Day 13 of the 2014 World Cup will see four teams advance from two very narratively-distinct groups in this World Cup.
Group C has been remarkably wide open, and all four teams—Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece—have a chance to move on to the knockout round.
Group D has featured the Cinderella of the tournament so far, as tiny Costa Rica has the chance to finish atop a group featuring Italy, Uruguay and an already-eliminated England.
Take a look at the fixtures and kick-off times for Day 13, as well as predictions for how each game will turn out.
|D||Costa Rica vs. England||12 p.m.||ESPN2|
|D||Italy vs. Uruguay||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|C||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||4 p.m.||ESPN2|
|C||Japan vs. Colombia||4 p.m.||ESPN|
Day 13 Predictions
Costa Rica vs. England
Costa Rica has already, improbably, moved on to the knockout round while England has been eliminated after two games for the first time since 1958. This is the perfect opportunity for the Three Lions to reestablish dominance and move out on a positive note, much in the way Spain trounced Australia on Monday.
Wayne Rooney ended his goal-scoring drought against Uruguay, although it wasn't enough for England to get the win. Coach Roy Hodgson could rely on a youth movement against Costa Rica with his team unable to advance; Raheem Sterling has played well so far on the left wing, while Jack Wilshere has been solid in his appearances off the bench.
Costa Rica's inspiration has come from forward Joel Campbell, who's been playing like he's gunning for a starting role with club team Arsenal.
Opta Joe points out how much of a nuisance Campbell was to Uruguay in the team's opening World Cup match:
7 - Joel Campbell was fouled seven times against Uruguay - more often than any other player in the World Cup so far. Bruised.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 16, 2014
Campbell should continue to torment defenses with his slick dribbling in this tournament.
Grantland's Noah Davis details how Costa Rica was able to beat Italy:
The team absorbed early pressure, with center backs Giancarlo González and Michael Umaña marking Mario Balotelli into ineffectiveness. Then they pressed forward and found a goal through captain Bryan Ruiz. The Italians failed to mount any semblance of an attack during the second half, and Andrea Pirlo was frustrated into a shimmering simulacrum of himself.
The numbers certainly back up those claims. Italy held the ball for 61 percent of the match, but Costa Rica equaled them with 11 total shots. Andrea Pirlo completed 93 percent of his passes, but made just one key pass and one accurate cross, as per WhoScored.com.
Rooney is a much more aggressive and athletic creative force than Pirlo and should be able to engineer a goal for his team. Costa Rica has shown great ability to withstand pressure at the World Cup and will likely steal a goal of its own to earn a well-deserved draw.
Prediction: England 1-1 Costa Rica
Italy vs. Uruguay
Luis Suarez may not be 100 percent fit, but he was certainly back to causing fits in Uruguay's 2-1 victory over England. He brought an energy and creative flair to his national side that was missing in its upset loss to Costa Rica. Oh, and he scored both goals for the team.
Edinson Cavani, who was largely ineffective against Costa Rica, played an expanded role against England. He didn't make it onto the scoresheet against the Three Lions, but as The Independent's Ian Herbert notes, he did well to limit Steven Gerrard's play:
Which player is most likely to score in Italy vs. Uruguay?
Uruguay might try to employ Cavani in a similar role against Italy's Pirlo, although he may have to drop deeper to pressure the Italian maestro, thus ruining Uruguay's attacking shape.
Italy will need to control the pace of the game and keep composure at the back while fending off the havoc created by Suarez and Cavani. Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile will be key to Italy's chances in this match; they have the power and pace to net a goal against Uruguay in this match.
Pirlo will dictate the game and carve up Uruguay's defense while Giorgio Chiellini and his back-line mates hold down the fort for a close victory.
Prediction Italy 2-1 Uruguay
Greece vs. Ivory Coast
Greece has put in two of the dreariest shifts in the World Cup so far. They were no match for Colombia in their first match and managed to grind Japan down and hold on to a 0-0 draw to steal a point despite being down a man for a good portion of the match.
Didier Drogba has come off the bench for the Ivory Coast in both of their World Cup matches, to mixed results. He was an obvious inspiration in Ivory Coast's comeback victory over Japan, but his presence did nothing to prevent The Elephants from succumbing to Colombia.
Drogba, to his credit, has tried to keep the focus on the team leading up to the match against Greece.
"Why always questions about me?” Drogba asked the Ivory Coast media, as per The Guardian's Andy Hunter. “You want to sensationalise things but the most important thing is the team."
What will be the outcome of Greece vs. Ivory Coast?
Greek captain Kostas Katsouranis will be missing from the clash after his red card in the Japan game. He has been vital to Greece's defensive organization and his absence could very easily open the door for Ivory Coast to score, so long as the midfield is up to the task.
Ivory Coast midfielder Serey Die has been taken off in both matches. If he gets the start again and Ivory Coast fails to score, look for him to come off for Drogba again, although he could be relegated to the bench in favor of Mathis Bolly in this one.
Gervinho will have to continue his strong performances for Ivory Coast. His dribbling acumen and speed are vital to The Elephants' attack. His best skills were on display in his goal against Colombia, via ESPNFC:
Ivory Coast will eventually overwhelm the Greek defense and move on to the knockout round for the first time in the nation's history.
Prediction: Ivory Coast 2-0 Greece
Japan vs. Colombia
Few teams feature an attack as deadly and balanced as Colombia's. This wasn't supposed to be the case without Radamel Falcao suiting up for Colombia, but James Rodriguez, Teofilo Gutierrez and Juan Cuadrado have found a way to torment opposing defenses without their star poacher.
Rodriguez has drawn plaudits from Zonal Marking's Michael Cox and Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl for his excellent play:
Of those to have played two matches so far, James Rodriguez the best in the tournament, in my view.— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) June 19, 2014
Love to see Colombian soccer getting positive attention. Great story. James Rodríguez is a star.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 19, 2014
The Monaco winger should continue his string of excellent performances against Japan.
Japan was quite wasteful in attack in its 0-0 draw with Greece, nor were they much better in the 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast. They fired off 18 shots against 10-man Greece and came up with nothing. Keisuke Honda and Yoshito Okubo combined to put just two of their seven shots on target, as per WhoScored.com.
Japan can match up with Colombia from a speed and technical standpoint, but Colombia will dominate them in the air and on set pieces. Colombia should win comfortably and move on to the next round.
Prediction: Colombia 3-1 Japan