2014 World Cup Recap: Week Two...
In one wild week, the group stage came to a chaotic end and the knockout rounds have been set.
We’ve seen former champs (Spain, Italy, England) go down and Cinderella teams (Costa Rica, Algeria, Greece) make a run to the round of sixteen.
Let’s take a look at the events that transpired and what to expect in the coming week.
Best goal(s): Leo Messi, all of them
The best player in the world has lived up to his monstrous expectations so far with four goals, including three in the past week. All of the goals have been impressive, but with skill and timing factored in, his goal against Iran stands above the rest.
Most heartbreaking elimination: Ivory Coast
With a spot in the knockout round all but secured, “Les Elephants” were robbed of their first round of sixteen birth thanks to the most controversial penalty kick given out in the Cup so far. Greece made the kick and lived to play another day, while the best team in Africa was left to ponder what happened.
The “Oh no, not again” award: Luis Suarez
Most soccer fans, myself included, wanted to believe that Suarez had gotten past his early career antics. He was dominating games for Liverpool in the Premier League and for his national team, Uruguay. But then the Mr. Hyde side of Suarez flared up again. Now Italy is unfairly watching at home, and Uruguay is missing its best player.
The “Too little too late” award: Spain
With two games and some national embarrassment behind them, the Spanish national team finally decided to play like themselves in their final game of the group stage. Granted it was against Australia, but it was nice to see David Villa and Andres Iniesta go out with a little flair.
Best knockout round matchup: Netherlands-Mexico
Netherlands’ three-headed attacking monster of Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder pelting Mexico’s brick wall of a keeper Guillermo Ochoa with shots? Sign me up.
Most likely chance for an upset: Brazil-Chile
The host team has played well, but not quite up to the expectations of their passionate fan base. On the other hand, Chile’s impressive performance has been one of the surprises of the Cup. Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal will not be intimidated by Brazil.
What about the United States?
The USA has endured both a heartbreaking tie with Portugal and a lukewarm loss to Germany (coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s former team) in the past week to earn a spot in the next round. With a winnable match-up against an unpredictable Belguim squad, the quarterfinals are within grasp. Jermaine Jones has been United States’ most reliable player so far, and he will need to continue is inspired play for the team to succeed.