Some teams have already qualified to go on to the Round of 16, some teams are already eliminated, and some are hanging on by a thread. Here are the paths to the next stage for each team in each group, including the U.S.
Monday June 23 at 4 p.m. EDT: Only Cameroon has been eliminated from this group, meaning that Brazil, Mexico, and Croatia are all still competing for two spots. Brazil will play against Cameroon, who will also be without midfield anchor Alex Song due to his red card. Expect Brazil to easily top the group. Mexico and Croatia will be the game to watch for the other spot. Mexico advances with a win or a draw, while Croatia needs a win. A Mexican win could also see them top the group. The two teams to emerge will face either Chile or Holland in the Round of 16, both of which will be stern tests.
Monday June 23 at Noon EDT: Spain and Australia will play a totally meaningless game, as both are already eliminated. Holland and Chile will play to see who tops the group. The loser will probably get Brazil in the next round, while the winner will get either Croatia or Mexico depending on results.
Tuesday June 24 at 4 p.m. EDT: Despite Colombia already qualifying for the next stages, the other three teams are all still alive. Japan must beat Colombia to have any hope of advancing. The Colombians only need a point to secure the top spot. The Ivory Coast advances with a win against Greece. If the Greeks win, they go through…unless Japan also beats Colombia. If the Ivorians draw and the Japanese win by fewer than two goals or don’t win at all, they go through. Whoever takes second will play the winner of Italy vs. Uruguay. Anyway, this is all probably not going to matter…expect Colombia and Ivory Coast to come through.
Tuesday June 24 at Noon EDT: Group D has one team already eliminated and one already qualified. Shockingly, the one already qualified is Costa Rica and the one going home is England. A point will see the Ticos top the group and likely play Colombia in the next round. Italy and Uruguay will play the other game, with the South Americans advancing in the event of a draw. Can the Italians handle Luis Suarez better than the English? Whoever wins will play the second place finisher in the wide open Group C.
Wednesday June 25 at 4 p.m. EDT: France has already qualified (with a bang) and Honduras is already (basically) eliminated, so the real excitement here is whether the Swiss or the Ecuadorians advance. The South Americans play the French, who know that a point will see them top the group (and avoid Argentina)…and considering the goal difference, a point would also be enough for Ecuador if the Swiss draw. The Swiss will play Honduras, which can still advance IF the French beat Ecuador and they beat the Swiss by enough to cover the goal dif. Again, don’t expect miracles…the Swiss are most likely to escape this group, along with France.
Wednesday June 25at Noon EDT: The Argentines have already qualified for the next round, despite not playing particularly well — but there’ll will still be something on the line when Argentina take on second-place Nigeria in the final match. Nigeria can leapfrog the Argentines for first with a win, or secure second with a draw. A loss will leave them vulnerable, should Iran beat Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thursday June 26 at Noon EDT: Here it is, the one you really care about. If the U.S. gets anything from Germany — a win or a point — the team goes through to the next round. A point in that game also puts Germany through atop the group. If the U.S. loses, it can be eliminated by a win for Ghana over Portugal. Or, if Portugal wins that match, goal differential will determine whether it or the U.S. advances. A draw in the Portugal vs. Ghana game would leave both those teams out while the U.S. goes on. (Also, should the U.S. beat Germany, it could open the door for Ghana or even Portugal to advance instead of the Germans, depending on goal differential.) Fingers crossed that the Germans are in an easygoing mood.
Thursday June 26 at 4 p.m. EDT: Another group where every team is still alive. Already qualified Belgium will play South Korea, knowing that a point will see them through and eliminate the Koreans. The Koreans will need to beat Belgium and hope for a low-scoring Algerian loss. A tie in that match also works for the Koreans, if they score enough against Belgium to cover goal dif. Russia needs to beat the impressive Algeria (and avoid the above scenario), while the Algerians will know that a point will probably get them through.
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