It’s do or die for teams hoping to make it to the knockout stages

2014-06-24 00:00

WE are in the sudden death phase of the group stages as teams look to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the tournament.

Today’s action will see the equations of Group D resolved, though in the case of England there are no more calculations to be done. The Three Lions, already eliminated, take on high-flying Costa Rica who have won both of their matches against the same two sides (Italy and Uruguay) who defeated England.

Frank Lampard is set to take over the captaincy from a “broken” Steve Gerrard and the highlight from an England perspective will be the prospect of seeing the seasoned midfield duo on the field in international colours for the last time.

Costa Rica have secured qualification, but they can still miss out on top spot in the group if they lose. The other match in Group D is far more attractive. Uruguay and Luis Suarez take on Italy, with the winner advancing to the knockouts and the losers going home.

Both sides have won one and lost one game so far, though the Italians will go through via a superior goal difference should the match end in a draw. After watching Suarez destroy England less than a week ago, it appears as though now is not the best time to be facing the Uruguayans.

If Italy do lose, then they will have been knocked out at the group stages in the last two World Cups after lifting the trophy in 2006. A look at Group D before a ball was kicked wouldn’t have given Costa Rica a chance, but heading into today’s final round of fixtures, they are the only side guaranteed of taking their place among the world’s best in the last 16.

Today’s late kick-offs turn attention to Group C, where Africa can secure their first place in the knockouts.

Ivory Coast take on Greece. A draw might be enough to take the African giants through, but not if Japan upset Colombia by two goals or more.

A win for Greece would see them move ahead of the Ivory Coast, so there is everything to play for. Colombia, after two wins, are the only side in the group guaranteed of progressing, though they will meet a determined Japanese outfit with their own agenda tonight.


6 pm — Costa Rica v England, Italy v Uruguay (Group D)

10 pm – Greece v Ivory Coast, Japan v Colombia (Group C)


A tough one to call. Ivory Coast could give Africa something to shout about while the Italy and Uruguay clash will spell the end for one of those teams.

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