Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo of Italy (left) and Jose Miguel Cubero of Costa Rica compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica at Arena Pernambuco on June 20. (Jamie McDonald / Getty Images / June 20, 2014)

Yesterday in one sentence: All four matches yesterday saw a better team emerge and eventually run away with the match, with Mexico’s late assault against Croatia only topped by Neymar’s virtuoso performance in front of an adoring crowd in Brasilia.

What’s on tap: Costa Rica vs. England, noon, ESPN2; Italy vs. Uruguay, noon, ESPN; Greece vs. Ivory Coast, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Japan vs. Colombia, 4 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: Today’s slate is ready-made for those viewers who have neglected their chores at home and need an evening free of sports to get things done around the house. The first slate of games is the one you’ll need to see, with the second set leaving a lot to be desired.

England against Costa Rica is basically a formality, with Costa Rica already through and winless England flying across the Atlantic to meet its maker soon after the match. Costa Rica can only finish second in the group with a loss and a four-goal swing in goal differential.

That leaves one spot left for Italy or Uruguay, both level on points with wins over England and losses to Costa Rica. Italy is ahead on goal differential, so a win or a draw would send the Azzurri through to the Round of 16.

Uruguay needs more magic from talismanic forward Luis Suarez to pull off a victory that would send it through to the next round. The game, as all Italy games are, will be decided by how well Andrea Pirlo is marked by the opponents. Time and space for Pirlo will mean bad news for Uruguay in Natal.

Group C has the same scenario, though without the name-brand countries. Colombia needs a point to win the group and probably will even with a loss, but a lot is on the line in the Greece-Ivory Coast match.

Anything but a Colombia loss ensures that the winner of the other match goes through as well. The deep Ivory Coast squad with its tight shirts have a bit of an advantage over the Greeks, but even though the stakes are higher in this match, I still might watch Colombia for its outstanding goal celebrations.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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