Top spots at stake in Group A and Group B on Monday

June 23, 2014|By Jon Meoli | The Baltimore Sun

Yesterday in one sentence: The United States wouldn't have been deserving winners, and I understand my own personal expectations are too high, but that was a devastating draw that puts the team in a terrible situation heading into the Germany match.

What’s on tap: Austraila vs. Spain, noon, ESPN2; Netherlands vs. Chile, noon, ESPN; Cameroon vs. Brazil, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Mexico vs. Croatia, 4 p.m., ESPN.

What you’ll see: With four matches a day throughout the rest of the group stage, there’s going to be plenty of excitement. The first set of matches today doesn’t have much at stake other than pride and seed in the Round of 16.

Spain is looking to not go winless, while Australia will be playing without star Tim Cahill and are looking to bring a world-class scalp back home. Chile and the Netherlands have both advanced, and play for the honor of topping the group and playing the second team from Group A, which could be Brazil, Mexico, or Croatia.

A Netherlands win or draw ensures them of the top spot in Group B, while only a Chile win can vault it over the Dutch. The winner would likely avoid Brazil, but a situation where Brazil somehow loses to Cameroon and is the second team out of Group A would certainly make winning this game a poison chalice of sorts.

Though Brazil needs a point to assure it will advance, that match seems to be a formality, given how badly Cameroon has played in the tournament. So all eyes in the second session will be on Mexico and Croatia. A win for either side puts it through to the knockout round, while a draw would favor the Mexicans. Both teams played well against Brazil and took care of business against Cameroon. Whichever team gets the better of it in Recife will have something to show for its trip to Brazil.

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