World Cup 2014 TV schedule: Who to watch Friday, June 20
After the first full week of the World Cup action, the battle in the Group stage is intense today. Italy vs. Costa Rica. France vs. Switzerland. Ecuador vs. Honduras.
World Cup Friday features six teams from Europe and Latin America hosted in a trio of Brazilian soccer stadiums.
At noon Eastern time, former World Cup champion Italy takes on Costa Rica in Group D competition at Arena Pernambuco in Recife. The two countries have met only once on the pitch, with Italy taking home a 1-0 win.
Both teams won their opening matches last Saturday. Italy defeated England, 2-1. Costa Rica shocked many when they took down former champion Uruguay, 3-1, an outcome that certainly got the attention of the Italians.
"That alarm bell could be an advantage for us," Azzurri midfielder Daniele De Rossi told The Associated Press. "It should help us enter prepared like we did against England."
Can the upstart Ticos pull off an upset over the four-time Cup champion? One key could be the performance of Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who had a stellar outing against Uruguay.
That match will be followed at 3 p.m. Eastern by Switzerland versus France in Group E play at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The European neighbors have met 36 times in international competition, with France having won 15 matches. The Swiss have won 12, and there have been nine draws.
Britain's Independent reports that Switzerland has not beaten France since 1992 when they won, 2-1, in an international friendly. Also, the Swiss have only allowed two goals in their last eight World Cup matches. The last time these two teams met in World Cup play was 2006, when the game ended in a scoreless draw. Most observers favor France in this one.
The final match on Friday has Ecuador going up against Honduras at 6 p.m. Eastern time. This contest will take place at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. Over the years, in 13 international matches played between these two countries, there have been 8 draws. Honduras has won twice and Ecuador three times. Friday's victor stays alive in Group E competition.
With the two squads coming off painful losses, BSports.com previews the match this way:
Whereas 10-man Honduras were thoroughly outclassed by France, Ecuador were beaten by an injury time counter-attack goal against Switzerland.
All the Ecuador national team needs to do is have a brief look at the game tape from the France match to know what to expect from Honduras: physicality.
All three matches Friday can be seen on ESPN and Univision. If you're not near a TV Friday, you can watch on the Univision website or download the free Univision mobile app. Or if you're a cable-TV subscriber, you can watch on the WatchESPN app.