Alonso 14' (pen)
van Persie 44'
de Vrij 64'
van Persie 72'
The early game was a festival of offside calls, with three goals called back in the opening 20 minutes or so. Cameroon were clueless in the opening 15, but finally started to put together some chances. After the half, though, Mexico asserted control, and when they finally got on the board with a half-hour to play it felt over. The afternoon game, on the other hand, was insanity from start to finish. Xabi Alonso scored after Diego Costa earned a penalty for the Spaniards by tripping over Stefan de Vrij. Just before the half, David Silva nearly doubled the lead, but a nice save by Cillessen averted disaster; on the counter, van Persie started the Dutch onslaught with one of the prettiest headers you will ever see off an absolutely gorgeous pass from Daley Blind.
And then the second half arrived, and Spain left. Arjen Robben scored after some fancy footwork eight minutes in. Nine minutes later, de Vrij tipped the ball in after a free kick from Wesley Sneijder went pinballing through the box. Another eight minutes and van Persie deftly nudged the fourth Dutch score past a sliding Iker Casillas, and finally -- after yet another eight minutes -- Robben put an end to it with another weaving, careening, dancing display inside the box which culminated in yet another rocket off his left foot. It was the worst defeat ever suffered by a defending World Cup champion, and in addition to pretty much assuring the Dutch of advancing, we now have to question whether Spain will even survive the group.
In the nightcap, Chile jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on the Socceroos, and it looked like Australia would never recover. They did, however, putting up a fantastic fight for 75 minutes, including a sharp goal from Tim Cahill. They couldn't find the equalizer despite numerous chances, however, and a stoppage time slot from substitute Jean Beausejour sealed the win for La Roja.
It's Saturday, which means we've got four games to occupy an entire twelve hours. I hope you bought a couple of cases of beer, because even if you love soccer it's going to be a long, long day. On the other hand, it's great off-season conditioning for the three-month grind beginning in September, right?
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||GROUP||TEAMS / SITE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Colombia vs Greece
Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte
Uruguay vs Costa Rica
Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza
Costa Rica 15:2
England vs Italy
Arena Amazônia, Manaus
Ivory Coast vs Japan
Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Ivory Coast 8:5
Game 4: Colombia-Greece
It's the second meeting ever between the two nations, with Colombia taking a 2-0 decision in a 1994 friendly at Giants Stadium prior to the 1994 World Cup.
|1||Goal||David Ospina||Nice (FRA)||25||43||0|
|7||Back||Pablo Armero||Napoli (ITA)||27||52||1|
|2||Back||Cristián Zapata||Milan (ITA)||27||22||0|
|18||Back||Juan Zúñiga||Napoli (ITA)||28||53||1|
|10||Midfield||James Rodriguez||Monaco (FRA)||22||22||5|
|8||Midfield||Abel Aguilar||Toulouse (FRA)||29||49||6|
|6||Midfield||Carlos Sánchez||Elche (ESP)||28||45||0|
|11||Midfield||Juan Cuadrado||Fiorentina (ITA)||26||27||4|
|9||Forward||Teófilo Gutiérrez||River Plate (ARG)||29||30||12|
|17||Forward||Carlos Bacca||Sevilla (ESP)||27||11||3|
José Pékerman, Colombia's Argentinian coach, has had to shuffle due to an injury to Monaco's Radamel Falcao back in January. There's not much disagreement about the expected starters, though Porto forward Jackson Martinez could get the call over Bacca.
|1||Goal||Orestis Karnezis||Granada (ESP)||28||19||0|
|20||Back||José Holebas||Olympiacos (GRE)||29||22||1|
|19||Back||Sokratis Papastathopoulos||Borussia Dortmund (GER)||26||47||0|
|4||Back||Kostas Manolas||Olympiacos (GRE)||22||9||0|
|15||Back||Vasilis Torosidis||Roma (ITA)||29||66||7|
|21||Midfield||Kostas Katsouranis||PAOK (GRE)||34||111||10|
|6||Midfield||Alexandros Tziolis||Kayserispor (TUR)||29||49||1|
|2||Midfield||Giannis Maniatis||Olympiacos (GRE)||27||30||0|
|14||Forward||Dmitris Salpingidis||PAOK (GRE)||32||76||13|
|7||Forward||Georgios Samaras||Celtic (SCO)||29||74||8|
|9||Forward||Konstantinos Mitroglou||Fulham (ENG)||26||32||8|
As with Colombia, there's little disagreement in the predicted lineup. Portuguese boss Fernando Santos may decide to replace Tziolis with Bologna's Panatiotis Kone, but that's the only acknowleged alternative to the above lineup. It's also unclear who will be wearing the armband for the Greeks, as usual skipper Giorgios Karagounis, the ancient forward from Fulham, isn't expected to start.
Colombia are the clear favorites in this match, but never forget that Greece have risen up and won a European Championship when nobody expected it. The Ethniki are known as a strong defensive outfit, but Los Cafeteros have the personnel to counter the Greek sensibilities. SB Nation's Jack Sargeant checks in with an in-depth preview.
