Scenario: This group requires far less abacus work than Group G. Italy has a (+1) goal difference advantage. They advance with a win or draw. Uruguay needs a win. Costa Rica holds a (+3) goal difference advantage over Italy and (+4) over Uruguay. It’s possible the Italy/Uruguay winner could pass Costa Rica to win the group, should they lose to England. But, that’s not as important as some groups.
Uruguay: Uruguay have had a rather dire tournament. Stats are not everything, when you have Luis Suarez. But the Uruguayans have had the third-worst pass completion percentage (69 percent) in the tournament, worse than Greece or Honduras. They have attempted the third-most tackles in the tournament (57) and completed the fewest (8). The Uruguayans are, in essence, Honduras but with two of the world’s elite strikers. They were clobbered by Costa Rica and perhaps a bit fortunate to beat England.
Italy: Italy have been the best passing team in Brazil (87 percent completion rate) and also one of the best tackling (24/27 completed). But that hasn’t translated into much for them. They beat England in a tight Manaus game. They could not find an equalizer in a tight Costa Rica match. Theoretically, this is an experienced team with a strong defense and a number of options going forward. One wonders how much of their languidness has been weather-inflicted. Italy have had perhaps the toughest climate combination thus far, following a Manaus opener with a day kickoff in Recife.
France has the reputation for bipolarity But, if the Italians fail here, it will be their fourth group stage departure in their last eight major tournaments and their second-straight at the World Cup.
Searching For a Tiny Violin: Harry Redknapp was passed over for the England job in 2012 by Roy Hodgson. Classy chap that he is, he decided to napalm Hodgson following England’s elimination. Then he back-tracked, sort of. There will be much hand-wringing, analysis and self-reflection after this failure. We’d take this seriously. But they get just as upset losing to a strong team on penalties in the quarterfinals.