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World Cup: What to watch day 12

Group A and Group B wrap up play today. While B is all but decided, Group A has once match that promises to be a cracker.

Guillermo Ochoa has carried Mexico thus far.
Guillermo Ochoa has carried Mexico thus far.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

We've gotten down to the final games in each group. Because of past instances of misconduct both real and alleged, the final games in each group are now played at the same time to make it more difficult to rig the results if a non-competitive game will see both participants through. Even in situations where both teams are already guaranteed a spot in the next round, it can be worth fighting to earn the top spot in the group. Here are today's matchups, neatly grouped by... uh, group.


Noon kickoffs (Group B):
Netherlands (6, +5) v. Chile (6, +4)
Australia v. Spain


The Australia v. Spain game is a dead rubber, which brings me no end of joy. Second only to Germany winning the whole bit, Spain washing out just two games in is the single event that could bring me the most pure happiness this tournament. Australia fought bravely in both of their matches - including having Timmy Cahill bang home the goal of the Cup so far against the Netherlands - but they were always outgunned in this group. Unlike Spain, they should be going home with their heads held high.

The Netherlands and Chile have been two of the more impressive sides in Brazil so far, and they are both already qualified for the knockout stages. Whoever wins this group will play the runner up of Group A, which likely means avoiding facing Brazil in the first knockout round. The teams have to balance that payoff with the potential benefits of resting their players who have minor knocks. Additionally, Robin Van Persie is out with yellow card accumulation. This one has the potential to be a cracking match, but there's also a snoozer lurking in there somewhere.

4pm kickoffs (Group A):
Brazil (4, +2) v. Cameroon (0, -5)
Mexico (4, +1) v. Croatia (3, +2)


Brazil haven't played convincingly so far, but they were probably unlucky to only get a point from Mexico after being lucky to take all three off of Croatia. Cameroon has been awful in terms of results and style. They had a serious squabble about getting paid before they even headed out for the tournament, then they proceeded to get stomped twice and have their last game end with two of their own players in a fight. They would have to beat Brazil pretty handily to cost the Brazilians their spot in the next round, and I don't see that happening.

That leaves Mexico and Croatia to duke it out over the last spot in the next round. A draw sends Mexico through, while a win for either side not only seals their advancement but also gives them an outside chance at the top spot in the group. Croatia were a little unlucky to get nothing for their efforts against Brazil, while Mexico have the heroics of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to thank for their draw against Brazil. Both teams have played well for stretches, and Croatia will have to go after the win here. Expect and open and exciting game; if you're only tuning in to one match today, make it this one.