World Cup Daily: Can Spain rebound?

World Cup Daily: Can Spain rebound?
June 18, 2014, 9:30 am
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d Chile vs. Spain, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN) 

This was one of the games I had circled before the tournament as one of the games to watch. That was before Spain were drubbed 5-1 by the Dutch in their opening game making this a must-win game for the defending champions. La Roja need a big game from Diego Costa now that we know he's healthy. Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique will be tested once again as they face Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez and Arturo Vidal will be vital for Chile if they are to pull the upset. Chile have a chance to advance, but need a point against Spain in order to do so. 

Player of the Day: F Mario Mandzukic, Croatia

Croatia missed their target man in their first game against Brazil as he was suspended. Now that he's clear to play, he'll need a big game after Mexico drew with Brazil on Tuesday. Mandzukic scored 21 goals in 29 games for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga this past year. Sadly, that's not enough for him to keep his spot and he will be moving on from the German champs and will use a big World Cup to secure another high-profile move after the tournament wraps up. 

Best of the Rest: Croatia face Cameroon in a bounce-back game that will go a long way to deciding Group A. Anything less than a win and the Croatians can basically kiss advancing out of the group goodbye. In the early game on Wednesday the Dutch, fresh off their 5-1 defeat of Spain, take on tournament minnows Australia in a game that should just pad their goal differential. Australia will struggle mightily with the Dutch attack and I wouldn't be surprised if total football or Clockwork Orange (or is it technically Oranje?) were in full effect in this game. 

Day 6 Rewind: The game of the day was also the only game that didn't involve a goal. Thanks to Guillermo "I'm now a free agent someone come spend lots of money on me" Ochoa and Julio Cesar, Mexico and Brazil played to a fantastic scoreless draw. Both teams had opportunities throughout the game, especially Brazil late, but both keepers were up to the task. It's tough to believe after that performance that Ochoa is a free agent after his team was relegated in France to the second division, and Julio Cesar left England on a loan to come play for Toronto FC in MLS. 

Tournament dark horses, Belgium, struggled in the first half in their game against Algeria, but put it all together after two key subs late in the game. Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens didn't start the game, but both came through in the clutch to save the trendy pick to win the World Cup. In the late game, South Korea and Russia played to a 1-1 draw with few fireworks. After Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev let in one of the worst goals you've ever seen, the Russians responded immediately as two of their subs, Alan Dzagoev and Alexsandr Kershakov, combined for the game-tying goal.

Football Follies: Brazil, you had ONE job. Knock off Mexico. Instead, what could have been a perfect 24 hours for Americans at the World Cup, they now see their bitter rivals tied atop Group A with a solid chance of advancing. This was made worse when Brazilian defender Marcelo, the only man to score on the Brazilians so far, went down in the 18-yard box looking for a penalty. He appealed to the referee before even going to ground, and then went down lack a sack of bricks. Had Marcelo stayed on his feet he could have had an open shot, albeit at a difficult angle, or made a pass to an open man. For shame, Marcelo.

Predictions: Netherlands 3, Australia 0. Spain 2, Chile 2. Croatia 2, Cameroon 1.