FIFA World Cup

World Cup Groups 2014: Updated Standings, Odds and Predictions for Day 3

MANAUS, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Daniele De Rossi during an Italy training session at the Arena Amazonia on June 13, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil. Italy will play England in their opening group D match on June 14, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2014

The 2014 World Cup has now kicked into full gear entering a jam-packed slate of Day 3 matches.

Eight more squads, representing Groups C and D, will begin their tournaments on Saturday. Group C is especially one of the field's most wide open quadrants, which sets up pivotal matches featuring no obvious favorites.

Here's a look at the early standings after two days and four matches.

2014 FIFA World Cup Standings
Group APTS
Brazil3
Mexico3
Cameroon0
Croatia0
Group B
Netherlands3
Chile3
Australia0
Spain0
Group C
Colombia0
Ivory Coast0
Greece0
Japan0
Group D
Costa Rica0
England0
Italy0
Uruguay0
Group E
Ecuador0
France0
Honduras0
Switzerland0
Group F
Argentina0
Bosnia and Herzegovina0
Iran0
Nigeria0
Group G
Germany0
Ghana0
Portugal0
United States0
Group H
Algeria0
Belgium0
South Korea0
Russia0
FIFA.com

Courtesy of OddsShark, here are the top teams' odds of winning the World Cup. 

World Cup Odds
TeamOdds to Win
Brazil3-1
Argentina9-2
Germany5-1
Spain7-1
Belgium14-1
France20-1
Italy22-1
Netherlands25-1
Colombia25-1
England28-1
Portugal28-1
Chile40-1
Russia66-1
United States100-1
Mexico100-1
OddsShark

Note that these were formulated before the tournament began. Spain's chances have sharply deteriorated after suffering a stunning 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver calculated a drastically smaller probability for them to take home the title.

 

Colombia vs. Greece

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MAY 31: Radamel Falcao of Colombia looks on before the International Friendly Match between Colombia and Senegal at Pedro Bidegain Stadium on May 31, 2014 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Although considered a favorite to survive Group C, Colombia must overcome a slew of injuries in order to validate those expectations.

Among those out of commission for Colombia is star striker Radamel Falcao, who scored eight goals in 11 World Cup qualifying matches.

Despite missing one of his best players, manager Jose Pekerman refuses to lean on a long injury list as an excuse. He insisted to the Guardian's Andy Hunter that they are not fretting about Falcao's absence:

We have dealt with our problems and now we are not thinking about what is behind us but the potential of this team. Any team in the world would love to have Falcao as its striker but we are strong, we can deal with this and with the game against Greece. You will see for yourself.

Look for 22-year-old James Rodriguez to assume the offensive burden. Greece is content on playing back and letting their defense work, but that conservative style will generate ample scoring opportunities for an ultra-aggressive Colombia.

Even without Falcao, Los Cafeteros have more than enough scoring threats to string together a couple of scorers to top Greece.

Prediction: Colombia 2, Greece 0

 

Uruguay vs. Costa Rica

With powerhouses England and Italy occupying the other half of Group D, the pressure is on both teams to leave this match with three points.

In order for one of these clubs to pull an upset and advance, they'll need a victory here, preferably with a glossy goal tally. If one of these two teams is going to upend Italy or England, it's Uruguay.

According to BBC, Oscar Tabarez's club will start the match without Luis Suarez, who underwent a knee operation in May. But he could be used as a substitute later in the match, which likely means they'll save him for England unless they need him on Saturday.

The underdog Costa Rica needs stellar play from goalkeeper Keylor Navas to have any shot at staying alive. He'll keep it closer than the game would otherwise be, but expect La Celeste to emerge victorious.

Prediction: Uruguay 3, Costa Rica 1

 

England vs. Italy

Representing Saturday's marquee fixture, two European juggernauts in England and Italy will collide for control over Group D.

Two nations with long track records of success are each in the midst of a youth movement. As noted by the Rob Harris and Andrew Dampf of Associated Press, via USA Today, the two teams are rostering a combined 17 newcomers.

Yet it's the familiar names of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and captain Steve Gerrard who will propel the Three Lions in Manaus. The squad's physical defense is also crucial in containing Italy's boisterous star striker, Mario Balotelli.

Anticipate a hard-fought, old-school clash between these two titans that ends with England limping away with a one-goal victory.

Prediction: England 1, Italy 0

 

Ivory Coast vs. Japan

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 30: Didier Drogba #11 of the Ivory Coast handles the ball against Bosnia-Herzegovina during the second half of a friendly match at Edward Jones Dome on May 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated the Ivory Coast  2
Jeff Curry/Getty Images

This is believed to be the Ivory Coast's last opportunity to capitalize on their golden era of stars, most notably striker Didier Drogba. In a group with no clear-cut favorite, they could set themselves up for advancement by gaining three points over Japan.

Despite making the last two World Cups, the Ivory Coast has still never advanced past group play. Now an aging squad looking to make one last run, the side will start against a fast-paced Japan team that represents a stark clash in style.

While the Blue Samurai rely on sharp midfield, the Elephants utilize a more physical, defensive-minded approach. Don't expect either side to compromise its philosophy to bend to the other side. 

Deeper into the tournament, Japan's fresher legs would have signified a greater advantage, but Ivory Coast's veterans have had time to amp up for what could be the last World Cup run for many of them. As long as they avoid an early blip, they'll endure a battle of attrition to slip past Japan.

Prediction: Ivory Coast 2, Japan 1

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