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World Cup, June 24: Can Italy and Ivory Coast qualify for the next round?

Colombia and Costa Rica are already in the round of 16; England are out. As for Italy, Uruguay, Ivory Coast, even Greece and Japan, today will tell the tale.

Laurence Griffiths

Here’s today’s preview/match thread/discussion post on Brazil 2014. Enjoy the matches!

12 noon ET:  Group C.

Villarreal connections:  Costa Rica will be a hotbed for talent scouts now – we liked what we saw of Bryan Ruiz with Twente in the Europa League a few years back. And of course half of Europe is on alert for Keylor Navas.

Group situation:  Costa Rica 6, Italy 3, Uruguay 3, England 0. The Ticos are going through; the Brits are going home. A Navas clean sheet or a result in another form sets up a comfortable-looking round-of-16 match against the runner-up in Group D.
For the teams in dark and powder blue, it’s a showdown for one spot in the knockout rounds. Italy has draw odds thanks to its more favorable goal difference. Should be a tantalizing affair.

Predictions:  Costa Rica should get its point. Not sure what will happen in the other match, but you get the feeling that Luis Suárez will be up to something. I’ll go for late heroics to see Uruguay through.

4 pm ET:  Group D.
Villarreal connections:  Colombia is a new market for La Liga, with Radamel Falcao García and Carlos Bacca among the most recent arrivals (and perhaps both soon-to-be departures). There’s a lot of depth in that squad, but Serie A has been a more popular destination for the cafeteros
A Japanese attacking player would make a lot of sense for Villarreal. A new market, a good league for technical players, and they’re pretty good going forward. The top guys are unrealistic, but maybe Diego Forlán can give us a J-League recommendation.

Group situation:  Colombia 6, Cote d’Ivoire 3, Japan 1, Greece 1. Colombia is through and needs a point to top the group. Depends on how strong they think Costa Rica is though…

Greece unbelievably could go through on the strength of a solitary goal today. Classic. Let’s see if Cote d’Ivoire can dash their hopes (and those of the Japanese) with an early display of quality. Watch for Salomon Kalou, who is on fine form in Ligue 1.

Ivory Coast have to keep an eye on the Japan-Colombia game; if Japan wins by two goals, then a draw isn't enough for the Africans.   The Blue Samurai have been very disappointing in their first two matches, though

Predictions:  Colombia wins. Cote d’Ivoire wins. Japan and Greece deservedly go home after their display in the previous match.