Every country taking part in the FIFA World Cup 2014 has played at least one match – as of today. Brazil and Mexico have played twice, though. And so far, what a World Cup it has been.
Sensational play, majestic performances and goals galore have definitely summed up this tournament so far. Almost all the games have been thoroughly entertaining, including Brazil’s goal-less draw with Mexico last night. And if the group stages are like this, imagine what the knockout rounds will bring.
Best two matches of the World Cup
Defending champion Spain’s 5-1 mauling
One of the highlights of this World Cup has to be defending champion Spain’s 5-1 mauling at the hands of the Netherlands. It was sweet revenge for Holland, after losing to Spain in the final in 2010. I definitely didn’t see this coming. After all, as the defending champion, a lot more was expected of the Spanish team.
Even though Spain may have scored the first goal of the game through a dubious penalty in the game, the Spanish side completely collapsed after that and was completely clueless against a resurgent Holland side. The Spanish players were a mere shadow of the side that magnificently won the 2010 World Cup.
Germany’s 4-0 blitz of Portugal
Another major game highlight was probably Germany’s 4-0 whitewash of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal side. With the world at his feet, a lot was definitely expected of Ronaldo, but he failed to deliver in an alarming fashion.
In fact, the whole Portugal team were completely clueless and they failed to show up in a big way – and the Germans gave them a 4-0 whipping as a result. Like Spain, Portugal must get this defeat out of their system and improve their game rapidly, if they want to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Other Tournament Highlights
Many Comeback Kings
Compared to previous World Cup tournaments, you must have noticed that a phenomenal number of teams have already come from behind to win games, with Belgium’s come-from-behind win against Algeria being the sixth such game where a team has bounced back to secure victory.
The all-time record for comebacks during a World Cup tournament is nine. Can the 2014 World Cup possibly eclipse that? There is every chance of this happening, with so many more games still yet to be played.
The most heart-stopping and dramatic comeback victory so far was probably Switzerland’s, with their last-gasp injury-time goal, literally scored with virtually the last kick of the game to seal the victory. Their opponents, Honduras, didn’t even have time to re-start the match before the final whistle blew. Now, how’s that for some astonishing late World Cup drama?
So far, this World Cup has had an average of three goals per game. Such a goal rush has not happened since the 1958 tournament. The last 2010 World Cup in South Africa finished off with a lower figure of 2.27 goals per game.
Even though two scoreless 0-0 draws may have come in the past couple of days, these are literally the first few draws of the 2014 World Cup too. This goal rush is definitely good for football, as it certainly makes for more interesting and exciting games for the fans.
Of course, Holland’s and Germany’s victories both contributed a massive way to these statistics as well. This definitely makes for very entertaining attacking football.
Reasons for a sudden goal rush
Teams are attacking more
The main reason for the goal onslaught is clearly because teams this year are trying to win games right up to the final whistle, rather than simply settling for a draw.
The Switzerland versus Honduras game is a clear example of this. That’s because, after going down 1-0 to Honduras, the Swiss never gave up. Even when they had pulled the result back to 1-1, they refused to settle for a draw, and right up to the death, they pushed everything forward and fought for the win – and achieved it at the very end.
Other teams have certainly showed a similar spirit too, such as Brazil in their opening game when they conceded first, but still went on to win, due to the brilliance of Neymar.
Costa Rica versus Uruguay is another great example of this. When the Costa Ricans had conceded the penalty, they didn’t implode, when they could have. Instead, they asserted themselves on the game, concentrated on the football rather than their feelings – and created a magnificent upset by even clinching the victory over their stronger opponents.
Alternatively, the heat in Brazil (temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius) as compared to the colder weather during the 2010 South Africa world cup, may also have been contributing to the goal rush. That’s because the heat may cause teams and players to lose concentration for some precious seconds, make vital mistakes, which their opponents quickly capitalise on.
In fact, we have already seen some rather silly and crazy blunders already in this World Cup during the past week – such as what happened to Russia’s goalkeeper, when he scooped the ball into his own net.