After a pleasant week of morning, midday and afternoon games, we’re getting to the brutal part of the World Cup schedule when entire groups play at the same time. This morning starts off with Group B finishing up play before moving on to the next round; Australia-Spain and Netherlands-Chile. Both the Dutch and the Chilean team are already moving on to the next round while the Aussies and Spanish sides are only playing for pride. If somehow the Socceroos could eke out a win and reduce the rubble of Spain’s championships to dust, we’d have ourselves a match. Instead we’re probably going to watch the Red Devils play for points on the goal differential.
The afternoon games pits the already eliminated Cameroon against host nation Brazil and Mexico against Croatia. Brazil leads Group A by a one point goal differential over Mexico, but needs a win or a draw to move forward; Mexico needs a win or a draw against Croatia or a Brazilian loss if they lose; Croatia needs a win versus Mexico or a draw paired with a Brazilian loss. All clear? Good. El Tricolor’s tough road to knockouts continues with a game that might be closer than anyone is predicting. Despite a strong showing against Cameroon (the 1-0 score not reflective of multiple goals controversially disallowed on the second day of play), their 0-0 draw against Brazil took all the fight the Mexicans had in them. This Croatian team was a bad referee away from shocking host Brazil in the opening match before going on to lose 3-1, followed by a 4-0 rout of Cameroon. Look for the Mexican side to tighten up early as Croatia has shown they can draw blood when given any slack.