World Cup 2014’s Day 13 sees both Groups C and D reach their respective climaxes with knockout-stage places still all to play for.
Though Colombia have already booked their place in the last 16 from Group C, following them through could be any one of Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece.
A similar situation has presented itself in Group D. Though England’s chances of progressing are over, Italy and Uruguay are both in with a chance of joining the group’s surprise-package Costa Rica in the knockout stage.
|Group||Matchup||Prediction||TV Info||Live Stream|
|C||Japan vs. Colombia||1-3||BBC(TBC)/ESPN||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
|C||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||0-2||BBC(TBC)/ESPN2||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player|
|D||Italy vs. Uruguay||2-2||ITV4/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|D||Costa Rica vs. England||1-2||ITV/ESPN2||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
In the later games in Day 13, Colombia take on Japan in Cuiaba while the Ivory Coast and Greece face off in Fortaleza with precious points at stake.
An Ivory Coast victory will see them through to the round of 16, but anything other than that opens to door to Greece and Japan, with the latter needing a minor miracle to get past Colombia.
The Colombians have proved that they are worth of the tag of dark horses for the World Cup trophy with two excellent performances against Greece and Ivory Coast respectively.
At the heart of it all has been James Rodriguez, who has scored a goal in each of his nation’s games so far, adding to his impressive recent goalscoring record—per OptaJoe:
4 - James Rodriguez has scored in each of his last four appearances for #COL. Vital.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 19, 2014
The Monaco star has been a sensation in the absence of his domestic colleague, Radamel Falcao, and he recently told FIFA.com that his side have what it takes to have a fruitful tournament in Brazil:
“I hope to have a good World Cup. Why can't we be the revelation of the tournament? I hope we will be.”
Though Colombia have been a joy to watch during the World Cup so far, Japan will be hoping that with their knockout-stage status secured, Jose Pekerman’s side will let their guard down and allow Japan to launch an attack for the next round.
For that to happen, they’d need Ivory Coast to either lose lightly or draw against Greece and record a big victory themselves. However, the Ivory Coast certainly aren’t going to lie down against Greece.
Depending on results elsewhere, a draw may be enough for Sabri Lamouchi’s side, but they’ll undoubtedly be going all out for the victory. As Sky Sports reported, the French manager stood by his team selection and said that all he’s playing for is a victory against the Greeks:
It is just a few details that we missed, and that meant we lost the game. My players did not deserve to lose, a draw would have been more deserved. It was a very experienced Colombian team who waited for us to make mistakes, unfortunately we made some and were hit in a hard way. We created some chances and came back to score, so I feel we lost unfairly. We will need to go and fight to get a victory against Greece, it is very simple. I do not see any other way to qualify.
With the talent of Wilfried Bony, Yaya Toure and Gervinho at Lamouchi’s disposal, the manager will be full of confidence of sending the Ivory Coast to their first World Cup knockout stage in their history—and that’s what we expect, too.
Japan 1-3 Colombia
Greece 0-2 Ivory Coast
Day 13 sees the curtain come down on England’s World Cup 2014, with their match against Costa Rica somewhat of a dead-rubber affair in Belo Horizonte.
With the Costa Ricans already through, Uruguay and Italy face off in the group’s other match to determine who’ll join them in the round of 16.
While Italy need just a point to qualify, Uruguay need to victory and will once again turn to their talisman Luis Suarez for inspiration.
The Liverpool striker almost single-handedly won the clash with England on Thursday with two goals and a performance that was simply too good according to Gary Lineker:
I must say, Suarez is a phenomenon. His performance defies belief!— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 19, 2014
With Suarez coming into the Italy match in the form of his life, Uruguay certainly have the man to send them through to the last 16 with a win; but then again, so do Italy in Andrea Pirlo.
Pirlo is only getting better with age and his composed, assured style of play in the heart of midfield could be the difference between victory and defeat for the Azzurri.
Speaking with FIFA.com, the Juventus star revealed just how much is at stake for him and his Italian teammates:
All World Cup games are important, but this one's like a semi-final or a final. It's not causing us too much concern, but of course it's a fundamental game. It's make or break. Obviously it would be a huge disappointment for the whole squad if we didn't go through to the second round. But we have the capabilities to win this game. We won't be going out there looking to draw.
It’s set to be an incredibly tight game in Natal, likewise at the Estadio Mineirao where England will be looking to bow out with a victory.
With nothing to play for against the impressive Costa Rica, manager Roy Hodgson is set to put several of his youngsters out to give them experience on the big stage, as England revealed via Twitter:
RH: Foster, Jones, Cahill, Smalling, Shaw, Milner, Lampard, Wilshere, Barkley, Lallana, Sturridge to start tomorrow against Costa Rica— England (@england) June 23, 2014
Players like Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Luke Shaw will have big points to prove as they look to give Hodgson something to think about, but they face a tough opposition in Costa Rica.
The Costa Ricans will look to bring their form into the clash, but with England hoping to go out with a bang, they may just have the edge.
Predictions: Italy 2-2 Uruguay
Costa Rica 1-2 England