FIFA, and their whacky scheduling meant the first day of the simultaneous play-off previews got done in the wrong order. Alphabetical logic was always going to be too much. Rectified here
Ah England. You normally give us some raised expectations followed by a knock-out defeat on the back of a dodgy red card, a penalty shoot-out or even both. This time around you’ve been eliminated on the back of two straight defeats to sides who have also lost to Costa Rica.
rom England’s point of view, the match against Costa Rica is almost academic, and it will be interesting to see whether Roy Hodgson actually uses the young players he so bravely selected against opponents who, hilariously, are threatening to play their B side.
Costa Rica does need to be a little bit careful though. Their current Goal Difference is Plus 3. Italy’s is evens. So if they were to lose to England and Italy was to win with one of those results being by more than one goal then they run the risk of dropping to second spot, and a likely tie with Colombia in the Round of 16.
The deciding match in the group should be a ripper though. Both sides accounted for England, and did it on the back of match-winning performances from their best player; Perlo and Suarez. But perhaps they did not do the same homework when playing Costa Rica who totally deserved both wins.
This is harder to pick than Clint Dempsey’s nose, and the TAB agrees. Crucially Italy enters the match with a superior goal difference. Should be a cracker.
Colombia has qualified for the last 16, and would need to be beaten by Japan by plenty not to progress top. They are likely to rest anyone sitting on a card for this match, and should be able to do that without risk of embarrassment given how lacklustre Japan has been(fans excluded) if your exclude that first half against the Cote d’Ivoire.
This moderately hyped Colombian side has already achieved more than their over hyped 1994 counterparts.
The other fixture is one of those wonderful matches where upwards of 99% of neutrals will be backing the same side. Greece is a less clinical version of the anti-football side that won Euro 2004, and the world will be behind Cote d’Ivoire and that, importantly, includes the Brazilians in the crowd.
The Elephants (in case you were needing another reason to support them) have been pretty good to date after their timid start against Japan. And Greece needs to win this so that will make it even more tasty. The risk will be if it’s goalless going into the last quarter of an hour, but Cote d’Ivoire should be good for the point they need to make the Final 16 for the first time.