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World Cup Day 8: Five Thoughts

Suarez scores, England falls, Colombia soars, and Greece and Japan bore; day eight at the World Cup was nothing if not interesting.

A dejected Joe Hart exits the pitch after England's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.
A dejected Joe Hart exits the pitch after England's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.
Matthias Hangst

Suarez plays the hero (or villain)

Warning: no teeth jokes here.

I lied! Which should we start with? England kicked in the teeth? Suarez takes a bite out of England’s World Cup hopes? Roy bites off more than he can choose? (That's all from me, please turn the comment section into Suarez teeth jokes, ta!)

Fresh off his return from injury, Suarez really did make all the difference, scoring both goals in Uruguay’s 2-1 win. Apart from his two goals though, Liverpool’s mercurial (I know, way too kind) striker, was rather quiet – although I suppose the sign of a great striker is that he takes the few chances he’s presented. And his two goals were certainly well taken, twice leaving the Brave and Fearless Joe Hart helpless.

A week after being left for dead following their 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, Uruguay, with Suarez and Cavani again combining up front, now look primed to escape Group D in second place.

England in need of a miracle

The Three Lions play well and they lose 2-1; The Three Lions play poorly and they again lose 2-1. What’s Roy to do? Not even Wayne Rooney’s first World Cup goal was enough to see England to a result,  who are now in desperate need of assistance. With Rooney back to a central position, England looked to be in a 4-4-2, with Sterling and Welbeck on the wings, and Sturridge up top.

Rooney was good, Welbeck was not, and Sterling failed to make his mark against Uruguay’s tight marking. But yet again, it was England’s defense that let them down; conceding the first on a 3-on-5 situation, and the second from a goalkeeper’s clearance.

With Italy still to play Costa Rica, England are not yet disqualified (although the English press would have you believe otherwise): if Italy win their two remaining games (against Costa Rica and Uruguay) and England beat Costa Rica by a large enough margin to overcome their goal difference disadvantage, The Three Lions advance.

Not all is lost – it just feels that way.

Colombia brings the fun

High flying Colombia at it again, this time with a 2-1 win against the Cote d'Ivoire that sees the South Americans advance to the knockout round. James Rodriguez – who for my money, has been the most impressive performer of the World Cup thus far – opened the scoring, while substitute Juan Quintero doubled the South Americans’ lead after 70 minutes.

That two goal cushion was halved just three minutes later though as Gervinho scored a wonderful solo goal, restoring hope of a comeback that would ultimately never arrive.

After two wins in their first two games and having scored five times, it’s tempting to wonder what this side might look like if Falcao was fit – a frightening prospect that might have turned the World Cup’s most fun team into one of its most dangerous.

Greece brings the boredom

Like Euro 2004, when they shocked the world to win that tournament, Greece are again intent on playing defensively sound, tactically structured football at the expense of risking players going forward – the difference of course being, they were actually good on the counter-attack in 2004. This tournament’s edition (actually featuring a surprising amount of holdover players) lacks any real threat at goal. Mitroglou has continued his insipid Fulham form that he ended the season with and Theofanis Gekas has shown even less.

And the most surprising part? A win against the Cote d'Ivoire could see them through to the knockout rounds. And while a win in that game would be a surprise, Yaya Toure and Co have hardly set the world on fire – the Greeks have done it before, can they do it again?

Japan needs a striker

Japan, for all their technical ability in midfield, simply lack the quality in the final third to make any real trouble for their opponents. Honda’s great goal in their opening game proved ultimately to be too little, and against ten-man Greece for more than fifty minutes, rarely troubled the Greek goal. Mostly due to their inability to finish or create many clear cut chances, Japan, barring a victory against Colombia (who have already sealed their progress), appear to be staring at an early World Cup exit.