2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™

12 June - 13 July

2014 FIFA World Cup™

Exit beckons for former winners, Group C wide open

© Getty Images

MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The 'group of death' has certainly lived up to its ghoulish moniker, with a second former FIFA World Cup™ winner set for the axe along with England. Despite being the second smallest of all 32 nations at Brazil 2014, Costa Rica have caused mayhem in Group D, beating Uruguay and Italy to leave another heavyweight destined for an early flight home. That duo now meet in Natal desperate to clinch a berth in the Round of 16, but La Nazionale, who have won just one of their last six World Cup games, still seem to be searching for the right tactical blend. As for La Celeste, they will turn again to Edinson Cavani and, above all, Luis Suarez, who scored twice against England.

In Group C, Colombia are through already and require just a draw against Japan to be sure of finishing top. All three of their fellow section hopefuls can still join them, though Côte d'Ivoire hold the advantage as they boast two points more than their rivals. Greece, meanwhile, have yet to find the net as they prepare to take on the African side for the first time.

The matches
Italy-Uruguay (Group D), Estadio das Dunas, Natal, 13.00 (local time)
Costa Rica-England (Group D), Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 13.00 (local time)
Japan-Colombia (Group C), Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 16.00 (local time)
Greece-Côte d'Ivoire (Group C), Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 17.00 (local time)

Did you know?
Birthday boy: Lionel Andres Messi Cuccitini – or Lionel Messi as he is better known – is unlikely to have overdone the festivities when he celebrated his 27th birthday on the eve of Argentina's game against Nigeria. The talented forward has made the difference in both of his team's outings so far and remains highly motivated to impress on Brazilian soil. Despite amassing a vast array of trophies with Barcelona, Messi has been relatively starved for success on the international stage, winning just the FIFA U-20 World Cup Netherlands 2005 and Olympic gold at Beijing 2008.

Drought over: Uruguay's 2-1 defeat of England ended their long 44-year wait for victory against a European side at the World Cup. The two-time winners' previous triumph had come on 14 June 1970, when they saw off USSR 1-0 following extra time in the quarter-finals – after which they posted nine losses and six draws against teams from the Old Continent.

New ground: For the first time at a World Cup, Colombia have won two consecutive matches, England have suffered three defeats in a row and Greece have kept a clean sheet.

Ton up: Olivier Giroud's effort against Switzerland was France's 100th World Cup goal, putting Les Bleus into an exclusive club of centurions along with Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina.

Suspended playersKostas Katsouranis (GRE)Didier Zokora (CIV)* Treading the tightropeVassilis Torosidis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Georgios Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis (GRE)Cheick Tiote, Souleymane Bamba (CIV)Maya Yoshida, Masato Morishige, Makoto Hasebe (JAP)Carlos Sanchez (COL)
Jose Cubero (CRC)Mario Balotelli (ITA)Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling (ENG)Diego Godin, Diego Lugano, Walter Gargamo, Martin Caceres (URU)
Check it outWith Uruguay and Italy set to face off in a decisive showdown, *FIFA.com invites you to take a trip back in time to the last World Cup meeting between the sides 24 years ago. La Squadra Azzurra emerged 2-0 victors in their Round of 16 tie, with goals from tournament top scorer Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci and Aldo Serena.

Côte d'Ivoire's preparations for their all-important game against Greece were rocked by the tragic death of the younger brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure last week. With Les Éléphants vying for their first ever spot in the knockout rounds, coach Sabri Lamouchi shared his thoughts on the difficult situation faced by his squad.

FIFA.com has also spent time with one of the heroes of Costa Rica's incredible tournament so far, Junior Diaz. The winger sheds light on his side's eye-catching exploits, so be sure to give 'Diaz basks in date with destiny' a read. Lastly, photography fans are in for a visual treat courtesy of our 360 Panoramic Photo series.

On this day
Elche, Spain, was the setting for a World Cup rout on 24 June 1982 as Hungary inflicted a punishing 10-1 defeat on El Salvador. Aside from the scoreline, the match was notable for the quickest hat-trick in the history of the competition, with Hungary striker Laszlo Kiss slotting in three goals between the 69th and 76th minutes. Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta remains the only player to have struck hat-tricks in successive editions, however, hitting trebles in 1994 and 1998. West Germany's Gerd Muller also helped himself to a pair of World Cup hat-tricks, but both came in 1970, while France's Just Fontaine (1958) and Hungary's Sandor Kocsis (1954) racked up three-goal and four-goal hauls in the same tournament.

Play and win
You may not be the first person to kick one of these coveted balls, but your excitement will surely be unmatched if you are lucky enough do it! Sponsored by adidas, the Kick-Off Ball contest is your chance to win an actual kick-off ball from games at the 2014 World Cup. Each Kick-Off Ball contest opens at 4am (local time, Brasilia) on the relevant matchday and remains open for 24 hours. Enter as many Kick-off Ball contests as you like, but you can only submit one entry per match.

Top tweet

England forward Daniel Sturridge tweeted his disappointment in the Three Lions' early exit from Brazil 2014 ahead of their final match against Costa Rica.

Gutted my world cup will be over tomorrow.. Seriously been one of the best experiences I've had in my life. God willing I play in one again.

— Daniel Sturridge (@D_Sturridge) June 23, 2014

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