World Cup Daily: Italy-Uruguay play-in game

World Cup Daily: Italy-Uruguay play-in game
June 24, 2014, 9:30 am
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Game of the Day: Uruguay vs. Italy, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will need to be massive and out-duel Mario Balotelli and Italy if the Uruguayans hope to advance. The duo looked fantastic against England in Suarez's debut in Brazil. Uruguay absolutely need a win to advance, whereas Italy can settle for a draw and still advance. For a team that was considered one of the favorites for the tournament it would be a massive disappointment to even miss out on the knockout round. 

Italy came in more of a darkhorse, but still had aspirations of advancement. The shock of Costa Rica at the top of the group will send one of these two home, along with England who had hoped to advance. It would be a shame to see Andrea Pirlo play his final World Cup game (or would it be?) although he's had an incredible run. His pin-point passing and perfect free kicks are a sight to behold. This feels more like a eulogy for Italy, but they are just as likely to advance, and actually have the upper hand. 

Player of the Day: FW James Rodriguez, Colombia

Rodriguez has been the constant in Colombia's side throughout this World Cup and will likely have a big game again against Japan. And he'll need to, the Japanese can be dangerous, even if they haven't been getting results so far. They still have an outside shot at a place in the knockout round if they can spring the upset of Colombia and Ivory Coast falls. 

Best of the Rest: Ivory Coast has a lot to play for against the Greeks as they need a win or a draw combined with a Japan win of no more than a goal to advance. We'll see if the Ivorians finally decide to unleash Drogba from the start as they have yet to score a goal without him on the field. Greece needs a miracle to advance, but somehow despite their inept and boring play are somehow alive. 

Costa Rica and England really have nothing to play for as Costa Rica have already secured their spot in the next round and England are already eliminated. Both Italy and Uruguay have a ton of ground to make up in the goal differential department on Costa Rica as well. England, meanwhile, are just playing for pride -- and to not come home with zero points. 

Daily Rewind: Mexico secured their place in the knockout stage after demolishing Croatia after the half. Croatia couldn't complete a pass, play defense or muster any effort until the game was well out of hand. Guillermo Ochoa made a few more fantastic saves and the Mexican offense seems to be clicking now. All-in-all it was another terrible performance on a big stage by the Croatians. 

Netherlands handled Chile in the other big game of the day, as the the Oranje managed to avoid Brazil in the Round of 16 with a win over Chile. The goals came from two substitutes in Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay. 

Spain beat Australia like they should have and David Villa went off into the sunset extending his Spanish record for goals scored in a 3-0 beat down.

Brazil beat Cameroon. Neymar netted a brace and Fernandinho may have secured a starting spot for Brazil after he came on for the disappointing Paulinho and even scored. 

Football Follies: Croatia joined the likes of Spain, England and Bosnia-Herzegovina for teams who disappointed at the World Cup and failed to advance out of the group stage. This should be nothing new for the Croatians, but this time it just felt like they were destined to advance -- far. 

Predictions: Costa Rica 1, England 1. Uruguay 2, Italy 1. Ivory Coast 2, Greece 0. Colombia 3, Japan 1.