The 2014 World Cup begins its second week. Through 20 matches we’ve seen 60 goals scored for an even 3.0 per game.
Colombia vs. Ivory Coast (Group C), 12 p.m. (ESPN, Adrian Healey and Alejandro Moreno)
This game is just about at halftime. Things have happened, including Ivory Coast midfielder Serey Die crying during the national anthems.
Of note, Didier Drogba started on the bench for Ivory Coast for the second straight match.
Uruguay vs. England (Group D), 3 p.m. (ESPN, Ian Darke and Steve McManaman)
England and Uruguay won’t be eliminated with a loss today since Italy plays Costa Rica tomorrow. More realistically, the loser here sees its World Cup hopes on life support. A draw might not even suit either side.
Although England lost 2-1 to Italy, Roy Hodgson’s team didn’t exactly embarrass itself — Joe Hart aside. The biggest talking point out of the England camp was what to do with Wayne Rooney? In a slow-paced, tactical game Rooney isn’t going to offer much — he only plays at one speed: fast. Today vs. Uruguay he might be able to cause some havoc against a side that looks nothing like it did defensively four years ago.
Against Costa Rica on Saturday, Uruguay had the air of a team that expected to win simply by throwing its cleats on the field. It didn’t happen that way, did it? The fact Luis Suarez didn’t play vs. Costa Rica doesn’t gloss over that Uruguay looked old, slow and out of ideas. It’ll also be without captain Diego Lugano (addition by subtraction) and Maxi Pereira (red card).
Suarez is likely to play vs. England, even though he’s barely removed from knee surgery and probably less than 100 percent. Maybe we throw this stat out because he’s playing against England today, but Suarez scored 31 goals in 33 Premier League games in 2013-14 but zero came against Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal — the three best teams in the league beside Liverpool. Of course Suarez did score twice against Everton and England is likely to start Toffees’ center back Phil Jagielka alongside Gary Cahill in defense, so that could change the equation.
If nothing else, England has a history of enjoyable World Cup theme songs.
Japan vs. Greece (Group C), 6 p.m. (ESPN, Daniel Mann and Efan Ekoku)
Via ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, Greece has an 84.7 percent chance to be eliminated in the group stage, while Japan’s number is even higher at 89.6 percent. If you want to entertain yourself during this match, try to keep track if analyst Efan Ekoku ever has something positive to say about the action. The former Nigerian international is a fine enough analyst and is well-known to Premier League fans, but he could be the most unrelentingly negative analyst in all of sports. This match probably won’t change that, either.