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The World Cup so far

Maracana stadium

By Stuart Weir 

So, amazingly we have reached the end of the first phase of the FIFA World Cup. The original 32 countries have been reduced to 16. The upshot is the following eight games in the first knock-out round.

Brazil v Chile

Netherlands v Mexico

Colombia v Uruguay

Costa Rica v Greece

France v Nigeria

Argentina v Switzerland

Germany v Algeria

Belgium v USA

There is an intriguing geographical balance with six countries from Europe, five from South America, five from South America, three from North/Central America and two from Africa. 

Four countries have a 100% record with three wins from three: Argentina, Belgium, Colombia and Netherlands.

neymarMost of the usual suspects are there – Argentina, Brazil and Germany for example.  But 2006 World Cup finalists, Italy and defending champions, Spain have been eliminated.

Who would have expected Costa Rica to win their group against three former World Cup winners – Italy, Uruguay and England. If Spain’s elimination was a surprise, the manner in which Netherlands demolished them 5-1 was a massive shock.

For the first time ever, two African countries made the knock-out stage and it could have been three had not Cote d’Ivoire fallen to a somewhat doubtful last minute penalty which enabled Greece to progress.

I have managed to write 250 words before mentioning Luis Suarez.  In case you were living on the moon during the past week, Luis Suarez of Uruguay appeared to bite Giorgio Chiellini during the Uruguay Italy game and was banned for 4 months with immediate effect.  It was a horrible incident but one which FIFA dealt with firmly and quickly.

Finally, let me mention the sad case of Liassine Cadamuro of Algeria.  In stoppage time at the end of Russian Algeria, with Russia needing a goal to eliminate Algeria, the ball went out of play in front of the Algerian bench. Cadamuro, an unused sub, kicked away – into the stand behind him.  He got a yellow card. So he did not get onto the field but still got a yellow card!

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