27 June, 2014 - 14:02

World Cup. Group stage results and analysis

Time goes by quickly and we have already been through half of 2014 World Cup in Brazil. There have been sensations, disappointments, scandals and revelations during the group stage. So what has impressed us most in the past two weeks?

1. Revelation of the group stage. Costa Rica

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If there were any underdogs before the start of the World Cup, Costa Rica was surely among them. Drawn to play against giants Italy, England and Uruguay, Costa Rica was seen as a squad to get points from. When the Central American side beat Uruguay, noone took it seriously. Probably Uruguay, playing without their leader Luis Suarez, were not in good shape. But when Costa Rica beat Euro 2012 finalists Italy, it became clear their fisrt win was not accidental. A goalless draw with hapless England meant the FIFA 28-ranked team made it to the round of 16 without losing a single game. They topped the group and will take on Greece, which means there is a huge probability we will see them in the quarter-finals. Bravo Jorge Luis Pinto!

2. Shock of the group stage. Spain

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Well, it’s happened a couple of times that the reigning champions failed to get out of the group four years after clinching World title, like France did in 2002 or Italy did in 2010. But the fashion in which Spain surrendered was nothing but a shock. 1-5 in the opening match against 2010 final opponents Netherlands hurt them so much that they were not capable of restoring their dignity by the crucial clash with Chile. Crushed, humiliated and dethroned did the Spaniard leave the pitch on their opening night.

3. Disappointment of the group stage. England

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It looks like even England haters were susrprised with toothless performance from Roy Hodgson’s men. Well, they might have easily made it past Belgium’s group, or Colombia’s group, but this is not an excuse for a selection of England caliber. If they are still a side of a big caliber. Which is honestly doubtful. So huge was the hype around The Three Lions, so many were the talks of their talented new generation, so expensive was their preparation for the World Cup that the only point gained against unmotivated Costa Rica leaves nothing but depression and emptiness.

4. Scandal of the group stage. Luis Suarez

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Unbelievable. Simply astonishing what Suarez did against Giorgio Chiellini. What on Earth is this man thinking? For the third time in his professional career he bites an opponent. Liverpool FC have done so much to protect the Uruguayan after his infamous attack on Branislav Ivanovic. They stood by him, defended him and did all in their power to play the episode down. After a successful season with The Reds Suarez was named player of the year in England, commited his future to Merseyside and looked to have matured enough not to repeat any wrongdoing again. And here he is biting an opponent at World Cup with millions witnessing his stupid act of cannibalism on football pitch! FIFA showed no mercy and banned him from football for four months. Deservedly so. It remains to be seen if Liverpool will still stand by the forward who will not be able to help his club at the start of new season. The season, which they intimately hoped would be the glorious one.

5. Fail of the group stage. Referee Peter O’Leary and his staff

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Well, there were a couple of mistakes from match officials that influenced the results. But there was one that cost a team a place in the round of 16. A disallowed Edin Dzeko goal against Nigeria. The linesman raised his flag when Manchester City striker scored a perfectly on-side goal, the referee trusted his colleague and Nigeria went on to win the crucial match by 1-0. Bosnia and Herzegovina, who debuted at the World Cup, impressed with a solid performance but finished third in the group, one point behind Nigeria, ruing the New Zealand referee’s mistake. Good like next time, Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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Author: Leon Smolski

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