CHICAGO --There were four games in group play on Day 12 of the World Cup. The Netherlands scored a 2-0 victory over Chile, and substitutes are playing a huge role in getting game winners. Today, it was Leroy Fer who came into the contest for Wesley Sneijder in the 75th minute and two minutes later, he scored the game winner. The Dutch will play the 2nd place finisher in Group A Sunday at 11 a.m. CST in the round of 16. Chile also advances and will play Brazil.
In the 34th game of the tournament, Spain defeated Australia 3-0 in a losers' game. Both teams are on their way back to their respective countries, although I suspect that the Spanish side, ranked No. 1 by FIFA at the start of the tournament, might hear a few whistles from their fervent and rabid fans.
In the 35th game, Brazil faced Cameroon with the top spot in Group A on the line. The great one, Neymar, scored twice in this one. He has four goals in three games, and the host country Brazil advances to the round of 16. They beat Cameroon 4-1 and will play Chile June 28 in the first game of the knockout round.
At the same time as Brazil was playing Cameroon, Mexico faced Croatia with both nations fighting for their knockout round lives. The first half went scoreless and in the second half, Mexico was robbed, TWICE. In the 62nd minute, Mario Mandzukic should have been called for a hand ball on a side kick. Referee Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan then called a yellow card on Jose Vasquez in the 65th minute for tripping. He's out for the next game. Irmatov gives new meaning for why they need instant replay. In the 72nd minute, Mexico scored as Rafael Marquez headed home the goal. Then, three minutes later, Andres Guardado put his left foot to the orb, and Mexico went on to win 3-1 to advance to the knockout stage to face the Netherlands on June 29.
Finally, on Sunday evening the United States men's national team blew an excellent opportunity to take the top seed of Group G. I do not blame the players, especially Michael Bradley, who lost the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo. They gave 100% and left it all out there on the Manaus pitch in dangerous conditions for any kind of exertion. Jurgen Klinsmann is responsible. Why not substitute in the 85th minute with your best defender on the bench and tell him to shadow the great Ronaldo. If Cristiano goes to the bathroom, be there to hand him a towel to wipe his hands. He should have never been allowed to get near the ball. That said, the United States has to beat or tie Germany Thursday. Control your own destiny and you advance. It's as simple as that, but a tough task to beat the technically-sound Germans.
On Tuesday, Costa Rica will take on England. I like Costa Rica to send the English home winless. Italy advances to the round of 16 with a win or tie over Uruguay, I'm picking Italy. Japan faces Columbia and I like Columbia to win Group C. While Greece faces Ivory Coast, I like Cte d'Ivoire to advance.
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Since joining ABC7 in 1982, Jim Rose has become a major force in Chicago sports broadcasting. He currently serves as sports anchor/reporter for ABC7 News in Chicago's top-rated 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts. He is an avid fan of the World Cup! Learn more about Jim