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WORLD CUP OPEN THREAD, DAY 14: IN WHICH ITALY PROBABLY GOES THROUGH, DAMN IT

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Anyone else love the 4-game structure for the last game of group play? No sunrise games, two games (each with mountains of consequence) going at once. It's as close as soccer fans can get to the first Thursday and Friday of March Madness, which remain #1 and #2 in the USA's Best Calendar Days Of Sport.

Paraguay v. New Zealand (ESPN2), Group F, 9:00 A.M. CT

Paraguay are in with at least a tie, and one must think that the Kiwis' miracle run ends here, even if it's in a 1-0 or 2-1 flameout. But if New Zealand ties Paraguay and puts more goals on the board today than the Azzurri do, then NZ advances instead of Italy, something only clinically insane people predicted.

Granted, the Kiwis have some ground to make up, but it's certainly not impossible, and that's all an upset-minded team needs in Game 3 of group play.

Slovakia v. Italy (ESPN), Group F, 9:00 A.M. CT

Even Slovakia and Italy are both in contention for the field of 16, and Slovakia doesn't even need much help; they just need Whodat All-Stars New Zealand not to beat Paraguay (not happening). Watch this game very closely; if the 2006 WC loses both its finalists for the Cup's next iteration, it might generate just a hint of media attention. France played its part (for once); will Italy follow suit?

Cameron v. Netherlands (ESPN2), Group E, 1:30 CT

Whatever.

Denmark v. Japan (ESPN), Group E, 1:30 CT

Ditto.I don't see any Cup winners in these two games. Avoid and sleep where possible.