I said I wasn’t going to bet against Italy. Well, I should have.
After falling behind to Slovakia 2-0 in the 72nd minute, Italy cut the lead to one at 80 minutes. Then Slovakia looked like it put the game away in the 88th minute 3-1. But it wasn’t quite done yet, Italy managed another score one minute into injury time to close it to 3-2 but that’s the way it ended.
Paraguay and New Zealand tied so Slovakia will advance with Paraguay. If New Zealand had beaten Paraguay, the Slovakian win would have turned bitter sweet as they still would have been eliminated.
But justice prevailed and the Slovaks get to move on to the next round as well as sending defending champion Italy home.
Italy, ranked #5 in the world, is the highest ranked team to fail to move on to the knockout round SO FAR.
Of the four teams ranked ahead of Italy, #1 Brazil, #2 Spain, #3 Portugal and #4 Netherlands, the Dutch and Brazil are already in and Portugal, with a 9 goal differential lead over the Ivory Coast, is all but in. Only Spain is still hanging out a bit.
If Switzerland beats Honduras, Spain would need a win over Chile to advance. If Spain ever got eliminated in the group round, that would send shock waves through the whole soccer universe.