First day went as expected. The Brazilians failed to show up, but their goal post and keeper did. James Rodriguez scored the most amazing goal of the tournament so far. I have seen only Drogba score such a goal, that too at his prime. Will he help his team over come Brazil in the quarter finals ? Lets see that later.
For now, look at the fixtures in hand. Netherlands, the unexpected favorites take on Mexico. In the other game Costa Rica take on Greece.
Yes, I am calling the Netherlands team the unexpected favorites though they were finalists in the last edition of the tournament. Nobody had expected them to trounce Spain 5-1. Before the tournament nobody even knew half the Netherlands team, me included. Guessing their starting eleven was also difficult if you are not a regular follower of their friendlies. Nobody expected them to do so well in the group stages. Their young defense have put up a good performance in the world cup so far. Australia did put up a good fight against them. Their attacking line up was very impressive against Spain, after the match some touting them to go all the way. But they did struggle against Australia, but went on to win 3-2 eventually and defeating Chile 2-0, scoring in the last fifteen minutes. They played the last group game against Chile without RVP and won it.
Mexico on the other hand weren’t convincing enough in their first game to be considered as the team that will progress. But they put up a good show against Brazil, with Ochoa putting up brilliant performance. He even pulled of a save similar to the Save of The Century by Gordon Banks. Coming to Croatia, who had two awesome midfielders in Rakitic and Modric. Though they were unlucky against Brazil, they owned Cameroon. Tiredness caught them and Mexico took advantage, though it was mainly through set piece. But nevertheless Mexico won against Croatia to progress to the next round. Though not favorites they are expected to do well on South American soil. But I predict this game to be their last in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Campaign.
Let us talk about the second game today that will be played at Recife. May be the most low profiled of all the round of 16 matches but both the teams participating might produce some drama here. Greece is a very uncanny and one cannot predict what they’ll offer on a particular day. Greek gods gave that green signal to Samaras’ penalty against the much fancied Côte d’Ivoire in the dying minutes of that group ‘C’ match to take them through. It was a different Greece that showed up that day with a lot more attacking flair and result went in their favor. While previously it was the defensive Greece that showed up and lost without a fight against the talented Colombian team and played a dull goalless draw against Japan. But don’t discard their defensive abilities, they won a Euro Cup just by defending defending and more defending. Will 2004 repeat at the biggest stage of them all ? I would say 0.1 % but you’d never know.
Meanwhile, Greece’s opponents Costa Rica are having a dream time in Brazil. It was a very impressive show against Uruguay that caught people’s attention and they went on to better that performance against Italy to win the match 1-0. For a nation such as Costa Rica, its a huge achievement to defeat the two former World Champions in succession and they went on to get a draw against another former World Champions England in their final match. Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz have been noted performers and they would be hoping for them to be on the score sheet again. Who would have that Costa Rica would be the table toppers in the group of death and they have a chance to surpass more expectations to reach the Quarter Finals of a World Cup for the first time in their country’s history. They would be favorites to do so but i wouldn’t be surprised if Greece wins it. Tough to predict and i would be hoping for an exciting contest.
– Gunner & Nithin Lokesh