The three major outcomes are quite easy to figure out.
- Italy beats Costa Rica and move into the driver's seat in Group D.
- Italy and Costa Rica play out some kind of draw and have some company atop the group with Uruguay lurking close behind just one point off the pace.
- Italy lose and then they head into Tuesday's final group stage game against Uruguay needing to win to get into the knockout stages.
There are the whacky tiebreakers if some kind of shenanigans happen, but we won't intentionally confuse ourselves right now. So on with the show.
Basically what today's match against Costa Rica means is that Cesare Prandelli and the rest of his Azzurri-clad bunch have the chance to take total control of Group D with just one more game to play before the World Cup's field gets cut in half to 16. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, we'll just have to see about that.
This is the same Costa Rica team that thoroughly beat up on Uruguay 3-1 in their World Cup opener. That probably means they'll be a little more dangerous in Italy's half of the field compared to the drab and so-so attack that England rolled out last Saturday.
And what do we have for an encore after Italy-Costa Rica? Stephan Lichtsteiner vs. Paul Pogba, Switzerland vs. France. At least we have an hour in between to get a cup of coffee and make a snack.
Group D: Italy vs. Costa Rica: 1 p.m. local time, 12 p.m. on the East Coast, 9 a.m. on the West Coast
SB Nation preview: Costa Rica hoping to upset Italy
Group E: Switzerland vs. France: 4 p.m. local time, 3 p.m. on the East Coast, 12 p.m. on the West Coast
SB Nation preview: Switzerland well-matched to test France
Group E: Honduras vs. Ecuador: 7 p.m. local time, 6 p.m. on the East Coast, 3 p.m. on the West Coast
SB Nation preview: Ecuador should win Honduras six-pointer
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