It’s been a fabulous World Cup thus far; full of excitement, drama and some wonderful performances. In this article @0riginalfooty looks back at groups A-D and picks out the highlights of the group.
Star Man: Neymar – There could only be one winner in this group. Neymar has carried the weight of expectation placed upon his young shoulders without batting an eyelid and has scored 4 goals in 3 matches.
Best Match: Brazil 3-1 Croatia – It was the opening match of the tournament and what a match it was. Both sides played their part in an open and attacking match with plenty of free-flowing football played by both sides, but it was Scolari’s men who came out on top.
Biggest disappointment: Croatia – The Croatians were tipped to join Brazil in the last 16 but, ultimately, came up short. Their most disappointing moment came in a final match defeat to rivals Mexico where a victory would have sealed qualification.
Side that will go furthest: Brazil – Mexico have an extremely tough draw against the Netherlands who have suddenly become one of the favourites in the tournament. Brazil also have a tough match against Chile but will still be confident of reaching the quarter-finals.
Star Man: Arjen Robben – Arguably the player of the tournament so far, Robben has been in scintillating form and was a constant thorn in the side of any defence he has played against so far. He has scored 3 goals and provided 1 assist at this stage of the World Cup.
Best Match: Australia 2-3 Netherlands – One of the best matches of the tournament so far. Australia may have finished bottom of the group with 0 points but they pushed the Netherlands all the way in this one. Tim Cahill’s goal is also the best goal of the tournament so far.
Biggest disappointment: Spain – Spain endured a miserable World Cup campaign and have quickly made the transition from World Cup heroes to World Cup zeros. They were landed with a tough group but will be extremely disheartened with a series of poor performances that cost them their place in the last 16.
Side that will go furthest: Netherlands – The Netherlands have a relatively easy passage to the semi-finals of the World Cup, although the Mexicans will be no pushovers. Chile, conversely, face the hosts Brazil in the next round who will be very difficult to overcome.
Ivory Coast 3pts
Star Man: Juan Cuadrado – The Colombian winger who plays for Fiorentina has been brilliant for the Colombians so far and epitomises their pacey and committed attacking style.
Best Match: Greece 2-1 Ivory Coast – This group was not blessed with many classic encounters, however, this was an enthralling contest that ended up deciding the fate of both sides. The Ivory Coast needed just a draw to qualify alongside the Colombians against a Greek side that had not scored in the competition prior to facing them. The Ivory Coast were level until giving away a penalty in injury time that Georgios Samaras calmly slotted away, securing the Greek’s progress to the next round in the process.
Biggest disappointment: Ivory Coast – Qualification was in their own hands against the worst side in the group and they bottled it. This was a 3rd successive group stage exit at the World Cup for the Elephants but this was by far the most disappointing. They really should have reached the last 16.
Side that will go furthest: Colombia – On paper, Colombia’s draw looks tougher than Greece’s but the Costa Ricans have shown they are no pushovers at this competition and will fancy their chances against the Greeks. Uruguay on the other hand look average without the banned Luis Suarez, therefore Colombians will be favourites for this clash and should reach the quarter-finals.
Costa Rica 7pts
Star Man: Luis Suarez – There weren’t too many contenders for star man in this group as the best side in the group, Costa Rica, worked best as a collective rather than any one individual. Uruguay, on the other hand, were heavily reliant on Luis Suarez and he single-handedly fired them to victory over England. It’s just such a shame that such a talented player will be remembered for his non-footballing actions as opposed to his genuinely terrifying talent.
Best Match: Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica – When Uruguay scored in the 24th minute through an Edison Cavani penalty, few would have predicted an emphatic Costa Rican victory. However, the Costa Ricans announced themselves on the World Cup stage in style and thoroughly deserved their win.
Biggest disappointment: England – Having offered a promising performance against Italy and, having seen Uruguay fall short against Costa Rica, English hopes were high. However, individual errors at the back proved costly and with probably the worst chance conversion rate in the World Cup England crashed out of the World Cup with a measly 1 point.
Side that will go furthest: Costa Rica – Having come through what on paper looked like such a challenging group, it would be very disappointing for them to fall to a relatively average Greek side. Uruguay showed against Costa Rica that they struggle without Suarez and following his hefty ban, Colombia should prove too much for them.