The long-awaited 2014 World cup kicked off in Brazil after a colourful ceremony. With 32 teams vying to win the 20th FIFA World cup, the group stages had to pass by for 16 teams to emerge.
Brazil 7pts, Mexico 7pts, Croatia 3pts, Cameroon 0pts.
Brazil finished top of the group with 7 points from 3 games played. The Brazilians started their campaign with Marcelo’s own goal against Croatia, but the Samba boys rallied back to win their first game 3-1 with a brace from star-boy Neymar and a goal from Oscar, albeit, the referee had a hand in a couple of decisions that aided their victory. The Samba boys were held to an exciting goalless draw before they dispatched a disjointed Cameroon side 4-0 in their last game with Neymar grabbing a brace for himself.
The Mexicans on the other hand defeated Cameroon 1-0 before a goalless draw with host Brazil. Mexico held their nerves to defeat Croatia 3-1 on to finish with 7pts, behind Brazil on Goal difference.
Croatia, after losing to Brazil still had hopes of qualifying but finished with just 3pts. They defeated Cameroon 4-0 to raise their hopes of qualification but they were outdone by the Mexicans in their last game. With no point in three games, Cameroon exited the World Cup with their tails between their feet. With just a goal to account for, the Indomie Lions exhibited high level of indiscipline with unnecessary red card and team disunity.
Netherlands 9pts, Chile 6pts, Spain 3pts, Australia 0pts.
If any one had predicted that Spain will not qualify from a group consisting of Chile and Australia, he may have been taken to psychiatric hospital. But football is cruel and the World Champions had a taste of its unique cruelty as they were beaten black and blue by an efficient Dutch side.
The Netherlands started their campaign with the a mouth watery fixture over Spain. The game turned out to be the match of the century as the Oranje boys came from a goal down to whip the World and European champions 5-1. It was a total disaster. Robin Van Pierse’s flying header still stands out as the goal of the tournament but Arjen Robben was not left out of the massacre. The Netherlands finished tops with 9points.
Chile only lost to Holland in their last game but they had qualified before the game. It was only a battle of supremacy. They had surprisingly beaten Spain to book their place in the last 16. Spain won their last game to save some pride with David Vila scoring in his game as a Spanish international. With no points to show, Australia would go home looking back at their missed chances and Tim Cahill’s Goal.
Colombia 9pts, Greece 4pts, Cote D’Ivoire 3pts, Japan 1pt
Colombia finished top of this group with 9 maximum points. The South Americans were too strong for their opponents from Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece had a last minute penalty by Samaras to thank as they eliminated Cote D’Ivoire on the last day of the group stage. The African Elephants had chances to kill off the Zeus boys but individualism and lapse in concentration caused the Africans a place in the knock out phase. Poor tournament for Yaya Toure, Drogba and co. Japan could only manage a draw with Greece. Remember the name: James Rodriguez of Colombia
CostaRica 7pts, Uruguay 6pts, Italy 3pts, England 1pts.
Italy failed to qualify for the knockout stages just like in South Africa 2010 and the Three Lions continued to flatter to deceive as they finished bottom of the group. The South American sides took the Europeans to the cleaners. Costa Rica surprised the world by defeating Uruguay and Italy but Suarez led Uruguay to a 2-1 victory over England before biting his way out of the World cup after a 1-0 win over Italy.
Arsenal’s Joel Campbell was a delight to watch and the gunners would hope to have him fit and ready for the 2013/14 campaign. The young striker scored and created an assist against Uruguay. He caused more problems for Italy too.