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World Cup 2014: Day seven — open thread


Paul Gilham

So everybody's played once, we'e a quarter of the way through the tournament, and we know the following: Netherlands and Costa Rica are the best teams in the world, Spain and Portugal are the worst, and England are quite fun to watch. What weird times we live in.

Today's games

Australia vs. Netherlands, Porto Alegre, 12:00 ET/17:00 UK

After the storm, the calm. Netherlands have a chance to essentially ensure their progress to the second round, and while Louis van Gaal is being coy about his planned formation, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie should both play and are in scintillating form. Australia were almost able to exploit their height and strength to nick a draw against Chile, but the Dutch should be too tough for them.

Spain vs. Chile, Rio de Janeiro, 15:00 ET/20:00 UK

It's not quite a must-win, but it's near as dammit. If Spain can assert themselves here, then they can start repairing their shattered confidence. One game can be a freak result, after all. Which makes it all the more perfect that they're playing the super-exciting, mildly-ridiculous Chileans, who are equally chaotic and entertaining in attack and defence. This could literally finish 6-6.

Cameroon vs. Croatia, Manaus, 18:00 ET/23:00 UK

Cameroon were thoroughly disappointing in their opening game against Mexico, and show every sign of heading to another limp and disappointing exit. Croatia, by contrast, were impressive but unfortunate against Brazil and, having seen Mexico take a point off the hosts, will need to be collecting all three today to remain in the hunt for qualification.

Today's United connections

All hail the mighty Louis van Gaal, king of the maverick tacticians, devourer of Spaniards, who will possibly be spending the game sat on a bar stool. And all hail Robin van Persie, newly restored from mardy, moody bastard to best striker in the world. It's another chance to look at these young Dutch players as well. We're thinking Daley Blind and Bruno Martins Indi. We're thinking them a lot.

Elsewhere, with Spain set to make a few changes, David de Gea would surely have been in with a chance of replacing Iker Casllas had he not managed to strain his buttocks in training. Juan Mata might get a look in at some point though. And then, later, there's always Luka Modric. No, he doesn't play for United. But it would be nice if he did.

Other stuff

As ever, SBN is the only place to go for previews: Australia-NetherlandsSpain-Chile and Cameroon-Croatia are all covered. We also had a man in the stadium at Natal for the USA's late win over Ghana, and he appears to have enjoyed himself:

Nobody cared about beautiful soccer. They didn't care about being proactive. Fans were calling for players to dive and waste time, yelling "THEY DOVE FOR 15 MINUTES LAST WORLD CUP, DO IT TO THEM."

Finally, your correspondent has picked the team of the first round of fixtures. Yes, he's in there, and so's he. But he isn't. Sorry.

How to watch

In the UK, the early and late games are on ITV1, while Spain and Chile are on BBC1. All can also be streamed via the appropriate websites, assuming you're in the right country. In the USA, ESPN (streaming) and Univision have you covered, while CBC are streaming the games in Canada. For more info, head to LiveSoccerTV.