Game 5: Uruguay-Costa Rica
The biggest news heading into this game is that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will not be in the starting eleven. Uruguay are probably not too concerned; in eight matches against Costa Rica, La Celeste have won six and given up a pair of draws.
|1||Goal||Fernando Muslera||Galatasaray (TUR)||27||58||0|
|22||Back||Martín Cáceres||Juventus (ITA)||27||57||1|
|3||Back||Diego Godin||Atlético Madrid (ESP)||28||77||3|
|West Bromwich Albion (ENG)||33||94||9|
|16||Back||Maxi Pereira||Benfica (POR)||30||90||3|
|7||Midfiekd||Cristian Rodriguez||Atlético Madrid (ESP)||28||73||8|
|5||Midfield||Walter Gargano||Parma (ITA)||29||63||1|
|17||Midfield||Egidio Arévalo Ríos||Morelia (MEX)||32||55||0|
|11||Midfield||Christian Stuani||Espanyol (ESP)||27||10||4|
|21||Forward||Edinson Cavani||Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)||27||62||24|
|10||Forward||Diego Forlán||Cerezo Osaka (JPN)||35||110||36|
The meniscus surgery Liverpool's mercurial striker Luis Suarez underwent in May is still a bother, and with England and Italy lurking the smart play is for him to sit back and relax today. Suarez and manager Óscar Tabárez are both being predictably cagey about the matter. Should he trot out onto the field, it would certainly be at the expense of Forlan, but don't hold your breath. The other potential change involves Gargano giving way to Nicolás Lodeiro from Brazilian side Corinthians.
|COSTA RICA (3-4-2-1 OR 5-4-1)|
|1||Goal||Keylor Navas||Levante (ESP)||27||53||0|
|4||Back||Michael Umaña||Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)||31||83||2|
|2||Back||Johnny Acosta||Alajuelense (CRC)||30||25||1|
|3||Back||Giancarlo González||Columbus Crew (MLS)||26||35||2|
|15||Back/MF||Júnior Díaz||Mainz 05 (GER)||30||62||1|
|16||Back/MF||Cristian Gamboa||Rosenborg (NOR)||24||25||1|
|5||Midfield/FW||Celso Borges||AIK (SWE)||26||63||14|
|17||Midfield/FW||Yeltsin Tejada||Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)||22||22||0|
|7||Forward/MF||Christian Bolaños||Copenhagen (DEN)||30||55||2|
|PSV Eindhoven (NED)||28||63||12|
|9||Striker||Joel Campbell||Olympiacos (GRE)||21||33||9|
The real distinction here is whether the Ticos are going to go with a what's essentially a 5-5 or rely on a stronger midfield presence. Should Colombian chief Jorge Luis Pinto opt for the former, expect to see Gamboa shifted to the back with Ruiz sliding forward.
La Celeste is in prime position to get upset here with Suarez out and Costa Rica's Campbell a potential nightmare for a somewhat slow Uruguayan backfield. But Uruguay has the talent to hold off the Central Americans, as Kevin McCauley concludes in SB Nation's preview of the contest.
Game 6: England-Italy
For the third day in a row, we're handed a huge early match between teams likely to advance. These teams have played often; 24 meetings have seen eight English victories, nine for the Italians, and seven draws. It's little wonder that the betting lines are, for all intents and purposes, even.
|ENGLAND (4-2-3-1 OR 4-2-1-3)|
|1||Goal||Joe Hart||Manchester City (ENG)||27||41||0|
|2||Back||Glen Johnson||Liverpool (ENG)||29||52||1|
|5||Back||Gary Cahill||Chelsea (ENG)||28||24||3|
|6||Back||Phil Jagielka||Everton (ENG)||31||26||2|
|3||Back||Leighton Baines||Everton (ENG)||29||24||1|
|14||Midfield||Jordan Henderson||Liverpool (ENG)||23||11||0|
|11||Forward||Danny Welbeck||Manchester United (ENG)||23||24||8|
|20||Forward||Adam Lallana||Southampton (ENG)||26||6||0|
|10||Forward||Wayne Rooney||Manchester United (ENG)||28||92||39|
|9||Striker||Daniel Sturridge||Liverpool (ENG)||24||12||4|
Roy Hodgson has plenty of conundrums to deal with ahead of kickoff. Does he really want Wayne Rooney leading the attack? Will Welbeck (thigh) be ready? And how does he want to proceed with the gameplan, anyway? The above lineup reflects the 4-2-3-1 formation; if Hodgson opts for a 4-2-1-3, you'd expect Sturridge to be joined up front by Rooney and either Lallana or Welbeck and Liverpool's third major threat, Raheem Sterling, to take over the rear forward position from whichever of the two isn't assigned to striking duty. (And, of course, if Hodgson decides Rooney's a liability -- an extremely unlikely course, even though many English fans are clamoring for it -- Sterling would probably take his place.) It's a good bet we'll see Everton's Ross Barkley late in the game; it's an even better bet we won't see Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who's still dealing with a knee problem.
|ITALY (4-3-2-1 OR 4-4-2)|
|3||Back||Giorgio Chiellini||Juventus (ITA)||29||68||4|
|19||Back||Leonardo Bonucci||Juventus (ITA)||27||37||2|
|15||Back||Andrea Barzagli||Juventus (ITA)||33||47||0|
|7||Back||Ignazio Abate||Milan (ITA)||27||20||1|
|16||Midfield||Daniele de Rossi||Roma (ITA)||30||95||15|
|21||Midfield||Andrea Pirlo||Juventus (ITA)||35||109||13|
|23||Midfield||Marco Verratti||Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)||21||6||1|
|8||MF/Forward||Claudio Marchisio||Juventus (ITA)||28||44||3|
|6||Forward||Antonio Candreva||Lazio (ITA)||27||20||0|
|9||Forward||Mario Balotelli||Milan (ITA)||23||30||12|
Like England, Italy is also pondering their formation. The above reflects the likely 4-3-2-1 option, and possible changes abound. Parma defender Gabriel Paletta and/or Torino's Matteo Darmian could replace Bonucci and/or Abate, and even Balotelli isn't safe, as he's been getting a strong push in training from Torino forward Ciro Immobile (not exactly the sort of name you want to see on the back of a forward's jersey). Regardless of that decision, if Cesare Prandelli opts insted for a 4-4-2, expect Candreva to move forward and Marchiso back. Prandelli's quandary here is almost entirely the result of one situation: the ailing calf of Milan defender Mattia de Sciglio. That's causing all sorts of uncomfortable shuffling in the Azzurri lineup. But at least Gianluigi Buffon is still around, as he has been since before Vittorio Emmanuel united the nation in the 1870s.
These teams have been ridiculously even over an extremely long period of time, and this match is causing just as much indigestion in London as it is in Rome. Both sides are going to be vulnerable in the midfield to explosive counters, and the match really could hinge on one simple thing: if Rooney plays, which Rooney will the Three Lions get? For a deeper picture on this match, SB Nation's Jack Sargeant has all the answers you need.
Game 7: Ivory Coast-Japan
Two rising programs meet in the nightcap, with a win crucial to set up what could be a brilliant run to a group victory if they can handle Colombia. It's the third meeting between the sides, all friendlies; Japan has won twice.
|IVORY COAST (4-3-3 OR 4-2-3-1)|
|1||Goal||Boubacar Barry||Lokeren (BLG)||34||80||0|
|3||Back||Arthur Boka||VfB Stuttgart (GER)||31||80||1|
|22||Back||Sol Bamba||Trabzonspor (TUR)||29||44||2|
|4||Back||Kolo Touré||Liverpool (ENG)||33||107||6|
|17||Back||Serge Aurier||Toulouse (FRA)||21||9||0|
|9||Midfield||Cheick Tioté||Newcastle (ENG)||27||45||1|
|5||Midfield||Didier Zokora||Trabzonspor (TUR)||33||121||1|
|19||MF/Forward||Yaya Touré||Manchester City (ENG)||31||83||16|
|10||Forward||Gervais Yao Kouassi
|8||Forward||Salomon Kalou||Lille (FRA)||28||65||23|
Barring fitness issues, the lineup above should be accurate; the only exception is that Zokora may be replaced by either Saint-Étienne's Max Gradel or Serey Die from Swiss side Basel. Yolo Touré is also suffering from a hamstring issue, so either of those two might sub in for him as well. And French manager Sabri Lamouchi has been insistent that Didier Drogba's place in the starting eleven for Les Éléphants is not secure, but he hasn't really got a legitimate challenger up front.
|1||Goal||Eiji Kawashima||Standard Liege (BLG)||31||56||0|
|2||Back||Atsuto Uchida||Schalke 04 (GET)||26||68||2|
|5||Back||Yuto Nagatomo||Internazionale (ITA)||27||70||3|
|15||Back||Yasuyuki Konno||Gamba Osaka (JPN)||31||81||1|
|22||Back||Maya Yoshida||Southampton (ENG)||25||41||2|
|7||Midfield||Yasuhito Endo||Gamba Osaka (JPN)||34||144||13|
|17||Midfield||Hakoto Masebe||1.FC Nürnberg (GER)||30||78||2|
|10||Forward||Shinji Kagawa||Manchester United (ENG)||25||57||19|
|4||Forward||Keisuke Honda||Milan (ITA)||27||56||22|
|9||Forward||Shinji Okazaki||Mainz 05 (GER)||28||76||38|
|11||Striker||Yoichiro Kakitani||Cerezo Osaka (JPN)||24||12||5|
If media predictions are worth anything, the Japanese eleven is set in cold rolled steel. Alberto Zaccheroni, the Italian mentor, appears to have things well in order, which surely endears him to the Japanese culture. If there's any question to be asked, it's whether Zaccheroni will instead opt for FC Köln striker Yuya Osako over Kakitani, but he didn't make that choice once during qualifying so it's hard to imagine he'd pull the trigger here.
The one thing you need to know about this match: big offense, soft defense. You know what that means. Age and discipline will probably carry the Blue Samurai through, but anything can happen in a wide-open contest. Once again, it's Jack Sargeant with the scoop at SB Nation.
WHEW. Big day, big post. And with that, this is your open thread for today's 12-hour soccer bacchanal. Join us!