Hopefully, there won’t be any biting during Day 14 of the World Cup.
There are four critical games on tap Wednesday, as the fates of the teams in Groups E and F are at stake. Of the eight squads, only one (Argentina) has officially clinched a spot in the knockout stage, and only one has been eliminated (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
That means everything is on the line for the other six.
Here is a look at the full slate of action, as well as the broadcast information:
|Game||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Nigeria vs. Argentina||12 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Iran||12 p.m.||ESPN2||Watch ESPN|
|Ecuador vs. France||4 p.m.||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|Honduras vs. Switzerland||4 p.m.||ESPN2||Watch ESPN|
Paths To The Knockout Stage
If Iran doesn’t pick up the full three points against Bosnia and Herzegovina, their World Cup is over. Even if they do, they need some serious help.
Argentina must beat Nigeria, and Iran has to make up the two-goal deficit they are staring at that separates them from Nigeria heading into Wednesday. A one-goal win over Bosnia and Herzegovina and a two-goal victory from Argentina would do the trick.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sorry, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Your World Cup is officially over, and all you can do is play spoiler to Iran’s long shot.
A draw or a victory would officially do the trick for Nigeria. The problem is, they are playing Lionel Messi and mighty Argentina.
Even if Nigeria loses, they would still make it through if Iran loses or draws.
Nothing to worry about Argentina, you are heading to the knockout stage no matter what happens Wednesday.
Still, a loss to Nigeria would mean Argentina finishes in second place in Group F, which could be problematic in the long run. Look for Argentina to come out and attack early with that in mind.
After all, Messi and company would like a favorable draw going forward into the knockout stage. Merely advancing from the group isn't good enough, Argentina wants to win the entire World Cup.
Messi is such a powerful name at this World Cup that he was even mentioned by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in a recent press conference, via Stefan Coerts of Goal.com:
Brazil depend on Neymar like Argentina depend on Messi. They are players who are different and can make the difference for their respective teams.
Neymar is a point of reference to Brazil, like Messi is to Argentina.
Ecuador is probably not going to catch France at the top of Group E, regardless of the outcome of their game Wednesday. The French have six points and a plus-six goal differential, while Ecuador has three points and a zero goal differential.
More concerning is the presence of the Swiss, who also have three points but a minus-two goal differential.
If Ecuador wins, they are in all likelihood advancing, unless Switzerland wins their game in dominating fashion and messes up the goal differential. A draw or loss for Ecuador would mean they would be doing some serious scoreboard watching in regard to the Swiss.
It would take an absolutely monumental collapse for France to miss the knockout stage.
They have six points compared to the three from Ecuador and Switzerland and an incredibly favorable plus-six goal differential. France clinches with a win or draw against Ecuador, and only an absolute beatdown loss would see the French on the outside looking in.
Perhaps because of that, RJ Bell of Grantland pointed out that France is one of the favorites to win the whole thing at this point:
Here is the formula Honduras—beat Switzerland by two goals and hope France demolishes Ecuador. It is certainly a long shot, but anything can happen at the World Cup.
Honduras has a minus-four goal differential heading into Wednesday and zero points. Ecuador and Switzerland both have three points, and Ecuador is at zero in goal differential, while Switzerland is at minus two.
Switzerland finds themselves in basically the same boat as Ecuador, only they have a minus-two goal differential. That is why Ecuador are in second place in the group heading into Day 14.
Switzerland would clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win and a France win. If Switzerland loses, they are virtually eliminated, unless the French absolutely destroy Ecuador and flip the goal differential upside down.
A draw, much like Ecuador, would mean some serious scoreboard watching for goal differential.
Follow me on Twitter: