World Cup Unfiltered
By Editor Zack
So far this World Cup there have been plenty of surprises and lots of disappointment. traditional powers are falling, England has already been knocked out, Italy, Uruguay, and Portugal are on the ropes. We start with the former world champions Spain, officially knocked out last week against Chile. The long time reign of Tika Taka appears to be over. Older players like Xavi, Iker Casillas, David Villa, and Xabi Alonso, who has already announced his formal retirement from international competition, are on their way out. Spain was banking on their tried and true formula and their veteran players to take them through. coach Vicente Del Bosque did not tinker with his starting lineup throughout the years and Spain never really took off in 2014. Younger, hungrier Spanish players sat on the bench or didn't make the trip to brazil. Spain needed that influx of youth and desire to balance them out and their lackadaisical play in the group stage ultimately doomed them.
Costa Rica on the other hand are moving on to the round of 16. North and Central American teams are representing the region well, Mexico is also advancing and the U.S. is on the verge. No one expected the Ticos to move out of their group of former champions, finishing ahead of England and well on their way to the top, ahead of Italy and Uruguay, with one of those two world powers set to be eliminated. The CONCACAF teams are not just winning, but putting on thrilling, entertaining matches as well. Mexico was on fire against Croatia and held the hosts Brazil to an edge of your seat draw with goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa putting Mexico on his back. Costa Rica has produced upset after upset thus far, culminating in a Bryan Ruiz header over Gigi Buffon for the victory last week against Italy. With a possibility of the U.S. joining the two, we're looking at of one of these teams making a deep run in the tournament increasingly likely. The highest finish ever for a CONCACAF team is the U.S. finishing third way back in 1930.
The World Cup thus far has been marked by great team play, and spectacular individual performances. Argentina has looked rather pedestrian as a team, but has been saved not once, but twice by Lionel Messi's wizardry. Iran put up a phenomenal defensive performance against Argentina and had strong shot at the point. Who knows where Argentina would be without Messi's two brilliant goals. We saw what Uruguay looked like in their loss to Costa Rica minus top class goal scorer Lus Suarez. With Suarez in the lineup Uruguay was dominant against England, the meteoric striker notched both goals in rather spectacular fashion to knock out the Three Lions. Suarez is currently the difference between elimination and advancement for Uruguay.
The U.S. game against Portugal Sunday is another example of star players leading their teams, Clint Dempsey had his second goal of the tournament, the would-be game winner off Graham Zusi's cross, until Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been looking rather poor all day had his one shining moment. that amazing cross in the 95th minute that led to Varela's header and the salvaging of that precious point, without which Portugal would have been eliminated. They still need to beat Ghana and hope for the best in the U.S. - Germany game but without Ronaldo's cross they would already be packing their bags.