating Japan 2-1 and only going down by the same scoreline to Colombia. Greece were hockeyed 3-0 by Colombia and played out that bore draw with Japan.
- Ivory Coast are 11/10 to win and anything odds-against is probably worth a nibble. They’ve had 34 shots in two games compared to Greece’s 20 and are far more dangerous going forward.
- Vicente del Bosque is going to decide on his future as Spain gaffer over the next few days after they beat Australia 3-0 in their final World Cup game. Admittedly it’s been a disastrous campaign for them but Mr Potato Head has led them to the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, plus he can boast of an 80 per cent win record with the national team.
- Phil Neville says that there isn’t one individual who can be blamed for England’s exit and that’s a good thing. In a backwards kind of way he says that because the whole team are bad, it takes the pressure off individuals going forward, and although the Costa Rica game is irrelevant, Phil’s looking forward to a successful Euro 2016 qualifying. Yes, 12 days into the World Cup and Englishmen are fully focused on qualifying for the next major tournament. That’s bleak.
- Meanwhile, Nigeria striker Peter Odemwingie has gone bananas. If anyone can explain the following, that would be super.