World Cup today: Italy, Uruguay in elimination match, three-way battle in Group C

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It was a stellar Monday at the World Cup as both Groups A and B came to a conclusion.

Hosts Brazil topped Group A by thrashing Cameroon, while the Netherlands scored twice late on to beat Chile and finish atop Group B with a 100 percent record.

Mexico also got in on the act as they beat Croatia to advance to the last 16 for the sixth-straight World Cup. El Tri will now face the Netherlands, while Brazil play Chile in two mouth-watering knockout matches.

[ MORE: How will U.S. lineup vs. Germany ]
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]

Two more group finales are in store on Tuesday, as Italy and Uruguay battle it out for the final Round of 16 spot in Group D, while everything is up for grabs in Group C. Let’s take a look at what’s in store today:

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MATCH 39: Italy vs. Uruguay
Location: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
Time: Noon ET
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Cheater’s Guide
With a win, both teams can advance to the knockout rounds. Their entire World Cup campaigns come down to this match. For Uruguay, it is win in or bust. Simple. As for Italy, a draw would see them through to the last 16 due to their superior goal difference but they have to stop red-hot Luis Suarez.

What they’re saying
Luis Suarez on Uruguay’s respect for Italy: “From last year’s Confederations Cup I know how organised they are. If you leave them just an inch they will make you pay. But they have weaknesses as well as strengths, and we will try to exploit those weaknesses. We expect Italy to be tough opponents, but we know what’s at stake and we are going out there to qualify.”

History
The two nations have played each other nine times, with Uruguay edging out Italy with three wins to two.

Premier League Players
Uruguay: Luis Suárez, Sebastian Coates (both Liverpool), Gastón Ramírez (Southampton)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 40: Costa Rica vs. England
Location: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Time: Noon ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide
England are out of the World Cup and have made nine changes to the team which lost to Uruguay. The Three Lions will be hoping to not bow out with a whimper. As for Costa Rica, they know a win will likely see them top the group.

source: AP
England’s manager Roy Hodgson makes nine changes to his side.

What they’re saying
Roy Hodgson on giving the youngsters a chance vs. Costa Rica: “With a very different team and a lot of players who haven’t played in the tournament so far, I wanted everyone to go home from this tournament — or at least as many as possible — having taken part and played in a game, not just training. We’re very conscious of the fact that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but they are still here supporting us.

History
The two nations have never met.

Premier League players
22 of England’s 23-man squad play in the Premier League.
Costa Rica: Joel Campbell (Arsenal)

MLS players
Costa Rica: Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Waylon Francis, Giancarlo Gonzalez (both Columbus Crew)

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MATCH 41: Japan vs. Colombia
Location: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide
Japan need to win to make it through to the last 16 of the World Cup, while Colombia will rest several key players ahead of the knockout stages. The Samurai Blue will be going for broke in this one.

What they’re saying
Japan star Keisuke Honda believes in miracles: “Of course there is still a possibility of advancing to the next round. We can’t qualify now without relying on external forces, but I believe in miracles and I am focused on us beating Colombia.”

History
These sides have met twice before, with Colombia winning 1-0 in the 2003 Confederations Cup and the two teams drawing 0-0 in a friendly back in ’07.

Premier League Players

Japan: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) Maya Yoshida (Southampton)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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source: Getty Images
Can the Ivory Coast seal their first every berth in the knockout stages?

MATCH 42: Greece vs. Ivory Coast
Location: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide
Both teams are in with a shout of making the last 16, with Ivory Coast in the driving seat. They know a win will secure a spot in the knockout stages for the first time in history and they come up against a Greek team that has yet to score in the World Cup… but somehow has a chance of making it through.

What they’re saying
Greece’s manager Fernando Santos on their offensive struggles: “We have to score goals. I don’t care who does it. If it is (goalkeeper Orestis) Karnezis, that’ll be fine with me. We have to show the qualities that got us here. The Ivory Coast is a strong team with good players. But we are strong too and we got here on merit … talk of anything else is just a distraction.”

History

The two nations have never met.

Premier League players

Greece: None.
Ivory Coast: Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle), Kolo Touré (Liverpool), Yaya Touré (Manchester City)

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Watch Live: Five Premier League games at 10am ET

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Five Premier League games are coming your way at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Liverpool host West Ham, Brighton and Swansea clash in a massive game at the bottom, while Bournemouth welcome Newcastle to the South Coast, Burnley host Southampton and West Brom play Huddersfield Town.

The big team news from United’s game is that Paul Pogba has been dropped to the bench and so have several other first team regulars following their defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in midweek.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all five games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Ham United – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Newcastle United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton vs. Swansea City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Huddersfield Town – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]

Leicester City 1-1 Stoke City: Foxes fight back

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  • Butland own goal rescues point for Leicester
  • Shaqiri’s third goal in three games have Stoke lead
  • Potters remain in bottom three

Leicester City fought back to draw 1-1 with Stoke City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with an own goal from Jack Butland in the second half canceling out Xherdan Shaqiri‘s opener.

