RIO DE JANEIRO — There have been 108 goals scored in this World Cup. Greece has scored a total of zero. And yet, if things go its way Tuesday, it could make it to the knockout round.
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:
What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad World Cup it’s been for England. Sure, Wayne Rooney scored that goal that had eluded him for three World Cups. But to what end? The Three Lions still had their feast spoiled by Uruguay last week. Today, England is hoping for at least a draw — so it doesn’t leave with a goose egg for the first time. (Costa Rica’s already through)
2. ITALY V. URUGUAY
Right down the line:
This is the match to watch today. Both Uruguay and Italy have 3 points in Group D. A win is crucial for moving on up.
Here’s hoping the Italian coach gave the team a refresher course on staying onside. In its game with Costa Rica, the Italian boys were caught offside eleven times! Fix that, and make opportunities for magic man Mario Balotelli, and Italy may make it through.
But watch out! Something’s gotten into Uruguay. After a stunning loss to Costa Rica, they were sizzling hot against England — especially with the return of injury-plagued Luis Suarez.
3. GREECE V. IVORY COAST
All it takes is one:
We get it, Greece. You’re really great at defense. You proved that when you played with 10 players for most of the match with Japan, and still held them to a goalless draw. But it’s time to aim for the net now.
Like Greece, the Ivory Coast hasn’t ever made it to the Round of 16. A win will change that. Brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure have decided to stay with the squad as they mourn the death of another sibling, Ibrahim, who passed away of cancer last week.
4. JAPAN V. COLOMBIA
Tangled up in blue:
We want to love Japan. They have the nicest fans. But the Blue Samurais have been meh. And we’re not sure they have a fighting chance today. They not only have to win against Colombia, they’ll also have to hope that the Ivory Coast draws or loses the other game.
Colombia’s sitting pretty at the top of the group. They’re already through. But we want to see their 22-year-old phenom, James Rodriguez, score again. Because that dude can give Shakira a run for her money(maker).
5. MONDAY’S RECAPS
Mexico – Croatia: 3-1
The scouting report goes something like this: Rafa Marquez is the target player for Mexico on corner kicks. Mark him with two players if you have to. He’ll make you pay if he gets his head to the ball.
Croatia missed that page and now El Tri is moving on to the next round while the Blazers are going home.
Marquez scored Mexico’s opener and assisted on the second. And if that wasn’t enough to watch the game, the Mexican coach’s priceless expressions sure were.
Brazil – Cameroon: 4-1
If you’ve been watching Brazil play this World Cup, know that you’re witnessing a legend in the making: Neymar. He scored his fourth goal in three games and booked his country a date with Chile. Just two more goals and he’ll be the top scorers in the tournament so far. And he’s only 22.
Netherlands – Chile: 2-0
Chilean fans wear their emotions on their sleeves, and their shoulders, and on their faces. So, losing to the Netherlands made you just want to give them all a big hug. And then remind them: Stop it, you’re in the next round.
The Dutch showed again they can be Speedwork Orange as Arjen Robben, in the counterattack, with the insightful cross to Memphis Depay, put Chile away.
“It was a very good game to watch,” Robben said afterward. Well, maybe for your team.
Spain – Australia: 3-0
Where was this Spain all this time? Three goals! That’s two more than all the goals it scored in its other World Cup games combined this year. This is how a defending champ should play. But clearly, Spain got the memo too late. It’s going home.
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.