What's Buzzing:

The heat is on: World Cup comes to the Amazon

AP - Sports
The heat is on: World Cup comes to the Amazon

View gallery

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The World Cup is coming to the Amazon.

After months of hype about how the humidity in the jungle city of Manaus will affect the players from England and Italy, and a week of intense attention on the patchy playing surface, Saturday's match will determine which team feels the heat more.

The contest between two former World Cup winners is one of four matches on day three of the tournament. Colombia and Greece kick off proceedings, followed by Uruguay against Costa Rica. Japan and Ivory Coast should bring it to a close just before midnight in Brazil.

Here are some things to look for:

JUNGLE FEVER: The Italy and England camps have spent weeks doing everything possible to prepare for the conditions, from practicing in humid cities wearing long sleeves to riding exercise bikes in saunas.

The forecast is for temperatures of about 32 Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) with humidity above 70 percent.

What the game really boils down to is three valuable points, with both teams desperate to open their campaigns with victories in Group D.

Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli should lead the Italian charge, while England fans will be demanding big games from Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.

Both squads have young players ready to make a mark, with 19-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling considered a chance to come off the bench for England and 21-year-old Marco Verratti a contender to join Pirlo in the Italian midfield.

Staff at the Arena da Amazonia had to activate emergency plans to revive the patchy turf during the week, and spent time on Friday using dye to ensure the grass at least looks green.

Venue: Manaus. Kickoff: 6 p.m. local time (6 p.m. in New York, 11 p.m. in London, 7 a.m. in Tokyo).

SUAREZ NO SURE THING: Coach Oscar Tabarez was still unsure on the eve of Uruguay's opener against Costa Rica if he'd have his biggest star available.

Luis Suarez had arthroscopic surgery on his knee on May 22 and has rejoined regular training, but Tabarez said ''we don't want to jump the gun.''

He has prepared scenarios in case the Liverpool striker isn't quite ready, with Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan ready to start.

The 2010 semifinalists don't want to waste an opportunity to pick up three points before their later group matches against England and Italy.

For a Costa Rica team lacking star power, Bryan Ruiz will be the key in midfield.

Venue: Fortaleza. Kickoff: 4 p.m. local time (3 p.m. in New York, 8 p.m. in London, 4 a.m. in Tokyo).

BEST FORM OF ATTACK IS? Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has been drilling his naturally attack-minded lineup on how to keep patience and structure against a heavily defense-oriented team. He even praised the rigid, no-frills structure that helped carry Greece to the 2004 European title.

The Greek team took offense, with 37-year-old captain Giorgos Karagounis reminding the Colombians that important games are about getting the basics right.

''We are concerned about how to score, and then how to defend our goal. It's as simple as that,'' he said. Colombia ''should also be concerned about defending their own goal.''

The Colombia attack will miss star forward Radamel Falcao, who is out with a knee injury. James Rodriguez remains the main playmaker.

Venue: Belo Horizonte. Kickoff: 1 p.m. local time (noon in New York, 5 p.m. in London, 1 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo).

NIGHTCAP: In what appears to be a wide open Group C, Japan is carrying Asian hopes of a place in the knockout stage and Ivory Coast is a contender to reach the same stage for Africa. With creative players on both sides, the tension of an opening match isn't likely to stifle the flair.

One thing for certain is a vast TV audience, with the 10 p.m. start in Brazil translating into a 10 a.m. Sunday kickoff for viewers in Japan.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi concedes that not all of the members of his aging squad are 100 percent fit, but expects them all to be available for the game.

He's hoping Yaya Toure will play despite injuring his hamstring in the last game of Manchester City's Premier League-winning season, and veteran striker Didier Drogba will be OK despite limping in practice earlier in the week.

Japan was the first team to seal a spot in Brazil through qualifying and has a young and enthusiastic squad. Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa are at the heart of the attack, and should be well supplied by Inter Milan's Yuto Nagatomo.

Venue: Recife. Kickoff: 10 p.m. local time (9 p.m. in New York, 2 a.m. Sunday in London, 10 a.m. Sunday in Tokyo)

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (1)
  • Fans to boycott A-League matches as ban row rumbles on

    Supporters groups of two A-League clubs will boycott matches this weekend amid a row over fans blacklisted from Australian stadiums. Hundreds of fans of champions Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers, two of the best supported clubs in … More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 41 minutes ago
  • Manchester City thrash Hull to reach League Cup semifinals

    Manchester City thrash Hull to reach League Cup semifinals

    Manchester City thrashed Hull 4-1 and advanced to the League Cup semifinals on Tuesday, while Everton and Stoke also progressed with victories against second-tier opposition. Wilfried Bony gave City an early lead, converting after Kevin De Bruyne's … More »

    AP - Sports - 3 hours ago
  • Man City, Stoke, Everton down underdogs to make Cup semis

    Man City, Stoke, Everton down underdogs to make Cup semis

    By Toby Davis LONDON (Reuters) - The plucky underdogs were brought down to earth as Manchester City, Everton and Stoke City reached the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, ending the hopes of second-tier sides who felled fancied opponents in the … More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago
  • U.N. helicopters launch strikes against Congo rebels after deadly raid

    By Aaron Ross KINSHASA (Reuters) - U.N. helicopters launched strikes against Ugandan rebels near the northeastern border of Democratic Republic of Congo in response to attacks that killed dozens of people, the force's top general said on Tuesday. … More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago
  • Vietto, Saul save Atletico's Cup blushes at Reus

    Atletico Madrid recovered from a goal down to secure a 2-1 victory at Reus Deportiu in the last 32 of the King's Cup on Tuesday and avoid an embarrassing first-leg reverse against the third-tier minnows from Catalonia. Reus, who play in the … More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago