It's crunch time for both England and Uruguay in Group D on Thursday as each side looks to claim a vital win in Sao Paulo after losing their opening encounters to Italy and Costa Rica, respectively.
Roy Hodgson's side made a good account of themselves in their 2-1 defeat to Italy, while Uruguay will look to the return of Luis Suarez to improve things after their 3-1 humbling to Costa Rica.
In Group C action on Day 8, Colombia take on Ivory Coast in a Brasilia contest which will likely decide who qualifies in top spot, while Japan and Greece meet in Natal with both looking for a first victory of the 2014 World Cup.
Read on for live streaming information, previews and predictions for Thursday's encounters in Brazil.
|Time (BST/ET)||Fixture||Live Stream||Prediction|
|5 p.m., noon||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||2-1|
|8 p.m., 3 p.m.||Uruguay vs. England||ITV Player/ESPN Player||1-2|
|11 p.m., 6 p.m.||Japan vs. Greece||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||2-0|
Uruguay vs. England
There is no doubt that this match is perceived as a must-win for both sides if they are to have any chance of reaching the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Will England beat Uruguay?
Thus it should be a game of great tension, but, hopefully, also of open football as both sides look for the vital goal which could be the difference between winning and losing.
Surprisingly for many England fans, the Three Lions were full of attacking intent against Italy, per BBC Sport's Gary Lineker, and should look for a similar approach against a defensively weak Uruguay side:
Of the 14 teams we have seen so far, England had more shots on goal than any of them. Needless to say, conversion rate was not in the top 10— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 15, 2014
However, they will have the clinical Suarez to contend with, as he is set to return from a long-term injury for Thursday's matchup.
If England play as they did in attack against Italy, they should claim a crucial win as they can exploit Uruguay's deficiencies which were brutally highlighted against Costa Rica, per beIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri:
Best Team: Holland. Worst Team: Uruguay. Surprise: Costa Rica. Disappointment: Spain. Best Game: Spain-Holland. Worst: Iran-Nigeria— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 18, 2014
Colombia vs. Ivory Coast
Colombia have been touted by many as dark horses for this year's tournament, but were dealt a huge blow before the competition when Radamael Falcao was forced to pull out through injury.
However, they were impressive in beating Greece 3-0 in their opener and proved that they can play without the Monaco striker, per football writer Graham Ruthven:
They had the staunchest defence in CONMEBOL qualifying, conceding just 13 times in 16 games, per Eurosport, and should be able to see off Ivory Coast if they play to their potential.
The African side did well to beat Japan 2-1—and they should make it through to the knockout rounds—but they face a superior outfit on Thursday and will likely have to look for a final-game victory over Greece to confirm their last 16 spot.
Japan vs. Greece
Greece have an appalling attacking record at World Cups and will likely have to break an alarming goalscoring habit if they wish to overcome Japan, per Squawka:
Japan are sharp in attack and have some real talent in the forward department with the likes of Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, who scored a stunning goal in the loss to Ivory Coast.
Neither side can really afford to lose this game if they want to head through to the last 16 and there could be some personnel changes from the opening matches.
Japan look the superior side and at least showed some verve against Ivory Coast which should see them prevail over an uninspiring Greek side.