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Costa Rica's Joel Campbell, left, and Italy's Andrea Pirlo go for a header during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Costa Rica's Joel Campbell, left, and Italy's Andrea Pirlo go for a header during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.

(Hassan Ammar/AP)

World Cup daily briefing: June 24 Add to ...

Your daily World Cup tip sheet for who’s playing when, and what to watch for. We'll deliver a new briefing the evening before every game day, highlighting the can't-miss match and which players to watch.

Match of the day: Italy vs. Uruguay

If you told me today that you knew all along that Costa Rica would lead the Group D standings after two matches, I would accuse you of being either a wizard or a liar. But here we are, the minnows swimming ahead of the sharks with the Three Lions already eliminated in a group that exemplifies how unpredictable this World Cup has been. Italy and Uruguay enter this match tied for second spot in the group, three points back and in need of a result (Italy moves on with a win or draw, while Uruguay needs a victory) to advance out the knockout stage. The Azzurri are coming off a lacklustre 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, while Uruguay rode the return of Luis Suarez to a big win over England. Two roster notes for the Italians: midfielder Daniele De Rossi is likely out with a leg injury and Torino striker Ciro Immobile could add some pop up front with Mario Balotelli.

Dominic Ebenbichler / Reuters

Player to watch: Italy’s Andrea Pirlo

At 35, this is likely it for the Juventus midfielder at the World Cup level. A marvellous playmaker, he’s the key to the Italian attack, smoothly moving the ball through the centre of the pitch and producing scoring chances with his pinpoint passes. Also oozes cool with flowing locks and beard combo that make him look like he strolled right out of 1975. Costa Rica smothered him and managed to keep a clean sheet. He’ll have to work his magic for Italy to advance.

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