World Cup 2014 - Day 3 Preview/Open Thread

Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney lead England against Italy today. - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The weekend brings a day of FOUR matches with some intriguing match-ups! Grab some food, your laptop/phone, and plant yourself firmly on your couch or in the pub, and join us in watching Day 3 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Group C - Colombia v. Greece

Where: Mineirao, Belo Horizonte

When: 12:00 EST / 5:00 BST

TV Information

Colombia will be without striker Radamel Falcao, who scored nine goals for them in World Cup qualification. The Colombians will instead rely on Porto F.C.'s Jackson Martinez for goals. Los Cafeteros are much more than just those two players though, and finished second in CONMEBOL qualifying, only two points behind Argentina. Given their friendly draw, this team can still make some noise.

Greece, somehow ranked 12th in the (admittedly confusing and sometimes useless) FIFA rankings, qualified via the intra-confederation playoff. The Greeks finished second in UEFA's Group G to Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a group that was largely pushovers. They found more good luck when they drew Romania in the intra-confed playoff, and prevailed 4-2 on aggregate to qualify. Their squad features captain Giorgos Karagounis of Fulham, Sokratis of Borussia Dortmund, and Giorgos Samaras of Fulham.

Group D - Uruguay v. Costa Rica

Where: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza

When: 3:00 EST / 8:00 BST

TV Information

Uruguay took the long road to get to the World Cup, needing the inter-confederation playoffs to qualify. Easily the two biggest names on the squad are Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but the former is still fighting through injury and not expected to play today. The Uruguayan defense will be led by Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin, who is coming off a stellar club season with the Spanish Champions. Whether the rest of his defensive partners will be able to play to his level remains to be seen.

Costa Rica enters the tournament knowing they face an uphill battle to even earn a point. Los Ticos face a very difficult draw, and by and large lack the talent needed to get results from a group such as this. If the Central American champions are going to pick up any results, PSV's Bryan Ruiz and Arsenal's Joel Campbell will have to carry the team. Everton's Bryan Oviedo is Costa Rican, but did not recover from a broken leg in time to make the World Cup.

Group D - England v. Italy

Where: Arena Amazonia, Manaus

When: 6:00 EST / 11:00 BST

TV Information

Today's main event kicks off in much talked about Manaus, between two European football giants.

Roy Hodgson's group enters the World Cup with likely the lowest expectations on an English group at a major tournament in recent memory. In the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, the team has attacking prowess, but whether their midfield can stand up to that of the Italians is very much in question. The Everton presence is strong with this group, with Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka likely to start, and Ross Barkley likely a top candidate off the bench.

Italy, with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, and Daniele De Rossi will be very strong at the center of midfield. Gianluigi Buffon remains a wall in the Italian's goal, and center-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are the rocks upon which Juventus has been built in recent seasons. However, out wide and up front there are still some questions the Italians have to answer. The Italian's hopes may very well rely on enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli. If the former Manchester City striker is in the mood, he is nearly unstoppable, but if Jags and co. can get in his head early, he is prone to taking himself out of the match.

UPDATE! - Gianluigi Buffon will miss out on today's match against England after picking up an ankle injury in training. PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu will take his place.

Group C - Ivory Coast v. Japan

Where: Arena Pernambuco, Recife

When: 9:00 EST / 2:00 BST

TV Information

The day ends with a match-up of two confederation powerhouses.

Les Elephants enter the tournament with a squad lined with familiar names, headed by Didier Drogba. With forwards Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, and Wilfried Bony as well, there are plenty of goals in this side. Yaya Toure will command the Ivorian midfield with Newcastle's Cheick Tiote. But will Ivory Coast's defense be able to keep opponents off the board enough for their playmakers to take control? Only time will tell.

Japan waltzed through AFC qualifying, and is one of the more intriguing teams in this year's competition. Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa will need to power the Japanese offense if the team will score goals. Their defense is stocked with players with European experience, such as Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), and Yuto Nagatoma (Inter). In a weak group such as this, the Japanese have a real chance of advancing to the knockout round.

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