The 2014 World Cup picture is beginning to develop after eight days of action in Brazil. Going through the second slate of group fixtures has generated euphoria and desperation for squads looking to advance into the knockout stage.
A day after defending champions Spain met their unceremonious end, another powerhouse in England is now in grave danger of going home early after suffering another loss at the feet of Luis Suarez and Uruguay.
After Day 8, the Three Lions' chances of making it out of Group D alive are microscopic. Meanwhile, Colombia is sitting pretty on top of Group C after earning another three points with a victory over the Ivory Coast.
Friday's action will go a long way in determining how Group E plays out, with all three clubs taking the field in two crucial fixtures. Italy and Switzerland each have a chance to build a monumental lead, while Honduras and Ecuador are holding on for dear life.
Here's an updated look at the standings heading into Friday.
|2014 FIFA World Cup Standings|
After falling to Uruguay on Thursday, England looks well on their way to joining Spain in the discarded batch of eliminated squads.
The Three Lions were spurned by a returning Luis Suarez, who returned to action to register a pair of goals for Uruguay. Wayne Rooney's first career World Cup goal was not enough to keep England from again coming away empty-handed.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, this represents their worst World Cup showing in 64 years.
England now stands as the only country in Group D without a victory. Italy and Costa Rica each enter Friday's match against one another with three points, meaning a loss would officially eliminate the United Kingdom.
A Costa Rica victory would also knock them out, as they would clinch a spot while Italy and Uruguay battled for the final bid in their meeting. That means England needs a victory over Costa Rica and two Italy wins just to rally to a tie, which would be settled by the highest goal differential.
Italy striker Mario Balotelli is willing to help, for a price.
That's a lot of variables outside of England's hands that need to go their way. Considering they lost twice to two stout squads, each by one goal, look for England to salvage some dignity by beating Costa Rica on Tuesday. Yet they can't expect the other three clubs to acquiesce to all of their needs. FiveThirtyEight's updated model gives them a 3.5 percent chance of advancing.
Colombia does not need to plot every possible scenario to their advancement, as they've already clinched the deal after defeating the Ivory Coast, 2-1. They now have six points and a plus-four goal differential that is tied with Chile and Germany for second-most behind the Netherlands' plus-five scoring margin.
Greece and Japan made Colombia's trip to the final 16 official by playing to a 0-0 draw. Although Japan completed 570 passes to Greece's 144, they could not find the net against the shorthanded Greece, who played most of the match without Kostas Katsouranis after their captain was handed his second yellow card of the match.
At one point apiece, Japan or Greece could make it through Group C with a win and some help. Greece would need to defeat Colombia and make up two goals should Japan win. Japan needs to defeat Colombia with Greece knocking off the Ivory Coast while staying at a lower differential.
Group E is hanging in the balance entering Friday's pair of matches. Each holding three points, France or Switzerland can seize all power with a win over the other on Day 9. Meanwhile, Ecuador and Honduras will fight to get on the board.
After pulling out a victory in extra time over Ecuador earlier this week, Switzerland will stand toe-to-toe with Les Bleus at three points apiece. France remains the Group E favorites after easily disposing of Honduras, but they must combat a stout defense that allowed six goals through 10 qualifying matches, none of which the Swiss lost.
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld laid out his plans to reply on defense and counterattacking to the Associated Press' Dusan Stojanovic, via ABC News. He also stressed that they'll need to play better this time around to hang with their top-notch opponent.
"If we want to stand a chance against France, we will have to play beyond our limits," Hitzfeld said. "In the first match, we were a bit nervous. We have to be calmer and more composed."
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