Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney and England can't afford a loss to Uruguay on Thursday. (Darren Staples, Reuters / June 15, 2014)

Yesterday in one sentence: Much of the Spanish team has pretty much played year-round since it won in 2010, and we are seeing the fruits of it — it's sadly clear none of them have anything left in the tank.

What’s on tap: Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, noon, ESPN; Uruguay vs. England, 3 p.m., ESPN; Japan vs. Greece, 6 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: There are a lot of “musts” in play Thursday in Group C and Group D action. We kick it off with Colombia and the Ivory Coast, both of which are coming off opening-match wins and, with a win Thursday, could all but assure qualification in the next round.

Colombia had fallen out of the World Cup scene in recent cycles but looked like it more than belonged in dismantling a Greece team racked with infighting last week, and Ivory Coast and its tight uniforms will pose a much stronger threat.

The following match features two sides, England and Uruguay, who took disappointing losses to Italy and Costa Rica, respectively. The loser of this match will be eliminated, while the winner will likely need some help to get through. What neither side needs is a draw, and that’ll come down to the attacking talent on the pitch.

Uruguay clearly underestimated Costa Rica by not risking an unfit Luis Suarez, but it’s hard to see a situation where Suarez stays on the bench against England as well. Suarez’ Liverpool teammates featured heavily and largely performed well in the loss to Italy, but it’s star striker Wayne Rooney who found himself in the crosshairs and will need a better performance to save the English campaign Thursday.

Greece hasn’t covered itself in glory in this tournament, and aren’t doing much to disprove the idea that they had an easy qualifying road through Europe. Much like England and Uruguay, a loss in this match for Greece or Japan makes the final stage of the group stage a formality for them, and neither of these proud nations would likely handle that well.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

www.twitter.com/jonmeoli