World Cup Daily: June 26

A daily update on the action in Brazil

World Cup Daily: June 26

After the drama yesterday (Italy and Ivory Coast eliminated at the last gasp, Luis Suarez doing his thing) Wednesday’s games were a bit anticlimactic – with qualification all but decided well before the end of the games. Today’s last day of the group stage promises more excitement as the USA bids to get out of the GOD.

Whataburger, Trident gum, and McDonald’s Uruguay all got into the Luis Suarez fun Wednesday, inviting the masticatory Uruguayan star to try their products the next time he feels that certain urge coming on. @tridentgum says: “Chew Trident. Not soccer players.” No word yet on FIFA's level of amusement.

Wednesday Results

Argentina 3, Nigeria 2; Bosnia/Herzegovina 3, Iran 1 (Group F)
Nigeria needed a win to overtake Argentina for the top spot; barring that, Iran had to win to stay in the hunt and put pressure on Nigeria. It was clear fairly early that neither of those things were going to happen. Nigeria played Argentina fairly evenly, and tied the game twice, but never really looked like taking the lead, and as Iran faded against the hard-luck Bosnians, it looked like both teams were content with the 3-2 score line for the last 20 minutes or so. Lionel Messi scored the first two goals to move into a share of the WC goal-scoring lead with Brazil's Neymar.

France 0, Ecuador 0; Switzerland 3, Honduras 0 (Group E)
France used a lot of subs, and dominated the game, but couldn’t put a ball in the net, after winning each of their first two games by three goals each. Ecuador played creditably, but rarely threatened, especially after captain Antonio Valencia was sent off for a dangerous, studs-up challenge early in the second half. Switzerland made it moot with a dominating performance against Honduras, featuring a hat trick by diminutive Kosovo-born striker Xherdan Shaqiri. That left Ecuador as the only one of the six South American countries to fail to advance to the next round, and Honduras, at 0-3, the only CONCACAF nation that’s not undefeated. Costa Rica and Mexico both advanced with two wins and a draw, and the U.S. tries to match that record today against Germany.

Thursday’s Games:

11am: USA-Germany; Portugal-Ghana(Group G)
The Ghanaian government reportedly had to send a planeload of cash to Brazil to pay the players, to settle a pay dispute that became so distracting that the Black Stars skipped practice Tuesday. Still, that very talented team has a shot an advancing, with a win over Portugal, and a U.S. loss to Germany. Portugal need a multi-goal win to keep alive their hopes that were barely rekindled with that stunning last-second goal that tied the U.S. on Sunday. The U.S. meanwhile, needs to tie mighty Germany to secure advancement, though a close loss might do it as well, depending on goal differential and the Ghana-Portugal result. Ever-helpful head coach Jurgen Klinsmann penned an all-purpose note for your boss, excusing your absence from work so you can watch the game. Copy it from above and fax it in.
3pm: Belgium-South Korea, Algeria-Russia (Group H)
Belgium is safe, and will probably win the group; the Russia-Algeria winner almost surely takes second, with Algeria prevailing in case of a tie. South Korea, Asia's last hope for the final 16, needs a miracle.
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