It's Day 3 of the 2014 World Cup. All 8 teams in Groups C and D take the field today for their opening group play matches.
Day Two saw a couple of expected results, and another that was not as much of a surprise for the winner but for the lopsidedness of the affair. Mexico got by Cameroon in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the 1-0 score. The Netherlands got a bit of revenge for their 2010 finals loss to Spain with a 5-1 wiin that was every bit as dominating as the score, and Chile did what was expected with a solid if underwhelming 3-1 win over Australia.
Today's games feature some notable and historic teams as well as some potential dark horses in the tournament, but the outcomes seem less predictable than yesterday's games, so it should be an exciting and important day for the two Groups in play.
Here are the matchups, locations, times (Pacific time, as always) and the networks for today's games.
Colombian fans have been streaming across the border this week for their country's first World Cup berth since 1998, and this match will look like a home game for the slight favorite to win this group. Colombia begins pool play against the Greeks who will likely play a pretty defensive game in hopes of bottling up the Colombians and keeping the game as low scoring as possible. Considering that Greece has never beaten or tied a South American team in a major tournament, doing either would be a very impressive, and pretty unlikely, result.
The English Premiere League's top scorer, Luis Suarez, is a striker for Uruguay, but he may not even start as he recovers from knee surgery last month. That shouldn't make much difference. Costa Rica has never beaten Uruguay in international play and is not expected to today, either. This game is key for Uruguay as England and Italy are the favorites to advance from the group, and getting three points is critical for their chances.
England v Italy Group D, at Manaus 3pm ESPN
A tropical storm hit the town of Manaus this week and the pitch will be a mess when these two soccer heavyweights with very different approaches face off in their opener. England's frenetic and occasionally disciplined play will be countered by the Azzurri's methodical defensive style. Whichever teams wins this game will have a big leg up on this group and should have an easy route to the knockout round. Therefore, expect a conservative tie. See the SB Nation preview here.
Group C may be the hardest to predict in Brazil, and though Colombia appears to be the overall favorite, both of these teams have legitimate designs on advancing, if not winning this group altogether, which makes this opener key for both. This is likely to be a wide open and high scoring game as both sides know their WC 2014 hopes rely on a win in this game.
Bellerophon did an outstanding preview of Groups C and D here, so go back and look at B's previews and his amazing College FB comparisons for each of today's teams. You should also check out the mothership's incredible World Cup preview for all you need to know about the biggest sporting spectacle on Earth.
Nine consecutive hours of soccer? Pshaw. Today we have 12! This is our Day 3 open thread. Have at it.