Three things to know heading into a big World Cup weekend:
1 In two of the bigger surprises so far, defending champion Spain has been eliminated after just two matches, while England is all but mathematically finished after losing its second match, 2-1 to Uruguay and star Luis Suarez on Thursday. That paves the way for other favorites such as Germany, Argentina and, of course, host Brazil, which has so much going for it.
See Thursday’s game coverage on C8
2 Two matches worth watching Saturday on ESPN: Argentina vs. Iran (11 a.m.) and Germany vs. Ghana (2 p.m.). Argentina is a Cup favorite thanks to star Lionel Messi, while Germany and Ghana are part of Group G along with the United States and Portugal. A Ghana victory would throw the entire group into chaos, while a victory by favored Germany would bring clarity in terms of what the U.S. needs to accomplish.
3 Speaking of U.S. vs. Portugal, that’s the final match of the weekend (5 p.m. Sunday, ESPN) and brings plenty of intrigue. The U.S. could wrap up advancement into the knockout stage with a win, but they will have to do so without injured forward Jozy Altidore. Even a tie would be big for the Americans. Portugal is reeling after being clobbered 4-0 by Germany and desperately needs a win.