Friday sure was an interesting day in the World Cup, wasn't it? Before we get to that, let's take a look at what's on tap today:
On Saturday's docket:
- Colombia vs. Greece (9 am PT, ABC/Univision): Unless you are Greek, or unless you root for underdogs above all else, Colombia's probably the big attraction of this game. Returning to the World Cup for the first time since 1998, Colombians are super bummed that star striker Radamel Falcao won't be in the lineup after he tore his ACL back in January, but there's plenty more where that came from, even if it doesn't appear to be quite at Falcao's level. The thing with Greece, though, is that they could enter the tournament completely unfancied before winning hearts all over the world. Hey, it happened in the 2012 Euros, so it could happen again here, and Colombia's habit of not keeping their act together at the World Cup could certainly rear its ugly head once more.
- Uruguay vs. Costa Rica (12 pm PT, ABC/Univision): Luis Suarez seems highly unlikely not to play. So Costa Rica have a decent shot here, right? Well, their chances don't look great even with Suarez out. I mean, they are probably better, but it may have gone from a 10 percent chance of getting a result to a 20 percent chance. Still not great. But many current/former MLSers (including former Chivas USA defender Michael Umana) will participate in this game, so it will be interesting on that front alone. But yeah, expect Uruguay to play pretty well in this one.
- England vs. Italy (3 pm PT, ESPN/Univision): Welcome back to crapshoot alley, where two teams that have a lot of talent and a high profile but also have a history of underperforming relative to their reputations clash! Will Italy repeat their feats of the 2012 Euros, complete with another thorough win over England? Or will England take a page out of the Netherlands' book and exact some revenge on the Azzurri? We really don't need to hype this one up, since you probably know most of the players already and will likely be watching this one regardless of who actually plays.
- Ivory Coast vs. Japan (6 pm PT, ESPN/Univision): If England-Italy is what your Mom wants to watch, Ivory Coast-Japan is what your hipster sister wants to watch. Ivory Coast has a bunch of players you either know very well or have heard of once or twice, but despite their talent have been terrible at major tournaments, while Japan has a handful of players you've heard of but loads of potential as a national team. Japan is like the real dark horse, since the likes of Chile and Belgium are everybody's dark horses this year. Of course, they need to beat Ivory Coast to even begin to fulfill that mantle, and that's far from certain.
- Three pretty, pretty interesting games, for very different reasons:
- Mexico opened their World Cup with a 1-0 win over Cameroon. That hardly tells the story, however, as two legitimate Giovani dos Santos goals were called back, and Mexico did everything right for 80 minutes, until they tightened up and gave Cameroon a lifeline the final 10 minutes. Fortunately for El Tri, Cameroon didn't really seem like they were up for it, so they gamely played out the game to ensure Mexico accomplished their first goal of the tournament.
- The Netherlands had four years to think about getting beat by Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, and they channelled that disappointment into a 5-1 thrashing of the world champions. Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie each scored two, the Netherlands played a whole bunch of new players besides the two main scoring threats, and Spain's defense and goalkeeping were woeful. If the Dutch don't get into any fights over the next month, they could really go places.
- Chile beat Australia 3-1. That's also a bit misleading, though, because after Chile cruised for the first 25 minutes or so, going up 2-0, the Socceroos clawed their way back, with Tim Cahill narrowing the lead. Australia were actually a bit unlucky not to score more, as Mark Bresciano had a shot saved off the line and Cahill had a couple of penalty requests go unheeded, before Jean Beausejour did the unlikely in scoring in his second consecutive World Cup. Chile did what they planned to, but Australia may have more life in them than most figured they would in such a tough group.