Day 3 of the 2014 World Cup will be the busiest yet, with eight teams kicking off their campaign on Saturday, including 2006 champions Italy.
Teams only get to play three matches during the group stages, so every single result counts. Starting your tournament with a win greatly enhances your chances of progressing to the next round—losing your first match often means you can start browsing for cheap flights home.
Here's the schedule for Day 3 of the 2014 World Cup:
|2014 World Cup Day 3 Schedule|
|Time||Match||TV Guide||Live Stream|
|12 p.m. ET/5 p.m. BST||Group C: Colombia vs. Greece||ABC/BBC 1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|3 p.m. ET/8 p.m. BST||Group D: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica||ABC/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
|6 p.m. ET/11 p.m. BST||Group D: England vs. Italy||ESPN/BBC 1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|9 p.m. ET/2 a.m. BST (Sunday)||Group C: Ivory Coast vs. Japan||ESPN/ITV||WatchESPN/ITV Player|
Colombia vs. Greece
It's one of the best battles football has to offer: An organised unit built around the simple concept that if you don't concede you can't lose up against one of the tournament's best attacking sides who look to score early and often to take pressure off their defence.
That's not to say Colombia can't defend—Cristian Zapata, Pablo Armero and Juan Camilo Zuniga are all experienced backs, and they will face a stern test against the duo of Kostas Mitroglou and Georgios Samaras.
Georgios Karagounis has been the hero for this Greek team on more than one occasion, and the veteran will once more be counted on to come through for his nation.
Greece aren't a particularly creative team, and Karagounis is the one tasked with creating chances for the strikers playing in front of him. How he deals with the challenge from a strong Colombian midfield will be key in this fixture.
Colombia have the advantage of playing close to home, and they'll want to turn this match into a physical contest to make full use of the Brazilian climate.
Prediction: Colombia 2-0 Greece
Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
La Celeste are opening their tournament against one of the supposedly weaker nations, and a strong start will be vital for the Uruguayans.
In a group also containing England and Italy, they simply can't afford to drop any points against a side that has struggled to convince during their preparations for this tournament.
Costa Rica have looked strongest when Joel Campbell was given the space to use his technical abilities and athleticism, and if the Arsenal youngster can keep up his good form, the team has a chance of surprising one of the favourites in Group D.
It's a tough ask to put so much pressure on the shoulders of one player, especially against Uruguay, who are one of the teams being looked at as potential spoilers for the tournament favourites in the knockout stages.
Led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay have a history of doing well in the World Cup, with a semi-final appearance in 2010 the most recent example. La Celeste will want to improve on that result, and with goal differential potentially being the deciding factor in Group D, look for the team to attack Costa Rica early and often.
Prediction: Uruguay 3-1 Costa Rica
England vs. Italy
The people of England will not have forgotten about the heartbreak they suffered at the hands of the Azzurri in 2012, going out in the quarter-finals of the European Championships on penalties.
Italy dominated that match but failed to produce many chances. When England took an early lead in the penalty shootout, it looked like the Three Lions would steal a semi-final berth from the Italians. A cheeky chip from Andrea Pirlo swung momentum, however, and Italy would go on to lose the final to the defending world champions Spain.
For the Azzurri, many of the key contributors remain the same as two years ago. Gianluigi Buffon is still one of the world's best stoppers, while Andrea Pirlo is looking better than ever pulling the strings in midfield for Juventus.
England will hope their new influx of talent can make the difference this time, with Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling both enjoying phenomenal seasons at Liverpool. Playing in the difficult climate of Manaus, the Three Lions' younger legs could have an advantage over Italy's senior citizens.
But experience has to count for something and the Italians often play their best football in the most difficult circumstances.
Prediction: England 1-2 Italy
Ivory Coast vs. Japan
Ivory Coast's golden generation has struggled living up to its billing in the past decade, and 2014 could be the last opportunity for some of these players to make their mark.
Yaya Toure was one of the top midfielders in all of football at club level in 2013-14, and he'll now look to carry that momentum to the national team. With a new and improved Gervinho playing in front of him, Ivory Coast's impressive abilities on the counter could suit them well against a Japanese side bent on attacking.
Keisuke Honda's first six months at AC Milan may have had its ups and downs, but the midfielder can hang with the very best of them when he's on his game. Supported by Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, the Samurai Blue just might have what it take to neutralize the dangerous Toure.
Japan are one of the most entertaining sides in international football, and their 4-3 World Cup warm-up win over Zambia earlier in the month was further proof of that. Thier tendency to concede sloppy goals is worrisome, but the Samurai Blue have the ability to find a way to simply outscore their opponents.
Yoichiro Kakitani is a strong candidate to be one of the tournament's breakout performers, and there's no better way to get people to remember your name than a good performance against one of Africa's strongest teams.
Prediction: Ivory Coast 1-2 Japan
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