Stoke took the lead just before half time with a beauty from Shaqiri but after Butland misjudged a cross to knock the ball into his own net, Leicester came alive and hit the post twice late on.

With the draw Leicester momentarily move up to seventh place on 36 points, while Stoke remain in 19th place on 26 points and are without an away win since October.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A cagey start to proceedings in the sun saw Riyad Mahrez and Badou Ndiaye both go close from distance as Leicester had plenty of corner kicks but couldn’t get behind a solid Stoke defense.

Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy launched counter attacks when they could but the Algerian was off target on a few occasions as Claude Puel‘s men toiled without much reward in the afternoon sun.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Stoke then delivered a hammer blow just before half time as Shaqiri picked up a pass from Joe Allen, drove towards the Leicester defense and curled home his third goal in as many games to give the Potters a half time lead.

A perfect opening 45 minutes for Lambert’s side as Shaqiri had his seventh goal of the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Leicester battled back into the game but Stoke almost went 2-0 up as Kasper Schmeichel‘s loose pass found Shaqiri and his long-range effort skipped just wide of an empty net.

The Foxes were then gifted a way back into the game as Albrighton’s powerful cross from the right was towards Vardy and although the English striker didn’t touch the ball, he did enough to put off Butland as the ball hit him and went into his own net to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Energized by the equalizer Leicester battered the Stoke goal as Butland saved superbly from Mahrez, then Vardy drilled an effort across goal which found Harry Maguire who hit the post with a shot.

Late on Charlie Adam‘s backward header let Mahrez race clear but a combination of Butland and Kurt Zouma kept him out and from the resulting corner Matty James hit the post with a header.

VIDEO: Thirsty goalkeeper concedes bizarre goal

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Rule number one for a goalkeeper: always pay attention to the action if you’re going to take a swig from your water bottle in the net.

Duisburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken didn’t pay attention and he will see this clip played over and over again as he conceded a bizarre goal in the German second tier against Ingolstadt.

Take a look at the video below to see the unbelievable scenes as the commentary team sum it up best with  their stunned reaction.


Mourinho on Conte feud, facing Chelsea again

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Jose Mourinho will meet Chelsea once again on Sunday as the Manchester United manager welcomes his former club to Old Trafford (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mourinho, 55, has been involved in a public spat with Antonio Conte in recent months but the Portuguese refused to dredge up any more abuse for the current Chelsea manager ahead of this crucial top four clash.

The duo traded insults earlier this year as Mourinho suggested Conte and other managerial rivals “acted like clowns” on the sidelines, while Conte said Mourinho perhaps had “demenza senile” and Mourinho hit back with a quip about Conte’s four-month ban for not reporting alleged match-fixing in Italy. The spat ended when Conte said Mourinho was a “little man” and “fake” and said he would not forget the comments.

“The real meaning [of this game] is two of the best teams in England, two of the biggest clubs, are playing a match,” Mourinho said when asked about Conte.

Mourinho has lost three of the four games he’s played against Chelsea since he became United’s manager and in the first defeat, a 4-0 hammering in the league in October 2016, he reacted angrily to overzealous celebrations from Conte on the sidelines.

Speaking to the media about Chelsea, Mourinho played down any sentimental feelings he has for the club he led to three Premier League titles over two spells in charge.

“To play against Chelsea will mean less and less and less with the years,” Mourinho said. “So of course I left already a couple of years ago, and next season [it will be] three years ago, so step by step that feeling of: ‘I was the Chelsea manager’ or ‘I was their manager’ for them I think disappears. I have a good relation with the [Chelsea] board.

“I don’t forget how nice they were to me in a difficult period with the departure of my father. They show me in that moment they feel me as a friend that did his best for the club and always respects the club. So the board know the relation with me is always good. With the players, I don’t have any problem, any regret, any stone on my shoes, no problem at all. And the fans are fans. With many of them in the street I feel that empathy and that relation that normally should be a connection and feeling forever. When I play at Stamford Bridge some reactions from the fans are just reactions.”

Mourinho is still admired and thanked by the vast majority of Chelsea’s fanbase but there is always going to be a small contingent who hurl abuse at Mourinho simply because he isn’t their manager anymore.

Since he was fired as their boss in December 2015, the “Special One” has been complimentary of his time at Chelsea but when he managed United in 2016 at Stamford Bridge, he wasn’t subjected to chants of “you’re not special anymore!” from the home fans, to which he held up three fingers to signify how many league titles he delivered.

Mourinho isn’t talking about his spat with Conte ahead of this game, but let’s see how things play out on Sunday. If Chelsea stroll into Old Trafford and win to throw United’s top four hopes into doubt, Mourinho will likely come out swinging.