Three giants humbled at FIFA

Three giants humbled at FIFA
By Aldwyn McGill

MANAUS BRAZIL – The mighty have fallen at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Spain, Italy and England have been sent packing from the tournament after the group stage as the matchups get tougher and the games more meaningful. With 12 teams already assured of their spots in the Round 16 ItalyKO stage there is no clear candidate for the Cup at this point.

The only team which have completed their group schedule with unblemished records are Netherlands, and Columbia with Argentina, France and Belgium are primed but still have one game left to play. Tournament favourites such as Brazil and Germany have faltered and that is what makes the competition interesting.

It is definitely a different style of play here where even the cream of the crop of Spain’s La Liga, the Italian Series A and the English Premier League players could not survive the attacking brand that seemed to be triggered by the passionate fans in Brazil.

The early rounds of the group stage seemed to be all about offence. Most teams are pressing forward and it is this philosophy that Netherlands and Chile utilized to eliminate Spain. The Chileans never stopped pressing forward for the second goal to secure the 2-0 win against Spain.

While many were hopeful that the defending champion would have survived the opening loss as they did in South Africa after losing to Switzerland I certainly did not see it that way after Englandwatching Spain’s history of dominating teams with little or nothing to show on the scoreboard.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is living up to its promise of exciting and entertaining football/soccer with attacks and counter attacks the order of the day. It is for this reason that I suspect that the teams with the marquee players will be the ones very much in contention for the Cup.

Spain managed a 3-0 consolation win over Australia before packing their bags but England could only manage a scoreless tie against Costa Rica while Italy finished its group schedule with a 2-0 to Uruguay. It is the second consecutive World Cup that Italy has not survived the group stage.

Now we are beginning to understand why most football enthusiasts were intrigued about being a part of the World Cup in Brazil. It is where the blueprint for exciting football was invented and why the country has won an unprecedented five World Cups.

Neymar and Messi have scored huge goals to lead their respective teams to victory while Mueller and Suarez are taking up the mantle too. Nothing is going to come easy for any of the so-called big teams.

Last Monday Cameroon had the whole of Brazil biting their nails until Neymar caught fire to help win their 100th FIFA World Cup match and the Group A title from a 4-1 win over Cameroon. Mexico defeated Croatia 3-1 to advance to the Round of 16.

Netherlands won Group B after its 2-0 win over Chile in a clash of the Group B leaders although the two teams had already clinched berths into the knockout phase and were competing for top spot to avoid meeting Brazil.


Standings by group in Brazil
Group C: Columbia won the group comfortably but Ivory Coast experienced a heart wrenching loss after giving up a penalty in time added on for a 2-1 loss against Greece. A draw was all Cameroon needed to have advanced.
Group D: Costa Rica is the Cinderella team of World Cup Brazil. El Ticos defeated both Italy and Uruguay and won the group after finishing its group schedule with a scoreless draw against England. Uruguay finished second in the group.
Group E: France (6 points) has secured passage to the Round of 16 but the battle for second place between Switzerland and Ecuador is going down to the wire with both teams on 3 points. Switzerland needs a likely win against Honduras while Ecuador is in tough against France to stay afloat.
Group F: Argentina has secured a spot into the Round of 16 with 6 points and will play second place Nigeria which has 4 points and can win the group with a victory. Iran has one point and should they win against Bosnia and Nigeria loses to Argentina they will finish second.
Group G: It is ironic that every team in the Group of Death is still alive. Germany and USA are the front runners with 4 points, but they play each other and it gives Ghana a chance to finish in second place. The surprise of the group is Portugal. With one point they will have to score at least four clear goals against Ghana to stand any chance at the second spot.
Group H: Belgium has advanced to the KO stage but Algeria and Russia are locked in a battle for second place. However they play each other but Russia is in a must-win situation to stay alive.