E. Valencia 34'
E. Valencia 65'
Sloppy play by the Azzurri -- putrid finishing, including a point-blank miss by Mario Balotelli, and a ridiculous eleven offside flags -- had disastrous effect as Costa Rica, behind a Bryan Ruiz finisher just before halftime, upended Italy and in the process crashed England out of the World Cup. That goal came less than a minute after Joel Campbell was hacked down in the box without a penalty being called on Italy, so there was a certain amount of karma involved. The win sees Costa Rica through to the knockouts and eliminates England. Uruguay will join them with a win over Italy next week; any other result and Italy advances. Costa Rica will win the group with a win or draw against England; if they lose, it comes down to goal difference, and Costa Rica currently have a sizable lead there.
Group D standings after two games: Costa Rica 6 (+3), Italy 3 (0), Uruguay 3 (-1), England 0 (-2)
SB Nation's coverage of Italy-Costa Rica
France simply destroyed Switzerland, with the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect afternoon being a missed penalty kick by Karim Benzema at the 33 minute mark and lax defense late. Blerim Džemaili's goal came on a free kick which evaded both the French wall and Hugo Lloris to roll right into the net, and just minutes later Granit Xhaka cut the lead to three. But all that happened after Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi both scored within the space of one minute, Mathieu Valbuena added a score before half, and Benzema and Moussa Sissoko piled in in the second half. It was an utterly dominant performance for Les Blues, and even the late lapse won't matter because in order to fail to win the group France is going to have to lose to Ecuador by four goals and no, that's not going to happen.
Honduras got a lift when Carlo Costly broke the nearly 10-hour-long goal drought suffered by Honduras, dating back to 1982. But Enner Valencia answered almost immediately, and added a second a half-hour later to salvage the Ecuadorian hopes. Honduras had several late chances, including a situation where Costly was hauled down in the box without a penalty being called, but couldn't break through. Ecuador takes over second place in the group, but they've got France next, so things are a little dicey. If they can get the same result against France that Switzerland gets against Honduras, they're fine. But a loss to France will almost certainly doom them.
Group E standings after two games: France 6 (+6), Ecuador 3 (0), Switzerland 3 (-2), Honduras 0 (-4)
SB Nation's coverage of Honduras-Ecuador
|MATCH||TIME (CT)||NETWORK||GROUP||TEAMS / SITE||ANNOUNCERS||ODDS|
Argentina vs Iran
Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte
Germany vs Ghana
Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza
Nigeria vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
Arena Pantanal, Cuiabá
|Bosnia and Herzegovina 5:6
Game 27: Argentina-Iran
Expect Argentina to start with what they finished with last weekend, while Iran will probably stick with what (sort of) worked against Nigeria. Not that it's going to matter; Argentina simply has too many guns for Iran to handle. SB Nation's match preview comes from the keyboard of the indefatigable Jack Sargeant.
Game 29: Germany-Ghana
German centerback Mats Hummels is probably out for tomorrow's contest, which will provide Ghana a slight boost. It probably won't be enough, however. As for Ghana, rumors swirled of conflict within the squad after the loss to the United States. Germany is probably going to win this match, but it will probably not be a rout. It's certainly the result America's hoping for. As of this posting, there's still no Germany-Ghana preview at the mothership; someone will drop a link in comments when it comes along.
Game 28: Nigeria-Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nigeria, hoping to bounce back from a terribly disappointing (and woefully unentertaining) 0-0 draw with Iran, are likely to make some changes up front. Bosnia, not so much, as although they're at the bottom of the group right now they've got the biggest problem out of the way. Look for the Dragons to handle business here and slide into position to move on. Once again, SB Nation's full previewcomes courtesty of Jack Sargeant.
I'm not going to lie: today's slate of games is the least exciting thus far, with two possible blowouts and a game with few sublime talents. The late game is a must-watch, though, and if you like watching teams dominate you'll want to tune in early. This is your open thread for day ten; join us and tell us what's on your mind.