The first full week of the 2014 World Cup has gone by in a flash. It's featured everything a fan of the global game could ask for: upsets, surprising comebacks, comical errors and plenty of goals.
The majority of teams seem to be doing their best Brazil impression, scoring at a phenomenal pace.
ESPN's Paul Carr shows us just how action-packed the group stages have been:
At current pace, 144 goals would be scored in this group stage. 2010 WC had 145 goals in the whole tournament.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 19, 2014
This World Cup has defied all previous expectations and is making the 2010 World Cup feel like one giant 1-0 Spain victory that saw the ball gently tapped around the midfield for 80 minutes after an early goal off David Villa's shin.
Day 8 of the tournament should live up to the hype. Colombia takes on Ivory Coast in a tantalizing transatlantic affair, while Uruguay and England look to escape embarrassment and take a step toward the knockout round. In the final match of the day, Japan and Greece battle to stay relevant in Group C.
Here is the full TV schedule, live stream info and predictions for Day 8.
|C||Colombia vs. Ivory Coast||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|D||Uruguay vs. England||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|C||Japan vs. Greece||6 p.m.||ESPN|
Live Stream Info
All Day 8 games can be found online at WatchESPN.com.
Day 8 Predictions
Colombia vs. Ivory Coast
This is going to be a riveting match as the two teams clash for the chance to finish atop Group C. Ivory Coast will need a sharp performance in order to beat Colombia, while the South American side will have to contain the Elephants' dangerous attack.
Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure wasn't at his best against Japan. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl seemed to believe a lingering injury might be the culprit:
Yaya Touré playing like a guy who isn't 100% fit.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 15, 2014
Toure is one of the keys to this match; when he's at the top of his box-to-box game, he's one of the best players in the world.
Colombia's attack was in fine form without talismanic striker Radamel Falcao. James Rodriguez, Teofilo Guiterrez and Pablo Armero scored a goal apiece against Greece and looked content to spread the wealth around in that match.
Which Ivory Coast player has the best chance of scoring against Colombia?
Ivory Coast will need to be more efficient than it was against Japan to pull out the victory here. It launched 21 shots against the Samurai Blue, but only five of them were on target. It will be lucky to create as many chances against Colombia's defense, which conceded just 13 goals in 16 World Cup qualifying matches. Colombia continued its run of defensive brilliance by shutting out Greece in its opening match of the World Cup.
Ivory Coast boasts a wealth of speedy attacking options and a not-so-secret weapon in Didier Drogba, who may come off the bench against Colombia. It should be able to muster a goal or two while limiting Colombia on the defensive end.
Prediction: Ivory Coast 2-1 Colombia
Uruguay vs. England
England, for all its attacking talent, could only muster a single goal against the well-organized Italian contingent on Saturday. A change in tactics might improve England's chances against Uruguay.
I think Rooney has to come back into a number 10 role. It didn't work with him playing out there and making the goal in the first half got him out of jail a little bit. By shunting him out to the left wing [Hodgson has] said to him 'you're not my main striker, go and do a job for me out there.'
Rooney serves as a central playmaker for his club team, Manchester United; the center of the pitch is a much more natural fit for the do-it-all player, although it is easy to see how his versatility is so tempting for coach Roy Hodgson.
If England move Rooney inside, the team can still exploit the flanks with the speedy Raheem Sterling. The young Liverpool starlet has blinding pace and can create huge problems for Uruguay in defence. Sterling and Rooney combined brilliantly to set up Daniel Sturridge's lone goal against Italy.
Uruguay will be without stalwart defender Maxi Pereira, who drew a red card in the final moments of the 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
Edinson Cavani is one of the top players in the world, but other than his precise penalty kick, he looked completely out to lunch against Costa Rica. If he is unable to spearhead Uruguay's attack, England will have no problem taking control of this match and coming away with the victory.
Prediction: England 3-1 Uruguay
Japan vs. Greece
This is a do-or-die situation for both teams: If there is a loser in this match, it will need some luck to have a chance at advancing to the knockout round considering the current standings in Group C.
Greece will need to be stronger in the final third in order to have a chance of beating Japan. Theofanis Gekas managed to get off just a lone shot against Colombia, per WhoScored.com, before he was eventually taken off for Kostas Mitroglou in the 64th minute.
If Greece has difficulty in holding up at the point of attack, it could use other avenues to snatch a goal in this one.
The smaller Japanese lineup could be vulnerable on crosses and set pieces, per Nate Sulat of Major League Soccer's official website:
The average height of Samurai Blue’s field players from their Saturday outing against Ivory Coast was about 5'10". No one in Greece's lineup against Colombia was shorter than 5'10". It's more than idle speculation to suppose that Japan might be vulnerable in the air. The two goals they conceded both came off crosses into their six-yard box, and there's no reason to suspect a tall Greek team won't try the exact same strategy on Thursday.
Japan will have to play smart, disciplined soccer against Greece to prevent those kinds of opportunities. This could be a problem, considering Japan committed 13 fouls against Ivory Coast, per WhoScored.com.
Which team is more likely to advance to the knockout round?
Japan will have to rely on Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Hotaru Yamaguchi to maintain possession in midfield and prevent Samurai Blue from playing on the back foot in this match.
Greece will likely steal a goal against the run of play, but Honda and Kagawa should be enough to unlock the Greek defense and keep Japan in the hunt for the knockout round.
Prediction: Japan 2-1 Greece