Saturday, 28th June
Brazil vs Chile in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil and Chile have met three times at the World Cup Finals.
The first meeting was in the semi-final at Chile 1962. Brazil won (4:2) with Garrincha and Vava both scoring twice.
Colombia vs Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
Colombia and Uruguay have only met once at the World Cup Finals.
Although Uruguay won the Arica group game (2:1) at Chile 1962, both teams went out to USSR and Yugoslavia.
Sunday, 29th June
Netherlands vs Mexico in Fortaleza.
Holland and Mexico have only met once in a World Cup Finals; at France 1998.
The St. Etienne group game, on 25th June, ended in a (2:2) draw; meaning both teams qualified for the Second Round.
Holland went on to reach the semi-finals; where they lost to Brazil on penalties.
Costa Rica vs Greece in Recife.
Costa Rica and Greece have never met each other before in world football.
Costa Rica’s best World Cup performance was reaching the last 16 at Italia 1990; where they lost to Czechoslovakia (1:4) in Bari.
Greece have made it through to the Second Round, at the third attempt.
Monday, 30th June
France vs Nigeria in Brasilia.
France and Nigeria have never met at a World Cup Finals although they did play a friendly match in 2009. Nigeria won the game (1:0) in Saint-Etienne.
Germany vs Algeria in Porto Alegre.
Algeria and West Germany met in the group stage of Spain 1982. Algeria won the match (2:1) in Gijon.
The two teams also played a friendly in Algiers, back in 1964. Algeria won that game too (2:0).
Tuesday, 1st July
Argentina vs Switzerland in Sao Paulo.
Argentina and Switzerland have only met once at a World Cup Finals, in the England 1966 group stage.
Argentina beat Switzerland (2:0) in Sheffield; then lost to eventual winners, England (0:1) in the quarter-final.
Belgium vs USA in Salvador.
Belgium and USA played each other in a group game at the first World Cup, in Uruguay 1930.
United States won that game (3:0) and qualifed for the semi-finals; where they lost miserably to Argentina (1:6).
If USA were to win this game, they could meet Argentina again.
Dismal, Dreadful, Disatrous
This is not some Group D aliteration to describe how the lions failed to roar during England’s bungle in the jungle but an attempt to put into words the last minute during the Rich Coast of Campbell Class.
Into injury time, the trickery of Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell had proved far too much for Uruguay. The frustrated Maxi Pereira was rightly sent off just before the final whistle for a callous chop on the youngster.
Uruguay may have Luis Suarez back for the next game but will now be without their central defender against England in Sao Paulo, on Thursday. After losing their opening games, both teams will need to win; but only one can. It’s like the knockout stage has started early.
As if earning a reward for winning their games, Italy and Costa Rica have an extra day of rest; to play on Friday, in Recife.
So if we don’t talk up England’s chances, the whispers are that they do have a hope and could even reach the final. England to win the World Cup in Brazil, now that is something to dream about; before the reality is sweated out in the tropics.
In danger of floating up the Amazon without a paddle, Roy Hogson will need to come away from Manaus with more than a point.
England really need to beat Italy; as they’ll surely get bogged down and struggle to grind out draws against Uruguay and Costa Rica.
If Luis Suarez has recovered from his minor knee surgery, the least we can expect is that he’ll continue to do what he’s been doing in the English Premier League all season; score a goal or two. Only this time, captain Steven Gerrard won’t be hugging him; unless the goals are enough to put Italy out of contention in Natal when a Costa Rican stalemate looks on the cards in Belo Horizonte’s other Group D match.
Costa Rica will be happy with their ‘underdog status’ and might just cause an embarrassment for one of the Europeans.
Many a team have come away from tournament football without losing a game while never really doing enough to look like winning a match. England’s only hope is that Roy Hodgson can convince himself and his team to play football to win, rather than set out the stall not to lose.
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