It has been an exciting first week of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. There have been upsets, last minute goals, and stellar individual performances. Here are my thoughts and recap of World Cup action from June 12 to June 20.
Twenty-six matches have been played so far and my predictions have not gone as well as I expected. Group A is my only prediction that has remained spot on, while Groups C and H have been completely wrong. In the remaining five groups as of June 20, at least one of the teams I’ve picked is in a position to advance to the knockout stage.
The only upsets I have picked correctly so far were Costa Rica over Uruguay and Mexico tying Brazil. I know I had Mexico beating Brazil outright, but I am counting the tie as an upset considering the team and home advantage that Brazil has. I’m also hoping that Bosnia-Herzegovina can pick up their play as I have them as my surprise team in the tournament.
My predictions aside, there have been many compelling story lines just a week into World Cup play, starting with the United States vs. Ghana. I know I didn’t pick the USA to advance out of Group G, but that doesn’t change my patriotism as an American.
With Jozy Altidore out of the game due to injury and Clint Dempsey playing hurt, an unlikely hero would need to emerge to save the USA. This hero came in the form of a 21-year-old substitute named John Brooks. His header off of a corner kick in the 86th minute of the game found the back of the net to give the USA a 2-1 lead, and ultimately a huge victory over Ghana, in the first game of group play. With this win, the USA is a mere upset away from advancing!
Speaking of upsets, people are still stunned that Spain, the number one team in the world and the defending World Cup champions, has been eliminated from the tournament this early. After getting dismantled 5-1 by the Netherlands in their opening game, Spain’s quest for a repeat ended with a 2-0 loss against Chile. It will be interesting to see how this loss affects the Spanish team going forward into future major tournaments like the UEFA Euro Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup.
On the flip side, there is the underdog in Costa Rica. I didn’t give them a chance at all! I had them upsetting Uruguay for what I thought would be their only win of the tournament. They definitely proved me, and a lot of people outside of Costa Rica, wrong as they upset Italy on June 20 to advance to the knockout stage. It’s becoming quite clear who is the surprise team of this tournament.
Here are some other great matches from the tournament so far:
- Mexico/Brazil: The marvelous play of Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa headlined this match as Mexico tied Brazil 0-0.
- Switzerland/Ecuador: Swiss forward Haris Seferovic scored in the waning seconds of stoppage time to give the Swiss a 2-1 victory.
- Costa Rica’s upsets over Uruguay and Italy: The Costa Ricans seized control in the “Group of Death” as they upset Uruguay 3-1 and Italy 2-1.
Apart from the great matches, there have also been some amazing individual performances by some of the players in this World Cup. Here’s the few that stood out to me:
- Guillermo Ochoa’s seven saves and shutout against Brazil. Five of his saves came from shots kicked at him from near point blank range!
- Thomas Müller’s hat trick for Germany against Portugal
- Clint Dempsey playing the complete game against Ghana after suffering a broken nose. Not to mention he scored in the first minute of the match.
With all this happening in just the first week, I can’t wait to see what the second week has in store! Stay tuned for Week 2 updates!