Already playing in its first World Cup in 16 years, Colombia advanced to the elimination round of the 2014 tournament Thursday for the first time since Italy 1990.
Colombia had beat the Ivory Coast 2-1 Thursday morning following an electric second half of back-and-forth play, but “Los Cafeteros” were not guaranteed a spot in the round of eight until the other two Group C teams tied later that same night.
Had Japan beaten Greece Thursday evening, the Colombians would have needed a tie against Japan on Matchday 3 to secure its advancement. But with a 0-0 draw between the sides, Colombia is now mathematically assured at least second place in the group.
With six points, “Los Cafeteros” currently enjoy sole control of Group C. The Ivory Coast, meanwhile, sits alone in second with three points, while Japan and Greece, who Colombia beat 3-0 in the Group C opener, are tied for third place.
A tie or win against Japan on Tuesday would see Colombia through to the next round in first place. Should the Colombians lose, the Ivory Coast would need to beat Greece by at least four goals to steal first, depending on the score of the Colombia matchup.
Assuming Colombia holds onto its current seeding, Los Cafeteros would take on the second place finisher from Group D. Even with England facing elimination following a 2-1 loss to Uruguay Thursday, it’s still too early to say who that might be. Things will be a bit clearer Friday after group-leading Costa Rica take on Italy in Recife, but the group will not truly take shape until the third round of games.
The Colombians will be hoping for an Italy win Friday, though, as that would put Costa Rica and Uruguay in prime contention for second place. The Costa Ricans surprised Uruguay in the group opener, beating last cup’s fourth place finishers 3-1 in Fortaleza. But the “Ticos” are still considered the weakest team in the group, and Colombia would look at Uruguay as a favorable matchup, as well.
The Uruguayans beat Colombia 2-0 in Montevideo toward the end of the South American qualifiers, but Colombia had previously blown out “El Celeste” 4-0 in Barranquilla.
In the off chance that Colombia finishes second in its group, Los Cafeteros would take on the first place side from Group D, which smart money says will be the Italians.