The sport's most controversial player is in trouble again
Iran hopes to get through to the knockout stage for the first time ever
Costa Rica proves to be the mouse that roared
USA and Germany are trash talking on Twitter ahead of Thursday's match
There have been 108 goals scored in this World Cup. Greece has scored a total of 0. And yet, if things go its way today, it could make it to the knockout round.
It’s time for Team USA to put up or shut up in Brazil. Beat Germany, or at least eke out a tie, and the Americans go through to the knockout stage. Lose, and they open themselves up to the possibility that their World Cup 2014 run ends in the group stage.
That’s one of five things we’ll be watching for and talking about Tuesday:
1. ENGLAND V. COSTA RICA
Leaving on a jet plane:
a) Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran
If Iran can beat Bosnia by more than one goal, and Nigeria loses to Argentina, Iran goes through to the knockout stage as the second-ranking team in Group F. The Middle Easterners have a good record against Bosnia. They’ve won four, tied one, and never lost.
They’ve also put on an impressive display in Brazil this year. They haven’t managed to win a match yet, but they held Nigeria to a 0-0 draw and kept Argentina from scoring for 90 minutes. Only a magically curving goal from Lionel Messi in injury time denied the Iranians a draw for the history books.
b) Argentina vs. Nigeria
Could be quiet in the office
UPDATE: Well, England got its draw. But not a win or even a goal. The result meant Costa Rica – predicted by many to finish last in Group D – instead came in first.
2. ITALY V. URUGUAY
Right down the line:
He bit a guy four years ago and got banned for seven matches. He bit a guy last year and got banned for 10. And now world-class striker Luis Suarez is accused of biting another guy Tuesday during Uruguay’s vital match against Italy.
a) Honduras vs. Switzerland
Honduras is out of the running, but any of the other teams in Group E could go through to the knockout stage, or, theoretically, be knocked out. Switzerlandwill be aiming for a big win to steal that second-place spot for themselves. The two sides played to a draw the only previous match they played against each other.
b) France vs. Ecuador
France is the safest, with six points and a six-point goal difference. So it would take a tremendous victory by Ecuador to knock the French out of the top spot. But the South Americans will be fighting hard, because they are struggling to hang onto their second place spot in the group. France beat Ecuador the only previous time they faced each other.
UPDATE: Italy is out of the World Cup, and it’s got to hurt in more ways than one. First, there’s their 1-0 loss to Uruguay. But what everyone is talking about is star Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez allegedly biting the shoulder of Italian defender Girogio Chiellini a few minutes before the game’s lone goal.
3. GREECE V. IVORY COAST
All it takes is one:
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is without doubt one of the best football players in the world. He’s also the most controversial. Twice banned from games for biting opponents in the Netherlands and England, no one thought he would be dumb enough to bite someone on the biggest football stage of all. But he might have done just that in Uruguay’s decisive match against Italy.
He definitely went face-first into Giorgio Chiellini, and the Italian defender quickly pulled his shirt off his shoulder, claiming he’d been bitten. Suarez said after the match that he “just collided with his shoulder.”
World soccer’s governing body FIFA is looking into the incident and could ban Suarez for up to two years.
The internet went nuts over the incident, with people comparing Suarez to Jaws and Dracula – and worse.
4. JAPAN V. COLOMBIA
Tangled up in blue:
UPDATE: Colombia has been unstoppable up until Tuesday. Against Greece, they gave their fans more reason to dance – four goals worth, in fact, en route to a 4-1 win and a spot atop Group C.
5. MONDAY’S RECAPS
It was the last international match for David Villa, who spent the last two games on the bench watching Spain lose. He went out in style yesterday.
The trash talk has already begun at the very highest levels: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power is ready to put a bet down on the game with her German counterpart. At stake - beer!