The United States and the rest of Group G may have been labeled as the “Group of Death” coming into the 2014 World Cup, but Group D was just as loaded on paper with three historically excellent international powerhouses in Italy, Uruguay and England.
Ironically, it is Costa Rica that is the one on top of the group heading into Day 13 of the World Cup.
Tuesday will feature four games as Groups C and D wrap up group-stage play and send their top-two teams forward to the knockout stage. Of the eight teams playing, only Costa Rica and Colombia have clinched advancement, and only England has been officially eliminated.
That means everything is on the line for Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece, Italy and Uruguay.
With that in mind, here is a look at the updated group tables heading into Tuesday’s action and the full slate for Day 13:
|Costa Rica vs. England||12 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Italy vs. Uruguay||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|Greece vs. Ivory Coast||4 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Japan vs. Colombia||4 p.m.||ESPN|
Of interest for a certain sector of fans with any World Cup game are the odds. With so much on the line for these teams in the final group-stage matches, here is a glance at the odds for each one, courtesy of Oddsshark.com as of Monday, June 23:
|England vs. Costa Rica||England -303, Costa Rica +550||England -112, Costa Rica +330||England -125, Costa Rica +320||England -115, Costa Rica +305|
|Uruguay vs. Italy||Uruguay +190, Italy +120||Uruguay +182, Italy +168||Uruguay +170, Italy +165||Uruguay +172, Italy 166|
|Ivory Coast vs. Greece||Ivory Coast +120, Greece +180||Ivory Coast +110, Greece +278||Ivory Coast +100, Greece +275||Ivory Coast +104, Greece +277|
|Colombia vs. Japan||Colombia -143, Japan +325||Colombia +116, Japan +253||Colombia +120, Japan +220||Colombia +105, Japan +260|
Costa Rica vs. England
Everyone figured it would be Costa Rica that already clinched a spot in the Round of 16 and not England, right?
Costa Rica will win Group D with just a draw and could do so even with a loss. That would earn a more favorable matchup with the Group C runner-up in Recife, where they already won once in this World Cup, so there is still some motivation in play.
Still, given what could have been at stake, this is as low pressure as they come in the World Cup. Both teams may alter their lineups accordingly, but England likely wants to avoid further embarrassment in Brazil. After all, it’s the first time since 1958 that the Three Lions failed to advance into the knockout stage.
Obviously we are hurting to be out of the tournament. It is tough. We have a long few days ahead of us right now. We just want to go out and win the last game (against Costa Rica) on Tuesday, but right now it's not a great feeling.
The fans have been incredible to us. They have come a long way, it's not the easiest place to come to, and they have stayed up late back home watching the games, kid's staying up and we really appreciate the effort they have made and we are sorry for not going through.
Look for Rooney to score an early goal and lead his team to a pride-inspired win.
Prediction: England 2, Costa Rica 0
Italy vs. Uruguay
Italy and Uruguay have won a combined six World Cups in their illustrious histories, but they are both playing for mere qualification into the knockout stage Tuesday. Uruguay needs a win, while Italy would settle for a draw or a victory.
Luis Suarez completely changed the outlook for Uruguay when he scored twice against England and he will look to attack Italy’s defense as well.
Still, Italy is known for that defense and will stifle Suarez and the rest of the Uruguay attack for much of the contest. Eventually, both Suarez and Mario Balotelli will break free, which will certainly make Italy fans happy after 90 minutes of biting their nails.
Prediction: Italy 1, Uruguay 1
Greece vs. Ivory Coast
Greece needs a victory and some help, while a win would clinch a spot in the knockout stage for Ivory Coast (even a tie may do).
Interestingly enough, Greece should be somewhat familiar with this situation. At Euro 2012, they needed almost the same thing against Russia in the final group game when Giorgos Karagounis scored the game-winning goal to advance to the knockout stage.
Look for Karagounis to find himself in the starting lineup Tuesday and perhaps replicate that magic. Greece will be very comfortable with the stakes because of that past experience, which will pay dividends over the course of the physical contest.
Prediction: Greece 1, Ivory Coast 0
Japan vs. Colombia
Much like an early-December bowl game, motivation could come into play in the Japan and Colombia contest.
This game simply means more for Japan, who need a victory to keep their advancement hopes alive, than for Colombia. All Colombia needs is a draw to clinch the Group C title, and they would still clinch that designation even with a loss in all likelihood.
Look for Colombia to mix up the lineup a bit in an effort to preserve freshness, avoid injuries and grant valuable experience for some subs. On paper, the best matchup is in the midfield between Carlos Sanchez and Keisuke Honda, but it remains to be seen how long they actually go head-to-head.
Honda hasn’t been quite as dominant as he was in 2010, but he has played fairly well thus far. Honda and his teammates will be motivated to grab the victory, and that is exactly what they will do.
Prediction: Japan 2, Colombia 1
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