Yesterday was very nearly one of the more epic days of upsets the World Cup has ever seen. First, Iran stood strong against Argentina until a stoppage time master strike from Lionel Messi won it for the two-time champs. Then Germany had to come from behind to split the points with Ghana, and finally Bosnia were unable to overcome a couple dodgy refereeing decisions (oh, and Nigeria) and were eliminated from contention.
Here's all the information you need for Sunday's first two games. This evening's closer will have its own standalone gamethread, for what should be obvious reasons.
Belgium vs. Russia
Kickoff Time: 12 noon EDT
Venue: The famous Maracanã, officially known as Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, in Rio de Janeiro
TV/Streaming: A minor change from recent days, as the English-language broadcast will be on ABC. The Spanish telecast will still be on Univision, while WatchESPN and Univision's online platform will have the match streaming live.
Cliff's Notes: Belgium never looked imperious in their 2-1 win over Algeria, and they'll be looking for a better performance - and three more points - against Fabio Capello's Russia. Meanwhile Sbornaya - like Germany, Russia's national team's nickname translates to "national team" - will make passage to the knockout stages much easier with an upset over the more creatively nicknamed Red Devils today. This is Belgium's golden generation, though, and they'll know that a win puts them into the Round of 16. Look for the Russians to play it cagey while Belgium tries to put its stamp on proceedings.
Who Should I Root For? If you like chaos - and not just in geopolitics! - you've got to root for Russia. A result for them would deny Belgium a guaranteed spot in the next round and make both of Thursday afternoon's Group H finales vital, which is just good television. If you hate ESPN and want their ratings to suck, or if you just prefer less generic team nicknames, then by all means, Belgium it up.
Korea Republic vs. Algeria
Kickoff Time: 3pm EDT
Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre
TV/Streaming: ABC, Univision and the usual streaming platforms.
Cliff's Notes: This one should be pretty tight, as Algeria are probably underrated by most of us on this side of the keyboard (though not as badly as Costa Rica, natch), and - as you've surely heard 250 times by now - this ain't 2002's South Korea side. Look for the Taeguk Warriors to try and run the Desert Foxes into the ground, which could be difficult considering that Algeria's game is basically all about chasing things anyway. Korea absolutely need all three points or else they'll need an upset over group-leading Belgium in the finale, so look for them to go all out if they aren't ahead in the late stages.
Who Should I Root For? The nickname battle is a close one - Taeguk Warriors and Desert Foxes? Sign me up - so we'll have to decide using other criteria. Some of us will root for Korea purely out of regard for that 2002 semifinalist side, while others get nothing out of ancient history. Let's say this: if your phone is a Samsung or your TV is an LG or if you just love the #BecauseFutbol Hyundai commercials, then pull for South Korea; otherwise, support Algeria, who represents the cause of chaos in this matchup.
But what about United States vs. Portugal?
Look for a separate gamethread for that one this afternoon.