Is it just me or this FIFA World Cup is getting more and more interesting? With half of the teams going home, here's where we're standing for the knockout stage.
Without a doubt, this World Cup is one of the most surprising in the past years, or at least of the ones I have memory of. Not only countries that generally don’t classify did, giving their people a really great joy to the point that people did the unimaginable to watch their national team perform at the Cup. At the same time, countries that are generally in weren’t even close to getting a place on the final 32 (I mean, seriously Italy?). The surprising moments don’t end on those who classified or didn’t, the first stage itself destroyed all bets and gave us really confusing moments, and that, if you ask me is what is making of this Cup a really exciting and nerve-racking one, all at the same time.
So where are we standing now that the first stage has ended and only half of the teams classified for the knockout stage? For the past days, we’ve been giving you a recap on how Latin American teams have been doing and what their chances are to win this cup. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how things are looking for them.
Group A was naturally the first to give us the official classified of the week with Uruguay showing the perfect score of 9 points, or in other words a victory in all their matches. So far, it would seem that of all the Latin American teams they’re the ones with most chances. Russia got the second place of the group with six points after losing 3-0 to Uruguay on their final match.
Though there isn't any Latin American team in Group B, it’s important to know what we’re facing. After two tied matches, Spain and Portugal managed to score the most to classify to the next stage. Spain was on the verge of packing their stuff and go back home after Morocco was leading the match 2-1. It was literally on the last minutes of the extra time given (which by the way many of the decisive goals have happened during this compensation time) when they managed to score, tie the game and get into the first position on their group. Playing at the same time Portugal was winning the game when in the third minute of the compensation time, Iran scored a penalty sending Portugal to the second place.
As for Group C, unfortunately Peru, our Latin American team didn’t get enough points to classify to the knockout stage ending in third place of their group. However, it’s worth noting that the Peruvian team didn’t give up and fought till the end winning their last game 2-0 against Australia. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough and are out of the Cup. In this group, France passed in first place with 7 points while Denmark, with 5 points, classified as second of the group.
Group D had definitely one of the most viral participation so far, with Croatia scoring a perfect 9 points result and passing as number one of their group, and Argentina barely achieving enough points after winning to Nigeria 2-1 on their last match. If Argentina hadn’t won, Nigeria would be now taking their place. This game gave us so much to talk about, not only about how the Argentinian team doesn’t seem to be as blended as they should and Messi not having enough opportunities to do his amazing work. Not to mention the shameful behavior of the Argentinian legend Maradona during the match.
In more happy news (sort of), Brazil passed as the number one of Group E with 7 points after winning 2-0 to Serbia who had to say goodbye to Russia. Costa Rica wasn’t going to be humiliated and going back home with zero points and managed to stop Switzerland advances by tying the game 2-2. This sadly only gave them one point on the chart joining Serbia out of the Cup. That means that with 5 points, Switzerland secured their place in the knockout stage.
Now it’s time to pass at what might have been the most nerve-racking and shocking group of this phase and probably the entire cup. As it happened this week, the four teams of Group F played at the same time. However, the chart in this particular group wasn’t defined at all and it all depended on the result of their last matches. Mexico vs Sweden was so painful to watch since the latter won 3 goals to zero, one of them being a terrible own goal. However, Mexico had won their previous two matches and they all depended on the Germany vs. South Korea match. Had Germany won the match and we would be already crying on the plane back, however, our now Korean brothers defeated the world champion scoring two goals in the last minutes and thus giving us the chance to continue in the Cup. Unbelievably, Germany who hadn’t lost on the first stage of a World Cup since 1938, was sent home ending in the fourth place of the group. Though South Korea saved our asses, they also had to say goodbye to Russia.
In Group G nothing that surprising happened, Belgium and England passed with 9 and 6 points respectively. Finally, for Group H, Colombia managed to move on from the defeat they experienced on their first game and ended up in first place of their group with six points followed by Japan who, after losing to Poland, still managed to classify for the next stage with four points.
Now, what’s coming next? On Saturday, June 30, Argentina will open the knockout stage against France, definitely a difficult match, and Uruguay will meet against Portugal with high hopes to pass to quarter-finals. An important day for our Latin American teams. On Sunday, Spain will meet Russia while Croatia, one of the favorites to win this Cup, will play against Denmark. Monday (July 2) will be a very intense day since Mexico, who has all their hopes up (after defeating Germany and South Korea) to pass to quarter-finals. However they’re going against another of the big favorites, Brazil, so though it’s a tough one, there’s some possibility to achieve it. That very same day, Belgium (another strong one) will face Japan. And last but not least, July 3 will be the last day of matches of the Round of 16 with Sweden going against Switzerland and Colombia against England both classified with 6 points.
So, next week we’ll see if our Latin American teams managed to pass to quarter-finals, though we already know that only four can actually achieve it since either Mexico or Brazil will go back home. Let’s see what happens in this really surprising World Cup.
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